Persuasion, instincts, and the color red

Persuasive tactics can be used by individuals or by groups. Our natural instincts include some behavioral patterns that may be used individually or within groups. Instincts are deeply rooted behavioral tendencies that may have developed over time because they helped promote the survival of the individual or group.

Before continuing on that topic though, in yesterday’s post I mentioned that white Americans from Minneapolis and Somalian-Minneapolis refugees might have hypothyroidism in common compared to Black Americans from Minneapolis and Hispanics from Minneapolis but I didn’t explain why — Somalian refugees may be more likely to have simple iodine deficiency than the average American of any ethnic background — and White Americans from Minneapolis may be more likely to have been eating the standard American diet (which contains fluoride, bromide, and perchlorates) for more generations than Black Americans or Hispanic Americans. The grandmother/mother/child body burden of toxins probably adds up to a greater toxic burden over the generations. A child is created from an egg that was created in their mother while she, herself, was a fetus growing within her own mother, so grandma’s prenatal diet and stress level can have direct impact on her grandchildren — if grandma was iodine deficient or bromide excess than her grandchildren may also be iodine deficient or bromide excessive from their very first day of creation (when momma’s egg meets poppa’s sperm and joins to create a one celled baby zygote).

The standard American diet would be more likely to contain the minimal recommended quantity of iodine than an African refugee diet might contain but the African refugee diet would probably not contain as much fluoride, bromide, and perchlorates, (halides that are chemically similar to iodine and which can take the place of iodine within the body and may increase the risk for thyroid cancer and fibrocystic breast disease). I don’t know if Mexico’s standard diet contains as much of the halides, but bromide is used in most breads and bakery items in the U.S. and fluoride is added to most of the U.S. city’s water supplies and is an ingredient in many commonly used medications.

Perchlorates (ClO4) are more typically found in the environment as contaminants from industrial sources and rocket propellant:

“…the detection limit was reduced from 400 µg/L to approximately 1 µg/L in the late 1990s due to improved analytical methodology.

“Sites that have been identified with high concentrations of perchlorate contamination (in the thousands of ppb or more) involve manufacturing, testing, or disposal of solid rocket propellant; manufacturing of perchlorate compounds; and industrial manufacturing operations where perchlorate compounds were used as reagents.”  — by Trumpolt CW, et. al., “Perchlorate: Sources, Uses, and Occurrences in the Environment,” Remediation, Winter 2005 [$FILE/Perchlorate-Sources-Occurance-In-The-Environment.pdf]

Iodine and halides have nothing to do directly with persuasion or the color red however I have learned the hard way that writing about iodine deficiency and halides can have colorful repercussions. In nature groups of animals of the same species sometimes will start harassing a member of the group until it leaves the group or dies from the harassment or lack of nourishment. Mothers have been known to neglect an infant that is ill or blemished in some way. She would know that the survival of an infant might put the survival of herself and any older children at risk. Fathers in some species may sometimes eat all of the infants of a litter so a mother of that species may have natural instincts to hide herself and her brood from the father.

A mother with older children who has limited income may be more likely to seek an abortion than a first time mother or a woman with adequate support for herself and her older children. A mother knows that growing a baby is far more than a one day event, (conception), or a nine month event (pregnancy), or a two and half year event, (breastfeeding), or even an eighteen year event (childhood), because she would know that motherhood is a lifetime event that might eventually even include grandchildren (to worry and care about).

A mother’s instincts can be very strong and risk to her children may illicit instincts to fight to protect her children and herself. I have never been in a fistfight type situation but the day I gave birth to my first child I felt my first surge of a huge protective instinct something like – “Don’t you touch my baby, or I will bite and scratch, and do whatever I have to in order to protect my baby.” — and that feeling has never left — “Don’t you touch my baby,” — that is a warning to heed — don’t get between a mother bear and her cubs – it’s a dangerous place to be.

Mothers have instincts to protect the whole family though too, so a newborn that is sickly or a pregnancy at a time when resources are scarce, might be viewed as too much of a threat to the survival of the whole group. This may seem sad but starvation is also sad.

The color red enters the story as a blemish on a baby chick:


The element of strangeness is also symbolically related to blemishes, not only as that word applies to physical and behavioral blemishes but also as to what one might call ideological blemishes such as differences in religious or political views. Since there does not seem to be a comparative ethological study dealing with the role of blemishes in social behavior, I will describe an incident that I observed that will serve as an illustration. On our farm we had a white Muscovy duck that was unusually capable in rearing a large brood. She would lay so many eggs in her nest in the horse’s stall that they would extend beyond her body surface. Nevertheless, most eggs would hatch, and she would be followed by as many as 21 ducklings. After one of the little ducklings developed a blood spot on the right side of its head from a slight injury, it began to suffer harassment by the mother, which, during the next few days, persistently drove it from the brood. One evening, at the fall of darkness, she drove it away, and this time the duckling swam to the opposite side of the pond and into the woods where surely it would have been snatched up by a predator. Consequently I rescued it, and we reared it separately. I was curious to learn whether some other factor that I did not recognize, had contributed to this “child abuse.” Perhaps the blood spot on the head that I regarded as a blemish, had resulted from the mother’s own pecking for some other reason. Consequently, I took another duckling and made a like spot on its head with a red marking pen. Two days went by, and it was treated no differently from the rest of the brood. Then on the third day, the mother began a relentless harassment, and we found ourselves with a second duckling to rear with the first.”

“It is a familiar observation among those who are pigeon fanciers or who raise poultry that a fowl with an open injury may be relentlessly pecked to death by members of the flock, an observation illustrating that blemishes also precipitate group harassment. Hence, the occurrence of harassment of strangers and of individuals with blemishes by reptiles and birds indicates that this form of behavior is phylogenetically deeply ingrained and, in the light of the neurobehavioral studies, might be inferred to have its neural basis in structures of the forebrain belonging to the R-complex.” [Dr Maclean’s term for the brainstem area of the brain].

“The inferred built-in propensity to nativism and intolerance of blemishes invites special attention because the increasing world population will be conducive to an increasing number of human contacts. Such a situation is calculated to aggravate the needs of each individual for a certain amount of territorial “surround” (See Chapters 6, 9, and 16). Moreover, the population pressure conducive to both intranational and international migration will multiply the opportunities for nativistic reactions and the intolerance of what are physically, behaviorally, or ideologically regarded as blemishes, such as, for example, differences in color, race, ethnic forms of behavior, religion, and political beliefs. An innate propensity to an abhorrence of blemishes would perhaps help to explain why, even in the absence of severe crowding, there are now so many ethnic and racial groups locked in prolonged and bloody struggle because of physical, religious, or ideological differences.”

— Paul D. Maclean, “The Triune Brain in Evolution: Role in Paleocerebral Functions,” page 568, (Plenum Press, 1990, New York) National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland, “written by the author in his capacity as an employee of the United States Government and is thus considered a work of the United States Government.”

[For more information about the book and his theory regarding instinctual behaviors, see my earlier post: Books about thinking and non-verbal behavior patterns, June 24, 2015.]

So persuasive tactics can become life threatening in some situations and the color red can be a signal to some of our deeper instincts which may have developed to help promote our survival as individuals or groups.

There may be a part two to this but I’m going to pause here for now.

/Disclosure: This information is presented for educational purposes within fair use and includes material provided within a publication of the U.S. government which can be reproduced for educational purposes when the author and source is appropriately cited./