19 September 2013

Aliens, Serial Killers, and Mental Illness Part Two: Transplanting Minds Part 1

I got to thinking about this winning premise I came up with about a week ago in the light of some experiences and a year's worth of musings on what I call "The Sufficiently Alien Hypothesis". How can you tell if someone is a human or an alien disguised as a human, assuming the disguise is so sophisticated that it appears identical to a normal human body at the cellular level? What behavioural clues would give an alien away even with an otherwise perfect disguise? I attempt to argue that a sufficiently alien being would give itself away though its disguise is indistinguishable from a normal human body. Unfortunately, I haven't figured out what criteria to look for, yet. The alien mind would need to be compatible enough with the human brain in order to function using the cellular structures of the human brain (this requires that it be possible to transplant a nonmaterial mind into a "vacant" brain, which I have good reason to suspect is true). However, and here's where it becomes relevant to my story, I suspect that being encased in a human body and brain the alien mind would, in some way, be affected by the physiological processes of the human body. What we would end up with is a being that looks human but acts just different enough to allow us to know it is not human and, at the same time, this being would also act less alien than an alien occupying a fully alien body.

The story I was thinking (and have begun, more or less) is basically "what if Charlie Sheen's mind was transplanted into Scootaloo's body?" I started working thinking Charlie Sheen's mind would be completely unaffected by having a totally alien body, so it would be putting Scootaloo in otherwise exact replicas of situations Charlie Sheen would find himself in. Now I'm thinking that wouldn't work. I'm not so sure personality can be transplanted exactly. I'm still loving the idea of having Scoots snort cocaine and hang with porn stars, but now it's just because of my sick weirdness.

Let's look at a much simpler scenario before getting back to crazy ponies or alien invasions or whatever (I was originally thinking that serial killers, or a number of them, are the aforementioned aliens in human bodies who find the change of body so disorienting that they turn to killing, or something. Not that there aren't well adjusted aliens; I haven't worked it out yet). Focusing just on humans may shed some light on the alien problem.

Assuming that I am not an alien disguised as a human, just a (really abnormal) human male. What would happen if my mind was transplanted into a human female brain? Would my personality, beliefs, and cognitive modes (structures, whatever, the process by which I think) be the same or would they be different? Would I be male mind in a female body or would my new body alter the way my mind works and "switch" it to female mode, or some third mode somewhere in between? Methinks, pretty strongly, that there would be some change, to say nothing of the degree. Which, if true, raises another question: if it is possible to change a person's mind by changing a person's body, to some degree, is it possible to bring about the same or similar change without changing the body? Can we change a person's personality, beliefs, and cognitive modes (PBC's) through some method, undiscovered perhaps, and to what degree?

Would we want to? Maybe I should ask would it be moral or justified to do so? Certainly I would want to, assuming no one else has that power. I believe it is literally possible to cure someone of evil. It would have to be a monumental shift in a person's PBC's, I would argue the greatest possible shift. Curing evil would be the most difficult change possible, but I think it is possible. I certainly believe it is possible, though far from easy, to essentially remake a person as someone completely different, and while I find eliminating evil from all persons in the entire world to be personally desirable, that desire is separate from the question of whether it is moral or justified to eliminate evil, or alter any aspects of a person's PBC's if such a method were discovered.

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