Having in recent years weathered viral epidemics, China developed a robust system of data collection and reporting. If used as intended, the system would have led to the containment of the original outbreak. But as we have learned, local officials blocked what should have been its automatic activation. What light can Evolution Diverted shed on that tragic turn of events?

• The book reports that as the mammals evolved, the neural affects they developed (because of the protection they afforded) included one known as Shame. Here’s how Shame operates. When circumstances suddenly no longer justify the positive affects that a creature is enjoying, Shame is elicited. Its profoundly aversive physical qualities serve to more quickly shut down positive experience, which otherwise has a certain momentum. (Our personal experience confirms how well Shame does that.) In nature, the creature is then better able to assess a changed condition and adjust. Natural Shame has survival value.

• The most critical event reported in Evolution Diverted is this: Homo erectus in Africa was genetically modified by extraterrestrial humanoids to be their servant race, Homo sapiens. Inferior, materially dependent, and enslaved, Shame was prominent in the mental development of the new hybrid species. Scripts of inadequacy, worthlessness, and powerlessness were written into the identity of our first ancestors. Endlessly perpetuated, those scripts have made humanity over-sensitive to Shame.

• The book explains that the factors that for eons have produced the ills of civilization prominently include a few patterns of behavior that are attempts to evade the many Shame-based emotions. One of those patterns involves avoidance and denial. It has been invoked in many of the episodes throughout history when humanity’s original wound involving Shame has been re-opened. That just happened again.

China’s culture has historically had a focus on Shame-based emotions. The political authorities in Wuhan, wielding more power than the medical officials, experienced Shame when they suddenly realized that their proud city was becoming infected. They attempted to escape their feelings of Shame by using the defense of avoidance and denial. They were motivated also by fear of how their superiors in Beijing would react (against them) to the Shame they’d be made to feel by any dark reports from Wuhan. The behavior of the authorities there was shaped by their intolerance of Shame. By the time whistle-blowers and leakers outflanked the local officials’ lying and obfuscation, the epidemic had gotten out of control.

Once again, we have suffered the consequences of dysfunctional patterns of behavior rooted in the extraordinary way in which we came into existence.

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