Edge of Extinction: Freedom?

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Join me for some April Fools’ Gratitude on Facebook. Join the fray here.

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I was one of four panelists in this panel at the Earth at Risk conference in November 2014. Click the link to see a trailer (also shown above) and also to view the 90-minute result on the following dates and times (Eastern time zone in the United States):

Upcoming Airdates

Monday, March 30th 4:30 am
Wednesday, April 8th 2:30 am
Sunday, April 12th 4:00 pm
Monday, April 13th 6:30 am
Thursday, April 16th 9:00 am
Saturday, April 18th 9:30 pm
Saturday, April 19th 12:30 am
Wednesday, April 22nd 12:00 noon

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Catch me on the premiere episode of Extinction Radio. It will air on Sunday, 29 March 2015 at 10:00 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time

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Please visit the DONATIONS tab. I’m open to non-monetary donations, subject only to your creativity. For example, I would appreciate your generosity with respect to frequent-flyer miles.
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Catch Nature Bats Last on the radio with Mike Sliwa and Guy McPherson. Tune in every Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, or catch up in the archives here. If you prefer the iTunes version, including the option to subscribe, you can click here.

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6-30 April 2015, western Europe (additional details forthcoming, and follow the tour at guymcpherson.net and also on Facebook)

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McPherson’s latest book is co-authored by Carolyn Baker. Extinction Dialogs: How to Live with Death in Mind is available. Electronic copy is available here from Amazon.

Tech note, courtesy of mo flow: Random issues have been appearing with posting comments. Sometimes a “Submit Comment” click will return a 404 Page Not Found, or another error, for no apparent reason. To ensure you don’t lose a longer comment, you can right-click select all, and right-click copy, in the comment box before clicking “Submit.” If that hasn’t been done, the comment text will likely still be in the comment box when clicking the back button, or the forward button — depending on the error — on your browser.

Comments 73

  • Uh-Oh

    The haters are lying in wait,
    But show themselves more as of late;
    And events we abhor
    Will occur more and more
    The closer we get to hell’s gate.

  • @BTD – Your limericks are gems of the wisdom to be found in gallows humor. You should do a book of your stuff. It might become a classic of doomer initiation!

    On a different note – A popular argument among some “doomers” is this: An individual can do nothing or vanishingly little to change the vast jugernaut of history, capitalism, greed, war, etc. therefore one should not waste one’s time trying to do anything in that direction. The fallacy here should be obvious, but is often not to those wanting to embrace a do-nothing philosophy that relieves them of all responsibility for changing the world, or themselves for that matter. It is true that the unaided efforts of a single individual can do little to effect cultural changes, but the effectively organized efforts of large groups of individuals can and have done so.

    I don’t want to get into making a list of all doomer fallacies, but here is one related to the one above: Unless you can prove to me conclusively that your idea for group impact to accomplish change will work without fail, or better has already accomplished what you hope for it – then it is invalid and not worth considering. I invite the reader to deconstruct this proposition for him/her self.

    As a footnote: Consult Eric Bernes’ Games People Play. One of those games is – You put up an idea for some positive action aiming to achieve certain results, and I will shoot it down. Those who enjoy playing this game can devote a considerable part of their time to finding or creating opportunities for this gambit. There are many pay-offs for the player, including “See how much smarter I am than you? Don’t you feel stupid now for putting such a silly idea out there?”

  • Excellent freedom thing.
    I don’t need April 1st to be a fool.
    It takes a big man to wear pink.
    I used to have wine coloured jeans until I washed them with my whites, then I had pink underwear, sock and t-shirts.
    Now, let’s talk about runaway mass extinction without considering climate change. Here you go. http://www.reddit.com/r/Permaculture/comments/30oyve/permacultures_new_math_is_hard/
    I’m hoping some day I’ll get asked what ” zero – 0 = “

  • @BTD – You could title it: Verses Composed On The Way To Hell.

  • Guy,

    Great comment regarding freedom! Thanks for the update!

    ed,

    In what way, or ways, do you see some, or all, of the things I have written as “heavy handed” here and at Fractal Planet? I confess that I feel surprised that you would suggest that I presumably demonstrated “heavy handedness” at Fractal Planet, while Scott Johnson and many commenters there presumably did not, by comparison. It seemed to me then, and it seems to me now, that I remained quite gentle, in comparison with most others there. Does persistently maintaining a clear focus, cutting through emotional and cognitive distractions, equate with “heavy handedness” for you? (I did learn to ignore various kinds of distractions and to maintain focus through decades of argumentation with my father and brother.) Perhaps a couple of specific examples of my supposed “heavy handedness” would help?

    mo flo,

    In agreement with Keeley, LeBlanc, Tattersall, Kelly, Hogg, Diamond, and Michael Williams (in Deforesting The Earth), I do not have any awareness of having changed my views about the nature of early humans in any significant way over the past few months as you suggest in your March 26th, 2015 at 4:04 pm comment to mike k. I thought that my last comment, with specific, short quotes from Keely and LeBlanc related to probable points of confusion would clarify this, but obviously it has not. Since, to the best of my knowledge, I have not changed my views in any significant way, your insistence that I have obviously means that either you have misunderstood something or some things that I have written, or I have made some changes in my thinking that I have no awareness of having made.

    In order to correct any misunderstandings and/or find any unconscious changes I have made, while also maintaining maximum clarity and focus in the process, let’s consider just one point of confusion at a time. To do this, I would like to suggest that (1) you point to one thing I have written that does not make sense to you, you do not understand, seems in some way contradictory to you, or appears to have changed over time, (2) you ask me questions about it, and (3) I will attempt to answer your questions and clarify that point for us. Then (4) we can move to the next point, and so on, until it all makes consistently good sense to both of us and anyone reading who has an interest. In this process, I would like to suggest that sarcasm and insults, which tend only to elicit strong emotions while not contributing anything positive to the dialog, does not help because strong emotions tend very quickly to narrow our perceptions, overpower, and distract from clear thinking, which occurs much more slowly than our rapid, strong emotional responses.

    BenjaminTheDonkey,

    I also really like your limericks!

    mike k,

    I like your idea of pointing to some doomer fallacies—including the possibility of creating a list, if not exhaustive, fairly complete. I would encourage you to follow up on that possibility. Every now and then you could post a “Fallacy of the Day” with a description and brief discussion about it. We might all learn a thing or two about our reasoning, or lack thereof. Yes, certainly including me!

    Thanks for your reminder of Eric Bernes’ Games People Play and description the shoot it down game. (I read it long, long ago in a galaxy far away.) This game correlates closely with the attack-attack process that Sue Johnson describes based on attachment theory, which usually progresses rapidly to attack-defend, and then, eventually, to some variation on the theme of withdraw-withdraw. We have seen all of these processes many times here at NBL, sometimes quite dramatically.

  • mike k, I have no hesitation to attack Kerry Emanuel’s position that the release of methane stores, “… is not very important any more.”

    I am still reeling from my recent discovery that a prestigious & responsible scientist like Emanuel really said it.

    Ditto for Gavin Schmidt.

    Science does not play at lawyering & adversarial masquerade.

    What has happened to the rudimentary scientific questions; “Is it true?” & “How do you know this?”

    Show me the evidence!

  • Here is Malcolm Light agreeing with Guy’s “getting closer” edge of extinction scenario above.

    Both Guy & Light are in diametric opposition to MIT scientist Kerry Emanuel’s openly stated position that abrupt methane release is NOT a serious threat.

    In the last 8 months Light, like a practicing Bayesian, has updated his position claiming that escalating near term extinction could very well begin with an abrupt methane release as early as 2023.

    Both Guy & Light corroborate Natalia Shakhova’s clearly stated abrupt methane release position in 2012.

    from Light’s 2014 paper at Arctic News;

    In just one part of the Arctic Ocean alone, the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS), up to 1700 Gt of methane is contained in sediments in the form of methane hydrates and free gas. A sudden release of just 3% of this amount could add over 50 Gt of methane to the atmosphere, i.e. some seven times what is in the atmosphere now, and experts consider such an amount to be ready for release at any time.

    There are such massive reserves of methane in the subsea Arctic methane hydrates, that if only a few percent of them are released, they will lead to a jump in the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere of 10 degrees C and produce a “Permian” style major extinction event which will kill us all.

    The whole northern hemisphere is now covered by a thickening atmospheric methane veil that is spreading southwards at about 1 km a day and it already totally envelopes the United States. A giant hole in the equatorial ozone layer has also been discovered in the west Pacific, which acts like an elevator transferring methane from lower altitudes to the stratosphere, where it already forms a dense equatorial global warming stratospheric band that is spreading into the Polar regions.

    During the last winter, the high Arctic winter temperatures and pressures displaced the normal freezing Arctic air south into Canada and the United States, producing never before seen, freezing winter storms and massive power failures. When the Arctic ice cap finally melts towards the end of next year, the Arctic sea will be aggressively heated by the sun and the Gulf Stream. The cold Arctic air will then be confined to the Greenland Ice cap and the hot Arctic air with its methane will flow south to the United States to further heat up the Gulf Stream, setting up an anticlockwise circulation around Greenland.

    Arctic News: Focus on Methane

  • Free Doomer Fallacies, or, Stuff I Just Made Up
    ———————————————–

    We developed hope in the form of religion so that we can function day-to-day unhindered by thoughts of our own mortality. After all, life after death makes so much sense. We are high-functionally bat-shit crazy. That’s why I don’t get angry at the apparent hypocrisy of denial, it’s human nature developed from high-risk / high-reward hunter-gatherer behaviour. Agriculture did not change that. Like all things natural, our strength is our weakness.

    We need a new world e-currency based on carbon tax dividends with no share for government and corporations just like James Hansen wants. That’s why the Rockefellers and The Ford Foundation fund Naomi Klein as a spokesperson for corporate/government control of future carbon taxes. Just ask her if governments should control carbon taxes. The funny thing is we can fix one of the only two things we agree on, but we are too greedy and fearful. We are too stupid to live and will not survive mis-anthropogenic climate change.

    Evolution is not random complexity. How can an octopus evolve to camouflage its colour and apparent texture to match random background colours? Priests ask you to believe in life after death without proof just like scientists ask you believe in multiple universes as well as faster-than-light space and time travel.

    By the age of 8 years-old, our kids spend 8 hours per day watching video screens, while we subject them to sex and mind altering drugs until they go crazy trying to make the world notice of them.

  • The only 2 things humans agree on are
    1) Life After Death
    2) Money
    Both of these things are not real.

