Bad Mark! No qualia for you!

Something about dentists inspires existential thoughts. As I sat in the chair this morning I pondered on some of the deep questions.

For instance, why can’t we breathe through our ears? I mean the “Ear, Nose and Throat” department at the hospital is an obvious manifestation of their interconnectedness so why can’t I breathe through my ears? Is it the eardrums? The lack of suck from the lungs? The fact that it would interfere with hearing? Or just the possibility of your glasses falling off when you sneezed?

As various machina buzzed, clicked and whirled about me I wondered also about the total bandwidth of a human being.

We have 5 main senses plus about half a dozen other senses – kinaesthetic, pressure, temperature, pain to name some of them. Is it possible to overload the senses? I know people lazily refer to something as a sensory overload – “everybody nu rave!” – but can we actually overload them?

Not just in the sense of say not consciously seeing something, there are lots of experiments and the odd Derren Brown episode to show that but rather drowning out the sensation entirely?

Even if we can’t do that could we drown an unpleasant sensation from conscious regard? Pain is a priority interrupt and takes precedence over all other sensory inputs but could we pump enough down the other channels to obscure pain?

Or will they have to keep shooting me with a tranquilliser dart to get me through the dentist’s door?

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3 thoughts on “Bad Mark! No qualia for you!

  1. “Something about dentists inspires existential thoughts” – yes usually along the lines of “you’re charging me £40 for this!”

    Interesting question though – a google search produced the Pain Gate Control Theory, which says we have both broadband and dial-up connections, and a firewall to boot. Filling up the pipes with good feelings, and closing the firewall can inhibit the sense of pain.

  2. Yes, the concept of exchanging money in return for pain is a foreign one to some of us! 🙂

    I will tell my dentist next time to fill up my pipes with good feelings and close my firewall but I fear that she may misunderstand!

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