Facilitating Emotional Change in ESGs

by Bud Nye, R.N., M.S.


Why facilitate emotional change? From an early age we have all known that we would die: the ultimate emotional issue. Even so, it seems that most of us have usually avoided deeply, emotionally believing and accepting that simple, obvious fact. Now the prospect of near term human extinction (NTHE) related to global heating and ecological collapse forces us actually to face the certainty of death and the meaning we wish to attribute to our lives. For the most part, most of us have “successfully” distracted ourselves from these emotional issues using many highly creative internal and external processes.

Regarding this unfortunate predicament, among Doomers generally I have noticed that many people within support groups seem most interested in pursuing one or more of four main agendas: (1) provide each other, and non-Doomers, with ever more evidence of how bad we find things now, and how much worse they will soon become, (2) express their frustration and anger about all of that, either directly or by implication through insisting or suggesting that “it should not be this way” and “it’s awful”, (3) blame some person or group of people for creating and continuing the self-annihilation trap (thus presumably relieving them individually, for the most part, of any personal responsibility as well as creating a great distraction from the pain of knowing), and (4) lecture or otherwise give advice to others regarding how they might best spend their remaining days, often based on some philosophical or religious ancient wisdom.

So, we seem to have great interest in presenting ever more evidence of our self-annihilation trap, expressing our anger and rage, distracting ourselves, blaming others, and giving each other advice. I wonder: do support groups really want mainly to pursue those four and related agendas while we live our last days essentially in hospice? I, for one, do not. In an Emotion Focused Extinction Support Group (EF ESG), we wish to help people after they find that they have seen enough evidence to understand and accept that, yes, we really do find NTHE a near certainty; and yes, NTHE probably will soon kill us, our children, and our grandchildren. In an EF ESG, we wish to focus on the primary emotions (anxiety, fear, and grief) that usually occur when a person finally grasps the horrific nature of our predicament for us and other species, as well as the related trauma; though we may consider them in passing, we do not wish to focus on secondary, reactive emotions such as reactive anger. We want to live our remaining days in the most rewarding, supportive, loving relationships possible with both human and non-human others.

Even if, for various philosophical, religious, or other reasons a participant feels a deep sense of peace and acceptance regarding the unfolding horrors, they might find learning about attachment theory, emotions in relationships, emotional change, and practicing related skills, helpful in many important ways within their ever-so-important relationships during our few remaining days. Some of us also love the learning process and pushing ourselves a little bit out of our comfort zones in learning about and practicing these things.

Related to all of this, among other things I summarize here a number of concepts that seem especially important to me and relevant for participants in EF ESGs from several books, mainly: Facilitating Emotional Change by Greenberg, Rice, and Elliott (1993), Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy with Trauma Survivors by Susan Johnson (2002), and Counseling & Therapy Skills by David Martin (2011). On one hand, the Tacoma ESG met monthly and quite productively for over two years without benefit of this information. On the other hand, armed with recent scientific knowledge about emotions, love, and relationships, in the Tacoma EF ESG we hope and expect to support one another in still more helpful ways. In my opinion, the section on empathy serves as the most important and most practical section for ESG participants both in and outside of their meetings.

Present ESG status

I think that we probably pursue the above mentioned four common agendas for three main reasons. First, we find it easy to do, especially given that we so often see them modeled by others around us. Second, and perhaps more importantly, for the most part we do not know how to work with the many messy, pesky emotional issues. Emotions, and love, after all, have remained a “mystery” throughout all of human history. Finally, we tend actively to avoid anyone’s primary emotions regarding the situation because we find these threatening or painful feelings too overwhelming. So we avoid or control these feelings in order to prevent or avoid pain.

Indeed, a large percentage of us—especially men!—do not consider emotions worth considering at all, certainly not in any scientific way. Or so that surprisingly common belief goes: we supposedly cannot, or should not, use science to understand ourselves. (Meanwhile, per John Gottman’s research, men experience stronger emotional reactions than women, and their related physiological responses last longer!) We can, supposedly, do much better with only the ancient wisdom found within various philosophies and religions, plus personal opinion. But expressing secondary reactive anger and rage does not help. Instead, this practices these emotions and the thinking that elicits them, thus tending to increase their frequency and intensity. Regarding the ever-so-popular anger, rage, and blaming, consider this quote by James Baldwin in “Notes of a Native Son”: “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”

We also find ourselves placing a heavy emphasis on various forms of defensive self-justification. In comparison, I see little time and effort expended in learning how to help each other emotionally, including how to help ourselves construct a sense of connection with each other and a sense of peace as the inevitable Great Dying continues to unfold at an ever quickening pace around us at a distance and among us. How do we best help each other with the sometimes overwhelming anxiety, fear, and trauma we have experienced—and will further experience—as well as our grief regarding the many present and coming losses? To me, this seems a critically important question that we might best focus on, discuss, and work to answer so that we might then behave most effectively based on those answers. This short quote by David Mace, April, 1987, in The Journal of American Family Therapy seems right on target to me: ”The hope for a better human future lies not in an endless succession of technological developments, but in a realistic grappling of the fundamental issue of the quality of human relationships.” I think that this holds true whether we have two years, 20 years, or 200 years remaining as a viable species.

Convinced of the near certainty of NTHE, I remain hopeless regarding the horrific outcome of the self-annihilation trap we have as a species constructed. But I also remain hopeful concerning the quality of our human relationships as we die. I remain hopeful that life can remain very much worth living during the many collapse processes now well under way. I also hope that this essay may help some people—people who wish to work with their emotions—to do so much more effectively.

Resistance to using natural science for understanding humans and emotion

I have based this essay largely on current clinical psychology and neuroscience, yet I have felt surprised to learn that a significant percentage of people have an aversion to the scientific study of humans in general as well as for learning about emotion and love. Concerning this, Susan Johnson writes these two paragraphs in her book Love Sense (my comments in brackets [ ]):

“…Two decades ago, love didn’t get much respect as a topic of study. No emotion did. Rene Descartes, the French philosopher, associated feelings with our lower animal nature and thus considered them something to be overcome. What marked us as superior animals was our ability to reason. Cogito ergo sum—’I think, therefore I am,’ he famously proclaimed.” [He proclaimed this with an astounding and insane reversal of the obvious reality that we first exist, and then, to some extent, we may think. We may think when and to the extent that our emotions allow that thinking to occur. He concluded that the brain acted as a kind of antenna by which “the spirit” communed with our bodies—quite similar to much religious thinking historically and today.]

“Emotions were not rational and therefore were suspect. And love was the most irrational and suspect of all, thus not a fit subject for scientists, the supreme rationalists. Scan the subject index of professor Ernest Hilgard’s exhaustive historical review Psychology in America, published in 1993; you won’t find the word love. Young researchers were routinely warned off the topic. I remember being told in graduate school that science does not deal with emotions, soft indefinable, such as emotion, empathy, and love.” [Note the recent date here: 1993.]

Regarding Johnson’s point that “When we cannot connect and we feel alone, deserted, or rejected a special kind of fear, a ‘primal panic’ turns on in our brains…”, where does that primal panic that turns on in our brains come from? It occurs because we exist as animals, not as Cartesian, disconnected, non-physical “spirits”. More specifically, we exist as mammals such that evolution hard-wired our nervous systems to respond in those ways to threats because doing so had survival value, not because “we have forgotten something the ancients taught”, as some might suggest. In my opinion, that cognitive, intellectual, philosophical thinking remains trivial in comparison with the fundamental, biological, neurological realities of our existence that drive us. But many people fell hook, line, and sinker for the false Cartesian mind/body dichotomy (an idea that probably goes much further back in human history than René Descartes), which, in an arrogantly human-centered way, places human consciousness within a godly realm disconnected from Earth and our “merely” biological, ecological origins.

Many people fell for René Descartes’ popular, human supremacist, but insane, philosophical proposition that “Cogito ergo sum”, “I think, therefore I am”, or perhaps better “I am thinking, therefore I exist”. Cartesians view the mind as wholly separate from the corporeal body. Descartes largely created the nonexistent, red herring, “mind/body split”, which so many have obsessed over for so long and attempted to resolve. Meanwhile, little evidence suggests that any such a “split” exists. Thinking, the “mind”, and consciousness, occur as functions of physical, biological nerve cells with the complexity of the thinking and degree of consciousness (consciousness occurs on a continuum, not as an all-or-non state) proportional to the complexity of the nerve cell structures and processes. One might think that this would seem obvious: put a bullet through a brain, or otherwise kill or upset the delicate functioning of the nerve cells, and the thinking and consciousness radically change or stop. (Just take a few stiff drinks of alcohol to dramatically experience this.) But this obvious fact does not “take” because thinking simply does not drive our thinking, as so many people with ancient, strongly held, human supremacist beliefs often arrogantly wish to believe and demand. We now know that our mammalian emotions drive our thinking to a much greater extent. But that implies a strongly unwanted lack of human influence and control—a lack of human influence and control that clashes severely with many ancient, human supremacist values and beliefs. Even more than natural science removing Earth from the center of the universe challenged many religious beliefs, science’s removing human consciousness from the center of the universe challenges and threatens many people’s foundational, human supremacist beliefs.

I described Descartes’ ever-so-popular idea as “quite insane” because he got it exactly backward, completely out of touch with biological reality. We first exist as animals, which Earth’s biosphere created, and then, sometimes, we may think—if and when our much older and more powerful emotions allow us to. Our very slow thinking forebrains developed long after our physiology and the extremely fast emotional parts of our nervous systems developed. Our emotions can, and very often do, easily, instantly, and powerfully override our thinking. As just one of many thousands of possible examples of this, this statement probably includes every human reading these words: reading the “right” symbols on a computer screen or on a piece of paper will yank nearly every one of us out of our darling, Cartesian, rational thinking mode within about one tenth of a second. (And we see that drama demonstrated every day on numerous on-line comment sites as so many of us so often and with much glee, emotionally, verbally abuse one another.)

Some people believe something to the effect of “We need to move beyond the models of industrial civilization and draw on ancient wisdom. That means moving beyond scientific method and therapeutic models.” This puzzles me in that never before in human history have we had a powerful, empirically validated science of human emotion and love as we now do with John Bowlby, John Gottman, Susan Johnson and colleague’s attachment theory and related research. Meanwhile, many people advocate moving “beyond” this by going back to the ancient wisdom of philosophy and religion based in profound ignorance of the world—and which have proven dramatically ineffective in preventing us from getting into our self-annihilation trap. Indeed, much of that ancient wisdom drove us directly toward and into the trap with the human supremacist views that it so often advocated, as well as its related in-group/out-group, sectarian violence, often killing millions. To me, ignoring modern psychology and going “back to ancient wisdom” does not make very good sense. All of this reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, this one by Jared Diamond in his book The Third Chimpanzee: “The past was a Golden Age, of ignorance, while the present is an Iron Age of willful blindness.”

I expect that most people, by far(!), will once again strongly embrace many religions as the Great Dying unfolds around and including us, and with the same historical sectarian violence and genocides that have occurred continuously throughout all of human history. Meanwhile, in our few remaining days I and the Tacoma Emotion Focused ESG prefer to put our faith in what natural science tells us about attachment theory, emotions, and how best to produce and maintain rewarding human bonding in the face of the gathering massive fear, anxiety, trauma, and grief. Convinced of the near certainty of NTHE, I remain hopeless regarding the horrific outcome of our self-annihilation trap. On the other hand, I also remain hopeful concerning the quality of our human relationships as we die. I remain hopeful that life can remain very much worth living in some of the most humanly rewarding ways during the many collapse processes now well under way.

Different ESGs will, of course, do different things. I expect that soon we will have Buddhist ESGs, Methodist ESGs, and Muslim, Jewish, and Catholic ESGs, among many others. I expect that many ESGs will find themselves grappling with the question about the extent to which they want religion to play a role in their activities, versus science—or their particular version of their particular religion.

Given that we have lost so much control over our lives as a result of our society’s often insane use of science and technology, and given that we have suffered so much in so many critically important, human ways as a result—not to mention the losses of so many other species and Earth’s biosphere—I expect that many people resist accepting the validity of using natural science to learn about ourselves mainly out of fear of further loss of control and still more pain in our lives and relationships. And so many prefer, and will prefer in the future, to throw the natural scientific baby out with the bath water.

