We Want it Now

Store-bought ice cream replaced homemade

You could distill last night’s lecture into one phrase:

Wait for it.

Neuroscientist David Eagleman gave a public lecture in Portland on how to better manage the angel and devil on your shoulder when you’re trying to lost weight, quit smoking, quit drinking…you know the drill.

Eagleman says we have a harder time putting off pleasures for the future. We want it now.

I wondered whether such dilemmas faced our Indian ancestors.

Surely they were wise about planning for the winter months by preserving foods and getting their households and communities ready for lean seasons.

So I wondered if the dilemmas of pleasures Eagleman noted are more a function of modern times—the abundance of potato chips, television and cars to keep us fat and lazy?

Maybe it’s not so much how your brain is hardwired as it is the sheer availability at your fingertips?

I read recently how an indigenous community in North America stopped making snow ice cream after Haagen Daz appeared in local stores.

Easier to buy the store-bought version than make it yourself.

For Indians one of the most profound effects on culture occurred when our ancestors depended on commodities from settlers.

Changing the economic structure had long-lasting effects on our people.

So I’m less inclined to look at neuroscience for clues to behavior. Consider the social, macro-level effects.

[Blog 20 of Native American Heritage Month.]


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in american indian, ethics, health, Indian, native american, Native Science, neuroscience, science, science communication and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to We Want it Now

  1. ashanam says:

    Except our brains are also the reason we created the world in which we live that causes us so many problems. We want things right now, so some people who had the resources to do it, made that happen. And now we’re stuck with it. Neuroscience and social factors are intimately interwoven.


  2. Seems that neuroscience is the current angel–or devil!


  3. Pingback: Elephant Clock « whitehothair

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