The Corpus Callosum

Neuroscience of Oil Addiction

There is an interesting and thought-provoking essay at The Oil Drum.
 It was written by Nathan
, a student at the Gund Institute, University of


He makes some errors in the science, and engages in some armchair
hypothesizing (see graph above), but the overall conclusions are not

He romps through evolutionary psychology, sociobiology, and behavioral
neuroscience on his way to explaining why we have an addiction to oil.

It clearly is not intended to be a definitive work.  Rather,
it is intended to lay a the groundwork for a way of understanding how
we got ourselves into a predicament, and why it is so hard to get out.

Among his conclusions is the notion that we cannot change the biology,
thus government regulation is needed.  I think he’s right.

He could improve his work by expanding on the explanatory power of
Cloninger’s tridimensional theory of personality and psychopathology.
 He also could benefit from expanding on what is known about
the neurobiology of addiction.   A bit of dual inheritance
theory wouldn’t hurt.

This probably cannot be done adequately by just one person; it would
have to be an interdisciplinary effort.  Not only that, but,
once completed, it would hardly be a blog post.  It would be a
multi-volume series.

Link: Neuroscience
and the Origins of Oil Addiction


  1. #1 Alex
    July 7, 2008

    I would suspect that the embodied energy content of heroin and cocaine is rather higher than that. It’s imported from Afghanistan, right? Further, they actually use petrol in the refining process.

    Also, what if you spend your stock options on cocaine? (Which appears to be quite a common use for them.) Very studenty.

  2. #2 Woobegone
    July 8, 2008

    Alex : But heroin and cocaine must be very efficient to transport. They have to travel a long way but if you can transport a few kilograms of the pure drug, that’s hundreds of doses.

  3. #3 Woobegone
    July 8, 2008

    There is also the fact that were they to be legal, the energy costs would become trivial.

  4. #4 nikki
    July 8, 2008

    “Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.” –Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural, 1801

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