As suggested earlier, I think an important philosophical barrier—which relates directly to some deep, powerful, primary emotions—also stops many people from valuing the many contributions that natural science has made to our understanding ourselves. Just as it clashed in the past with a number of religions, perhaps especially Catholicism, what we learn through natural science often clashes severely with many of today’s most deeply cherished, extremely popular, human supremacist, religious and philosophical beliefs, including the ideas that: (1) the universe presumably possesses a human-like consciousness or spirit, (2) human consciousness “taps into” this universal consciousness or spirit, and (3) human consciousness plays an important role in the universe and its alleged consciousness or spirit, at least on Earth. For sure, to the best of our knowledge the energy we study in physics, chemistry and biology permeates the universe in many different storage and transfer modes, and many questions remain unanswered concerning that energy. In contrast with this physical energy, we have no evidence of the presence of any “consciousness” or “spirit”. Certainly, people can believe these and similar ideas, which attribute central and powerful roles and influences to humans, if they find it comforting to do so. But many of the findings of psychology, neuroscience, biology, and ecology tend strongly to fail to support these cherished, human-centered, human supremacist beliefs. Sensing this clash and its failure to support their favored views, many people strongly deny the validity of natural science in studying humans.

As Descartes proposed several hundred years ago, many of us want to believe that what we humans think and feel play a critical, God-like role in the universe. Meanwhile, much scientific evidence suggests otherwise. The clash between these ideas within a person can produce massive, painful cognitive dissonance. In the face of such cognitive dissonance, most people, most of the time, will resort to any self-justification and rationalization processes necessary to resolve the dissonance. Regarding the nature of cognitive dissonance and how people commonly respond to it, see Mistakes Were Made (but not by ME) by Tavris and Aronson (2007), Willful Blindness by Margaret Heffernan (2011), and Thinking, Fast and Slow by Nobel prize-winning (in economics) psychologist Daniel Kahneman (2011). Regarding the optimistic nature of many human-centered, human supremacist beliefs, also see Bright-Sided, How Positive Thinking Is UNDERMINING America by Barbara Ehrenreich (2009).

Six fundamental, universal emotions

I confess that for a number of reasons I love rational argument. Unfortunately, much psychology and several decades of Physics Education Research make it clear that the (naïve) idea that rational argument changes, or “educates” people in important ways serves as one of the least rational reasons for arguing rationally! Why? Because it turns out that cognitive reasoning has little to do with motivating us in comparison with other processes. If reasoning does not strongly motivate us, then what does? Our emotions do. The word emotion comes from the Latin word emovere, to move. We talk of getting “moved” by our emotions, we find ourselves “moved” when those we love show their deepest feelings for us. If two people connect, they indeed let their emotions move them into new ways of responding to each other.

We best see emotions as adaptive action tendencies that occur as a result of automatic appraisals we make of situations that involve our basic survival concerns. Critically, emotion expression communicates with others and regulates social interaction. Emotion occurs as a complex combination of three different but related processes: primary sensation and physiology (affect), motivation related to needs and concerns, and thinking in the form of appraisals.

Primary affect signals to us in non-cognitive, physiological ways that differ from how we process cognitive, symbolic information. We do not need to cognitively interpret a clear affect signal; it automatically provides meaning and organizes action within us. Our bodies appraise the signal very quickly and directly. This has great survival value for us because it rapidly influences our behavior without relying on conceptual processing, which takes much more time. For example, if a snake strikes at us, in less than one-tenth of a second we will automatically jump to avoid it with no thinking, appraisal, or choice, involved. (Try this at a zoo sometime with a dangerous snake behind a glass wall. You will find that you cannot not jump when it strikes.) So, our primary affects occur in rapid, non-symbolic ways that guide action without requiring complex inferential processes. They work as an in-wired evolutionarily older method of controlling action, with rapid, often effective results without our knowing the reason. Yet, they also remain tied to the information processing parts of our brain, and from these primary affects come complex emotions.

Emotional experience occurs when we integrate affect and resulting action with our thinking about them. We automatically produce our emotions, but to experience them with some conscious awareness we need to symbolize those feelings in our awareness by attending to them and symbolizing them. So our emotional states occur with different degrees of awareness for us. No longer can we think of cognition and emotion as distinct and separate as many have done in the past. In general, we find much thought steeped in feeling; and thoughts have personally relevant meanings for us only when accompanied by feelings. On the other hand, we find feelings laden with thinking, involving among other processes attention and evaluation. We now see human functioning in a way that transcends the false dichotomy between reason and emotion while keeping a perspective on the difference in nature and function between emotion and cognition. Clearly, we cannot consider thinking as inherently rational, nor emotion inherently irrational. Rather than a model that sees thinking and feeling as a dichotomy, we now have a model in which thinking and feeling encounter each other within a dialectical process (described below) that synthesizes them, integrating knowing and acting into a merged sense of self and situation.

The scientific work of Paul Ekman, discussed in his book Emotions Revealed, 2003, and others, shows that humans experience six fundamental emotions displayed universally among all human cultures world-wide: sadness, anger, enjoyment, fear, disgust, and surprise. We communicate these emotions mainly through facial expressions, but also through other forms of body language as well as tone of voice. Communicating emotions plays a critical survival role for us and many other species. Many other emotions occur as complex blends of these fundamental emotions. (For a scientific introduction to the study of sadness and grief, versus the popular, non-scientific Kübler-Ross model, see The Other Side of Sadness by George Bonanno, 2009. For an introduction to the protective nature of fear, see The Gift of Fear, and Other Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence by Gavin De Becker, 1997.)

Importantly, we can experience and display emotions in three different ways: as primary, secondary (reactive), or instrumental emotions. Primary emotions occur at the initial, physiological, gut-level stemming from our immediate surroundings. Primary emotions have importance because they tell us what we really have going on for us inside ourselves. Typical primary emotions include sadness, fear, anger, joy, shame, excitement, and surprise. The key regarding these involves slowing down and making sense of the incoming new meaning that the emotions suggest for us. Our primary emotional responses happen naturally for us for a reason: to provide us with extremely important information!

When most people talk about emotion, they usually refer to secondary, or reactive, emotions, which follow primary emotions. We have most awareness of our secondary, reactive emotions. Whereas primary emotion fires immediately, within about one-fifth of a second, and gives us helpful guidance, secondary emotions occur as a reaction to our primary emotions with a significant time delay from seconds to minutes, hours, or days, based on our thinking—the stories we tell ourselves about our experiences. Typical secondary emotions include anger, frustration, guilt, shame, and defensiveness.

Instrumental emotion involves what we show others but do not feel: emotions we use in an attempt to manipulate and control others. For example, as a high school teacher I sometimes used anger instrumentally. On those occasions I consciously led students to believe that I felt angry when I did not. (I also sometimes felt and expressed secondary, reactive anger—and I felt great concern about that on the few occasions when it happened(!) because of its relatively “out of control” nature.)

Emotional experience and schemes

The concept of cognitive and emotional schemes strike me as a difficult but important idea for participants in an EF ESG to at least begin to understand in order most effectively to help each other. Why? Because emotion schemes mainly produce the emotional states of adults. These non-conscious, self-organized states serve to organize the person for action and they have an influence on cognitive processing. A person automatically and unconsciously produces their emotions, but to consciously experience them, one must symbolize them in awareness. Whether we consciously experience these states then depends on whether we attend to and symbolize them. So, emotional states can occur with differing degrees of awareness. As Greenberg, Rice and Elliot put it in Facilitating Emotional Change, they may occur in these ways: “present but currently out of awareness; present but only partially in awareness; present and experienced but not symbolized verbally; experienced and clearly symbolized; and, finally, experienced, symbolized, and understood fully in terms of perceptions, meanings, and the associated action tendencies, needs, or desires.”

This idea of different levels of processing and awareness suggests that we cannot separate emotions from thinking, and that, rather than focusing on whether emotion and thinking occur independently, it proves much more important to focus on how different aspects of emotion involve thinking and how non-conscious schemes complexly integrate information from different sources to form feelings. Thus we always find our thoughts steeped in feelings and we can separate affect and thinking only for theoretical purposes or only in extreme cases of lived experiences, such as when affect becomes chemically or electrically stimulated. Important regarding the prospect of NTHE, personal meaning, then, depends essentially on affect.

Affect thus serves as a core part of the human self, establishes links between self and environment, and organizes self-experience. In this sense emotions ultimately serve as the meeting place of mind, body, environment, culture, and behavior. “They can bring together in conscious experience various physiological and hormonal changes, appraisals of the self and situation, memories, cultural rules, and characteristic expressions and behaviors.” Awareness of the complex interactions of feeling and action tendencies has crucial importance for emotional change because they give us information about our reactions to situations related to our biological and social survival and well-being. Again, no longer can we think of cognition and emotion as distinct and separate. In general we find much thought steeped in feeling, and thoughts only have personally relevant meanings for us when accompanied by feelings. On the other hand, we find feelings containing much cognition, among other processes including allocation of attention and automatic evaluation.

Now we can look at human functioning in a way that transcends the old, false dichotomy between reason and emotion while retaining a perspective on the difference in nature and function between emotion and cognition. Clearly, cognition does not occur in an inherently rational way, nor does emotion occur in an inherently irrational way. Instead, we find the two processes intertwined in complex ways that enhance human functioning. As Daniel Kahneman observes in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, we need to utilize both our rapid action emotion processes and our slower cognitive knowing processes to guide adaptive action in complex interpersonal environments. Instead of a model that dichotomizes thinking and feeling, we now have a model in which thinking and feeling encounter each other and through a non-conscious dialectical process, discussed below, their synthesis occurs. This integrates knowing and acting into a unified sense of self and situation.

A theory of knowledge (epistemology) and emotional change theory

This essay rests on a dialectical constructivist theory of knowledge. With this dialectical constructivist theory of knowledge we see people engaged in exploration processes in the world and within themselves. This exploration often leads to their encountering “opposites” and contradictions, which in turn leads to their constructing new views of the world and themselves in it. People integrate perceived opposites through a dialectic process. (“Dialectical” means integrating apparent opposites.) We see people continually engaged in a process of non-consciously constructing their reality by synthesizing two different, perhaps contradictory sources of experience. Within our brains, opposing parts, when brought together, automatically and non-consciously produce transformation. New and surprising changes occur automatically within a person—without any external direction, instruction, or interpretation as a result of this non-conscious, dialectical synthesis. Again, this occurs automatically.

As in life in general, in ESG meetings this dialectical constructive process involves each participant individually constructing meaning from two sources: their immediate experience and their previously constructed cognitive views of what they expect of that experience. In this process, contradictions between one’s concepts or explanations about how things supposedly “are”, or “ought to be”, and one’s immediate experience of the actual reality that exists outside of one’s head, or a contradiction between two strongly held beliefs within one’s thinking, (Leon Festinger’s “cognitive dissonance”) constitute a source of great emotional distress. With all of this, self-referenced conceptual thinking processes provide explanations, while emotion schemes provide immediate reactions to experiences in the world. The dialectical synthesis of these different and sometimes contradictory sources of experience, synthesis of what people often refer to as thoughts and emotion, or the “head” and the “heart”, ultimately determines our holistic lived experience.

From a dialectical constructivist view we do not claim that experience occurs simply as a given in purely descriptive ways. That leaves unexplained the constructive process by which we bring forth into conscious experience and symbolize “what is”. Also this view does not fall into the deterministic trap of presupposing the existence of alleged psychic contents that determine existence, as some dynamic approaches do. Instead, it assumes only the operation of a set of processes that can generate any internal realities. This view results in each person respecting every other person as the expert on the contents of their own experience. A dialectical constructivist position also does not assume that behavior occurs lawfully governed either by stimuli or by thought alone, as do some behavioral and cognitive approaches but, instead, that the dialectical synthesis of concept and experience determines behavior.

