It has been a week since Hurricane, and Tropical Storm Harvey deluged South Texas. I must admit, I've become a bit concerned. We live in Dallas, Texas. Yesterday, though, we had but a quarter tank of gas, and we elected to go home rather than sit in lines stretching near quarter miles in four directions and possibly run out of gas. This type of irrational human behavior makes me rage.

Disaster and fear make monkeys of us all

During a disaster, people show their true colors. We’re not an evolved species. We are just monkeys that make a lot of complex things.

And when the proverbial poo hits the fan, be it an ice storm, hurricane, tornado, or some social media fear mongering, the majority of people get stupid, like reactionary baboons.

Those directly affected by disaster are often galvanized and come together, bringing out the best in human behavior. But ultimately, people revert back to their old, wasteful, dirty, greedy selves. However, that’s not what I’m discussing here. Harvey hit Houston and south Texas, but because of the stupidity and self-centeredness that social media can foster, Dallas, Texas is now in a collective gas panic. This type of irrationality, in the shadow of a disaster, brings out the worst, most despicable behavior in human beings.

In the midst of this mass delusion, there is often the worst cruelty. Gas providers gouge prices here in Dallas because no one is watching them. People race from one station to another, in frantic attempts to get a better place in line, endangering everyone in their path.

Apes, human beings, irrational fear, and mass panic

Panic inhibits the cerebral cortex from preventing the purely reactionary lizard brain, or amygdala, from taking over.

Self-preservation becomes paramount and fellow human beings become a hindrance to the first protocol. No matter how civilized we become, ultimately, and at the core, we are animals. When frightened or in a mass panic our brain is subject to the same chemical incentives as that of a mad chimpanzee or a frightened lizard.

From what I can tell, mass panic is facilitated by ignorance and irrational fear.

Apes seem to be the only species that panic from irrational or imagined sources of fear. Those are; chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans, gibbons...and homo sapiens.

So humans may be able to build and create a lot of complicated and neat things. So can ants. It only makes us special when taken in the context of other ape species. And when you sideline the cerebral cortex, human beings are no different than chimpanzees. They say bonobos are more evolved than chimpanzees. I submit that human beings in the throes of panic more closely resemble a mad chimpanzee bent on eating his fellow chimps. In fact, the chimpanzee may just be more emotionally stable than a panicked human.