— out of the park.

Continuing on Kirn’s latest hit:

Even the fiercest of our debates now occupy about 1/100th of the spectrum thinkers and writers of earlier times have used while exploring major human questions. Through censorship and timidity, we’ve lost access to bandwidths we don’t even know exist now. Deafness is setting in.

Focus on Deafness is setting in. Presumably Kirn means that we can’t process what we can’t hear. There’s a much more powerful metaphor in our real perception mechanism.

Our inner perceptual world is designed, and preset in youth, to match the full range of our outer sensory mechanisms. Our ears can handle 30 Hz to 20 KHz in frequency, and 0 to 120 dB in loudness. The inner world is mapped to those ranges. As we age in a noisy world, the cochlea loses the lower end of loudness and the upper end of frequency. We can’t hear faint sounds or high-pitched sounds.

Reprint from 2014, dealing with the loudness side:

Our perceptual system is based solely on proportions and changes.

Let’s take this graph as a baseline for normal hearing. Sound gets louder; your input to the cochlea gets louder in proportion; the perceptual system follows along.

If you have impaired hearing, your physical input starts at a higher level. You don’t hear the fainter sounds at all. The perceptual system tries to maintain its full range, but it has to start where the hearing starts.

Result: Perceived loudness grows faster than it would in a normal ear. This phenomenon is usually called recruitment, which is a poorly chosen word. It would have been better to call it something like ‘stretched loudness’.

= = = = = END REPRINT.

Limiting the range of discussion has the same effect. Our internal map assumes a wide ANALOG range of possibilities and decisions on every subject. Treating it as a transfer function, with reality on the X axis and our feelings on the Y axis:

As reality changes from civilization to Nazi torture chamber, our outrage rises.

When our input range is restricted, we can only sense the difference between correct usage of preferred pronoun and incorrect usage of preferred pronoun. Our response rises from calm to outrage over this extremely narrow distinction of input:

As the permissible range of discussion narrows and digitalizes, we still FEEL that we are experiencing a full range, because the perceptual range is remapped to the available input range.

Inputs outside this range don’t exist, so they don’t need to be mapped.