  • Cruising For A Bruising
    ———————–
    In the early years of the 20th century millions of black folks in the Congo were murdered for control of the rubber tree plantations that were needed to make car tires. Cars were the latest greatest thing. If you tell a 50 year old man he has to give up his car to save life on earth, he’ll tell you to go to hell.

    In the early years of the 21st century millions of black folks in the Congo were murdered for control of the exotic minerals our smartphones need to work properly. Smartphones are the latest greatest thing. If you tell a 20 year old they have to give up their smartphones to save life on earth, they will tell you to go to hell.

    During the 100 years between all the mass murders in the Congo, America and Europeans sold millions of tons of guns and ammo to poor countries all around the world. If you tell an American he has to give up his guns to save life on earth, he’ll tell you to go to hell.

    Renewable energy products have a life-cycle time of 30 years, after which they will all have to be replaced during a time of food, water, energy and mineral shortages. If you tell green energy boosters they have to give up renewable energy to save life on earth, they will tell you to go to hell.

    Humans and our livestock occupy 97% of the land vertebrate biomass on earth. Humans and livestock consume 40% of annual land chlorophyll production and caused 80% of species extinction. If you tell a meat lover he has to give up meat to save life on earth, he will tell you to go to hell.

    James Hansen and several renowned conservation biologists composed an open letter to Green NGOs begging for them to stop their opposition to nuclear power in order for humanity to save all life on earth. He was told to go to hell.

    Sometime in less than 50 years, life on earth will pass the tipping point for runaway, unstoppable, irreversible, cascading mass extinction collapse and because climate change is only 1 out of 6 direct drivers of this event, then renewable energy will do nothing in time to save all life on earth and I will be told to go to hell.

    Humanity has only ever agreed on 2 things, life after death and money, both which are not actually real.
    You can blame capitalism, big banks and monstrous corporate conspiracies for the near term collapse of life on earth, but these things could not exist without us, and that is why we are all going straight to hell.

  • Freedom: freedom for corporations and money-lenders to orchestrate the looting and polluting of the planet we live on, the only one we are certain can support life as we know it.

    Freedom: freedom for politicians to lie and steal with almost complete impunity, and act as agents for corporations and money-lenders.

    Freedom: freedom for those with wealth stolen from others (or inherited as wealth stolen from others) to buy their way into positions of power.

    Freedom: freedom from legal accountability and freedom from legal responsibility for those in power to loot and pollute and lie to the general populace. (NPDC is in continuous breach of NZ statutes, and there is no mechanism in the system to do anything about it.)

    Freedom: freedom for the advertising sector (I can’t call it an industry because it doesn’t produce anything, other than lies) to lie to the masses on a continuous basis with impunity.

    ‘Freedom is slavery. War is peace. Ignorance is strength’ -George Orwell (Eric Blair) almost 70 years ago, in case there are any newbies reading this.

    On the matter of planetary meltdown, the Arctic Sea ice cover has made a temporary ‘recovery’ (as is often the case in March), but we really won’t know till August just how bad this year’s meltdown will be.

    Reported atmospheric carbon dioxide levels temporarily plateaued, with a lot of ;noise’ (as has happened previously in March), but if previous year’s patterns are repeated are on track for over 405ppm in May 2015.

    The international ‘plan’ (and the local ‘plan’ around here) is to try to increase the rate of planetary meltdown by promoting stimulation of consumerism. According to literature and public displays, NPDC, spend 2% of rate receipts promoting ‘economic development’, i.e. promoting planetary meltdown.

    I have a meeting scheduled for later this week with ‘planners’. A fundamental truth, that NPDC is the prime agent for ruination of the district and that ‘planners’ have been, and continue to be, orchestrators of the ruination of their own lives, is awfully difficult for ‘planners’ to contend with. Another essential truth, that the entire system is totally unsustainable in the long term (and therefore unsustainable), and in the process of collapsing, is also difficult for ‘planners’ to contend with.

    Life at the End of Empire on the Planet of the Maniacs.

  • mike k, Benjamin the Donkey has indeed published a book of verse:

    Limericks of Doom
    https://www.amazon.com/Limericks-Doom-Benjamin-The-Donkey/dp/1481279815

    It’s quite affordable. A must for any doomer’s bookshelf. Buy some as gifts! I actually did find two people to give one to.

    Of course it does not contain the newer works, which he may still be cataloguing here: http://benjaminthedonkey-limericksofdoom.blogspot.com/

  • Freedom, huh? Y’want fries with that?

    Process? Predisposition? Politics did not change the candidate into a thief. Your vote changed a thief into a politician.

    Gallows humor for Easter?
    Due to (sort of) recent controversy Chick-fil-A has decided to get out of the chicken biz.
    They will reconfigure their locations to become pizza restaurants.
    Watch local media for the opening of your neighborhood location of “The Risen Crust”.
    Sadly, no word yet about the availability of Zombiscotti for dessert.
    If Jeff S. is still in charge, there might be cake, or pancakes, or something.

    Sorry if 2nd link is a big pic or worse…

  • @ Robert Callaghan Says:

    Mr. Callaghan, I am seriously beginning to doubt your claim of being just a lawn mower. The evidence is mounting that you are much more than that, but I’ll bet I can tell you by the way you walk! 😉

    @ kevin moore Says:
    March 29th, 2015 at 10:55 am

    An addition to your list for future reference…

    Freedom: Freedom for vast legions of ignorant, ill-informed and irrational (i.e., “stupid”) people to believe any number of abjectly baseless inanities foisted upon their shallow, yet supercilious, ahem, minds by any number of lying, manipulative psychopaths.

  • Maps of the Universe reveal it has the same shape as a DNA molecule. Everyone is his or her own universe. The human body is composed of universal matter. particles. even an element of stardust.

    Plants, animals, EVERYTHING contains fractions of the Universe. Every single being experiences the universe in unique ways.

    A Universe of thanks to MIKE K and all he had to say above about the destructive games people play. MIKE K…with you all the way !!!

  • Colin

    Thanx, but I start work again on April 1st. My wife thinks I’m an arrogant, vain know-it-all, she’s right and I’ll never admit it, but instead I tell her it’s just the Right Man’s Burden.

  • Paul, it’s amazing how, as the old saying goes, “everything changes, yet it all remains the same.” Or, How do you make a hormone? Don’t pay her! ha, h…

    Too bad a lot of the old timers that used to hang out here aren’t cruising NBL anymore. I think they would like the way things play out now a days. I remember a lady that would advise her contemporaries, out of compassion, I’m sure, to get themselves sterilized while they still can. That was some of the soundest advice I’ve ever heard. I mean, when I really consider what men are, what they’re like, what they do, that the ‘best of us’ are baby killers. What can you expect for mankind’s last hurrah, but the last twelve year old girl turning to scrape a dead jellyfish off the sand while a raven plucks her baby’s eyes out.

  • What Tha?

    Where oh where is ulvfugl?
    Leaving us in a lurch was goofigal!
    He’s such a cool tool,
    from the NTE school.
    I want him to show up againagul!

    Dig this, my lovelies!

  • Lidia said:

    “And by the way, contrary to your scientific “findings”, the “hottest” sex has never happened for me inside a secure relationship. (Makes me wonder how they scientifically measure “hotness” during sex, though.)”

    —-

    stackexchange.com, a place where Scienstistic specimens hang out, has a discussion on how this could be done. Scientists who study human behavior this way see the body as a machine and have no qualms about hooking the subject up to a range of sensors and devices to measure whatever their nerdy minds tell them is a “proxy” for hotness. It doesn’t cross their mind that such measurements might actually be altering the observed phenomena. Double-blind studies and control groups not withstanding. Pavlov studied his dogs by measuring the number of saliva drops they produced. He constructed devices to capture his dogs’ saliva. For treating dogs like mechanical entities powered by chemical reactions, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1904.

    ========

    Caroline said:

    On another note: you might want to check out Robin Wall Kimmerer and her book Braiding Sweetgrass. Based on some of your comments from the last thread, I think you might find her energizing and enlightening.”

    —-

    Thanks, Caroline… I will get this book. A new edition was released just this month.

    ========

    Reese said:

    “It is times like these that we most begin to appreciate empire … and thank our lucky stars that we have the means to avail ourselves of said empire’s privileges. How ironic that empire creates the state of our decline, yet provides the means of our ascendance back to health. We deplore it; yet it saves us, that we may deplore it further.”

    —-

    Reese, good essay. But I have a concern about the wording above. It somehow makes it sound like there were never any other “systems” of medicine prior to Science-based modern medicine.

    Empire has not been the only thing that has provided us a means of return to good health. The forest carried that torch quite well for a long time. Modern medicine is, no doubt, amazing in the area of Emergency Medicine. The record in most other areas is arguable. When compared to traditional, holistic medicine which for the most part has been based on herbs, minerals, a deliberate use of naturally occurring poisons, etc., modern medicine’s achievements are not so remarkable partly because the focus is on symptom and pain management instead of correcting the bodily imbalance that results in those symptoms. Modern medicine has failed at finding a cure for cancer (a disease of civilization) though Billions of bucks have been spent and Millions of miles have been run in support of a cure. Also, most current problems that Technology-enhanced medicine attempts to deal with are actually caused by indiscriminate deployment of Technology in the first place. I know I’m typing these words that deplore Technology on a keyboard made possible by Technology. Life these days is full of such interesting contradictions. And yet there’s no contradiction when it comes to health. Humans lived in excellent health long before Empire greeted us with a stethoscope around its neck!

    So if you’re in a car accident and your life is saved in the Emergency Room, or as in Guy’s case, by all means, be thankful to Modern Science (while keeping in mind that cars and planes are recent inventions). But in general, for overall health, Science-based medicine fails to make the grade. Traditional systems based on local flora have long served us well. In fact, sometimes, it was hard to distinguish between food and medicine. Unlike today when what we put into our mouths can range from junk food through nutritional supplements to pharmaceuticals, all of which have a “revenue model”.

  • Brought forward from the previous thread:

    Colin (March 29th, 2015 at 5:30 pm)

    @ Paul Chefurka Says:
    March 29th, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    In the end it doesn’t matter much whether enthalpy or entropy is the driving principle – we are where we are, regardless of what any of us believe is moving the planets in their orbits

    Spot on and I regard you, along with Bud and Ram, among the sharper pins in this cushion. So, I am simultaneously perplexed why you would add “[m]y view supports a Taoistic quietism…” and “I have no problems with either mysticism or teleology,” which seems, at the very least, inconsistent and incongruent with your previously asserted perspective. Hell, it may even be an outright contradiction of concepts. How can you justify/rationalize such a diametrically opposed ideation?

