The Biological Model of Society

I suppose that if I carry around an idea of what human society is, it is that it’s a co-operative enterprise which aims to provide the greatest degree of personal freedom for its individual members. Very often I see such freedom as being exemplified by people sitting in a pub drinking beer and smoking cigarettes and talking about this and that. And, in this simple model of freedom, the greatest degree of freedom would be attained if you could spend all day sitting in such a pub, and life was just one long round of beers, maybe interspersed now and then with a game of pool or chess or darts, with people just doing more or less whatever they wanted.

A smoking ban is something that strikes directly at the heart of such a notion of freedom. For in removing the freedom to smoke tobacco (or anything else), it tramples upon any notion of individual personal autonomy. And it does so with the full force of the law. People can no longer do what they want in a place – a pub – which actually exists in order to let people do as they please. And quite obviously, once the freedom to smoke has been revoked, it’s quite easy to revoke any other freedom as well. Such as the freedom to drink beer, or munch peanuts, or play pool.

I’m not really interested here in the ostensible reason for the smoking ban, which is that people will be healthier if they don’t have to breathe tobacco smoke, and even healthier if they can be induced to give up smoking altogether. It would probably also be argued that people would be healthier if the gave up drinking beer, and eating peanuts, and sitting around on chairs all day. And in fact all these things are being mooted by the same authorities who banned smoking. So it’s very likely that they will ban alcohol and peanuts and armchairs. And they’ll maybe even end up banning pubs.

It seems that these people think that health is more important than freedom, and that a healthy society is better than a free society. So what sort of society are they aiming to create? Because it certainly doesn’t seem to be the sort of free society that I want, and which until recently I used to enjoy.

It’s kind of hard to burrow into other people’s heads, but as best I can make out they have a completely different idea of society than mine. In their idea of society, it’s a sort of organic whole in which the individual – and with him, individual freedom – has been submerged into the greater whole. And perhaps the best example of this happening is the way that the individual cells  in a human body merge together to serve the overall purposes of the greater whole to which they belong, losing their individuality in the process. In what sense do the cells in my arms and legs have any freedom or autonomy or individuality? In no sense that I can see. My arms and legs take their orders from me, their guiding political authority.

Once you start seeing society in this way, then you are likely to set out to cure the ills of the body of society just like you set out to cure the ills of the individual human body. You set out to reform society in precisely the same way as you set out to cure individual people (with diets, exercise, drugs, etc). As a doctor, you cease to to treat individual patients in a hospital or surgery; instead you treat the whole of society as if it were a patient.

In fact, this was precisely the attitude of Gro Harlem Brundtland, doctor and one time prime minister of Norway, and prime mover in the 1990s in the WHO in formulating its new emphasis on public health (and banning smoking).

Although her time as a clinician was meager, Gro’s experience in the field of medicine provided her the analytical tools with which to approach a life in politics. In 1989 she was quoted in Time as saying, “There is a very close connection between being a doctor and a politician. The doctor tries to prevent illness, then tries to treat it if it comes. It’s exactly the same as what you try to do as a politician, but with regard to society.”

And in this ‘organic’ notion of society,  it is the political leaders of society who must decide and direct – just like the human brain within the human – what the rest of society (i.e. its arms and legs) should do.

Furthermore, using this notion of society, there’s no real need for representative democracy. The appropriate authorities – political, medical, industrial, etc – should decide among themselves what the appropriate course of action should be. After all, I don’t consult my arms or legs about anything much. So equally there is little or no need to consult ordinary people about anything.

There follow, once the various authorities have consulted each other, things like smoking bans, which aim to improve the overall health of society. In due course there are also alcohol bans and sugar bans and salt bans and so on. The whole of society will be improved, and made leaner and fitter.

It’s not just health either. One might see the EU project as one of creating a whole new European society in which local identity (French, German, Spanish, British, etc) is erased, and people are merged into a new European collective. Overseeing this is the political nerve centre in which all the decisions are taken in consultation with the relevant experts. The only ‘democratic’ component of this central government is a parliament which can only veto proposals by the executive, but which can normally be expected to rubber-stamp all its proposals (such as the European smoking ban which the EU parliament has duly rubberstamped).

The concentration of all power into the hands of the political elite also requires that more or less everything must be planned. And so, in response to a threat like, say, global warming, the state must consult its experts, and decide on some course of action – e.g. reducing CO2 production, subsidising windmills, etc -.

