Sunday, June 26, 2011

Does Living In a City Make One Crazy?

Maybe. (Via Sullivan)

Don't forget that "neuroscience" is really a branch of psychology, and that psychology is notoriously unreliable. We are, currently, flooded with big conclusions tenuously based on scanty, preliminary MRI data. (And, a friend of mine who studies such things, tells me that almost no one actually knows how to calibrate the MRI machines correctly...) I believe basically none of this stuff, and am likely to maintain that attitude for awhile--until techniques improve, the most outlandish of the claims get walked back, and metastudies start to come out.

However, this is one result that coheres with my own experience, FWIW. In fact, it's weird that anyone would need to use an MRI to get to this conclusion. I'm sure there's significant variation across people, but cities make me nuts. I don't understand how people can put up with the crowds, the noise, the concrete, the lack of trees and grass, the smell, the pollution, and the concentrated stupidity. It's a bad way to live. Don't get me wrong...big cities are fun to visit. But I'll never understand how people can live there, especially in the age of the interwebs, when the main problem of rural life--isolation--is significantly mitigated.

Sadly, the attitude on the left seems to be "stop trying to slow population growth...and if you don't live in a city you are an environmental criminal." My view, however, is: get on the overpopulation problem and we can live where we want. I don't intend to have kids, I try to minimize my carbon footprint, give to environmental causes, etc...but as soon as I can afford it, it's a fair amount of land in the country for me, and that is non-negotiable. I'm not going to spend my life living like a rat in a cage because other people won't stop having kids. Period.


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