    ===========================================
    Colin, that is an astonishingly perceptive question, one that goes straight to the heart of the matter regarding my belief system.

    The core of my anwer is that I don’t consider scientific materialism and mysticism to be “diametrically opposed” views so much as “polar complements”. For me, each view exists within the context of the other, but without negating it. They each express an important aspect of the human experience, so I try to consider each on its own merits for the human values it reveals.

    I was brought up as a strict materialist, with only a nodding acquaintance with ideas like Zen and pantheism. About a decade ago I experienced a serious psychological breakdown as a result of discovering the implications of Peak Oil. It was my first collision with the idea of NTHE, and it wrecked my worldview. I spiraled into a depression that in retrospect I identify as a ‘Dark Night of the Soul’. None of my previous faith in science, rationalism and human ingenuity could provide any relief. The reason for this psychological impotence was that my distress resulted from the realization that those very capabilities in which I had previously reposed my entire trust were revealed to be the source of the looming annihilation. Where does one look for answers when the entire foundation of one’s worldview has been revealed as a trap?

    My eventual answer was to look in a direction orthogonal to my previous plane of operation. In other words, I began looking for insights entirely outside of the scientific problem space. The results were quite unexpected. In short order I had a number of experiences that can only be described as mystical, in which answers to my despair simply appeared, instantaneously full-grown. The details of those experiences are less interesting than their effect. They utterly resolved my despair, and let me look at our possible future without fear, while leaving all its dystopian glory intact.

    That initial breakthrough encouraged me to continue with this line of exploration, and over the following few years I investigated many of the “spiritual” threads running through human history. I found no value in any organized religion, but came to feel quite at home with shamanism, some aspects of Buddhism like non-attachment, and especially Taoism and Advaita. Throughout this exploration I never repudiated my rationalist worldview, because it, too, is a part of my nature.

    So there I was, holding two views that Western belief systems see as antithetical. Carrying them together was a problem for quite a while, because for most people the acceptance of one view requires the rejection of the other. They are not allowed to coexist because they are on different dimensions of the human experience. Our culture asks us, even forces us, to choose one or the other. That seems to me to be the source of your own consternation.

    I resolved just to live with the discomfort of holding both views, and did so with some small success by keeping them compartmentalized. However, compartmentalizing is not a terribly healthy approach, IMO, sio I kept looking for some way to step outside both compartments. The resolution to that dilemma appeared slowly when I began contemplating the nature of belief and how it operates in the mind.

    I’ve realized that the reason people normally reject one view when we accept the other is that we take a position of belief regarding truth and falsehood – one that I suspect was either rooted in or reinforced by the European Enlightenment. We are acculturated to believe that if we believe in one view (i.e. accept it as true) then the opposite view must automatically be seen as false.

    I discovered the door out of this duality-trap in the form of the ancient Greek philosophical school of Pyrrhonian Skepticism. It’s an extreme form of skepticism in which one suspends all judgement on the truth of non-evident propositions. Think whatever you want, but don’t believe in it – don’t settle on any decision regarding its truth or falsehood. The validity of this approach may depend on the observation that the truth of most propositions is quite context-dependent: something that is true under one set of assumptions becomes false under different assumptions.

    After a certain amount of practice, I find I can think about ideas in either a scientific or a more “mystical” way without having to “believe in” either of those approaches. This has loosed up my boundaries, allowing antithetical ideas to peacefully coexist in my thoughts without reducing my ability to operate exclusively in one sphere or the other if required. It has promoted a state the Greeks called ataraxia: “a lucid state of robust tranquility, characterized by ongoing freedom from distress and worry.” Buddhists call it equanimity. Most people think of it as “peace of mind.”

    This was my answer to a particularly personal dilemma, and may have little to say to anyone else. Or perhaps it will resonate with some people as world conditions continue to deteriorate, which is why it seems useful to lay it out here.

  • @ Paul Chefurka Says:
    March 30th, 2015 at 5:18 am

    Thank you, Paul, for such an interesting and illuminating reply. It appears we share at least a few similar perspectives, e.g. limitations in science, rationalism and human ingenuity. Personally, I do not think this is the space to discuss those, or the differences, and I have noted your contact info from your site, perhaps I’ll send a note when my time allows. Nonetheless, it seems particularly intriguing that you don’t consider scientific materialism and mysticism to be “diametrically opposed” views so much as “polar complements.” However, when you say you had faith in science, rationalism… and [w]here does one look for answers and the reason people normally reject one view when we accept the other is that we take a position of belief, I have to ask why you, or anyone, “needs” to have faith, belief or answers, or look to the former for the latter? Do you not think that these abstractions and their myriad sectarian interpretations may, in fact, be a basic reason for the divisiveness among humans and the human disconnect from nature? At the very least, are these concepts (constructs?) not decidedly, fundamentally anthropocentric? Again, perhaps this is not the space for such discussion. If you wish, I’m sure(?) Guy can/will(?) give you my email, otherwise I will make it a point to reiterate the above in a post to you within the next few days. BTW, my cursory inspection of your home page leads me to suspect that some of this may be covered somewhere on your site. I’ll peruse further as time allows. Thanks again.

  • @Colin and @Paul, I think these discussions are really interesting and wish you would post them to the Forum rather than taking them private.

    It’s really sad that the Forum has been all but abandoned…

  • Paul, Colin, Satish; If I am not doing science, what am I doing?

    Excerpt from Marvin Harris, Cultural Materialism: The Struggle for a Science of Culture. New York: Random House, 1979, pp. 315-324.

    Obscurantism is a research strategy whose aim is to subvert the possibility of achieving a science of human social life. Obscurantists deny the applicability of scientific research principles to the study of divergent and convergent sociocultural phenomena. Their aim orientation is to increase rather than decrease the semblance of disorder in the sociocultural realm and to cast doubt on all existing scientific theories without providing plausible scientific alternatives.

    All nonscientific strategies are not necessarily obscurantist. As I said earlier, there are domains of experience, knowledge of which cannot be achieved by scientific research. The ecstatic knowledge of mystics and saints, the visions and hallucinations of drug users and schizophrenics, and the aesthetic insights of artists, poets, and musicians are certainly not obscurantist merely because they are not based on scientific research principles. The issue of obscurantism arises only when knowledge obtained through nonscientific means is deliberately used to cast doubt on the authenticity of scientific knowledge within the domains suitable for scientific inquiry. To be obscurantist, in other words, a research strategy must be antiscientific rather than merely nonscientific.

    On the popular level, obscurantism has acquired many of the features of a social movement. Standards, inclinations, and attitudes associated with a large number of convergent nonscientific interests implicitly or explicitly deny the feasibility or utility of a science of social life. Obscurantism is an important component in the emics of astrology, witchcraft, messianism, hippiedom, fundamentalism, cults of personality, nationalism, ethnocentrism, and a hundred other contemporary modes of thought that exalt knowledge gained by inspiration, revelation, intuition, faith, or incantation as against knowledge obtained in conformity with scientific research principles.

    Philosophers and social scientists are implicated both as leaders and as followers in the popular success of these celebrations of nonscientific knowledge, and in the strong antiscientific components they contain.

  • Paul,

    I ‘ve been reading your recent exchange with Colin with interest.
    You’re trying to grasp a paradox which Colin, from what I read in his comments and your exchange, might be able to help you with.

    I hope you, and Colin, you too, don’t mind me butting in like that, but it looks to me as if you should explore this paradox as Colin has suggested without anybody else butting in (as I’m doing now).

    Just a little tip from a woman: don’t try and grasp too much, let things work on you. Otherwise you’ll never get beyond dualism. Don’t force it, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Humans have been separated for a very long time.

    My best wishes to you both.

  • Tech Note. Getting 404 Page Not Found errors again. Trying to post part of a comment below by breaking it into parts for diagnostic purposes:

    Soft start-up:

    For those who believe that natural science can and often does provide some valuable information concerning human thinking, feeling, and behaving, including emotions, love, and relationships (here I respectfully acknowledge that a number of people who comment here strongly do NOT believe this), I would like to describe again the importance of soft start-ups in our communications. I base this comment on John Gottman and colleague’s forty years of research at the University of Washington. Please note that none of this exists as anyone’s personal, presumably authoritative opinion or as philosophy, but instead as how our relationships appear actually to work based on the most up-to-date scientific research regarding these issues. Those who do not consider natural scientific research related to human psychology, sociology, neuroscience, emotions, relationships, love, and so on, either relevant or valid can of course just ignore this comment.

    Within the behavioral possibilities, relationships usually have two “attractors” or “basins of attraction” called “influenced steady states”. (Not always, and more than two attractors can sometimes occur.) One of these attractors has a positive, bonding nature, and the other one negative, tending to push people apart. Both of these basins of attraction usually exist in a relationship in a stable way over time (but they can and do change over time). Each of these steady states has its own basin of attraction such that our communication situations work like two valleys next to each other with a ridge (the “separatrix”) between them, one valley or basin positive in nature, and the other one negative. If people begin interacting slightly on one side of the ridge within one basin of attraction, then, over time, the sequence of their interactions will tend to approach that basin’s positive or negative attractor. It works kind of like a marble rolling around inside a bowl approaching the lowest energy stable steady state at the bottom of the bowl. Start the marble rolling near the rim within the positive basin and it will probably get ever closer to the positive attractor over time; start it near the rim in the negative basin, and it will probably get ever closer to the negative attractor over time. (This does not always occur, just usually; and repairs or dampening can occur that may move the process into the other basin.)

    Notice the important and ever-so-practical implications of this in our day-to-day lives. It implies that the eventual trend a conversation follows over time DEPENDS STRONGLY ON THE INITIAL CONDITIONS: where the communication “marble” starts rolling from; on which side of the ridge it begins. Does it begin rolling on the positive or negative side of the ridge that separates the basins of attraction?

    All of this points to the critical role of how one STARTS a conversation, and we often have great control over this! Do you start with a HARSH start-up, negative from the other person’s perspective, perhaps with sarcasm, an insult, or an angry facial expression or tone of voice? Or do you start SOFTLY and GENTLY in the positive basin, within the influence of the positive relationship attractor from the other person’s perspective? I have noticed in blog comments, in social interactions among friends, and in extinction support group and other meetings, that some people tend habitually to start harshly with their words, tone of voice or body language, whether they consciously intend to do this or not. Obviously, people quite often consciously intend a harsh start-up, for example by giving someone “the finger” or exclaiming “You moron!” When someone does this, a high probability exists that the subsequent interactions will tend, over time, to remain in the negative valley and progress ever closer toward the negative attractor, just like the marble approaching the bottom of the bowl over time. On the other hand, if people begin their communication in the positive basin with a soft start-up, then over time the interactions will tend to progress toward the positive attractor in that basin.