Furthermore, once the decisions have been taken – about smoking, alcohol, global warming, and so on – the only job for the mass media is that of persuading the mass of the people of the merits of the chosen policy, in order to gain their acceptance and compliance. This is not a job of informing the people. Quite the opposite. It is a matter of pulling the wool over their eyes in every possible way, by presenting only one side of the argument, and making sure any dissent is suppressed, and even manufacturing the appearance of public acceptance (e.g. everybody loves smoking bans).

It’s perhaps not very surprising if doctors like Brundtland have readily adopted this idea of society, and have stepped easily upward from treating individual people to treating the whole of society.  They know better than anyone that human bodies are composed of trillions of cells, and it’s probably very easy for them to see the whole of human society as composed of millions of human ‘cells’. It’s rather harder to understand how this distinctly authoritarian model of society seems to have been adopted by all the political elites throughout Europe. For all of them seem to have bought into the idea of a central EU government with only residual or token democratic features, into the primacy of public health, and into state intervention to combat global warming, and any number of other state interventions.

I’m not going to rehearse here my usual objections to this idea of society, except to say that in the Anglo-saxon countries it’s shouldering aside a long-established culture of individual freedom. I’m instead going to ask where this model of society has come from, and why it is so powerful, and whether it is a true reflection of the nature of human society.

Where does it come from? I suspect that I may have answered this question already. It’s an idea of society which grows out of biology, and in particular the discovery a couple of centuries ago that plants and animals were composed of tiny cells, each one a living thing, and invisible to the naked eye. Plants and animals were societies of cells, in which every single cell worked on behalf of the society to which it belonged. Nature itself showed how societies should be ordered, and how they should behave. And this provided an entirely new model of political society. And a ‘scientific’ biological model. It was an idea as powerful as the idea of evolution a century later, which also transformed the way people looked upon the world around them. ‘Scientific socialism’ became the new biological way of thinking about society.

If it’s a powerful idea, it’s because it’s rational and scientific, and nothing is so powerful as an idea whose time has come. It’s the idea, it would seem, that underpinned not only ‘scientific’ Socialism, but also Nazism, and eugenics, and very much else. Older political ideas, such as liberalism, and representative democracy, began to look like unscientific and archaic and irrational. In time even Conservatives like David Cameron (he of the ‘Big Society’) have succumbed to it.

But is it a true reflection of human society? If it is, it will be a great success, and Europe will be the forerunner of many such new political unions, and smoking bans, and wind farms.

But I suspect that it will prove to be a disaster. For almost all the ‘science’ that underpins it isn’t science at all. The antismoking ‘science’ on which smoking bans have been based is a joke of a science. And increasingly so also is the climate ‘science’ on which the global warming scare has been erected. Furthermore ‘scientific socialism’ was always more an aspiration than a reality, as also was Nazi racial ‘science’. And so also, needless to say, is any sort biological model of society. None of it is science at all. And if it isn’t real science, it won’t work, any more than a ship will float or a plane will fly if it hasn’t been designed using sound scientific principles.

So what we’re going to get is a train wreck, when the new ‘scientific’ biological idea of society, and of social health, and social planning, proves to be a complete disaster. No other outcome is possible. And in the aftermath, what will happen will be that people will go back to doing things the way they did before, and which actually worked tolerably well, even if it hadn’t been designed by experts and centrally planned and administered by legions of bureaucrats. In the aftermath, people will wonder why on earth they ever tried to put together a European superstate, instead of continuing with a little flock of bickering nation states. Or why they ever attempted to control and direct ‘public health’, instead of simply treating individual sick people. Or ever came to believe that a trace gas like carbon dioxide could have dramatic impacts on the global climate.

I won’t say that nothing will end up being learned. Us humans are always learning. And maybe one or two key insights will emerge from the rain wreck.

We just have to hope that as few people as possible are killed or grievously injured in the train wreck before the whole botched and futile experiment is abandoned.

