Opinions and brain chemicals

We all have opinions. Some strong some weak. All derived from experience and exposure to information. When we seek out others’ opinions we often do so through media venues we know to support our general beliefs. News channels, web sites we have read before that have tended to feed us what we want to hear and read.

When we come across an opinion, through video, or print media, that contradicts our own, we reject it, often without actually hearing said opinions all the way through. Without opening our minds up to allows us to evaluate the opposing views.


Testosterone – the power hormone
Cortisol – the stress hormone
Oxytocin – the bonding hormone
Dopamine – the reward hormone
Serotonin – the well being hormone

Here are some chemicals the body produces that change our moods. When we read an agreeable article on a topic we find dear our brains may unleash happy hormones. These friendly opinions reinforce our existing neural information pathways, our memories. Our opinions become reaffirmed. We feel good.

But when we read contradictory information what happens? Our stress levels increase. Our fight or flight behavior is invigorated. We feel challenged and confrontational. To have someone tell you are wrong is threatening.

Is it because the pathways in our brains are being questioned? We believe X. But Y seems to have some good arguments. Owww, my mind hurts when I think about changing my views. Slowly we build up ossified mental pathways, beliefs, that we continuously strengthen. When we are presented with rational alternate views that contradict our beliefs I think it actually hurts our brains. We have to breakdown old neural trails and hack out new ones. And this is physically painful. This process releases unhappy hormones. This process makes us uncomfortable.

Having an open mind is a challenge. A flexible mind may be counter intuitive to maintain. It may be that we tend toward village mentality where we all believe the same ideas and shun alternate views; strangers whispering heresy.

And it might be that to examine opposing opinions it takes a commitment to endure the internal conflict our minds experience when we have to see through another’s eyes, walk in another’s shoes.




6 thoughts on “Opinions and brain chemicals

  1. I’ve doubted my religion more then once, and even though I’m still young it was a painful and excruciating experience. Though, I don’t know if it was because of the new neural pathways, it was probably the attachment I had to my God at the time. I have felt the physical rewiring of the pathways though, which I tend to find rewording since I know my mind is growing.

    What are some opinions that have shifted in your life?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There have been such times; else I would not have dreamed this up. Specifically, I’m not sure. Generally? Sciencey assumptions are probably my best bet. The Drake equation and the the concept of ETI, I think, was a hard thing to give up.


        1. If one uses only the factors supplied, it belies the astronomically minuscule probability of humanity, and then on top of that, of humanity’s technological transcendence.
          I used to think the concept valid – lots of places to grow aliens. Now? Not at all – the more evidence I compile on the one-hundred coin flips coming up heads that is our tech-species the more I believe humanity is alone. That, at the time, was tough to swallow. Not anymore.


          1. I can see where your coming from, that’s a quite reasonable inference. A couple years ago I read Michael Behe’s “Darwin’s Black Box” and from that realized the utter improbability of survival and our very faculties from arising. Perhaps that’s not the direction or angle from which you see this though. If your angle is different, what convinced you? My time as an amateur scientist on this Earth was very short, and I have since delved into Philosophy and Theology, so please forgive me for my ignorance.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I’ve posted about this topic over the years. Searching for Drake or Fermi Paradox might find you some stuff.

              I don’t doubt our existence as the series of unlikely events that it is. One must admit the impossibility of avoiding an anthropocentric view point when examining such evidence. We’re biased because we’re here.

              No convincing occurred. But as the evidence racked up, the simplest of factors entered into the equation and as they accumulated, the probability of other ETIs existing fell. Not to zero. Just much, much lower than most people think.

              And this is not philosophy or theology. This is math. If other electro-magnetic manipulating species exist in the universe — they too must have had their own coin flipped 100 times, all landing heads. I don’t discount the possibility — only the probability.

              Liked by 1 person

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