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Ernest Becker 1973 book The Denial of Death suggested that humans are the same as all animals, with the drive to survive, but uniquely, we realize that we are going to die. This dilemma drives us mad, he said. man deals with this terror by denial - we have developed religions, politics, art, music and literature in a desperate attempt to demonstrate that we have some worth.
All you have to do is remind people that they are going to die, and their world view, and behaviour, changes immediately. In one experiment, Arizona judges were given cases of prostitute arrests and asked what bail they would set. Half had written a brief paragraph ("describe the emotions that your death arouses ...") and half hadn't. Those who'd written about their death set bail nine times higher than the other group.
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Nine day friends: hospice volunteers support dying patients. The patients stay an average of 9 days, then they die. They come off all therapy except painkillers, and eat and drink what they like.
Lynn Margulis: "I don't understand why people become vegetarians because they believe in the sanctity of life. Sponge off your kitchen counter and you've just killed 50,000 fungi and bacteria."
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