In this view, therefore, a dialectical process of synthesizing, or actively exploring contradictions between concepts and experience, and constructing new meaning through a process of differentiating and integrating experience, produce helpful exploration and change. This does justice both to the reality of immediate subjective emotionally based experience and to the active constructive cognitive processes by which people create meaning from immediate experience. Becoming aware thus occurs neither as a purely passive process of simply perceiving sense experience nor as a purely constructive one of radically constructing inner reality by imposing categories on experience to create meaning. Instead, we see experience as simultaneously discovered and created in a dialectical way. The dialectic occurs between the immediately sensed and the conceptually mediated, between people’s emerging experience and their previously constructed views. Thought and emotion both play a role in experience, and the dialectical interplay between two systems—one a conceptual, reasoning system, the other the rapid, adaptive-reaction emotion system—ultimately generate experience and behavior.

Much more often than not, it seems, both “experts” and people more generally want to lecture others, to explain to others how the world and people work in various ways. They seek a forum but, contrary to popular belief, telling people things does little to “impart knowledge”. That holds true for this essay. Only when we find a person proactively working to construct their knowledge and skills about a topic do we find language, including essays, books, lectures, telling, videos, and so on, helpful at all. Telling has little equivalency with teaching. We simply cannot “pour” knowledge into other’s heads. People must work to construct their knowledge. When, and only when, they do this work, language can help greatly.

Constructing meaning

As described above, conscious, controlled processing acts to create meaning by attending to and symbolizing what occurs both internally and externally. Constructing personal meaning then involves a process of continuously synthesizing information from a variety of different sources and consciously symbolizing these to form subjective reality. This occurs as a dialectically constructive process that requires simultaneously attending to embodied felt experience and to constructing a particular symbolic representation of it. This non-conscious dialectical process of symbolizing experience in awareness leads to constructing new views of self and reality. Here, language plays an important role in creating our emotional experience. Our verbal description—the stories we tell ourselves and others about our experiences—influence our feelings. “Our linguistic description influences our experience while experience influences and constrains our possible descriptions.”

In this view, we replace the idea of a structural, unitary self with a conscious, cognitive synthesizing function that draws on a variety of sources of information in constructing experience and can construct a variety of different “selves” at different times or even at the same time. So instead of having a single self concept and meaning for one’s life, we see people as constantly engaging in actively representing themselves to others and themselves in images and narratives. In this way people construct views and meanings of themselves in an ongoing way.

Attachment theory

Attachment theory plays a crucial role in working with human emotion. For a brief summary of Attachment Theory, see my two essays titled “A Proposed Model For Near Term Human Extinction Support Group (ESG) Functioning” (https://guymcpherson.com/2014/12/a-proposed-model-for-near-term-human-extinction-support-group-esg-functioning/), and “Integrating Attachment Theory With ESGs” (https://guymcpherson.com/2015/02/integrating-attachment-theory-with-esgs/). For a very brief introduction here, Susan Johnson, an originator of Emotion Focused Therapy, briefly describes attachment as follows. Note how it relates directly to the prospect of NTHE in a number of ways:

What is attachment? In a nutshell:

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.

“Pooh,” he whispered,

“Yes Piglet.”

“Nothing, said Piglet,” taking Pooh’s paw.

“I just wanted to be sure of you.”

An attachment moment occurs when one human being reaches out to another and says ‘Are you there? Do I matter to you? Do you value me? Do you respond to me if I need you?’ If the answer is no, we become absolutely jumbled because we are wired by evolution to respond with alarm. Isolation is inherently traumatizing. That’s why we call isolation in our criminal system cruel and unusual punishment. The Celtic people had a very dark view of life. They saw life as the fact that in life you stand in a dark, narrow passageway with your back against the wall while a dragon comes for you. There is no way out, and you will lose the fight. That’s given. We all die. So what is the point then? The only question in these old stories is how well you fight.

To those of us who see the power of intimate bonds, in couples and in families, there is a second question: the question of whether you fight alone. If another stands beside you when you face overwhelming terror and helplessness in the dark while the dragon comes for you, shadows are not so terrifying. If there is someone standing beside you that makes ALL the difference in the world! You can deal with the darkness better, the fight is worth fighting, and the dragon doesn’t look so big. Sometimes the fight can even be a thing of joy as, together, you defy the dragon. We all know it is better not to be alone in the dark and that connection with others makes us stronger.

With all healthy humans, attachment occurs as an innate and primary motivating force. This means that seeking and maintaining contact with significant others proves essential for human beings across the life span. In attachment theory, we see sustained connection as a survival imperative produced by the process of evolution. Dependency, which our culture unfortunately often interprets as some kind of pathology, actually occurs as an innate part of existing as a human. It does not occur as a childhood trait that we need to outgrow. Secure dependence occurs as a sign of health and complements autonomy and self-confidence, which we can best see as two sides of the same coin, not as dichotomies. Paradoxically, the more securely connected we become with significant others, including Earth’s biosphere and other species, the more separate and different we can become. In this model, health means maintaining a sense of interdependency as opposed to “self-sufficiency”—and this certainly holds true regarding our dependency on the biosphere.

Contact with attachment figures occurs as an innate survival mechanism, and attachment offers a safe haven. In these processes the presence of one or more positive attachment figures provides comfort and security while a perceived inaccessibility of secure attachment figures creates distress. Thus, nearness to a loved one serves as a natural antidote to anxiety and vulnerability. This seems especially relevant when we consider the high probability of near term human extinction. When relationships, including our relationships with Earth, offer a sense of security, people can reach out to others and deal with conflict and stress in positive ways, and these relationships tend to have more stability and feel more satisfying. When we have a safe haven and secure base, we have much more strength. Susan Johnson: “This sense of connection and closeness makes us stronger. It gives us more confidence. It makes us more secure in ourselves. In fact when we know that we have someone else to go to we sort of take it inside and we kind of internalize it and we hold onto that person inside and it helps us in our everyday life.” The issue of a safe haven and secure base comes up especially when we have any kind of uncertainty or threat inside ourselves, in our relationships, or in our world. (Consider here global heating with abrupt climate change, ecological and nuclear collapse processes and their related prospect of NTHE!) These uncertainties and threats turn on our needs for other people!

The building blocks of secure bonds include emotional accessibility and responsiveness. Meanwhile, we can have an attachment figure physically present while they remain emotionally absent. (Unfortunately, this happens with the relationship between most rich Americans today and the biosphere. It seems that most people experience little or no understanding of the biosphere that produced them and supports them, and little or no emotional connection with it.) Emotional engagement and trust in the presence of this engagement when needed proves crucial. Our strongest emotions arise in attachment relationships and emotions seem to have the most impact in them. Emotions tell us our motivations and needs as well as communicating these to others. They serve as the music in the attachment dance.

Fear and uncertainty—certainly activated by the prospect of NTHE!—activate attachment needs. When traumatic events, the negative aspects of everyday life, such as illness, or any assault on the security of attachment bonds threaten a person, powerful emotions arise. These experiences activate compelling needs for comfort and connection and activate attachment behaviors, such as seeking the closeness of an attachment figure. A sense of connection with one or more loved ones serves as a primary inbuilt emotional regulation device in humans, just as in chimpanzees, gorillas, and numerous other animals. This suggests the importance of support groups during this final phase of human existence on Earth.

The process of separation distress occurs in predictable ways. If attachment behaviors, such as making a request for attention and reassurance, fail to produce comforting responsiveness and contact from attachment figures, a typical process of angry protest, clinging, depression, and despair occurs. This will end, eventually, in detachment from the relationship. Depression occurs as a natural response to a loss of connection. In secure relationships, we recognize and accept protest when inaccessibility occurs, and we see separation distress as the underlying plot in the drama of distress in significant relationships.

Attachment styles

Attachment serves as a behavioral control system designed to promote physical proximity to an attachment figure and achieve the emotional goal of “felt security” when an individual feels threatened, vulnerable, or distressed. Nearness to a caregiver works as an innate affect regulation device that soothes the nervous system. Evolution designed emotion deeply and automatically into us to tell us what we need and we now have evidence that attachment processes such as emotional attunement between a child and attachment figures, affect the physical development of the neural structures that govern emotion. If a child or adult experiences fear, but has confidence in the presence and responsiveness of another, they will expect relief and support. Fear, and the need to escape and protect the self, then does not feel so overwhelming, and they will deal with the fear cues effectively. (This holds especially true for traumatic experiences such as rape or warfare.) If distress occurs, created by the attachment relationship itself, a securely attached person has previously experienced interactive repair and, again, they will manage the distress in effective ways. Individuals with different attachment styles experience and deal with emotions differently. Securely attached people tend to openly acknowledge distress and turn to others for support in ways that elicit responsiveness.

Anxious, preoccupied partners always feel afraid of losing attachment figures, so they tend to have strong reactivity to affective cues and to amplify negative emotions by attending to them excessively. (This correlates with John Gottman’s negative sentiment override discussed below.) These people easily become anxious and angry, become absorbed in these emotions, and express them in an exaggerated manner. This style tends to both confirm the anxious partner’s fears and drive others away.

The awareness and expression of both positive and negative emotions become blunted and masked in those with avoidant styles. This does not neutralize the emotions, however, and arousal remains high. Indeed, the evidence shows that it takes hard work to suppress primary emotions, and the suppression does not offer an escape from emotional pain. These people express their primary emotions through body processes, such as tension and pain, hostility, and avoidance, such as obsession with external tasks and problem-solving. They inhibit their emotions and do not use them as a source of information about needs and desires. They then do not express emotion at key moments in ways that send clear signals to a partner. Susan Johnson: “Avoidant individuals avoid emotional engagement precisely at the moment when they or their partners experience vulnerability and need, often leaving their partners feeling abandoned and rejected.”

Regarding all of this, and related especially to global heating, collapse and the prospect of NTHE, Susan Johnson makes these relevant remarks: “Insecure models predispose people to selectively attend to and defensively distort information. The partner’s behavior is usually interpreted in the interests of safety. This is, of course, even more pronounced in the case of trauma survivors who have been abused in close relationships. …As experts on emotion suggest, intense fear exercises such tight control over information processing that it typically eliminates all parts of the perceptual field that do not offer an escape route. Intense, chronic fear reduces working memory, increases superficial processing of information, generates extensive cognitive bias, and preempts all other processing. …Secure working models seem to promote cognitive exploration and flexibility. …In contrast, insecure individuals respond more negatively to uncertainty and have a high need for closure. Avoidant persons especially tend to dismiss the significance of new information and to lack curiosity.

“A sense of security with a loved one facilitates engagement with and the effective processing of emotional responses. It also allows emotions to be expressed so as to clarify a person’s goals and needs and foster supportive connections to others.” The four big A.R.E. (accessible, responsive, engaged) attachment questions include:

Are you there for me?

Can I count on you? Can I depend on you?

Do I matter to you? Do I matter to you to the point that you would turn to me no matter what? Will you turn to me no matter what, and will you put me first just for that moment?

Will you respond to me when I need you? Will you come when I call?

Emotional presence serves as the key here, and when people fight, the fundamental basis for the fight usually revolves around these questions.


Clearly, empathy plays a critical role in both attachment and emotional change. As the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person. You can call it compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty their heart.” But how does one actually do this? Most people find it extremely difficult to listen with empathy. And how and why does it help?

Wired into our brains through evolution as mirror neurons, empathy lies at the heart of interpersonal connection and engagement from birth throughout our lives. As a cornerstone of attachment, it creates the safety needed to foster emotional engagement within interpersonal processes. Empathy promotes engagement in ESGs in these six ways:

  • Reaffirming and clarifying other people’s experiences
  • Modeling acceptance of another person’s experiences
  • Slowing down the often too fast exchanges, enabling people to process their experience
  • Organizing different aspects of a person’s experience into a whole
  • Comforting a person in response to a difficult emotional experience, and
  • Helping a person explore the meaning of important and often powerful experiences

Dealing with emotional issues often involves some extremely painful memories, and most people find it much easier, and seductive, to talk in unemotional, cognitive terms. Regarding abrupt climate change, ecological collapse and NTHE, a person might say something like “It’s not fair that my children will have to experience the coming suffering!” On one level, one can see this as an accurate statement of fact about simple justice. But it remains fundamentally a feeling message. Our job, as sensitive listeners, involves bringing the related feelings to life in a way that leaves the speaker with a sense that you understand, on an emotional level, what they meant. You might say something like “Help me if I have this wrong, but I sense that you feel not just angry, but sad, and maybe even afraid, about their likely suffering, and your own.” In doing this, you have to do two things: you have to understand what they meant based on the subtle cues, and you need to find words to let them know that you understood. The purpose of empathy involves helping another person face their experience, to face what they feel and think in that moment but cannot quite see clearly. Meanwhile, people with an external focus may find it difficult to focus internally, and this might include both the speaker and the listener.