About Frank Davis

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17 Responses to The Biological Model of Society

  1. Magnetic says:

    The latest on climate change from Australia:
    THE government-established Climate Commission has dismissed the sceptics and warned of dire consequences if adequate action to cut emissions is not taken in this ”critical” decade.
    In a review of the scientific evidence, released today, the commission says: ”We know beyond reasonable doubt that the world is warming and that human emissions of greenhouse gasses are the primary cause.”
    The audit of the science was done by one commissioner, climate scientist Will Steffen, and extensively reviewed by other experts.
    Professor Steffen hit out at sceptics yesterday, telling The Age that Australia and the United States were ”the two parts of the world where there is still significant media debate about the science”. There was no debate within the credible scientific community.
    Professor Steffen, of the Australian National University, said the deniers were making a very emotional attack on the science – it was not a rational criticism.
    ”A lot of people who understand psychology say vocal denialism has less to do with the science but is more about a world view,” he said.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Highlighting the problems for Australia, the report points out that in the past 50 years, the number of record hot days has more than doubled, increasing the risk of heatwaves and associated deaths.

      Read more:

      Sounds alarming, but it’s not hard to see how this might be arrived at. Imagine that there’s a 2 week heat wave. That’s 14 ‘record hot days’. Add to that the fact that the same heat wave is recorded in a variety of different locations in Australia (e.g. Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne, Darwin and another 15 other places) and you’ve got 20 x 14, or 280 ‘record hot days’.

      There are probably just as many ‘record cold days’. But that won’t be publicised, of course.

  2. Junican says:

    One wonders how it has come about that, after the 1st World War and the 2nd World War, and the Cold War, the people of Europe have become enslaved.

    There is no other word for it.

    It would take too long to describe the joy of the people when the 1st and 2nd world wars ended. Suffice to say that in both cases, some form of tyranny was ended, but especially at the end of the 2nd world war. At the end of that war, especially, the people gained the freedom to elect their representatives (really, truly!) and rid themselves of the tyranny of the wealthy. How has the tyranny of the wealthy re-emerged in the immediate past?

    In my simple mind, it has come from the USA. The idea of ‘FREEDOM FROM’ has replaced the idea of ‘FREEDOM TO’. Thus, we have ‘stinks’ taking precedence over ‘fragrances’ – “I cannot stand my neighbour’s roses – they STINK. They make my clothes smell, and my hair smell and I have to shower to rid myself of the STINK!”

    How did the Irish Government allow themselves to be seduced by the FREEDOM FROM idea, when they have a history of desiring the FREEDOM TO arrange their own affairs? Could it be that they have, for so long, desired to be FREE FROM the yolk of England that, having gained the freedom ‘from’, they need desperately to find something else to be ‘free from’? Is that the reason that they took up ‘smokefree’ with such enthusiasm?

    I will finish there, but the more you think about this idea, the more attractive it becomes. We smokers wish to be FREE TO smoke in pubs where the publican permits smoking. Anti-smoking zealots wish to be FREE FROM the possibility that publicans can permit smoking. It makes no sense at all, and that is why the likes of ASH are so hysterical – they know that their argument is anti-freedom.

    • George Speller says:

      I’ve mentioned this before . . Orwelll deals with exactly this corruption of the word “free” in his commentary on Newespeak. To the effect that: the word “free” only has a meaning in the sense of “this dog is free from fleas”. Any other concept of freedom had become meaningless. It’s astonishing how many ways we have reqached 1984.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I think that if you adopt a biological model of society in which we are all just ‘cells’ in a larger social ‘body’ (e.g. the EU) then we don’t have any “freedom” (and people of this mentality very often put “freedom” in quotes to indicate that it’s something imaginary). The cells in my elbows and knees aren’t “free” to do whatever they want.

      And anyway, the idea that people could be free to choose to do whatever they like is incompatible with any sort of social order. You either do what you like, or you do what you’re told by the relevant authorities. It’s one or the other.

      So once the freedom to choose what you want to do has been revoked, or denied any validity, all you’re left with is “freedom from”. Freedom from want and suffering. All you really need is to be fed and housed.

  3. Sok says:

    Have you been over to ‘’?

  4. db says:

    The EU in many ways has now become The USSR with bling. So long as people have the luxuries, they will ignore their loss of freedom and rights. Unfortunately, a lot luxuries are now beyond the reach of many citizens. As for smoking bans, I’ve always believed they are a product of rich societies, not least because the true cost can be ignored or buried. One of things TC love to blame for the demise of pubs, the downturn, may ultimately take them and their precious bans as well. The SHS myth may have been their best weapon in the war on smokers, but it is also their Achilles heel.

