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When I was little, I used to watch the cartoons every weekday afternoon. Among them was Felix the Cat.

Although I was too young to understand, even then I thought that the show was about something larger. The evil scientist — foreign — wanted to control the world and the criminal dog aided and abetted him.  Meanwhile, there was the little guy Felix — no scientific slouch himself — who always managed to outwit this dastardly duo.  It’s a perfect analogy for the military-industrial complex and the Cold War.

Today’s global villains are no different from those of the late 1950s, when the episodes I viewed were made. I’ve often thought back to those shows since, a few of which are on YouTube.  Here’s one from 1959 you might enjoy, ‘The Gold Fruit Tree’:

Note how the evil scientist and the criminal dog work together to deprive Felix of his invention, the gold fruit tree!  Not much different from our own day and age in which wealth is increasingly out of the reach of the ordinary man on the street by design.

Sadly, the evil scientist put me off science until middle age. Felix’s own grasp of the subject for me was overshadowed by his constant struggle against the scientist.

Recently, I read an article which reminded me of Felix’s evil scientist.  The Daily Mail reported that scientists might have found a means for controlling human memory (H/T: Underdogs Bite Upwards).

If any of you include ethics as part of your dinner conversations, school curricula or Sunday School discussions, this might be of interest:

Neuroscientists at MIT have found a chemical way to make mice forget bad memories.

By deactivating a ‘memory gene’ – Npas 4 – they found that mice would ‘forget’ their fear of a chamber where they had previously been given electric shocks.

The scientists believe they could be ‘closing in’ on the areas of the brain where long-term memories are stored – and a technique for controlling these memories.

The researchers think that the gene could be crucial for all types of memory.

The knowledge would be a breakthrough in our understanding of the brain – and might open up new avenues of knowledge such as altering or even creating memory.

Although the article mentions eliminating fear, it does not take long to figure out the negative implications this discovery could have for humans:

The gene is particularly active in the hippocampus, a brain structure known to be critical in forming long-term memories.

‘This is a gene that can connect from experience to the eventual changing of the circuit,’ says Lin, the Frederick and Carole Middleton Career Development Assistant Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

The MIT team also plans to investigate whether the same neurons that turn when memories are formed also turn it on when memories are retrieved.

This could help them pinpoint the exact neurons that are storing particular memories.

It also mentions the possibility of creating memory. That has a number of implications which could make the concepts from Minority Report as well as CCTV reading of iris scans, another development, look like child’s play.

This could be the next step in conditioning and re-educating people should it ever become reality.

It’s something Felix’s evil scientist would probably liked to have imposed on the world in order to re-engineer human brains to his own way of thinking.

It’s a horrifying notion.

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