A person’s empathic responses strengthen another’s ability to “make sense” of their experience. The relaxed feelings of safety created also free up the speaker’s energy to focus on processing instead of on anxious defense. Together, ESG participants explore and “discover” each other’s individual and shared experience. Ideally, all participants immerse themselves in another’s world and use this experience as a reference point, facilitating their own ability to attune to and resonate with the other’s experiences. Importantly, as suggested, we signal that shared experience through facial expression, words, tone of voice, body language, and so on.

To effectively use empathy, a participant enters another person’s internal frame of reference, listening to that other person. They experience empathic understanding and communicate this to the other person. In this process, one continually attempts to understand and respond to another person’s perception of inner and outer reality at that moment without imposing some external view of reality, least of all the listener’s own views. Importantly, this works as a continuing process of actively responding in an ongoing manner, as opposed to listening for long periods of time and then providing a single summary type of understanding. This ongoing responsiveness creates and conveys deep involvement and moment-by-moment support for further exploration of hidden emotions.

Throughout this process, the participant neither agrees nor disagrees with the other person’s view but simply tries to sense it and accurately demonstrate that one has heard and understands it. They attend to the intended message that the other person attempts to communicate, listening for what they say with their words, tone of voice and body language, not for what they do not say, nor for some conclusion or picture that they can draw about the other person from what the speaker says. The intention involves understanding, not offering the other person insight or interpretation into something of which they have no awareness, nor offering some kind of advice. The listener thus engages in an active effort to understand the other person’s experience, and not in a passive listening way.

Empathic understanding does not work only as a process of setting up good rapport or engaging in a friendly listening process, though it does do this. Many approaches do this and mislabel that process “empathic”. Rather, in listening with “evocative empathy”, as David Martin terms it, one actually tries to get a feeling of what the other person says, take it in, and “taste” what the other person experiences in that moment. The listener then communicates this understanding and asks the other person to check against their experience. The speaker then corrects and extends the listener’s perceptions, and the cycle starts again with the listener continuing to try to get the feel of what the other person says. The listener keeps the level of inference about what the other person says low, although they do out of necessity selectively attend to that which seems most alive and poignant in the speaker’s expression.

Perhaps the most difficult barrier for most people in listening with empathy, but especially for men, involves not trying to solve any problems, not offering suggestions, not giving advice, and not making clever interpretations of what the other person said, which point to things the speaker may not realize. Most of us find it difficult not to do these things because we do them so often, based on automatic habit. Because of our unconscious habits we have no awareness of doing them. Most people will need practice with feedback from others in order to stop doing these things, instead replacing them with empathic listening processes. Empathy involves only focusing on listening to what the other person says, including, critically, noticing the feelings they express, and then frequently communicating to the other person, almost on a moment-by-moment basis through body language and words, that you have heard and understood them.

We have two main kinds of empathy: Empathic Understanding and Empathic Exploration. The first conveys that one has fully grasped the other person’s emotional meaning. The other pushes for further exploration of emotional issues. Empathic Understanding serves as the most important way for ESGs to create an emotionally safe, accepting climate. This communicates to participants that others value them and helps them fully experience and accept themselves. They accept their own feelings, trust their experience, and feel confirmed in their own existence.

Empathic Exploration facilitates engagement in productive exploration. It stimulates deeper experiencing and facilitates symbolizing new aspects of experience not previously in awareness. This guides the participant to focus on as yet unclear edges of their experience and helps differentiate their experience into greater clarity as well as integrating new levels of meanings.

With Empathic Exploration, participants enter into a process of attending to and symbolizing their own and other’s previously unknown experiences. This process has inherently helpful effects. Out of this internally focused process, markers of affective problems will arise that will afford group participants with further opportunities for empathic intervention.


Every human individual has a tendency toward growth and development, but growth and development require a “good enough” relational environment for realization. One of the critical goals of an EF ESG involves providing an environment that will evoke and support participant’s growth and development. Safety works as the evolutionarily most ideal environment for facilitating growth because it promotes exploration, and exploration increases the probability of discovering and generating variation and novelty. Exploration works in evolutionarily adaptive ways enhancing survival and growth. An ESG that provides optimal safety for exploration will thereby facilitate psychological and emotional growth. A warm, empathic, nonjudgmental environment best provides the needed psychological, emotional safety.

In addition to promoting exploration and growth by providing safety, ESG participants can help maximize these processes by focusing their responses on the novel edges of other’s exploratory efforts. This both recognizes and confirms the developmental thrust in a participant as it emerges and helps them focus on their own inner emerging experience and on what they as an individual find novel or interesting. A participant’s role in focusing on development possibilities of others works like that of a parent encouraging a child to take a first step. If a group member encourages more than another participant finds developmentally possible, like walking too early, damage will occur. On the other hand, if a group member prevents the developmental potential from actualizing within another when ready, like discouraging a child from taking a first step, damage will also occur. We need attunement to and matching of a person’s developmental capacity along with facilitating their taking an appropriate step. All participant’s roles thus involve providing safety, remaining attuned to, and matching other’s developmental possibilities as everyone struggles toward growth. An important aspect of matching involves acknowledging the risk of change and the pain involved in another person’s struggle to overcome their difficulties. For these reasons, in recognizing the fear of change it helps people to feel more confident and secure in themselves, and strengthens their ability to change and grow, to make supporting, empathic responses like “It seems to me as though it may feel really scary for you to speak up and risk others seeing you. Does it?” It always works best to make our empathic guesses in a highly tentative way, remaining completely open for the speaker to correct us.

Soft start-up and positive sentiment override

The work of John Gottman and colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle over a period of 40 years with over 2,000 couples strongly supports the work of Susan Johnson, and vice versa. From a cognitive and skills learning perspective (versus empathy-supported, non-conscious emotional change, which occurs automatically), in meetings and in their lives more generally ESG participants can find two of Gottman’s principles of great practical use. We can implement these principles immediately in most of our daily interactions with others: soft start-up and positive sentiment override.

Soft start-up. Within the behavioral possibilities, relationships usually have two “attractors” or “basins of attraction” called “influenced steady states”. (This does not always happen, 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 fairly 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 that lie 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 a positive basin and it will probably get ever closer to the positive attractor over time; start it near the rim in the negative basin, sitting next to the positive one, 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 from one basin into the other one.)

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?

So, how one starts a conversation has a critical influence on how it unfolds. Do you start in a harsh, negative way from the other person’s perspective? Or do you start softly and gently in the positive basin from the other person’s perspective? I have noticed in blog comments, interactions among friends, and in ESG and other meetings that some people tend habitually to start harshly, whether they consciously intend that 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 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.

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.”

Positive sentiment override. What does “positive sentiment override” refer to? Positive sentiment override occurs when a person interprets another person’s negative or neutral behaviors, including emotional expressions, in a positive way. Negative sentiment override, on the other hand, occurs when a person interprets another person’s positive or neutral behaviors and emotions in a negative way. Negative sentiment override looks like someone who has “a chip on their shoulder”—they display a hypervigilance toward receiving any slight or hurt, or even a neutral cue. So, when a person A develops negative sentiment override with respect to another person, B, no matter what the other person B says or does, whether neutral, positive, or negative, person A will attribute negative motives to person B. Gottman discovered that the overall nature of the sentiment override that occurs within a relationship discriminates happy from unhappy relationships.

Gottman also discovered that: (1) essentially all relationships involve significant amounts of negativity and hostility, (2) this negativity does not predict unhappy, unstable relationships, as most people had previously thought, and (3) 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. (Viewed from an attachment theory perspective, positive sentiment override will occur much more often in people who have a securely attached history and consider themselves securely attached in their relationship. Negative sentiment override will happen more often in those anxiously or avoidantly attached.)

Susan Johnson quotes

To end, I have decided to include a few relevant, thought provoking quotes from Susan Johnson:

  • The mystery of love. “We really cannot afford for love to be a mystery as it was before. …the author says ‘Love is a mysterious mixture of sex and sentiment that nobody can understand.’ I’m going to suggest to you that if that’s really true, that it’s a mysterious mixture of sex and sentiment that nobody can understand, then we are really in real trouble as individuals and as a society because we count on our love relationships now, in North America, in a way that probably no human society has ever done before. …most people functionally live in a community of two. We live a long way away from our extended family, we spend more and more time working, and less and less time really building those interactions that were just part of life until the last little while. …So it seems to me that we really cannot afford to have love as a mystery.”
  • The science of love. “What the science of love tells us now is that this desire to connect on an intimate level with another human being is the most basic motivating force in humans, more basic than, for example, the sex instinct, sometimes even more basic than reaching and searching for food. I’m talking about love as a survival imperative. I’m talking about love as a wired in, primary need that is all about how emotionally accessible and responsive you are to each other. It’s all about this emotional, what Harry Harlow called, contact comfort that you get when you actually reach for another human being and you know you matter to them and they respond to you. What we are talking about right now has the most enormous impact on mental and physical health. We’re not talking about love as ‘the spice of life’ or ‘the icing on the cake’. We’re talking about love as oxygen. We’re talking about love as something that people really need.”
  • Emotional isolation. “Emotional isolation is much worse for your health than smoking or lack of exercise. What we know is that our brains are wired for connection, and when we are emotionally isolated all kinds of things start to go wrong with our bodies. For example the recent research says you are twice as likely to suffer from stroke or a heart attack if you feel emotionally isolated and not connected to the important people in your life. …if people with wounds get into a particularly nasty fight with their partner, their wounds take significantly longer to heal. …We are not wired to face the dragons of our life alone. We really are not. We do not do it well. There’s an old saying: ‘Suffering is a given. Suffering alone is intolerable.’”
  • Skills and insight. “You can teach people skills; that will sometimes help. You can teach people insight; that can sometimes help. But the real issue is that this is an issue of whether people can find their way back into this emotional connection that they long for.”
  • Attachment injuries. “Our brains are wired so that when we feel a sense of threat we instinctively reach for our partner. At those moments things get really black-and-white. If I have a dragon coming toward me and I reach for you, you are either there or you are not. My brain is not very good at doing ‘maybe’. …These wounds can happen in a moment. They happen when we really need each other and somehow we miss each other: a miscarriage; the death of a parent; a fear of a child being sick or injured; medical diagnoses; when somehow we just don’t know how to respond to the other in the moment. These can be tipping points in the relationship. These can take a viable, okay relationship and move into the zone where people get stuck in the Demon Dialogs and they start to move toward divorce [or other separation].”
  • Bonding, collapse, and NTHE. “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.”

The Tacoma Emotion Focused ESG

The Tacoma Emotion Focused ESG (previously the Tacoma ESG) has met monthly for over two years providing social and emotional support for those who understand the implications of what we see happening in the world regarding ecological and economic collapse. Very easy to manage, the group works informally, with rotating meeting facilitation, and balanced power among all participants. If anyone would like a copy of our most recent Agenda, recently revised to emphasize the focus on emotions and attachment theory, as a template for help in starting a similar group I will feel glad to send you a copy if you will send me an email request at bud.nye@gmail.com .