  5. Rose says:

    “One wonders how it has come about that, after the 1st World War and the 2nd World War, and the Cold War, the people of Europe have become enslaved.”


    That’s what I’ve been trying to work out.
    I have taken a different approach as two pieces of information came to me at the same time, one was that the smoking bans were really going to happen, the other that herbal medicine was to be banned.

    After our 13 year crash course in spin it now seems obvious, tobacco is and always has been a herbal medicine, but with tobacco company influence it has become considered as more of a recreational drug.
    I am reminded of the phrase “a good day to bury bad news”
    Make a huge noise about smoking which is already deep in disrepute, and at the same time quietly remove all access to traditional herbal medicines which has been undergoing it’s own quiet slander campaign, while everyone’s attention is diverted.

    The trouble with wars of conquest is that they are very visible and extremely expensive, you also get very strong opposition when the would-be conqueror is in plain sight.
    If you can slip under the radar, you can work away quietly for years.
    Perhaps the Trojan Horse is a better example, originally introducing yourself as a gift, so that you will be gratefully accepted and welcomed inside.

    So my researches on tobacco and herbs have frequently crossed and occasionally you come across something so unbelievable that you dismiss it as conspiracy theory.
    Until much later on, you find it was true.

    Starting world wars, inventing horrible weapons, enslaving large populations…

    They have already got the herbs.

    EU bans herbal remedies: another victory for corporate interests

    Perhaps it will be third time lucky
    Control of food headed up by the anti-obesity campaign perhaps?

  6. Rose says:

    Of the Tabaco and of His Greate Vertues

    “THIS herb, which commonly is called tobacco, is an herb be of much antiquity, and known amongst the Indians, and in especially among them of the new Spain, and after that those countries were gotten by our Spaniards, being taught of the Indians, they did profit themselves of those things, in the Wounds which they received in their Wars, healing themselves therewith, to the great benefit of them

    Within this few years there has been brought to Spain of it, more to adorn Gardens with the fairness thereof, and to give a pleasant sight, rather then that it was thought it had the marvelous Medicinal virtues which it hash, now we do use of it more for his virtues then for his fairness. For surely they are. such which put admiration

    It is growing in many parts of the Indies, but ordinarily in moist places, and shadow places, and it is needful that the ground where it is sown, be well tilled, all that it be fruitful ground in all times it is sown, in the hot countries. But in the collide countries it must be sown in the month of March, for that it may defend it self from the frost

    The proper name of it amongst the Indians is Pecielt, for the name of Tobacco is given to it of our Spaniards, by reason of an land that is named Tobacco”

    Nicolas Monardes (ca. 1512-1588)
    Medicinall historie of things brought from the West Indies
    London, 1580
    Monardes was the first physician to write about the medicinal use of tobacco. He described over sixty-five diseases which he claimed it could cure. His treatise was so influential that it led to the idea that tobacco could cure all diseases and conditions. It introduced to Europe the words tabacco and nicotaine, and started a controversy which was to be debated for the following two centuries as the medical world was split over the benefits or harmful effects of the tobacco plant. ”

    King James Ist arguments against tobacco were based on the grounds of religion and the medicine of the time, which was based on the Humours.

    “It was Galen who established the four humours as blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm. Each humour had its own characteristics:
    * Blood was the humour of spring, passion, air and childhood
    * Yellow bile belonged to summer, anger, fire and youth
    * Black bile was linked to a sluggish personality, autumn, earth and adulthood
    * Phlegm was associated with winter, melancholy, water and old age.

    The humours had so many characteristics that they became useful for explaining many aspects of daily life. Humoral thinking was linked to astrology, physiognomy and even music.

    The spread of humoral thinking

    Using humours for medical diagnosis and treatment spread across the Roman and Islamic Empires. In Islamic and European medicine, humours were key to understanding health and balance.

    Treating patients

    The doctor determined which humour was out of balance in the body, and corrected this – often with emetics, blood-letting or massage.”

    And as you can see, James Ist clearly didn’t think you should enjoy your medicine.

    “But first these Cures ought not to bee used, but where there is neede of them, the contrarie whereof, is daily practised in this generall use of Tobacco by all sorts and complexions of people.”

    That’s if you have the stomach to read the ghastly nonsense.

  7. Rose says:

    Medicinal uses of tobacco in history
    skip to Pre Columbian America, then read on.

