This week I wrote an essay for my biopsychology class about the plans of Sergio Canavero and Xiaoping Ren, a couple of pioneer doctors/unstable lunatics*, who plan to conduct a human head transplant late in 2017 or early 2018. So why the picture of the scarecrow? That’s Worzel Gummidge from a TV show when I was a kid. Worzel was a scarecrow who came alive and had a different scrape every week. He also had spare heads for different needs. For Worzel they would just pop on and off again and I thought how amazing it would be to just change heads, or in theory, bodies when the old one was worn out. How far away are we from that?
Then I started to think about it. Is this really a good idea? I mean, yeah, I’d take a new body that had a built-in six pack and the knees worked properly. However, how long would it stay like that? How long before the new Adonis model body ends up like the one I am currently driving around in? Ultimately, it’s the same head running the show and even a new and improved spinal cord can’t hold off the decision to eat that handful of chips, or not go for a run for too long.
So what good would it do? Less aches and pains, yep. What else? Would I really be inspired to maintain it? In truth, probably not. If that were my goal I’d be doing it with the body I already have. Ultimately, I would take the better thing if it dropped into my lap, but I’m not prepared to put in the hard work and effort to get there, so ultimately I would end up exactly where I am today. So… A new head then? Well, one of the concerns regarding the work of Canavero and Ren is that according to Arthur Caplan, Professor of Bioethics at NYU, the person “Would end up being overwhelmed with different pathways and chemistry than they are used to and they’d go crazy.” That could well be true, especially if you put a head that is prepared to work for the Adonis body on my body.
So how great would it be if all of our problems were over, suddenly fixed? A third of lottery winners end up filing bankruptcy. and experience higher levels of depression, suicide, and divorce than the average citizen. Why? Because they don’t know what they are doing, and they don’t know how to be responsible with something that just dropped out of the sky changing their life. They have no experience or training to deal with something that amazing just dropping on them.
The reality of humanity is that unless something occurs to change us, we will continue to do what we have always done and find our level. If we have always lived in poverty, sudden riches will not change the poverty mindset and we will soon find ourselves back there. Poor diet and exercise choices? A new body won’t fix that. You may have the appearance of having made better decisions for a limited time, but before long you’ll be back where you were.
We live in an age where whatever it is someone wants to achieve, the tools are available to do it. More often than not the tools are available on a phone. This leaves us with a few options to change our lives:
1 – Do nothing. Accept our lot in life.
2 – Wait for the magic formula to fall out of the sky, and then probably end up where we are now, if it even happens.
3 – Take one small step on any goal you want to see improvement. Here are some ideas:
a) Learn one sentence in a new language.
b) Eat 100 calories less tomorrow.
c) Walk for 15 minutes.
d) Read 1 chapter of a book.
e) Write 100 words of a story.
f) Spend 15 minutes doing nothing at all.
g) Research three colleges that have a program you want to study.
h) Make a meal with that recipe you saw on Pinterest six months ago.
i) Learn four chords on a guitar.
j) Learn how to start a blog – do it for you.
Pick one goal, just one and do it tomorrow. You don’t need a new body or a new head, start today and renew the one you already have.
* Delete as appropriate
Caplan, A. (2015, February 26). Doctor Seeking To Perform Head Transplant Is Out Of His Mind. Retrieved June 12, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/arthurcaplan/2015/02/26/doctor-seeking-to-perform-head-transplant-is-out-of-his-mind/#35e9b29c5ed3
Photograph: ITV/Rex Features