Recommended reading (alphabetic list)

  • Counseling & Therapy Skills, 3rd. Ed., David Martin, 2011. Here, classic and contemporary research findings reinforce clear descriptions of the skills and applications involved in competently helping others. Includes a DVD with about five hours of excerpts from 10 therapy sessions.
  • DVD: “Creating Relationships that Last: A Conversation with Dr. Sue Johnson”, 1 hr, 33 min., $25, ICEEFT, http://www.iceeft.com/index.php/hold-me-tight/dvds/creating-relationships-that-last-detail. A “must see” in my opinion. See other ICEEFT material as well, and many YouTube videos of Susan Johnson.
  • Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy with Trauma Survivors, Strengthening Attachment Bonds, Susan Johnson, 2002. Think about it: both the prospect of and unfolding realities of NTHE have an equivalency with trauma. Here, combining attachment theory, trauma research, and emotionally focused therapy techniques, Johnson guides people in modifying the interactional patterns that maintain traumatic stress while promoting positive, healing relationships among survivors and those they relate with.
  • Facilitating Emotional Change, The Moment-by-Moment Process, Greenberg, Rice, and Elliot, 1993. This dense but quite understandable book provides both a firm theoretical foundation for facilitating emotional change as well as a detailed, very practical handbook for implementing the theory. The handbook develops six basic principles and six specific tasks. Required reading for anyone who wants to develop a serious understating of the power of a focus on emotion, as well as the methods.
  • Hold Me Tight: Your Guide to the Most Successful Approach to Building Loving Relationships, Sue Johnson, 2011. Well written and quite an emotional read at times. Will help you understand why relationship problems feel so serious, and the deeper feelings underneath that keep people wanting each other while often driving each other away. Contains a set of love relationship tools that will help people have a long term relationship with passion, love and eroticism. Strongly supports John Gottman’s work.
  • Love Sense, The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships, Dr. Sue Johnson, 2013. This book combines wonderful insight, practical wisdom, and the latest science regarding relationships, plus the passion of a psychologist intent on making the world safer for the intimacy we all long for.
  • Principia Amoris, The New Science of Love, John Gottman, 2015. Provides a fascinating overview of John Gottman’s many breakthrough discoveries over his decades of research into couple relationships at the University of Washington. Armed with science and logic, he delves into the supposedly unquantifiable realm of love and emerges with the knowledge that we can not only understand relationships, but predict them as well. Strongly supports Susan Johnson and colleague’s work.
  • The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, Creating Connection, 2nd ed, Susan M. Johnson, 2004. This textbook provides one of the best documented, most substantive, and well-researched approaches to couple therapy, EFT. It offers a broad, profound, socially relevant relational theory with a coherent set of interventions and a road map to the process of relationship change. Like Facilitating Emotional Change, required reading for anyone who wants to develop a serious understating of the power of a focus on emotion, as well as the methods. Strongly supports John Gottman and colleague’s work.
  • Transition Companion: Use an Open Agenda, p. 122; Working Groups, p. 128.
  • Transition Handbook: Meetings, p. 164; Open Space, p. 168; Fishbowl, p. 173; World Café, p. 184; Talk & Listen, p. 154.

Comments 94

  • you die alone.
    thinking about it is unhealthy.
    do life enhancing stuff instead.
    most play games or tell stories, some work.
    how you feel about death is irrelevant.
    focus on living, not dying.
    how you feel about life is relevant.
    how you think about life is relevant.
    words are a tool for thought, not emotion.
    using words to think about emotions is a fool’s errand.
    love is a word of emotion saying nothing and everything.
    we use words to describe actions that tell about love.
    you feel happy, you feel bad, that’s it.
    quit moping around, do something.
    you may get attached to it.

  • Brilliant, Mr. Callaghan, just brilliant!

  • Elaborating on Mr. Mason’s astute observation, your comment, Mr. Callaghan, is perhaps the most sagacious I have EVER read, anywhere! Absolutely brilliant!! ;)

  • Robert Callaghan says: “do life enhancing stuff instead, quit moping and do something”

    Well said Robert C.

    An example of 2 men who do life enhancing work—- Marc Cornelissen and Philip De Roo who are (hopefully still present tense) studying sea ice in the heart of the “last ice area” in the Canadian High arctic.

    Worrisome, potentially heartbreaking news:


    Excerpt from an interview with Philip de Roo:

    PdR: My love for nature started when I was a Ranger for the WWF, I was 12-13 years old. Here I was extremely active in fundraising. At the age of 15 years I got the change to go to Antarctica for the WWF and talk with the scientists and see what kind of work they do, and why they do it. I saw with my own eyes and realised that the planet is changing and we as human beings are making the difference to these changes.
    This was for me the critical moment to focus myself 101% on nature change and social entrepreneurship. To inspire people what a great world we have.  I see it as a personal job to create a call to action about global warming and the changing planet. It is a personal life mission. For now and the rest of my life! Exploration is a gift of nature.
    RTM: Which moment gave you the deepest realisation that you personally need to Respect the Mountains every time you visit them?
PdR: These moments happen every year. I return often back to the same area and places in the Alps. And each year I can see the  increase in garbage and changes in the glaciers. Each year my thoughts and motivation getting stronger and stronger to make a difference.
    RTM: Which of the 7 Ways to Respect the Mountains speaks strongest to you? and why?
PdR: Keep your garbage with yourself. It’s simple. If you can’t do that, you are not worthy to use nature as your playground.

  • Bud, your supercilious psychobabble insults my intelligence.

    Claiming that you are doing science is particularly foul.

    Your pompous drivel & doubletalk masquerading as cultivated intelligence makes you out as a complete fool.

    You go on & on about nothing.

    Your pretentious facilitation/therapy blather is worse than wrong.

    You are full of crap.

  • It is more healthy to spend the energy on saving the lives of others.

    We don’t hear many firemen or other first responders saying “they would have died anyway” when called for help.

    Although saving ourselves has its benefits too.

  • Philosopher Harry G Frankfurt, describes this way of relating to the truth, which is the premise of his book, “On Bullshit”:

    Bullshitters, although they represent themselves as being engaged simply in conveying information, are not engaged in that enterprise at all.

    Instead, and most essentially, they are fakers and phonies who are attempting by what they say to manipulate the opinions and the attitudes of those to whom they speak.

    What they care about primarily, therefore, is whether what they say is effective in accomplishing this manipulation.

    Correspondingly, they are more or less indifferent to whether what they say is true or whether it is false.

  • Bud Nye takes an exhaustive and comprehensive look at emotional conditions.

    He focuses on our final emotional state, in terms of group and personal efforts to smooth over the rough spots.

    Like death, we get intense at the “last moment” … rather than all along the way?

    For example, like in deathbed repentance?

    Notice this: “Surgery is surprisingly common in older people during the last year, month and even week of life, researchers reported Wednesday, a finding that is likely to stoke, but not resolve, the debate over whether medical care is overused and needlessly driving up medical costs.

    The most comprehensive examination of operations performed on Medicare recipients in the final year of life found that nationally in 2008, nearly one recipient in three had surgery in the last year of life. Nearly one in five had surgery in the last month of life. Nearly one in 10 had surgery in the last week of life.”

    (An Old Catastrophe: Climate Policy – 3). Our culture seems to have produced these characteristics.

  • If this how Mr. Nye (and others) cares to spend his final daze, trying to use their noggins coping with how to live and still find/express love in these EOTWAWKI times (especially in this brainy book fed “science of love” mental mumbo jumbo lectured manner of therapeutic advice Mr. Nye thinks will suffice; something he claims is exactly what he does NOT want to spend his final earth bound days doing!), it’s no skin off me and my monkey’s back.

    The sun is still shining in our back yard; the birds are still singing their love songs; the resident wild turkey tom is still strutting his feathery stuff and gobbling his mating call; I even saw a hummingbird return to our yard yesterday; bright yellow daffodils are in bloom and the trees are budding; my wife and children are still breathing; And so, despite the lunacy of our daily bread and circuses and NTE documented here, I am going to live, laugh, dance, even rant and rave on occasion, but poke fun at the same, and yet love every minute of this crazy EOTWAWKI time left to me to do so.

    Oooo Wooo Woo! Oooo Wooo Woo! This is my ghost dance! Oooo Wooo Woo! I’m dying! Oooo Wooo Woo! You are dying! Oooo Wooo Woo! The world as we know it is dying! Oooo Wooo Woo! I’m not dead yet! Oooo Wooo Woo! Time still to live! Oooo Wooo Woo! Time still to laugh! Oooo Wooo Woo! Time still to marvel! Oooo Wooo Woo! Time still to love! This is my ghost dance! Oooo Wooo Woo!

    See, Bud, no interminably long winded book-learned social science guru advice lecturing is needed. Only the simple suggestion to skip that crap and try the same Ghost Dancing (accompanied with drums, bongoes, and other percussion means of course) in your ESG coping sessions. Otherwise, any such a group endeavor as you’ve proposed here I’d want nothing to do with.

    with love,

    Hayduke’s Monkey.

  • Way too long, but thanks Bud.

    If you want to capitalize on the decline of industrial civilization go into the funeral business!

    Some news from a few days ago (@JJFH links to the stories there)

    2015-04-28 – Massive fire engulfs two neighboring high-rise buildings in Jinzhong (China)

    2015-04-28 – Passenger plane engine bursts into flame, plane makes emergency landing in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania)

    2015-04-28 – Ferry ship ‘Sorrento’ bursts into flame near the island of Mallorca (Spain), ship evacuated

    Note: This is the sixth ferry ship to burn in April. Five burned in March, one burned in February and one burned in January, so this is the 13th ferry to burn in 2015.

    2015-04-28 – Cargo ship ‘Maersk Londrina’ damaged by explosion and fire north of Port Louis (Mauritius)

    2015-04-28 – Boat explodes into flame while docked at Rosewood Landing in Socastee (South Carolina), near the coast

    2015-04-28 – Major brush fire erupts in the exclusion zone near Chernobyl (Ukraine)

    Quote: “The blazes comes just months after experts warned wildfires ‘pose a high risk of redistributing radioactivity’.”

    2015-04-28 – Home destroyed by explosion and fire near Derby (Kansas), 1 killed

    Note: This is the 177th residential explosion in 2015

    2015-04-28 – School bus bursts into flame in Milaca (Minnesota)

    Note: This is the 77th school bus to burn in 2015 and the 244th bus to burn in 2015

    2015-04-28 – 70 tons of manure bursts into flame near Tudhoe (Britain)

    2015-04-28 – Three men go out on boat, go missing, all three found dead, in coastal Camden County (North Carolina)

    Woman, 52, youngest member of the Partridge Family, drops dead at home in Laughlin (Nevada)

    2015-04-28 – Man, billionaire, found dead near swimming pool at resort in coastal Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt)

    There are loads more of these news stories; I just picked these out to highlight them. The list of these type of events goes on every day and they seem to be growing. Planes catching fire in the air and on the ground, landing gear and tire problems causing them to skid off runways and crash on landing, people having all kinds of “medical episodes” while flying, driving, fishing, jogging, walking, swimming – all the ones listed here are usually near a body of water.

    Also almost every day there are stories like these too:

    2015-04-28 – Man, 19, strips naked in class, runs off, found disoriented in church bathroom, in Madison (Mississippi)

    Quote: “Police located him still in the restroom, unclothed, distraught, and disoriented, Sanders said. Medical personnel were called to the scene and the teen was taken to the hospital.”

    Note: Very close to Lake Castle, and about 3 miles from the much larger Ross R. Barnett Reservoir.

    Draw your own conclusions.

  • The Alarming Spread of the
    Criminalization of Poverty

    T H E
    G E T


  • Sorry Bud, when I looked at the tile and looked at the length I decided I had better things to do than wade through that lot.

    We have many precious resources that are running out and time is the most important of all.

  • I see most of us these days are in the acceptance stage. Some are angry as hell.

    One is particular is, in my opinion, an over the top, angry piece of fucking shit. Get the hell off NBL, bastard.

  • Unbridled logorrhoea, sadly, is an inadequate substitute for the concision of clarity.

    Duncan Mason, Colin, Caroline, Gerald Spezio, Haydukes Monkey, kevin moore and shep: thanks to all of you.

    And especially to Mr. Robert Callaghan: Salutations!

  • This comment is for those interested in snakes.
    The Taipan. Probably Australia’s most dangerous snake.Can be fast moving and aggressive,particularly in the breeding season.I mentioned a while back about one encounter I had. Another close encounter was when I was about 10 years old.(I’m now 60.)
    My older brother and future brother-in-law were in the front seat of a sedan driving into the small village near where we lived. I was in the back seat. A very large taipan was crossing the road and we stopped,and the two in the front got out. Ron,the b.i.l.,threw a rock at it. Bad move. The taipan turned and came at them.They ran back to the right side of the vehicle.The taipan came quickly to the left side of the vehicle,and evidently saw me moving behind the window on that side.It raised up and struck at my face,hitting the glass.
    I have a strong memory of this, but a couple of years ago I started wondering if my brain was playing tricks,converting something imagined into a memory.I mentioned it to my niece(daughter of Ron) who confirmed the event,as Ron had told her of it.