    Medical Uses of Tobacco, Past and Present
    “The pharmacopoeias, official or unofficial, invariably included Tabacum (indeed, as late as the United States Pharmacopoeia of 1890), although by the 18th Century it had already been noted that tobacco was even then used more for amusement than for its medicinal virtues (Alston, 1770); and From the Department of Pharmacology, Medical College of Virginia.”

    “It is a curious fact in the history of therapeutics that plants (or plant products) which have once had a place in orthodox medicine, and which then, after having been discarded by “scientific medicine” of a later day, have continued to be used in folk-medicine, still later when their active ingredient has been discovered and pharmacologically investigated, become once more respectable members of the therapeutic family.”

    “still later when their active ingredient(s) has been discovered and pharmacologically investigated”
    Which they have been, and studying them has been occupying me wonderfully for the last 5 years.

  8. Rose says:

    Here’s an interesting one.

    We are told that people who smoke should give up before surgery, because they believe that we won’t heal and now some want to deny treatment.

    So how did they get that idea, when they’ve been treating us since the NHS began?

    “being taught of the Indians, they did profit themselves of those things, in the Wounds which they received in their Wars, healing themselves therewith, to the great benefit of them”

    Because the nicotine in the green leaves is a vasoconstrictor and stops the bleeding.
    No one is going to worry about a touch of Green Tobacco Sickness if their arm is half hanging off from a sword wound.
    It’s also been found recently to be a pain killer.

    “Later reports of tobacco use by the Native Americans might be less reliable than those from contemporary sources, but in 1934 Fernando Ocaranza summed up the medicinal uses of tobacco in Mexico before 1519 as antidiarrhoeal, narcotic and emollient;
    he said that tobacco leaves were applied for the relief of pain, used in powdered form for the relief of catarrh and applied locally to heal wounds and burns”

    “Perhaps the most important use of tobacco in South American societies was as a medicine.
    Its mild analgesic and antiseptic properties rendered it ideal for treatment of minor ailments such as toothache, when its leaves would be packed around the affected tooth, or wounds, when leaves or tobacco juice would be applied to the area”

    Presumably knowing about this ancient usage, anti-tobacco firmly grasps the wrong end of the stick and injects raw nicotine into injured rabbits.

    Smoking and its effects on wound healing

    Literature review.

    “Going back to 1978 Mosley et al carried out experiments on rabbits and discovered that, ‘nicotine impairs wound contraction in the rabbit ear model from the 4th to the 10 thday of wound healing.

    However, the wounds contracted at essentially the same rate form the 12th to the 20th day in the experimental and control groups of animals.’ (Mosely et al 1978)

    Obviously this implied that nicotine did have a detrimental effect on wound healing but this study only analysed rabbits and not humans.
    Towler points out the fact that nicotine was injected and not inhaled, concentrations of nicotine were not measured and the animals could have been stressed.”

    Click to access PhilipDalby.pdf

    Which would seem to be supported by this –

    Nicotine patches may boost intensive care risk

    “Surprisingly, they found that 18 of the patients on NRT died, compared with just three of the smokers that did not receive nicotine. Also, the average duration of an ICU stay for patients given nicotine was 24.4 hours, about 2 hours longer than their cold-turkey counterparts.

    “We have to be aware that we may be doing some harm [by giving patients NRT],” Afessa warns.”

    As a side note –
    “He notes that many of the patients in the study had been admitted to the ICU because they had gone into sepsis due to an infection. Sepsis can cause the body to release myocardial depressant factor, a molecule that reduces the pumping power of the heart.
    Many of the ICU patients in the trial died of multiple organ failure.”

    Septic Shock: Nitric Oxide Beneficial After All
    “Scientists at VIB and Ghent University in Flanders, Belgium have found an unexpected ally for the treatment of septic shock, the major cause of death in intensive care units.

    By inducing the release of nitric oxide (NO) gas in mice with septic shock, researchers Anje Cauwels and Peter Brouckaert discovered that the animal’s organs showed much less damage, while their chances of survival increased significantly.”

    “Septic shock, or sepsis, is a medical condition in which acute inflammation, low blood pressure, and blood clotting cause a dangerous decrease in the delivery of blood to the organs.”