    To me, this seems like an extremely important, simple yet powerful principle to know and practice: We can all pretty easily learn to begin our conversations, give feedback, respond to requests, and so on, VERY SOFTLY, VERY GENTLY, in ways that other people will much more often perceive as lying within the positive basin of attraction, not in the negative one. Given its basis, resting on a huge amount of observational evidence and strong scientific theory related to it, not just a hypothesis, I do not think that one can overstate the importance of this simple, easily learned habit in our relationships, whether communicating in writing, talking on the telephone, or in our face-to-face interactions.

    Finally, related to both soft start-up and NTHE, a brief Susan Johnson quote: “Anxiety and threat automatically call up the need for comfort and prime us to find security in another. If someone is there at a vulnerable moment, we begin to bond, and every risk we face together thereafter strengthens the sense of connection.”

  • Tech Note. Getting 404 Page Not Found errors again. First part worked after separating it from the last part. Trying to post last part of the comment below:

    Robert Callaghan,

    Regarding your comment that “We need a new world e-currency based on carbon tax dividends”, I agree, and I would go further than that. I have thought for at least ten years that we should make our basic unit of exchange currency some unit of energy or power, such as the Joule or Watt. I think that doing this would go a very long way toward cutting through much of the lying and manipulation that occurs. How so? Presently, with an arbitrary unit of exchange having no connection at all with biosphere function, no stable correspondence exists between, say, a dollar and the always critically important units of energy fundamental in all biosphere functioning. Connecting our exchange currency directly to a unit of energy or power would ultimately relate all of our transactions to the biosphere. But, of course, much of the point of the present system design involves exactly that: promoting and allowing for lying and manipulation by those in power, by those having significant control of those Joules and Watts. Or so it seems to me.

    Paul Demorest,

    Related to women selling their bodies, while at a Tacoma Tent City meeting a few weeks ago a formerly homeless man present referred to “survival sex”, a term I had never heard before. It serves as a synonym for prostitution and, as an accurately descriptive term, it seems to me preferable to “prostitution”. He pointed out that providing homeless people with a safe, stable place to sleep for a significant length of time, such as Tent Cities provide, significantly reduces the need for survival sex. (Meanwhile, of course, those with the most power want to maximize people’s physical dependency on the systems they control, not provide us with ways to exit those systems, and certainly not to minimize our dependency!) I think I will stop using the term prostitution and replace it with the much more directly-to-the-point and accurately descriptive term: survival sex.

  • Tech Note. Getting 404 Page Not Found errors again. For some reason my two prior comments would not post as one comment. As one comment it either gave the 404 error or presented a WordPress page to me. The comments obviously posted when separated.

  • I always liked Alan Watts, & I still do.

    But, in the video above he says at 2:25; ” … you would dream the life you’re living now.”

    Some peoples’ lives are pure unmitigated horror & suffering as global heating escalates.

    I can only imagine what a displaced, hungry, & cold Bangledeshie, Vanuatuan, or Inuit would say about dreaming the “life they are living now?”

    Desert dwelling Chileans are now in flood-waters up to their necks, at least those who survived.

    Some of this deep mystical bullshit so easily delivered makes me puke – even from a sincere & well meaning fellow like Watts.

    We may all have to confront a uglier & uglier “existence” very soon.

  • Paul.

    I do not have time to compose a lengthy response to your comment (it is autumn here and I still have a massive amount of personal work to do, as well as tackling the maniacs at the council, who are at the height of dysfunction and about to foist yet more utter nonsense onto the community), but I do want to say that I too went through a severely depressed phase several years ago, what I described at the time as beyond depression. My psychological state did not result from personal discovery that Peak Oil would cause the breakdown of historic economic-social arrangements and result in mass starvation nor because I had discovered that planetary overheating would override everything: I began writing about both the energy cliff and the very real prospect of abrupt climate change over 15 years ago, The cause of my state of ‘beyond depression’ was due to the fact that I discovered I was living in a corrupt society in which scientific evidence was (is) completely disregarded in all official decision-making, and the vast majority of people do not know and do not care to know.

    Discovering that the people who make decisions that will seriously impact on my future and everyone else’s on the basis of whims and irrational thinking and discovering that bureaucrats and elected members are utterly determined to destroy everything that matters in the pursuit of computer digits cannot be anything other than utterly depressing.

    Finding a belief system that covers the above scenario is ‘beyond difficult’.

    My current position is that most people are fucking mad, mad as hatters, as the old English expression goes, because whereas hatters are poisoned with mercury compounds and were incapable of sustained rational thought, the vast majority of people in industrial societies are poisoned by unnatural chemicals in their food and in the general environment and are poisoned by the toxic culture that western industrialism has spawned.

    I continue to do what I know is right in the face of the utter stupidity of most of those around me.

    The good news is, people around here are finally waking up to the corrupt, toxic and totally unsustainable nature of ‘the system’.

  • I tried to answer your not-so-simple question, “Finding a belief system that covers the above scenario is ‘beyond difficult'” in my excerpt from Marvin Harris above.

    I couldn’t agree more with your statements;

    “I was living in a corrupt society in which scientific evidence was (is) completely disregarded in all official decision-making, and the vast majority of people do not know and do not care to know.

    Discovering that the people who make decisions that will seriously impact on my future and everyone else’s on the basis of whims and irrational thinking …”

    Another critical question is, How did it get so perverse, distorted, & UN-scientific?

    “Science is the best way of knowing discovered so far by humankind.”

  • @Colin,

    I think recent results in neuroscience are hinting that the human brain may be “wired for belief”. This makes sense, because having set of relatively unchangeable truth-assumptions available at an unconscious level means that our decision-making circuitry doesn’t need as long to come up with solutions. I think of beliefs as the “firmware component” of our internal programming. They provide fast, direct input to our decision making neural circuitry. Like firmware, our beliefs are changeable, but only with considerable effort. This is consistent with the stickiness of beliefs noted by researchers investigating such phenomena as political party affiliation and climate change denial. So it’s not so much that we “need to believe”, so much as being “built to believe”.

    The divisiveness and disconnection from nature are IMO straightforward, natural consequences of the evolution of an intelligent social species in the presence of high energy flows. So no, I don’t see them as “anthropocentric” in the way you mean it. For example, every species is fundamentally “disconnected” from nature, in that none of them give a rat’s ass how their survival affects the rest of the biosphere. The larger system periodically re-balances as species in overshoot run into limits, so there’s no need for the species to do anything to avoid it. As a result they have never evolved that ability.

    he only way any distinctly human quality enters into the picture is through our overwhelmingly powerful intellect, which I’ve already said functions mostly as a problem-solving device. It’s like an evolutionary Swiss Army knife, but we shouldn’t let its problem-solving flexibility trick us into thinking it can do anything we can conceive of.

    @Sabine,

    For me the trick to making progress in this journey without too much pain lies in not holding our stories too tightly, and in letting go of the need to resolve every paradox one runs across. With those two in hand, moksha arrives in its own good time

    I think working this stuff out in public can be a good thing, provided the level and tone of the discussion are maintained (and if they’re not, nothing gets “worked out” anyway.) This is all about responding to deeply uncomfortable realizations, and opening up to wider ranges of possibility than we’re used to. NTHE is the perfect domain for that challenge, and NBL provides as good a playing field as any.

  • While Florida is denying the very existence of climate change, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is here to remind us that, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

  • ^^ Above should read “”anthropocentric” in the way I think you mean it.” Sorry to be presumptuous.

    @Kevin,

    In order to get over my distress at the shortcomings of politicians, I had to find a way to stop blaming them for simply being what they are. I found what I needed in evolutionary psychology and neuroscience. However, my starting point was that I wanted to get over my distress. For people who don’t have that desire, this may be a bridge too far. Which is perfectly fine, that’s just who they are. No blame is attached to any human behaviour in my worldview these days. That alone makes it anathema to most people.

    Done for the day. Promise.

  • @Bud: You’ve gotten a lot of good and useful feedback about your communication style, and why it creates more heat than light. Whether or not you choose to pay attention to it is, of course, entirely up to you.

    What’s fascinating to me about this – and speaks (in my view) to the larger issues of the human experience – is that you are a fan – and I’d say a groupie – of John Gottman. You certainly know more about him and his ideas than anyone else here, and probably more than most marriage therapists, too.

    And yet, with all that knowledge (and your obvious admiration and enthusiasm) you are making the exact error that is the foundation of his message. As I put it to you a few weeks back (somewhat tongue in cheek): If you talked to your wife the way you talk to folks on the internet, it would be a long time between BJ’s.

    For those who don’t know about Gottman, he became famous because he discovered a way to predict, with 90%+ certainty, those couples whose marriage would be collapsing in the short term. He was able to teach his methods to his grad students, and they became as adept as he was at this accuracy in their predictions.

    And what did he discover? Simply stated, he discovered that when spouses speak to one another in words with a distinct and detectable undertone of hostility (surprise, surprise) it was toxic for the relationship.

    Which brings me back to you, Bud. You know all this (again, better than most) and yet your own communication style in the various discussions you have been having is full of exactly the kind of communication dysfunction Gottman points out as relationship destroying rather than relationship building. Four or five people (at least) have pointed to specific instances in your writings where your words, and your editorializing, are disparaging, passive-aggressive, hostile, contemptuous, etc.

    Now – I don’t personally mind any of it…in fact, I get a fair amount of entertainment value out of it, just like I do out of a lot of what goes on here in the realm of fear and loathing.

    But – speaking very seriously for a minute – I think it is a powerful example of just how problematic the human condition is for all of us – or at least for most of us. Clearly, we are subject to all sorts of what the Buddha called “delusions and obscurations” – vast and unconscious blind spots in our character and our behavior – that often undermine our ego ideals.

    That’s why I don’t share your sanguinity about the work of Gottman as a “breakthrough” – nor do I think that the attempts to quantify human behavior – whether by economists or sociologists or psychologists – is ultimately going to make more than a marginal difference in the human condition and human experience – with or without the looming threat of NTE.

    Now, to be more specific, I’ve watched you engage in at least 4 rather extended discussions/debates with others, and seen these same behavior manifestations in each of them:

    – With Scott Johnson over on his blog, Fractal Planet, debating Guy’s take on NTE
    – Here, debating the existence (or not) of non-physical realities
    – Here, debating the nature of humans and human societies
    – Here, debating the efficacy of hard science methods to successfully model and change the dynamics of human behavior.