    Kevin, similar sentiments.

  • Hello Bud – I want to give you some positive feedback. I find what you are sharing very interesting and relevant to our concerns about deteriorating world conditions. I feel that a lack of real love underlies all our dysfunctional behaviors. For example, if we truly loved nature, we could not possibly destroy it as we are. If we accepted love as the primary thing to be learned and pursued, it is hard to see how war would occur anymore. All of this is so simple and obvious one must seek an explanation for why people find it so hard to understand, and even vigorously object to. Perhaps we have all been conditioned for so long in the ways of unlove that we have lost feeling for how central it is to our lives. We could end up thinking we understand this crucial dimension of our lives together, without having given it the deeper consideration it deserves. If a person tells me they can’t see what the big deal is about learning to love, it tells me how far they are from groking something that should be immediately obvious.

    Thanks for your sharing Bud. I emailed you with a request to send me the materials you offered….

  • Never before seen 100-150km diameter deadzones gently swirling across the tropical North Atlantic.


  • Caroline, or as us compunerds like to say, RTFM. (You can interpret the F however you wish. :))

    Kevin, time is the one thing that all of us have the same amount of at a given moment, until we don’t. Though I was recently reading some analyses that indicated that rich people lead longer/healthier lives than less rich people. Notwithstanding the issue with regards to raw amount, the quality of each moment differs based on cultural, social, economic, and political status.

    This is where all the stuff about editing embryos is going. The question is whether we can make like D. radiodurans (and/or M. maripaludis before it is too late. (Incidentally, we’ve modelled both* and even published a paper structurally and functionally characterising one of the latter’s key genes/proteins implicated in methanogenesis and another characterising an oxidant resistance gene/protein found in the former—as they say, it’s publish or perish ;) ).

    * – all proteins (structures, functions, interactions) at the atomic level

  • No name seems more inextricably linked to the grand hemispheric experiment of “America” than Christopher Columbus. Seen alternately as explorer and conqueror, hero and villain, Columbus endures as an essential character in America’s national story: his “discovery” of America in 1492 changed the course of history. Who better to interpret this undeniable influence than author Charles C. Mann? A correspondent for The Atlantic, Science, and Wired, Mann authored 1491, an award-winning study of the pre-Columbian Americas, and 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created. Both of these books take a riveting look at the earliest days of globalization, introducing a new generation to the conundrum of the “New World.” Mann shares an expansive and compelling vision of the “ecological convulsion” of European trade practices that continues to shape our world.

  • Tom, loved your comments… Yes! the news seems to parallel a growing malaise in the world, Everywhere I look things aren’t quite right… Those who don’t notice seem caught up in whatever they do to get uncaught……. Maybe a lot of people feel there is discontent, but just can’t put their finger on what that is.

    Gerald, I agree with you… Bullshit does run deep, in a lot of places, and it’s hard to escape. Politicians produce a lot of it. In the six years since Obama became president, even in Canada, if one looks at television for just one hour a day, Obama or one of the elected members of the U.S. government will be in the news. If there is at least one positive difference between the U.S. and Canada, we are mercifully spared from having to listen to Canadian politicians rambling about their particular brand of BS.

    Apneaman, Debtors prisons is the scariest condition of all… The fact that corporations get away with it at all shows just how much power corporations have been allowed to control slaves. Putting people in prison is now a booming business.

    Mike k. so true about love…. most especially the love for nature. It’s almost a lost cause. Bill Mc Kibben’s ‘End of Nature’ brings that home a bit. Most people don’t have the opportunity to grow to love nature, being stuck in cities, driving cars to work and back, playing sports.. but for those who don’t go deep into the woods, it is difficult to develop feelings for something they never experience. If everyone were somehow obliged to live near nature for one year, growing up with nature all around, there would be more peace in the world, even though nature is anything but peaceful. When McKibben wrote ‘The End of Nature’, as I recall global warming was never mentioned, and neither was climate change.

  • Mike K,

    Thanks. Poke at a snake with a stick and it will likely strike back. But I have not just poked at a snake, I have poked at a whole nest of essentially religious, deadly and aggressive vipers. So it comes as no surprise at all that they strike back as best they can. (Or, to use another metaphor, stir the shit and much of it will likely float to the top.) I notice that, as occurs here at NBL far more often than not, while doing their best to distract from and avoid the message, people who disagree viciously attack the messenger. Meanwhile, they liberally praise each other for the great job they do protecting their various faiths as well as modeling for the world “good”, “loving” behaviors that we all, presumably, should emulate during our final days while interacting with each other. They demonstrate very weak and childish responses, but still, they do their best.

    If “only love remains”, as Guy suggests, where does one go to find it? For the most part, not here within the NBL comments where one will much more likely find in-group/out-group hate mongering—typical throughout all of human history and forming the basis of most violence and warfare historically and today.

    Meanwhile, to condense 2,070 pages and about 15 hours of video, often dense material, into 17 pages by comparison very easy-to-read, results in “too long” a document not worth the time. Ah, but if only I had summarized those 2,070 pages and 15 hours into eight pages, THEN it MIGHT have passed that most important “worth reading” criterion of all. Or, better yet, condense it into two pages. No doubt that would have far more likely made it much more valuable and worth reading.

  • Ram.

    ‘Kevin, time is the one thing that all of us have the same amount of at a given moment, until we don’t.’

    I beg to differ.

    Firstly there is the matter of how much time a person spends asleep. I usually spend 6 or 7 hours asleep. Some people need 8 or more.

    Then there are lifestyle variations. People working in sweatshops 10 or 12 hours a day or caught up in demanding employment with unlimited hours have little time left for much else.

    And there is the age factor: someone 70 years old can reasonably expect only another 10 or 15 years; someone aged 20 would be expecting a lot more.

    I currently spend most of my time on practical activities relating to food production and storage, and repair/maintenance/improvement of devices/stuff relating to powerdown, e.g. bicycle maintenance.

  • I know a little (’bout love)

    Lynyrd Skynyrd

  • Haydukes Monkey,

    Thanks for sharing a little bit of your real life, your experience of reality.
    Here in England the daffodils are gone but so many other beautiful spring flowers have taken their place. The spring here is particularly wonderful as if all the plants, birds and insects were saying:
    “Look at us! We’re still here! Another beautiful season for you! Spend time with us! Love us and do it spontaneously. Books and theories will only distract you! Experience real connection, and therefore love, for yourself!”
    Being truly aware of, loving and taking care of the “small and everyday” things you mention in your comment, the ones that connect you to the NOW, is the foundation of love. Without it, no true love can exist. Just by mentioning what you did in your comment, I can tell that you know that.
    Take care of yourself, your family and everything alive and beautiful in your neck of the woods.

    Mike K,

    You KNOW and practice this too, I think.

    Kevin Moore,

    I agree with your comment (reply to Ram) on time. All good points.
    You’re always worth reading, and I like your passion.

  • Bud Nye Says:
    April 30th, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    Mike K,

    Thanks. Poke at a snake with a stick and it will likely strike back.

    It is not personal, it is subconscious as well as cultural:

    A recent paper by the biologist Janis L Dickinson, published in the journal Ecology and Society, proposes that constant news and discussion about global warming makes it difficult for people to repress thoughts of death, and that they might respond to the terrifying prospect of climate breakdown in ways that strengthen their character armour but diminish our chances of survival. There is already experimental evidence suggesting that some people respond to reminders of death by increasing consumption. Dickinson proposes that growing evidence of climate change might boost this tendency, as well as raising antagonism towards scientists and environmentalists. Our message, after all, presents a lethal threat to the central immortality project of Western society: perpetual economic growth, supported by an ideology of entitlement and exceptionalism.”

    (Convergence – Fear of Death Syndrome, quoting Monbiot).

  • The issue is even causing strain within religious groups such as the Catholic Church.

    Groups that usually rally together in a less fractured manner.

    Climate change deniers inside that body are opposed to the Pope’s acceptance and support of U.N. efforts in the direction of switching from fossil fuels.

    (Newsmax: U.N. Tosses Deniers.

  • Mr. Nye, calling your critics “vipers” speaks volumes about who you are & what you are selling.

    Moreover, you claim in defense that you have so much “deep psychological wisdom” that you cannot adequately condense it.

    You DEMONSTRATE how loving you are.

    Oh, how you suffer – just like the well fed consuming “couples” that you claim to do therapy for.

    “I hear you My Dear, & I would like to say this about that.”

    “What about me?”

    Oh, the injustice, agony, & suffering of it all.

    Fredrick Crews did a brilliant job exposing rampant Freudian fluff permeating Western Culture.

    Crews was viciously attacked by the entire “loving” Freudian psychological/psychiatric establishment.

    You may benefit from his magnificent expose of the idiotic Freudian fraud; FOLLIES OF THE wISE.

  • @Bud Nye

    – Man, oh man. I hate to see you give yourself shit somehow – by behaving in a way that makes it sure to come back at you.

    – Why do I hate that? It shouldn’t be my problem. And why connect to you with a longer than usual message? This is none of my business. Or… maybe you’re so down on the ground and easy to kick at that I’m having at it myself as well? Those are questions, let’s say about status, a topic you raise implicitely by discussing in-group/out-group stuff.

    – I’m happy to be out-group, and will remain happy to remain so, I hope.

    – You teach a lot of things, and people question your very ability to teach anything. You fight back by questioning their ability and right to teach anything.

    – Now, why shouldn’t I have at it myself – at teaching. At playing “I know stuff.”

    – Here goes:

    – Blocks: 2 things about them. Getting rid of past blocks. Second thing, learning not to create new blocks. Inside oneself. Anger is a block. Love can be a block it it is not expressed. There are ways. I’m learning some. But certainly not in a position to call myself a teacher in any of this. The little I have learned till now is exercise – strenuous exercise for 45 minutes at least daily, like a fast walk going uphill, and if possible for double that time at least a couple of times a week – exercise that needs you to puff. This helps relieve past blocks. Not blocks accumulated from way past, at least not in a day or a month. But blocks due to frustration during the past day, or emotions triggered and not expressed. All right, already playing teacher. Anyone knows that one feels lighter coming back from an hour swim. You get the idea. You use that. I use that, almost daily. And meditation – any meditation mentioned in the 112 methods of Shiva, an old book, pre-buddhist by at least a thousand years, and not related to any religion (for the time, I won’t argue with anyone, it’s just old). Or vipassana. But alone a meditation (a quiet one) doesn’t work if we have not, you know, pushed stuff out. Anyway, anyone can find a way, his/her own recipe. What works for you. I don’t want to get into teaching mode, here. Just talking about my own limited experience. Meditation is like a continent, a new world. Having explored a shore or a forest of it doesn’t give you knowledge of it, and certainly doesn’t make you a king of it. It’s becoming acquainted.

    – Books, knowledge, are useful, but not alone. Our (sorry for the “we”, I know some don’t like that) blocks are emotional. Well not only, but enough of that.

    – Whatever happened to you, in this life or in a previous life, if such exist, you’re having a hard time. What transpires under the words you write plentifully angers quite a few people, and bores some. You can help yourself. Maybe someday you can help others. Most likely not now.

    – I did not read your essay. I’m not saying this to spite this in any way. It’s obvious (to many) that it’s way too long and intellectual. Love is not a thing we can put on a shelf among books. It’s more like a continent we can get acquainted with, and then more and more. I’m amazed – if everyone who uses that word knew what love is, we wouldn’t be in the dire situation we (sorry) are. And, paradoxically, I am also amazed by the – unconscious? – love that permeates the actions of simple people, often uneducated, all over the world. If their care for their children, their animal, their natural habitat had no actual power, warmongers would have destroyed us (sorry) much earlier. Those are musings of mine.