    Nicotine Accelerates Angiogenesis and Wound Healing in Genetically Diabetic Mice

    “Conversely, apart from these isolated reports and historical anecdotes, there has been a consensus in the medical and scientific community that tobacco use impairs wound healing.

    Indeed, a recently published clinical trial demonstrates that preoperative smoking intervention significantly reduces the occurrence of postoperative wound-related complications in smokers undergoing elective surgery.

    This study would appear to conflict with our observations.”

    “In genetically diabetic and control mice full-thickness skin wounds (0.8 cm) were created on the dorsum and topically treated”

    Topical – applied to the skin, just like they told the Spanish in the first place.

    • Rose says:

      “but in 1934 Fernando Ocaranza summed up the medicinal uses of tobacco in Mexico before 1519 as antidiarrhoeal, narcotic and emollient;”

      The narcotic effect referred to would probably be Nicotiana Rustica, see Mapacho.
      Reputedly it contains up to 20 times more nicotine and has been used to make pesticide.

      Production and Use of Nicotine from Crops in Peace and War- The Yearbook of Agriculture 1950-1951
      “The first reference to the use of a tobacco extract for spraying plants was in 1690. English and continental gardeners early recognized the value of tobacco from the American colonies. According to present standards it must have been strong tobacco.”

  9. Gary K. says:

    People are not like cells because they can and do make decisions. Cells do not!

    Most all of what we do is without concious thinking and decisions by the brain.

    Walking and talking are ‘learned’ activities and not something you tell your cells to do.

    The brain is made up of cells, what cells tell the brain cells what to do?

    The ‘Human Collective’ is a bunch of elitist bull-shit!!!!

  10. Junican says:

    I have just been over to this Aussie site ‘I deserve to be heard’. Believe it or not, they have actually updated their ‘latest news!’. The have linked to a paper (I think) called ‘The Age’ (based in Victoria). This paper published an article which quoted a Prof Simon Chapman saying that a total ban is on the horizon.

    It is worth visiting that site – especially to see the comments. The nazi-type hatred by anti-smokers of smokers is wonderful to behold.

    A bit of conspiracy theory here. It is reasonable to suppose that people who can use a computer and find their way to ‘The Age’ newspaper at 9am-ish, and comment on an article in that paper are reasonably clever. So why is it that their comments are so utterly stupid? It is a very odd fact that the first comment is at 9.26am 22nd May. Comments follow thereon ever minute or so. The first 20 comments or so are rabidly anti-smoking. How does it come to pass that there are X number of people, who do not smoke, ready, waiting and willing to comment on a subject which, to non-smokers, should be of no interest at all? Would I be wrong to think that certain people were aware that this article was going to be published and were primed to go onto the attack?

    It figures, doesn’t it? The percentage of anti-smoking comments is ridiculous – it must be organised.

    I’ve said it before, and I will say it again.

    The population of Australia is still quite small. If the Tobacco Companies had any sense (bearing in mind the worldwide implications of plain packaging (the ease of forging)), they would withdraw from Australia altogether. Just pull out – no more tobacco supplies, no more DUTY, no more VAT, no more INCOME TAX. And what would be even more impressive would be if the alcohol producers also decided to take the Aussie Gov on and, at the same time, state their intention to take their headquarters and all their marketing departments out of Australia. DO IT! GET OUT!

  11. Walt says:

    Unfortunately, I think, there’s always been a fascination with tyranny, especially by the class of would-be tyrants, as well as the mass media, which believes (and not without reason) in its own proven power to manipulate, mold and propagandize the mass (itself a form of tyranny). Behind it is always that congenital itch to be a Mover And Shaker. Case in point would be America’s love for Mussolini, at least among the elites and media of the day. Then, too, it appeals to a lot of those who feel themselves moved and shook– the” victims” of the democratic capitalist society. Case in point would be America’s Wilsonian “progessivism,” another elitist vision of society as a hive full of busy little bees. Behind it, in addition to the dreams of the annointed, is the low angry growling of the dog in the manger.

    Off on the other tangent: Your kidney, without so much as a by-your-leave, can “decide” to develop a tumor. Your tooth, despite a stern talking-to, to abscess. Your hand can decide to shake. Your memory, despite your very explicit instructions and, in fact, your intense focus, can refuse to connect the tip-of-the-tongue name to the face, or to find the elusive adjective. We’re not as in control of our bodies, or even our minds, as we think.

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