    I frankly found myself puzzled (as well as amused) by your inability to see that you were dropping your own pantsload in the pool, even while chiding others for doing the same. Of course, yours were done more subtly – a sotto voce “fuck you” rather than a shouted one – but I wondered WHY you were doing it – or rather what was MAKING you do it.

    And then, when you shared about your father, and his behavior, it all kind of made sense. It’s what you were taught to do as a kid – and even though you CONSCIOUSLY rejected his influence – well, it’s like what the Jesuits say, “Give us a child until he’s 7 years old and he’s ours forever”.

    The big takeaway here, for me at least, is that we are prone to entirely underestimate the depth of the human problem and how resistant it is to fixing. We think that if we “walk away from Empire” we’re going to function as free beings and only love will remain.

    But empire is something we carry around in our heads, long after we’ve cut the cord and built our mud huts, or taken up our monk’s robes, or whatever. It is something that persists – like cockroaches – despite our best efforts to weigh and measure it and then devise a magic potion or powder that will stamp it out. It is the Pogo problem: “We have met the enemy and he is us”.

    So that is, as I see it, the state of affairs – and a terminally difficult state of affairs it is at this point – in terms of the long term prospects for our species.

    But life continues…and new and complex forms of life will no doubt arise after we’re gone. Perhaps in the next iteration, the roll of the dice that is evolution will produce something along the lines of Homo Sapiens 2.0, where the problems of human egotism in all its manifold forms will not be quite so deterministic of outcomes as they clearly have been for us.

    Meanwhile, we still have a ton of wiggle room, as individuals, in terms of how we deal (or don’t deal) with our own individual egotism. This is something the ancients knew, and the moderns are rediscovering. Too late to save the species (or so I believe) – but not too late for us as individuals.

    As for practical advice But – here is some: Since you like to write in order to help you think, you might want to put your first thoughts somewhere else besides a public forum. Your first thoughts are too often going to be littered with the detrius of your own shadow (as is the case with most of us). Before you post, you might want to put on your editor’s hat, and clean it up, removing all the offensive, “I’m OK, you’re not OK” words, phrases and thoughts.

    It’s surely the same sort of advice that Gottman would no doubt give you if you were committing the same verbal gaffes in your arguments with your wife. Be more mindful of what you say, and how you say it, and how it will inevitably make her feel. Be willing to have a full and frank exchange of views without the gamesmanship if you want the conversation to be productive rather than destructive.

    I charge $150/hr for life coaching. I’ll send you my bill. ;o)

    Enough serious for now. It’s back to limericks, along with that great NBL sage, BtD.

  • @paul, yes… the blame is very convenient not least because it never includes one’s self, not really and truly. I think what you say about the desire to get over one’s distress is interesting. I don’t think I started from that point; for me it was more of a logical process, without mysticism.

    @kevin, right now they are chasing after zeros. Soon it will get much more concrete.

  • Paul, I am holding the “story” near term extinction from global heating caused by humans burning fossil fuels very, very closely.

    It is an hypothesis/story.

    There is much conflict, disagreement, wrangling, & paradox in such an all encompassing story/hypothesis.

    I resolve the conflicting claims & paradox as best I can by practicing good science based on empirical, material, & physical evidence.

    Good science is carefully telling the truth as best you can.

    Science is the best & most reliable system discovered so fby mankind.

    Science, by definition, continually questions its own beliefs/premises.

    It is the very best that I can do.

  • Paul, you hold; “For me the trick to making progress in this journey without too much pain lies in not holding our stories too tightly, and in letting go of the need to resolve every paradox one runs across.”

    I am holding the story/hypothesis of near term extinction from global heating “very tightly.”

    I am trying my damdest to resolve the paradoxes & conflicting claims as best I can.

    I am making inferences based of the best empirical, material, & physical evidence.

    No lying, no cheating, no nonsense.

    It is the very best that I can do.

  • Paul – Thanks for sharing your inner journey. I think this kind of sharing is very relevant and appropriate to this café at the end of the universe that Guy has created. Your story has many correspondences with my own: devotion to science, followed by a search for something beyond the known. Let me share a few recent musings….

    Many of us on this or other collapse sites are going through the experiences of an animal who has just been hit by a steel trap. All the cascade of emotional, physiologic, and cognitive responses are set in motion. Except the trap in our case turns out to be life itself, and we were hit by it at the moment of conception. We have been initiated into a process of aspiration and agony that began eons ago.

    Life arose in a Universe determined to destroy it. We have been fighting to survive from our very beginning. The odds seem to be overwhelmingly against us, and yet we continue. The seeds of our possible defeat lie within our very desperate drive to thrive and survive. Our best weapons are turning against us. Only an improbable judo of the Spirit can save us….

    *
    The tiny difference in the quantity of positrons and electrons, antimatter and matter in the early Universe set up the basic axis for the cosmic drama to ensue in the complex interactions that have unfolded. The exciting and dangerous tango between life and death, love and hate, good and evil was on! How will it end? It is always ending and beginning. The moment of creation is the moment of annihilation which is again the moment of creation. And yet something high and ineffable is being alchemically distilled from this cosmic flux. Do not ask “what is it?” go and make your visit. Your searching cannot find it, but it might make it possible for it to find you.

    *
    The truths that might save us lie in dimensions beyond our understanding. Access to these truths requires a leap into the unknown, where all our certainties may prove incorrect and useless. This is the “magic theater for madmen only” Hesse wrote of. As Ouspensky said coming out of a nitrous oxide trip, “think in other categories”. Or better zen “enter no mind and leave the baggage of your intellect and experience behind for a time – you can pick it up later if you still want to use it”. Einstein “The methods that got us into this mess will not serve to get us out of it.”

    Our most cherished beliefs have become a prison dooming us to extinction. What will it take to make us dare to jump? Our so-called creativity only moves us in the same futile circles.

    Of course there will be those who say, “Give us THE Answer or shut up and join us in despair, or else just leave us alone.” If one were to say, “Solutions will require a process of creative enquiry.”
    Then they will reply, “We already did that, and have concluded that there is no possible answer.” To which one can only reply, “How can you be so absolutely sure, is it possible you could be wrong?”

    *
    I sometimes think my posts are like what Gurdjieff called “pouring from the empty into the void.” I am not unaware that some of my thoughts are quite contrarian to how many are thinking on this blog. I just have learned to question anyone’s pretensions to absolute knowledge. I am fully aware that our chances of near term survival are exceedingly slim (depending of course on how one defines “near term”.) But my hope that there might be some way out of our plunge towards extinction refuses to be extinguished. The story of how Fermat’s last conjecture was finally proven is a favorite of mine. However difficult a problem may present itself, you never know if an incredible and unlikely solution may exist somewhere just beyond our present understanding. Chasing that elusive beast becomes a fascinating quest worth pursuing, especially since the prize in this case is the continuance of the human experiment….
    *
    The quest for certainty continues. We want finality, something we can count on no matter what. Questions, ambiguity, uncertainty all that can add up to anxiety and a poor night’s sleep. But it reminds me of Ouspensky’s dedication in one of his books, “to Gurdjieff the man who disturbed my sleep”. Or the dancer Martha Graham who spoke of a “blessed unrest” that fueled her creative life.

    Maybe our tendency to conclude too quickly relates to world weariness, a wish to embrace that long sleep waiting for each of us.
    Was this somewhat the meaning of Dylan Thomas’s poem, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night? “Rage, rage against the dying of the light…”

  • Guy,

    Did I get that right?

    “Most Western states have outlawed the harvesting of rainwater.”

    That’s monstrous. Very little shocks me now but that did.

  • i was an ignorant lad then!…1977…https://youtu.be/DE9XQnISYqg

  • One of my posts posted by itself.
    As I was pecking away, the screen went blank.
    I didn’t even do the endangered species exercise.
    Mystical devils & spirits, maybe?
    Gawd took over because I am so stupid/smaht?
    The spirits know when you talk about them behind their back(s).
    So, I pecked it out again.

  • …and still trying to come to terms with it! haha! https://youtu.be/Q9kqoD1t4lw

  • Bud – Your last comment makes me think:

    Biblical – A soft answer turns away much wrath.

    Taoist – The soft overcomes the hard. Water wears away the stone.

    Aikido – Martial art is based on love. Harmonizing with the creative energy (ki) of the Universe prevents the arising of an enemy.

    Bruno Bettelheim – The end is in the beginning.

  • BUT STILL ROCKIN’,and breakin’ all the rules!…BAM!!! THIRD POST…now i’m a cranky geezer…https://youtu.be/Q9kqoD1t4lw

  • @Sabine.. just to precise: they didn’t just do this recently.

    In Eastern states there is the “riparian” doctrine—you can take from the river you abut.. but in Western states they have a doctrine called “prior appropriation” which reserves water for whomever greases enough palms.. er, I mean, claims a higher “beneficial use” for it. It’s pretty complex and fraught with power games: did you ever see the movie “Chinatown”?

    Here is an interest PDF from Colorado that documents the insanity:
    http://www.ext.colostate.edu/sam/rainwaterbills.pdf
    Pret-ty scary. I wouldn’t live out there for love nor money.

  • ooops! sorry wrong song above, though good enough to hear twice. Bammm! fourth post. damn captcha is lousy at math…no sense of humour either…and a control freak. https://youtu.be/HEluoeMLTCI

  • @Reese Jones: FYI, I have acquired veritable piles of wisdom over the course of a lifetime dealing with the heartbreak of hemorrhoids.

    So if you think it would serve the doomer community to get to the bottom of my story by doing an in-depth exploration, don’t hesitate to ask me for an interview. Like so many others here, I live to serve.

  • Science needs to be an endeavor performed for the public good.

    When science, instead, facilitates the destruction of civilization is anyone at fault (The IPCC Record on Global Warming Temperature Projections)?

  • Bud~Re: “survival sex”
    Please check your assumptions. Not all prostitution is “survival sex”.

    Sex workers (prostitutes, escorts, sensual massage practitioners, tantra teachers/providers, sexological bodyworkers, whores, harlots, strippers, call girls/boys, street walkers, hookers, and gigolos) engage in their work for a myriad of reasons. Some people do sex work because they are educators, healers, and/or are in service to humanity, and this is their calling. Some do it because they can make more money selling sex than working in an office. And unfortunately yes, some people do it because it is the only way they can find to survive. And some of these last ones, are also called wives.

  • @Dredd, this is a loaded statement with no clear definition: “Science needs to be an endeavor performed for the public good.”

    Eugenicists thought they were acting “for the public good” but are now reviled. When Kung! bush people expose their children, when pre-modern Japanese midwives “sent babies back”.. that was for the public good.