    – You have a lot of energy, it’s plain. If you’re not young, then you’re lucky to have so much energy later in life. Intellectual pursuits are great, but just one dimension. They are very rewarding for the ego, but a poor – I would say ineffective – way of getting rid of our blocks, which is a first step before we can hope to touch “saner” dimensions of our (sorry) being. Those saner dimensions being gratefulness, love, peace among others, and the key to those is meditation. Remaining on the shore of intellect and never landing in the new continent is a safe way not to be challenged by the unknown, but it is not courageous. Either we have something to teach, or we don’t. Guy has great science to teach. This is why I come here. But he’s not my master, and his opinions and ideas on other topics are not what I come here for. I’m always at least a bit interested in what Tom writes, because he also mostly sticks to facts, and he is sort of very aligned on Guy’s concern with presenting facts. Opinions, ideas, fights between forum members, outsiders-insiders, teachings about anthropology, buddhism, sociology, you name it – hold no interest for me. But I appreciate the companionship. I’m not an insider, and don’t want to be. Even if I wanted, it wouldn’t work. My concern is to stay true to myself. But I appreciate skimming over what others are writing, not continually, but regularly, sometimes missing a week and coming back, or not. The one thing that matters to me is that Guy McPherson’s “science” is a shared basis here. Not that we all understand it, but it is explained simply enough that you don’t have to be a climate scientist to get it. And it is a load, a burden, hard to bear. Lucky are those for whom it is not. It is for me. A burden. A block. It is a strain on my life. So daily, every evening, I go and walk up a slope, a mountainside, for 45 minutes at least. A hour and a half when I have time. To remain human. To remain alive. To get rid of blocks, or at least partially. And upon waking up, I stay in bed and meditate a bit, with a heart meditation. A peace meditation, from that book mentioned. And in the evening, I come and read you people, a few times a week. Companionship. People who share the same burden, or a similar one. And maybe for some this is not a burden anymore. So… a support group, somehow.

    – I just want to wish you good luck, and I hope I haven’t been patronizing – although the very fact that I replied to your posting feels a little patronizing to me. So I tried to be as honest as I could to make up for that. There’s no way I won’t feel I’m not trying to teach here, which is taking a superior stand, a superior position. Let’s say… I want to thank you. Had you not written such an amazingly long thing, and had you not been so energetic in your response to others’ responses, I never would have written this, which I don’t read again, or else I won’t post it. I’ll read it later, and I’ll learn from it. This was a spontaneous thing. This is not even what I intended to write or thought I would write. Once again, good luck.

    (Please bear with typos or whatever – I’m not rereading this, and I’m not a native speaker of English.)


  • I have just witnessed a video clip, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKORsrlN-2k#t=953, which is the most important video clip I have ever seen.

    For those of you who may still have a glimmer of hope for the future, and for our collective future, please take a look. If the dire predictions promoted on NBL are less than those which are envisioned, wow!…..

    I have nothing but negative thoughts when it comes to the capitalist enterprise and its corporate facilities. But for Tesla Corporation, if what is depicted in this video clip is possible, I will make an absolute exception.

    Congratulations Tesla. Although I never thought I would ever utter these words under within a corporate umbrella, ….. Tesla, I love you….

  • Still and Gerald Spezio,

    Very profound, both of you, but it won’t put Bud off.

    “rampant Freudian fluff permeating Western culture” made me laugh. Thanks for that!

    And Still:”spontaneous” but nonetheless very insightful. I enjoyed reading your comment.

    Sorry Bud,

    You’re well acquainted with my opinion on the theories you are expounding here once again and are most welcome to ignore me. I’m not worth it.

  • Hi Bud – In choosing this site to share on you must have realized that not everyone attracted here is in a really good mood. Some of us are more than a little pissed off about what is being done to our world and ourselves. Many are still feeling the bummer of waking up to how bad it really is. Those who have gone through a long and difficult process of giving up all hope are particularly sensitive about anyone who comes on the beach of doom preaching – as they see it – false hope, or hopium. Having done a complete grieving process for their dreams of finding some answer to our madness, they just get tired of hearing folks, who in their minds, have not put in the arduous work of burying the slim chances of collective survival.

    Having written this above, I pause to realize that I am guessing what goes on in some other folks minds; always an iffy question.
    At any rate, I don’t blame you for being miffed with the strong rejections some have dished out to your offerings. At one time the bullying and name calling got so heavy on this comments thread, that I just quit coming around. It is really better now, but it still sometimes can test one’s willingness to continue to share. Now I try to take it as a challenge to my equanimity, patience, tolerance, and my desire to continue to extend love, even to those who may seek to revile and persecute me.

    Thanks again for being open in sharing your thoughts, and especially your feelings.

  • Sabine, Fredrick Crews’s FOLLIES OF THE WISE is filled with content & brilliantly written.

    Orwell summarily posited; “There is no idea too preposterous that some professed intellectual won’t believe it.”

    Jean Turcot, Monsieur, merci, mon ami.
    I tried to cover your back about weaseling Ehrlich & his Population Bomb, but I was continually censored.

  • Bud, don’t know what you did to deserve such vitriol but dang, they’re gettin in line to cue up on you.

    I for one thought your writing to be most helpful for my situation. Perhaps the nay sayers haven’t experienced the joys of marriage. :)

  • Mr. Turcot, perhaps you are not familiar with Jevon’s paradox, gone over ad infinitum here on NBL). “Jevons effect is the proposition that as technology progresses, the increase in efficiency with which a resource is used tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource.” In other words new technological “advances” will continue and accelerate the path of destruction we are on. That is until the minerals run out to make the stuff, or we are fried to a crisp. Which ever comes first.


  • Those who have gone through a long and difficult process of giving up all hope are particularly sensitive about anyone who comes on the beach of doom preaching – as they see it – false hope, or hopium.

    Right audience, wrong time, huh? Hate it when that happens…getting used to it, though.

    No esoteric message here…just noticed the similar chord progression’s all.

  • Time: four months from now (September 2015) we will know for sure.

    We will know the scale of the meltdown of the ice in the Arctic Sea,

    We will know the scale of the catastrophe caused by combination of summer heat and lack of water in California (and a few other places).

    We will know whether the current unseasonal decline in atmospheric CO2 is a short-term blip or indicative of something else.

    We will know the effect of filling every available tank with oil in order to maintain high extraction rates in a demand-destruction-dominated market.

    We will know whether the bubble financial markets, which are at the point of bursting, can be propped up a just little longer by ZIRP or NIRP.

    Patience my friends, and use the time you have effectively. The ‘brace for impact’ narrative presented previously by Guy and others was slightly premature but I believe it is the correct narrative for the period 2015-2016.

  • @Still – I learn from your comments. Please continue posting. People like Bud provide us little shocks to our system; they can stimulate us to think deeper, even if it is only to soundly refute their offerings. I have delved so much in groups and teachings of all kinds, I have learned that I can learn from absolutely anyone. I am an inveterate gleaner.

    @Sabine – We who know that we know not are more open to the infinitely more that is out there….

    @Gerald – They told me that if I kept swinging, I might eventually hit something!

  • Thanks for the Elon Musk vid. I could actually smell the entitlement emanating from my screen……….fucking amazing. Anyone who ever clicked on any of Robert C’s links knows there is not enough battery material to go around, but there is enough for the privileged to keep their hopes up for a few more minutes and that’s all that matters.

  • There are no labels that are sufficiently accurate to determine ‘doomers’ or survivors, whatever they are named. What difference will it make to use labels, at this point whatever is in the cards will probably overcome all attempts to mitigate it anyway.

    Marty, Looked up Jevon’s paradox, but I don’t see the relevant factors that would apply to an-end-of-time scenario for humanity, and the opportunity to avoid it. Whether or not such a paradox is relevant, practical or inevitable does not imply that technology is a negative component of human existence.

    In some ways, technology is as natural as the spots on a leopard. If apes can use a small branch to catch more ants in a hole, what is the difference between using a branch and using a hammer? Now extend that parameter to a nuclear powered submarine and you’ve got the human species, which comes from nature and uses the endowments of its DNA. In this context, there is nothing unnatural about the Empire State building unless there is something unnatural about a bee hive or an ant hill, given the concept that buildings are buildings, whether or not they are made by humans or by other animals. Ours just happens to be more complicated and sophisticated, but unnatural ???

    Which brings us back to the technology that you have suggested will involve a paradox, but in other light, isn’t a paradox just another word for evolution?

    The Tesla Corporation has transcended my expectations. I almost never recommend a video clip but this one deserved my accolades for the most positive human development ever. Maybe it’s too late to do much about our future, but I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet, especially when such technology may be just around the corner.

    Never thought I’d write this about a Corporation, but Tesla, you’ve got my unfettered attention. Congratulations.

    Sorry but Jevon’s paradox may indeed be much more complex that this shortened version of my understanding, and I should perhaps give it more attention to better understand its implications. But if we’re headed for the abyss anyway, how would such a paradox come into play anyway?, unless I really don’t understand its concept…

    Gotta go….

  • @Jean Turcot – There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.

  • Kiwi Kevin’s “Brace for impact” is wise advice.

    The final sermon from the bowels of the Arctic is about to be delivered.

  • Greetings to all on this May 1,

    Catching a glimpse of this latest study Artleads sites above and feeling the truth of this human induced sixth extinction in the depths of my soul makes this quote a reality (for me):

    ‘There is no anti-depressant that will cure a depression that’s spiritually based, for the malaise doesn’t originate from brain dysfunction, but from an accurate response to the desecration of life.’
— David R. Hawkins

    For those who are connected with/have reverence for nonhuman life we’ve known/felt this (major extinction) for some time, yes? Feels like forever—–feels like I left the womb grieving for all the dying. Hating zoos, sea world, circuses, strip malls, capitalism, war . . . . I don’t ever remember feeling safe amidst humans as a collective, as a dominant species.

    And I’m so tired of trying to figure out humans. And I used to be a therapist!
    Tired of the repetitive questions over and over and over: why don’t we all love the natural world (or creation or nature or whatever you want to call it)? Why do some love and some don’t? Even when we love, why do we harm? Does biophilia exist? What % of humans are sociopaths? Psychopaths? Narcissists?
    Is NTE due to patriarchy, industrial civilization, discovery of fire, agriculture?????
    How did we get here—–is there blame? Does it matter if we figure it out?

    If we figure it out what do we do then? That depends on how hungry/thirsty we are I suppose.

    In the meantime the dying AND suffering of nonhuman (and human) life continues. I’m talking beached whale suffering, sea star dissolving suffering, dolphins and whales suffering over sonar/weapons testing, polar bear starving suffering, starving sea otter suffering . . . and on and on and on.

    So while I commend Bud and others for still trying to figure out the whys and the hows related to human beings I’m trying to learn to let go . . find my joy, release my sorrow in the company of a few good friends or in the company of my favorite wetland or prairie while there is still life there. I’m tired of trying to figure out the “human condition” and how we can help ourselves when so many creatures are suffering. Most of the time it feels as if I love nonhuman life more than humans.

    “Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882

    Sorry for the rant——-I’m cranky even though it is May (what used to be a favorite month). So much bad news related to climate change, ecosystems collapsing, potential ice free arctic this summer, too much methane bubbling up and out to even understand while the spring migrants are returning and trying to carry on. It was beyond belief dry in the boreal forest last week. Painful to see.
    Spent this May 1 pulling garlic mustard that was smothering trillium, trout lily, wild geraniums. My hands hurt and so does my heart. Yes, it helps to be immersed in a woodland floor for a day . . . fingernails with humus that will linger through several showers . . . and it helps to connect with others here at NBL. Be kind!

  • Such wondrous and hopeful words from Elon Musk and the other
    Techno-Profits. But one needs to look what comes out the other end as well. Scale that waste up by about 80% more and there is your future.

    The dystopian lake filled by the world’s tech lust


  • Thanks Apneaman.

    They’re probably celebrating this (Elon Musk) on Scribbler’s website. Crazy making.

    Perfectly worded: “dystopian lake filled by the world’s tech lust”

    Gosh, this added more crankiness to my May 1 cranky. But I appreciate the truth.

  • Has anyone run across the thinking of Bernardo Kastrup yet? I’ve discovered that the shift from holding the traditional western realist or physicalist worldview to an idealist framework (which Kastrup describes and defends most convincingly) has changed my interpretation of what’s going on with NTHE so much that it largely ceases to be an issue.

