• The quality or condition of being dense.
  • The quantity of something per unit measure, especially per unit length, area, or volume.
  • The mass per unit volume of a substance under specified conditions of pressure and temperature.
  • __ The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

There are many types of density. The simple density of matter is fairly straightforward, being the mass divided by volume of any particular object under specified conditions.

Energy density is of critical importance to the long term future of the human race, although it is being studiously ignored by the most powerful of western institutions. A quick perusal of the following chart of energy densities of various fuels reveals why this topic is of such critical importance:

Energy Density Comparison from Wikipedia
Fusion, Fission Orders of Magnitude Better than Chemical and Other Energy Sources

Objects can have other types of densities, such as the density of neurons or synapses in the human brain.

An abnormal loss of synaptic density points toward a number of neurodegenerative diseases, which should eventually become treatable.

Intellectual Density vs. Emotional Intensity

Intellectual materials — books, articles, lectures etc. — can be very “dense” in terms of information content and complexity. Mastering material that is more intellectually dense requires much more cortical energy, and can leave the brain exhausted. This may explain why in a large university, relatively few students pursue the difficult STEM courses of study.

It can also explain why so many humans choose to immerse themselves in lightweight ideologies such as “social justicism” and “jihadism” which lean heavily on emotional energy, but require very little intellectual power to master.

Emotion Intensity is pulled up from a different well than is intellectual mastery. Evolution provided mammals and other larger animals with ample emotional reservoirs, and easy triggering mechanisms for tapping into the reservoir and escalating emotional intensity.

For most normal people, emotional intensity eventually seeks an outlet or a “pressure release valve,” because although emotional intensity is readily attained, maintaining a high emotional intensity over time is unpleasant — even damaging to the organism. The tendency is to either “explode” or “implode.” Neither result is particularly desirable, as a rule.

Paper Covers Stone

In the old “scissors, paper, stone” game, scissors cuts paper and stone breaks scissors. But paper covers stone. The same is true for emotional intensity (paper) and intellectual density (stone). Strong emotions can overcome the brain’s ability to focus on dense ideas, preventing the brain from making the necessary connections to learn and master complexity.

Today’s high school and college students are deeply immersed and indoctrinated in emotional ideas of “social justice” and “environmental destruction.” Forced to soak in angry rhetoric of “inequality” and “oppression,” their minds are papered over with emotion, causing a binding up and neutering of intellectual energy which should have been used to prepare the young mind to face a complex and evolving world.

This indoctrination process is shallow but intense, and requires only a few hours to learn, and several more hours of reinforcement. Everything after that is confirmation bias and intermittent formal and informal reinforcement.

Obscured by Emotion

Understanding the important things requires working through dense and complex ideas. It is easier to live in a shallow world of emotion, and avoid dealing with the dense. This shallow emotionalism is what drives the viewers of late night political comedy shows, and the easily manipulated political activists who rage against a complex world they will never come close to understanding.

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2 Responses to Density

  1. yoananda says:

    Interresting post.

    As everything in the universe, from atom, to stars, to planets, clouds, plants, animals, brain are “dissipative structures” (from the entropical point of view). The human brain is the most dissipative sctructure we know by mass unity. The more “information” (negantropy) the structure includes, the more informationnal dense (emergent complexity), the more dissipative it is.
    So focusing on density makes sense.

    Emotionnal intensity, I think, should be viewed differently than opposing intellectual intensity.
    Emotions in the animal reign have one main purpose : act.
    So we could say than emotionnal intensity is the degree to wich we are “urged” to act upon some ideas. So, an idea could be intellectually dense (embed complexity, or scalability) and emotionnaly dense (it call us to act), or not 🙂

    (sorry for the orthograph, I have trouble with my computer today)

    • alfin2101 says:

      “Words are slippery and thought is viscous…”

      We are dealing deeply in metaphor here, so it is impossible to either agree or disagree, only appreciate the poetic nature of the arguments. I like your reference to dissipative structures and systems.

      More metaphor: If a person is to possess “gravitas,” he must be able to decode and comprehend very dense concepts and systems of ideas. If a person is only able to manipulate the shallow emotions of himself and others, he has no depth and deserves no respect. This is the shallowness that we see in the typical politician, journalist, and intellectual of today.

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