    No one will ever agree on what “the public good” actually is. Is it for the public good that we have nuclear power and synthetic fertilizers? The public who are alive in the near term by dint of those processes will have a different opinion from others with a longer view.

    As a lapsed scientist, whose opinion of most “scientific” enterprises could hardly be lower, I still defend THE IDEA of “science”, because the idea of science is merely to investigate and to discover through rigorous empirical means. There is nothing about that definition that IMPOSES cruel experiments on dogs or syphilitics, or that IMPOSES NON-experiments of exposing wholesale populations to nuclear radiation or pesticides or genetically-modified foods. These are things that humans do under the *cover* of “science”. Science itself (I don’t think) is to blame.

    On the other hand, KNOWING (that we can extract energy from plants/wood/fossil fuels/nukes) has certainly led to the escalation in population that is our ultimate downfall. The planet as we know it could certainly survive many millions of keen exploiters, but obviously not 7+ billion.

    —-
    “The public good” (if you ask most people) is MORE OF THEM and less of everything else (and perhaps explicitly everyONE else). Just ask them and see! My sister-in-law is quite a bright geologist and recently-retired high-school science teacher. Her raison d’être is to encourage her 3 children, and her brother’s 3 children, to spew out lots of progeny. I was shocked to see avid “permaculturists” posting about their 3, 4, 6 children. Unclear on the concept.

    I dare you to find anyone on the national scene who will publicly state that we need to bring our numbers down by ceasing to breed so uncautiously. I dare you to find anyone on the national scene who will publicly state that we should “de-grow”, with fewer cars, fewer miles traveled, more local enterprises, lower inputs, lower outputs, lower everything.. Find me that person! ….who would be operating in the “public good”…. The PUBLIC would spit on them and throw rotten tomatoes.

    Kevin Moore can tell you all about “the public good”, I am sure.

    Civilization leads to destruction. It never has not.
    Life leads to death.

  • mike k posted: “The tiny difference in the quantity of positrons and electrons, antimatter and matter in the early Universe set up the basic axis for the cosmic drama to ensue in the complex interactions that have unfolded. The exciting and dangerous tango between life and death, love and hate, good and evil was on! How will it end? It is always ending and beginning. The moment of creation is the moment of annihilation which is again the moment of creation. And yet something high and ineffable is being alchemically distilled from this cosmic flux. Do not ask “what is it?” go and make your visit. Your searching cannot find it, but it might make it possible for it to find you.

    *
    The truths that might save us lie in dimensions beyond our understanding. Access to these truths requires a leap into the unknown, where all our certainties may prove incorrect and useless. This is the “magic theater for madmen only” Hesse wrote of. As Ouspensky said coming out of a nitrous oxide trip, “think in other categories”. Or better zen “enter no mind and leave the baggage of your intellect and experience behind for a time – you can pick it up later if you still want to use it”. Einstein “The methods that got us into this mess will not serve to get us out of it.”

    Our most cherished beliefs have become a prison dooming us to extinction. What will it take to make us dare to jump? Our so-called creativity only moves us in the same futile circles.”

    so I’m crazy enough to know we are all going to die, but am now thinking of my immortal soul…of the immortal soul period, you know, why I was even here in the first place, what was and is my purpose, and what do I take with me when I leave this “mortal coil”, because I don’t think there is an ‘afterlife’, but I’m not so sure there is such a thing as death either…not ‘permanent’ death..so maybe rather than ‘after’ or ‘before’..it’s all just different stages of life, be it physical or noncorporeal?

    and before someone mentions the “G” , or “god” word, I didn’t bring the word or being up in mention of a soul, just as I didn’t in an earlier post a while back when I mentioned spirituality. Funny how religion and god and all those other hangups come into play when certain words are used, that might not necessarily belong there. They have a history of belonging together, and people make assumptions about them, but then again, language is a funny thing, period, but it’s all we have to work with.

    and as always, sending my love to all, and am appreciative of all the comments here.

  • Does Civilisation Mean Insanity And Violence? By Sukumaran C. V. http://www.countercurrents.org/sukumaran300315.htm

    “Then how about this? Outsiders take away your computer because the process of manufacturing the hard drive killed women in Thailand. They take your coffee because its production destroys rainforests, decimates migratory songbird populations and drives African, Asian, and South and Central American subsistence farmers off their land. They take your car because of global warming, and your wedding ring because mining exploits workers and destroys landscapes and communities. They take your TV, microwave and refrigerator because, hell, they take the whole damn electrical grid because the generation of electricity is, they say, so environmentally expensive. Imagine that these outsiders actually began to succeed in taking away these parts of your life you see as so fundamental. May be you’d start to hate the outsiders and even get a little rough with them, if that was what it took to stop them from destroying your way of life.”

    …”When we were returning to the office for staying at night, we saw hares and deer darting away from the light of our vehicle and I thought that we are encroaching into their freedom. We are depriving of their freedom to walk freely even at night. Those estates, those roads fragmenting the forests, those electric posts, those offices should be shut down and all the people who live in the forest areas should be driven out and the animals should be given the freedom to wander through day and night without fearing the humans and their vehicles and their electric lines and their roads.”

  • Paul Chefurka, Kevin Moore, and anyone else interested:

    The heart of my past experiences with depression involved two main, deeply held, interrelated sets of nutty, highly irrational, self- and other-destructive beliefs that the culture I grew up within taught me without my awareness, just as it teaches most people. For me, these deeply held beliefs lay UNDERNEATH my thinking related to issues such as peak oil, our corrupt, human- and Earth-killing society, and the resulting, fatal ecocide. These fundamental, non-conscious, but extremely powerful, philosophical beliefs related to the meaning I had constructed for my life and my appraisal of myself: (1) that I had more or less worth as a person and “deserved” other’s love depending on my performance in many different ways (as a husband, father, friend, student, Marine, lover, worker, provider, and so on), and (2) that I, other people, and the world in general “should” or “must” function as I thought they should. (My depressions certainly also related to childhood and adult attachment issues in extremely important ways, which I have only recently started learning about. Meanwhile, we started understanding the importance of attachment for adults, and implementing this understanding, only recently, during about the past 20 years.)

    With much effort over several years I learned not to play “the worth game”. One common way some people manage this involves saying something to the effect of, “I am worthwhile just because I exist”, but this keeps one subtly hooked on the destructive nature of this belief. How so? Because it amounts to an entirely arbitrary assessment. It makes just as much sense, logically, to believe “I am worthless just because I exist.” The ultimate solution to this self-worth problem involves realizing that, either way, globally judging one’s worth produces hurtful consequences and then to decide, simply and directly, not to do it any more, to catch oneself doing it, and change the thinking as needed. In this process I found it extremely helpful to realize that to determine the global worth of anything I would have to have a God-like omniscience. But, obviously(!), I do not. I remain infinitely ignorant. So I have taught myself no longer to play that always destructive worth game.

    I also taught myself to stop making my childish, grandiose, narcissistic demands and shoulds about how I, other people, and the world in general presumably “must” work: as I wanted and expected it to! I learned to recognize that I do NOT exist as some kind of God that determines such things. I live as only an infinitely small part of God, so I have infinitely little control of anything. Things SHOULD exist exactly as they do simply because THEY EXIST THAT WAY as functions of the universe, and what I think, in my infinite ignorance, does not matter in the least. So I deeply, emotionally accept that what is, “should be”, simply because it is. I got off of my narcissistic, human supremacist high-horse a number of decades ago and no longer experience the painful anger, anxiety, and depression that I sometimes did then.

    We now know that for an INDIVIDUAL a focus on learning about and changing cognitive processes, such as these, has great power. But the research has also shown clearly and consistently that, contrary to what one might think, such a cognitive focus does not help much for RELATIONSHIPS. In relationships the INTERACTION PATTERNS, the NEGATIVE INTERACTION CYCLES prove critical. We have interaction cycles that feed on themselves in positive ways, and we have cycles that feed on themselves in negative ways. We now know that with an appropriate focus on emotions regarding attachment issues among the people involved, as compared with a focus on cognitive issues (developing communication skills, problem solving, and so on), we can help each other change these interaction patterns with up to about 80% success. Subsequently, for the most part people then easily resolve the cognitive issues, communication, and other problems once they have fully processed their attachment-related, emotional disconnections.

    Kevin, regarding your comment that “…most people are fucking mad, mad as hatters, as the old English expression goes, because whereas hatters are poisoned with mercury compounds and were incapable of sustained rational thought, the vast majority of people in industrial societies are poisoned by unnatural chemicals in their food and in the general environment and are poisoned by the toxic culture that western industrialism has spawned.” for the most part, I agree. But I think the madness goes far deeper than just poisoning by our toxic culture and environment. I agree with the famous clinical psychologist, Albert Ellis, that “Humans are fucking nuts!” I agreed with him about this for several decades, then spent a few years thinking that, no, only post-agricultural humans “are nuts”, then, with more learning I went back to his more general, unqualified statement. Interestingly, related to this much research indicates that emotion does not imply irrationality. Indeed, we make good judgments only with significant help from our emotions.

    DrEpiphany,

    Thanks for your heads up! I think you have this correct about prostitution and survival sex. Prostitution involves much more, it has a much larger frame, than “survival sex” does, which works as a sub-class under the much larger prostitution major heading. I would guess that most prostitution does qualify as survival sex, but, as you point out, certainly not all of it. (I wonder how the percentages work out for the various kinds of prostitution.) Though I expect that most prostitution, by far(!), occurs in very damaging ways for women, surely not all of it does, as you suggest. Thanks again for the clarification!

  • Me personally, I have been depressed since about year 8 when I refused to eat a McDonalds hamburger, my mom, who was a long sufferer of abuse from her family, threw the burger against the wall and sent me to several sessions of psychological therapy. Try that when you’re 8.

    The only thing that kept me in the game was youthful energy that has since faded rapidly. Hell, I just lived through a military coup, now a totalist fascist state. That’s what my students get for their future and the outcome of 7 years of my work here. Golly aren’t we happy?

    Getting dumped by my Chinese girlfriend who I dated also for 7 years, so she could marry a Chinese guy she practically just met in order to please her mother. Lovely.

    Then after years of figuring, finally find out that most of my family are white supremacist, racist, misogynist, if not hardcore fascist. Imagine the Christmas dinners and the “blessings”.

    My best super liberal friend in High School married the heiress of a giant coal company and now gets his allowance off the backs of the Navajo who live at Black Mountain. Bully. He doesn’t speak to me.

    Was an environmental activist in Redwood Summer in Ukaih. But guess what? We lost. Totally. Comprehensively. Got our lefty arses kicked back to hippyville so to speak. So what? You lost the planet. Suck it up, and all that BS.

    Mumsie also went in to the psych doctor’s office on her own – turned herself in so to speak – and got loaded up with a lot of SSRIs. After 10 years taking that crap daily, obsessed with having a positive attitude, she is now all but cognitively incapacitated. Hey – but she is happy. Father won’t speak to me as “punishment” for voting for Dukakis and Gore. Brother won’t speak to me because all his friends are right-wing limbaughites.

    47 years old, I got a gout flareup and can’t walk on a bum leg, an intestinal anomaly that makes me puke randomly, just told I must spend the next 75 consecutive weekends commuting $100 round trip taxi to the other side of the country every saturday for training or I lose my job. You know how I feel about burning carbon.

    There is no exit and no end in sight. I am not asking for sympathy as that would probably lead to more depression. Ha. What is normal like? I probably already forgot years ago.

    Wish you and everyone all the best with their struggle. As I know it is probably as infernal and impossible as mine. Cheers.

  • @Wester

    Sodium bicarb for gout- ‘alkala-N’ available from Helios UK purer and more balanced form -also contains potassium bicarb.

    Zinc also recommended ( I suggest ionic zinc if you can source it)

    Magnesium deficiency also pandemic and involved in the regulation of myriad enzymatic activity including digestion. Again I suggest in ionic form.

    The remedy penecillium roquefortii (fortakehl or pleoforte) very effective in gut regulation.

    I suggest seeing a physician skilled in applied kinesiology/manual muscle testing -they can help determine the cause of the gastric distress : infection, metals, chemicals, etc..

    I hear you- life is hard and life is painful. But I tell you from my heart if you will look at yourself directly- ‘what am I really?’ -the suffering element will vanish from your life entirely and your relationship with the parade of phenomena that is the unfolding of your life will be transformed.

    Be well

  • “what am I really?” — I’d say “broke.” Too broke to afford medicine, much less a doctor visit. Such is the price one pays for putting their body where their mind tells them they should be. Forgot to add, that in the parade of phenomena, my only pet died last night. Not only that, but this is my third postie, so I am delinquent too. Thank you much for your advice and keep up the good fight. Cheers.

  • Lidia,

    Thanks for that PDF.

    Yes, that’s pretty scary.

    When will they start allocating the “precipitation” from the sky which waters people’s crops and gardens directly, in accordance with further laws of such insanity? I’m sure they’re working on it. Maybe a minimum charge for a single rain drop with discounts if the precipitation settles as dew or fog? Then it could be graded. It would be a piece of p*** to design a program for that. Some nerds are probably working on that as I write.
    That would be the next logical step. How about developing a program for measuring and allocating the whole process of “precipitation” with all its nuances, catering for all probabilities? Maybe they’re working on that too. There’s lots of money to be made! And there’s so much more “natural capital” (I hate that description) to be privatized. It’s just about finding a way, designing programs to monetize every last atom, no every sub-atomic particle! and reserve rights for any new ones that physicists might find (identify) in the future.
    There, I’ve nailed it but a corporate lawyer could do it so much better!

    Maybe I should patent the idea but it’s likely that I’m too late. There’s probably already a patent in existence.

    I’d have to cry constantly about all this insanity if I didn’t spin it out into utter absurdities for me to laugh at.

    I’m sure you can laugh at it too.

    Like Benjamin’s limericks which have the same effect on me. Thanks Ben, you have a rare talent.

    I did see “Chinatown” and yes I know what you mean.

    God bless America!

  • @Bud,

    Resolution of the issues you describe are what the practice of “letting go of your story” is aimed at. Seeing through the illusion that you are your story (which is what we’re all taught here) seems to result in some fairly predictable outcomes – loss of arrogance, open-mindedness, deep acceptance of others no matter how stuck they are… The best psychotherapy I’ve found so far has been Advaita. The biggest problem with it for the Western mind may be that it doesn’t have enough words. Thou art that. YMMV.

  • “but I wondered WHY you were doing it – or rather what was MAKING you do it.”

    A humongous ego. A certainty that lies in the realm of conditionality. The unconditional is indicated by the sayirg: “One can deny everything except the denier.” The best policy is TLDR.

    “Science is the best & most reliable system discovered so fby mankind.”

    Science is like GPS. It tells you where you are and how to get to where you want to go. More than GPS, it will even provide context-dependent rational reasons for why to want to go where you want to go. It does not tell you where to go, or where to want to go. It also does not set the context. Those are up to you.

    “Many of us on this or other collapse sites are going through the experiences of an animal who has just been hit by a steel trap.”

    Only if one conflates Self with the body-mind complex.

    “The truths that might save us lie in dimensions beyond our understanding.”

    Understanding is a phenomenon of the mind, and therefore destined to perish with the body-mind complex. Being is not dependent on space-time-causation. It is a light not subject to beginning or end.

    “but am now thinking of my immortal soul…of the immortal soul period”

    There ain’t any immortal soul. There ain’t any river after the river enters the ocean.

    “what was and is my purpose”

    To act my part in this Cosmic (Divine?) Play, as well as I can, be it villain or hero.

  • Paul said:

    “I resolved just to live with the discomfort of holding both views, and did so with some small success by keeping them compartmentalized. However, compartmentalizing is not a terribly healthy approach, IMO, sio I kept looking for some way to step outside both compartments. The resolution to that dilemma appeared slowly when I began contemplating the nature of belief and how it operates in the mind.”

    “I’ve realized that the reason people normally reject one view when we accept the other is that we take a position of belief regarding truth and falsehood – one that I suspect was either rooted in or reinforced by the European Enlightenment. We are acculturated to believe that if we believe in one view (i.e. accept it as true) then the opposite view must automatically be seen as false.”

    “Or perhaps it will resonate with some people as world conditions continue to deteriorate, which is why it seems useful to lay it out here.”

    —-

    Paul, I really like what you said above. Your journey is very much like mine, although my psychological breakdown was more recent. I’ve been wondering about the nature of belief too and find that our worldviews are made up of a number of stories. We tend to put the words “belief” and “story” into a category that’s separate from “reality” but I find stories affect us much more and determine the course of our lives to a much larger degree than whatever that we call “reality” does. The story of capitalism, for one, is a very powerful story that has directed the course of civilization for hundreds of years. In fact, it has shaped “reality” to suit itself. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the face of the planet, the very contours (and how much more real can we get) have been literally re-drawn by the story of capitalism. The McDonald’s around the corner is very real but it’s there because of a story that many if not all believe in. It has possessed the souls of men and recruited them to grow itself so it can possess more souls. Sometimes I wonder if human beings are nothing more than empty shells that absorb the dominant cultural stories of their place and time, like a sponge absorbs water. What do we defend more than the stories we believe in, the stories that possess us? People put their lives on the line to defend their stories. Someone said the un-examined life is not worth living. I don’t know exactly what they meant by that but to me, it translates into being mindful of the stories that lurk in my sub-conscious, stories that have done much harm to me over the years, ferreting them out and discarding them. And listening to the calls of new stories that seek to enter my consciousness and help me rebuild a new worldview. This time, a light one, one that can be reshuffled relatively easily. I liken it to Scrabble vs. Bananagrams. In Scrabble, we put down the letters and they stay where they are until the end of the game. We are only allowed to add new words at the edges of the existing formation. In Bananagrams, we’re always looking for ways to fit in new letters into the puzzle but we can rearrange portions of the word formation, however small or large, or even dismantle it all and start anew, if that seems like it will better fit all the letters we have.

    I’m sure more and more people will resonate with your thoughts above when they find their worldviews breaking down. I have also written about the breakdown process here.

    Agree with Lidia, I actually prefer your discussion with Colin to remain in this space unless either one or both of you need privacy. This discussion is very pertinent to NTE. As you said, “NTHE is the perfect domain for that challenge, and NBL provides as good a playing field as any.”

    I think pretty much any topic is fair game at this point on this comment space because if we’re not connecting the dots and not wearing our non-reductionist, re-integrative hats, we’re missing the point.

    ========

    Gerald said:

    Excerpt from Marvin Harris, Cultural Materialism: The Struggle for a Science of Culture. New York: Random House, 1979, pp. 315-324.

    “Obscurantism is a research strategy whose aim is to subvert the possibility of achieving a science of human social life. Obscurantists deny the applicability of scientific research principles to the study of divergent and convergent sociocultural phenomena. Their aim orientation is to increase rather than decrease the semblance of disorder in the sociocultural realm and to cast doubt on all existing scientific theories without providing plausible scientific alternatives.”

    “The issue of obscurantism arises only when knowledge obtained through nonscientific means is deliberately used to cast doubt on the authenticity of scientific knowledge within the domains suitable for scientific inquiry. To be obscurantist, in other words, a research strategy must be antiscientific rather than merely nonscientific.”

    “While Florida is denying the very existence of climate change, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is here to remind us that, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.””

    —-

    That’s what they say about heaven and hell too: they’re there whether you believe it or not. Maybe they’re not entirely wrong. At least one of them, perhaps the one that rhymes with bell, is coming soon.

    Science too comes in all sorts of flavors. Not sure which one we should focus on: cargo cult Science or pseudoscience or corporate for-profit Science or University grant-controlled Science or tenure-guaranteeing Science or the latest fad, “Citizen Science”

    It’s not even Science that I have an issue with, but Scientism. I agree with Lidia who said, “These are things that humans do under the *cover* of “science”. Science itself (I don’t think) is to blame.”

    “Scientism is belief in the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or most valuable part of human learning to the exclusion of other viewpoints.”

    Doesn’t it sound like Marvin Harris’ critique with just a few words switched? 🙂

    I think the debate comes down to not if Science has its uses, which it does, but whether it’s applicable in certain fields such as Economics, Social Studies, Psychology, etc. I think it’s unfortunate that we even split up our departments of study into so many fields. Immanuel Wallerstein describes how this came about in his introductory book on World-Systems Analysis.

    Bud wondered if the support that Scientism has enjoyed from the elite should disqualify it from being applied more pervasively. I don’t think a disqualification should occur on these grounds but there are others discussed elsewhere. But we should consider the possibility that the elite’s support for Science is more than merely incidental.

    Gerald, I concur with your thoughts about Alan Watts. I like his musings too. He’s said many times that our species’ long term viability is increasingly at risk. But at times, his philosophy does appear a bit aloof, especially after reading another one of the latest horrible doomer stories. But his stuff is not nearly as removed from the mundane human condition as that of many new age philosophers. This isn’t a knock on new age stuff either. I’m open to plenty of “far-off” stuff. Ultimately, our circumstances play a big role in determining what we relate to.

    ========

    kevin moore said:

    “Discovering that the people who make decisions that will seriously impact on my future and everyone else’s on the basis of whims and irrational thinking and discovering that bureaucrats and elected members are utterly determined to destroy everything that matters in the pursuit of computer digits cannot be anything other than utterly depressing.

    Finding a belief system that covers the above scenario is ‘beyond difficult’.”

    —-

    Sociopathy has finally found its most notorious expression. Throughout the rise of civilization, industrial and pre-industrial, there’s been one trend that has expressed itself in synchrony with the trends of civilization: control. Whether we look at control in the more materialistic sense of control of resources, people, etc. or a bit more philosophical sense as in control of the circumstances that define and delineate the human condition, this rise in control has been relentless and unmistakable. In fact, even pre-civilization events such as the discovery of fire and invention of language are about control. Sociopathy is all about control and the sociopath has risen to his ultimate glory yet.

    Another way I have been thinking about this of late is through that perennial question: where are my people? The sociopath presumably asked this question too but he didn’t get an answer for the longest time. He was just the one crazy guy in the entire tribe. But over time, the mixing of the peoples and ensuing centralization, villages, towns, cities, helped the sociopath find others who would play games of control with him. The sociopath found his people finally. Today, his people are all that matters to him. He doesn’t feel rich if you or I tell him so. He feels rich when one of his people say so. A game of control has no meaning when no one else is competing for that same piece of whatever he covets. He needs his people to play the game with him. When the elephants fight, the ants get trampled. That’s our story. And that of the rest of creation here on planet Earth.

    All just stories! Just different ways of thinking about stuff. I hesitate to blame anyone because Sociopaths exist in all cultures, all races and all places. I don’t blame even the sociopath, because that would be like blaming a blind man for accidentally spilling your coffee. As for the rest of us, we swim and soak in a culture hand-crafted by a bunch of sociopaths over centuries and millennia. Born into captivity, as Guy says. And we blame each other. So whether we have agency or not, whether there is free will or not is perhaps a question we could address after we figure out whether we have a decent story to explain our observations first, in other words, a decent awareness of the current moment. It’s “beyond difficult” like you said. We may have to do it as a tribe here. Where are my people?

  • I’ve penned and posted a brief essay. Along with other media tidbits, it’s here.

  • Resolution of the issues you describe are what the practice of “letting go of your story” is aimed at.

    I suggest the story is not a problem-you have never been touched by the story.

    Seeing through the illusion that you are your story

    I suggest that this is an outcome of the actual contact with reality- the reality that is ‘you’ – how else could you tell what is illusion?

    (which is what we’re all taught here) seems to result in some fairly predictable outcomes – loss of arrogance, open-mindedness, deep acceptance of others no matter how stuck they are… The best psychotherapy I’ve found so far has been Advaita.

    I personally find advaita to be a jungle. No amount of spiritual understanding is a substitute for the direct conscious recognition of the reality of ‘you’.

    The biggest problem with it for the Western mind may be that it doesn’t have enough words.

    I suggest that it says far too much. Spiritual understanding or any understanding for that matter does not bring an end to suffering.

    Thou art that. Yes. Look at that certainty. Taste that certainty directly. Nothing else is required. That does all the work. It is infallible.

  • Yes, it works for *me*. But then *I* also have to chop wood and carry water, and that requires *me* to interact with the *outside world*. So I try to simply go with the flow and not get too bent about anything. Only the Pope is infallible… 😉

  • Satish, if I were to join a tribe, its entry requirements would have to be some approximation of this set of understandings:

    > No one is to blame;
    > Beliefs are not truths;
    > Surrender is not capitulation;
    > Forgiveness is more for the forgiver than the forgiven; and
    > I am responsible for my own happiness and suffering.

    I’m actually seeing such tribes coalescing on FB, believe it or not. It’s the only think I’ll ever thank Mark Zuckerberg for.

  • @Paul
    Indeed 🙂

    I’m not being picky with you personally. I wasted so much time lost in the jungle with no shortage of knowledge and understandings. Then it was pointed out to me that what was required was to look at myself- to taste the simple feel of my presence here-for just one moment.

    Maybe it’s too simple 🙂 . maybe one needs to get lost in the jungle to hear it’s simplicity? I don’t believe that though. So it’s not that I’m getting bent out of shape- it is simply to help others avoid the confusion and the dead ends and false trails that I wasted so much time on.

  • Paul, two of your five simplistic axioms are blatantly false on their face.

    1. “No one is to blame.”

    The corrupt Bush admin. & neo-con lying & deceit aren’t to blame for the outright murder one million innocent Iraqis?

    Israel is not to blame for the butchery of the captive Palestinians on their own land in the Gaza Concentration camp?

    Churchill & Roosevelt are not to blame for engineering the U.S into bloody war with National Socialist Germany?

    5. “I am responsible for my own happiness & suffering.”

    Bush & his Zionist paymasters are not to blame for the complete destruction of Iraqi culture; including destroyed water systems, destroyed sewer systems, destroyed medical infrastructure, & rampant deadly disease among innocent civilians?

    ARE YOU KIDDING, BLINDLY PHILOSOPHIZING, OR JUST PLAIN FULL OF IT?

  • @Gerald

    I’m just plain full of it. Ignore me. Please.

  • I have two questions:

    (1) Can we learn much of value about our physical and biological world through the processes of natural science?

    (2) If we can, why can we not learn much of value about ourselves through those processes of natural science, as so many insist here that we cannot? What presumably makes that impossible?

    ed,

    Thanks for taking the time to give me some more specific feedback, as I requested, with your March 30th, 2015 at 11:07 am comment.

    You wrote “What’s fascinating to me about this – and speaks (in my view) to the larger issues of the human experience – is that you are a fan – and I’d say a groupie – of John Gottman.” For sure, I hold John Gottman, Susan Johnson, and many of their colleagues in high esteem, just as I do many historical figures, such as Newton, Maxwell, and Einstein. Framing this regard with a “fan” or “groupie” label trivializes my regard, but much more importantly it completely misses my main response, which involves not so much Gottman, Johnson, or others as personalities as THE THINGS WE HAVE RECENTLY LEARNED FROM THEIR WORK. I feel extremely grateful, lucky, and excited to have the privilege of learning these things, and the opportunity to bring them into my life and my relationships with others. Yes, I also like to tell others about these things in case someone else might also have an interest. In that process I assume that if someone has no interest they will just ignore it.

    You wrote “You certainly know more about him and his ideas than anyone else here, and probably more than most marriage therapists, too.” I expect that I probably do presently know a good bit more about these people and their work than anyone else presently commenting here, but I feel certain that I do NOT know more than most, IF ANY, of the Gottman- or Johnson-trained therapists do. I feel certain that I do not know nearly as much as they do in an academic sense, and certain that I have very little practical skill in comparison with them.

    You wrote “And what did he discover? Simply stated, he discovered that when spouses speak to one another in words with a distinct and detectable undertone of hostility (surprise, surprise) it was toxic for the relationship.” Actually, no. He discovered (1) that ALL relationships involve significant amounts of negativity, of hostility, (2) that this negativity does NOT predict unhappy, unstable relationships, as most people had previously thought, and (3) that the nature of the engagement process, largely negative sentiment override, produces effects toxic for the relationship in a long-term way. Emotion-based positive or negative sentiment override largely determines one’s response to an exchange and anxiously or avoidantly attached people will much more often interpret an exchange through a lens of negative sentiment override. What does “negative sentiment override” refer to? It refers to a person interpreting a positive or neutral exchange in a negative way. “Positive sentiment override”, on the other hand, refers to a person interpreting negative or neutral exchanges in a positive way. I think that much more often than not what you refer to as my alleged “distinct and detectable undertone of hostility” probably serves as an example of your own negative sentiment override interpreting my neutral comments in a negative way. I do not presume to “know” this with any degree of certainty. It just remains my present, tentative, best guess.

    I do not recall ever writing anything that suggests that I presumably remain OK while others do not. I certainly do not think or feel such things. Will you provide a specific example or two, please?

    Wester,

    I feel so sorry to learn about the things you mention in your March 31st, 2015 at 12:13 am comment. Realizing these things explains much for me about the angry, blaming tone of many of your comments. I feel quite sure that if I found myself in your shoes, I would think and feel in much the same ways. Spending two hours yesterday listening to three homeless and disabled veterans at our Tent City meeting helps too.

    Thank you for sharing. I think that for those of us who have either never experienced what you describe, or so much time has passed since we have experienced at least some of it, from our rich, comfortable positions and no matter WHAT our “race”, we have a hard time identifying with your experience and a hard time empathizing. I think, as became apparent in our meeting yesterday, a large part of this trouble empathizing comes from our not seeing and experiencing other’s plight, and this happens largely because of the purposely created disconnect our economic system has produced and works so hard to maintain. Recent research makes it crystal clear that humans have a strong, natural sense of empathy that occurs due to the mirror neurons in our brains. If those neurons do not get activated, the empathy does not occur. So disconnect and alienation from one another through various kinds of distance severely interrupts perhaps the most important process that makes us human in positive, mutually supporting, emotionally attached ways. That makes it especially easy for us to give each other philosophical and practical advice—advice that almost always does not help in the least because it does nothing to repair the broken emotional connections.

  • “no one is to blame” is another way of blaming the VICTIM to me. Sorry, that’s just the way I see it, my own personal “illusion” of what the truth of the matter is. Doubtless the monsters who inflict the pain and suffering and death on their victims don’t feel that way, as do those not affected. And also to me, ‘detachment’ can be an excuse for noninvolvement, especially when it’s sold as a ‘solution’.

    I realized after reading up on ‘meditation centers’ and ‘workshops’ of various sorts, that they are all for the people who are dealing with guilt and questions of who they are as human beings..so they spend thousands upon thousands of dollars going to ashrams so they can sit still and get ‘nirvana’ or whatever.

    Me, I look at the homeless, and nirvana for me if I had that kind of money would be to put a roof over their heads, but I only recently just managed to get a permanent place to call my own, and have my own demons (albeit imaginary ones) to deal with. So I toddle along with my own load, and try to ease that of others when I am able, but one thing that I cannot understand is how people can be so all fired “enlightened” and sometimes still be so fucking cruel. Doing nothing when you see your brother suffering is not very enlightened to me at all. I am not referring to ANYONE here that has been posting, this is just me speaking off the cuff and from the heart, and if it doesn’t come out right..well, sometimes it’s the only way it can come out at all.