  • @Caroline – There are times when the right thing seems to be to let go and surrender to our despair, and let ourselves just sink into a deep acceptance of the end of all our dreams for nature, humankind, art, true love and beauty that might have been. Then when we are deeply rested and emptied, to come back and give our love again to all those things we have longed for and worshiped, in spite of knowing that they are all fading…fading…….

  • Recent exchange on RobertScribbler:

    Andy in YKD / May 1, 2015

    Does anyone really believe there are enough of the scarce resources needed for computer chips, batteries, LEDs etc. . . to make ever higher tech personal transportation widely available? The global mining/supply/manufacturing/distribution system required to produce EVs is hardly the sustainable/regenerative system that is needed to reverse the ongoing biosphere collapse.
    robertscribbler / May 1, 2015

    The water intensity of this industry is far less than a major traditional power plant or industrial meat. If the plant gets its energy from solar, as it will, it will actually offset a significant portion of its water impact.

    Andy — the new EV and battery tech is definitely a part of the solution. And the supply chain issues have been substantially overblown. As the industry has expanded more resource/materials avenues have opened up. And as far as the sustainability footprint goes, you are talking about an industry that is far, far less disruptive than fossil fuels based transportation.

    So absolutely, Greg, I’m a Musk ally. I honestly think the detractors are getting in the way of helpful solutions.

    Comment: The hopium is thick. . .

    Robert, I support your recent post on the same thread.

  • This is for all the folks that think solar and wind will save us……………………………http://sunweber.blogspot.com/2015/04/solar-devices-industrial-infrastructure.html

  • Kevin, just to clarify, I said that time is what we all the same of at a given moment (which in a moment is a moment). What I wrote was in agreement with what you stated, that economic class (among other classes) influences the *quality* of time each person has (and I also explicitly referred to the longevity issue with regards to wealth).

    I consider sleep to be a valuable use of time as any other, but again, rich people have more time to sleep than someone who has to work doing something they don’t like. So I was saying everyone has the same amount of time for a given period (unless they’re travelling at relativistic speeds) but rich people have more choices in how that time is used/spent.

    Incidentally I was thinking of the movie Jupiter Ascending when I wrote that, where they say that once you have everything, what do you try to get more of? Time. Rich humans gain more time by life extension which is done by harvesting other humans. And I was saying this is where the world is headed.

  • Scribbler just posted a glowing piece on supreme entrepreneur/marketing genius Elon Musk’s PowerBALL hype.

    Two mysterious PowerBALL boxes = salvation for humankind?

    Scribbler calls it a “crack” in the fossil fuel colossus.

    Every arse has a crack, n’est pas?

    “You can’t win at PowerBALL, if you don’t play.”

  • Jean – There is literally nothing new about Teslas new products except for extreme, Apple Inc. type hype.

    I have had a box on the wall of my garage with most of the same components in the power wall including internet connect for 10 years now. I also have a very large bank of AGM sealed batteries that are still holding pretty well. His comment about batteries is more hype. You could make an argument that the septic tank is dirty, ugly, and smelly but they are still the best way to go if built right.

    We can not possibly ramp up operations anywhere near Elons hype and still reduce FF burning.

    What is important to understand is that industrial society has never transitioned away from any energy source especially not to one that is more expensive and less useful. We simply have added new fuel sources to the mix while continuing to use the old ones.

  • “The Storms of My Grandchildren” have already started.

    Flooding around the Brisbane area describes as “Off the scales.”


    For the people of Queensland and all their lost ones, my prayers.

    This is what the exportation of capitalism has given the whole wide world; Nature saying “I will have it no more.” NBL.

  • The likes of Jean Turcot are impressed with Tesla. But after all, he scorns general rules of scientific evidence. The reality is that Tesla has been and continues to promote the electric car as some sort of salvation, in spite of the fact that electric vehicles require massive amounts of rare and quickly depleting raw materials, lots of energy for construction, and are basically nothing more than toys for rich people who like to think they are being socially conscious. But then, some people really do buy into hopium every chance they get.

    Meanwhile, in the real world of scientific facts:
    Permafrost Thaw Feedback To Blow Carbon Budget ‘Faster Than We Would Expect,’ 4/30/15.

    “Permafrost carbon emissions are likely to be felt over decades to centuries as northern regions warm, making climate change happen faster than we would expect based on projected emissions from human activities alone.” — Climate Change and the Permafrost Carbon Feedback[Map]
    For a moment, let’s consider some rather difficult to deal with numbers —
    790 billion tons — that’s the so-called ‘carbon budget’ the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates we need to stay within to prevent 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming in just this Century (note that current stated fossil fuel reserves hold enough carbon to exceed this budget many times over). It’s the level IPCC says we need to stay below to prevent ‘bad outcomes.’ A rate of warming that does not including later temperature increases in following centuries — which would be about double the 21st Century’s amount if global greenhouse gas levels managed to plateau and the global carbon stores remained on good behavior.
    515 billion tons — that’s the amount of carbon humans have already emitted into the atmosphere. It leaves us with less than 275 billion tons remaining.
    About 24 years — that’s how long it will take for humans to burn enough fossil fuels and emit enough carbon (at current and projected rates) to use up that ‘carbon budget.’ A break-neck pace of burning and dumping of carbon that is now probably about six times faster than at any time in the geological record. Faster than the atmospheric carbon accumulation during the last hothouse extinction — the PETM. Faster than during the worst hothouse mass extinction of all — the Permian.
    Sound like we’re up against some hard limits? Well, we are. Because the above basically implies that human emissions would need to start falling dramatically now and get to near zero by 2050 to meet IPCC’s goal. A limit that, by itself, may have built in too much slack and may not have taken into account other responses from the Earth climate system.
    Now let’s consider these new numbers from a recent permafrost study released earlier this month in the context of IPCC’s ‘carbon budget…’
    0.6 degrees Celsius — that’s the pace at which the Arctic is warming each and every decade. According to the new study:
    This is causing normally frozen ground to thaw — exposing substantial quantities of organic carbon to decomposition by soil microbes. This permafrost carbon is the remnant of plants and animals accumulated in perennially frozen soil over thousands of years, and the permafrost region contains twice as much carbon as there is currently in the atmosphere.
    This amounts to about 1400 billion tons and around 1,000 billion tons in the shallow carbon store alone. A massive fireplug of carbon stored in thawing (and burning) land-based permafrost in the Northern Hemisphere at a shallow depth of zero to 3 meters. The new study expects 40 to 170 billion tons of this carbon store to release over the next 85 years. A further 120 to 300 billion tons could hit the atmosphere by 2300 if the ongoing thaw in the north continues.[Chart]
    So where does that leave our so-called carbon budget?
    Averaging the report’s findings, we can add about 92 gigatons of baked-in feedback from the shallow permafrost zone alone and end up with 607 billion tons of carbon (human + expected permafrost). This leaves us with about 15 years before we are locked in to hit the ‘2 C limit’ of around 450 ppm CO2 by end Century (not considering a current 485 ppm CO2e level or end Century CO2e of 530 to 550 ppm when all other greenhouse gasses are added in).
    [In other words, 15 years is a best-case scenario!]
    In addition, the 120 to 300 billion additional tons from the shallow permafrost store expected to keep out-gassing through 2300 would ultimately result in a carbon pool that pushes atmospheric values up to 480-530 ppm CO2 (560 to 600 CO2e) and turns the ‘2 C limit’ into a 4-6 C (7.2 to 10.8 F) long term climate bake.
    Looking at the report’s numbers leaves us with the all-too-salient impression that we really don’t have a carbon budget at all. What we have is carbon bankruptcy. A carbon compounded debt shock enough to crack the whole of the Earth System carbon piggy bank and bleed out gigaton-sized carbon pennies for decades and centuries to come. And the new shallow permafrost carbon feedback estimate does not include the approximate 400 gigatons of carbon in the deep permafrost. Nor does it consider ocean carbon stores — which may provide their own carbon debt spiral. Nor does it include Antarctic carbon stores or a number of other possible stores that could be pushed out by heat stress.
    Needless to say, some considered the news in the recent Nature Report ‘good.’ At least it didn’t identify a 50 gigaton methane release over one decade from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf as some other recent articles have considered. Some news reports even went so far as to call an approximate 92 gigaton release by 2100 (or a little more than 1 gigaton per year) from permafrost carbon ‘slow.’ The last hothouse extinction, the PETM, also saw similar ‘slow’ rates of release from the global carbon system. So, slow when compared to the raging 10 gigaton per year pace of current human emissions, but fast when compared to about practically anything else in geological history.
    What the new report really means is that humans can’t afford to emit any more carbon. And what we need to be looking at now is a way to swiftly transition to a net carbon negative civilization — fast.
    [IMPOSSIBLE within capitalism]
    “This is not a minor feedback,” Kevin Schaefer, a prominent scientist from the National Snow and Ice Data Center said in a recent report on the new study’s findings. “… If you don’t account for it, you’ll overshoot this 2 degree target.”

  • All you need to know about electric vehicles and the snake oil salesmen who push them.


  • Caroline,

    Your reverence for Creation is moving. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The spiritual malaise due to our desecration is one i feel too.

    As to trying to figure out us humans, and why/how we’ve arrived where we be at, is pointless. I figure it is what it is. Not that it isn’t worth considering, but, as my refrigerator magnet sez:

    “Life isn’t divided into genres. It’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel.”

    Basically, there’s no *One* truth or understanding to exactly how and why we have evolved as we have to our present state of affairs. It is simply all of the above at the hands of an ape who can drive.

    Yet, while we lament our species predicament and mourn the mounting losses there is still time to find solace in what remains. Even among the weeds you spoke of pulling up — in my neck of the woods it’s an almost daily trail of beer cans along the wooded road; ARGH! — I appreciated the trillium, trout lily, and wild geraniums you named. For even amidst the weeds and trash infecting the world there are good things to take notice of. Sabine knows this too.

    This evening I heard a Woodcock trilling his mating call. While earlier in the day my home was visited by a Wildturkey tom in full strutting display among a trio of females scratching for acorns in the oak leaves. I recently saved the bird feeder from our nightly racoon(s) raid. Two deer wandered thru the yard the other day, and forage close by in the night nibbling on the spring salad of budding greenery to be had (not that we like the damage they can inflict). But at least in my neck of the world I am graced with remnants of nature’s wild beauty.

    These too are stories worth telling here. This needn’t be a 24/7 beach of doom and gloom. A beach campfire under the stars where reports and tales of encounters with wild critters and springtime can be shared too.

    David Hingham mentioned his encounter with a Taipan. I liked that. And i liked your rant too. It’s all part and parcel of what we have to offer here that is life enhancing.

    Robert Callahan said it best: “focus on living, not dying.”


  • Mike K,

    You’re right. When I used the word “know”, I meant a particular kind of knowing, nothing to do with our usual human “quest” for knowing. A knowing springing from personal experience.
    I’m constantly aware of what we understand as infinity and what that means for my tiny self. I’ve always been able to see myself in perspective. A little like the Zen kind of being you’re familiar with. All this is difficult to put into words because, as usual words abstract, distract and can be misleading.

    Jeff S

    I totally agree with you on the Tesla hype and everything else in your comments which are a timely reminder of our collective reality.

    We’ve had a PV arrangement on our roof for just over ten years now and a large bank of sealed batteries for six.
    And you’re right, we could afford to do this but we had no illusions.
    What to do with saved money? Yes, we were lucky to be able to save some. I have no illusions there.

    Therefore, in the meantime, while we still have this industrial society to support us, we are saving money on utility bills and have some power during black-outs. No more, no less, no illusions.
    I was fully aware what has gone into the construction of this technology on our roof and in our garage. Ours is German, and at the time we had it installed (10 years ago), it made sense (for a moment) because the Germans (my people) were going in that direction. Ha, ha.
    However, it’s a delusion, and you’re right: “We’ve simply added new fuel sources to the mix while continuing with the old ones”.

    To me the idea that there’s technology which will “revolutionise” the way we (all 7 billion of us and rising fast!) will live – a saving technology – is just around the corner is the epitome of hopium. That goes for all technology in all fields. It’s part of our wanting to believe that we will be “saved”. I wonder where that kind of thinking comes from?..(irony).

    It always comes down to the same thing: Live a life of excellence as Guy recommends, in the way that you can, and do it NOW.

    And Haydukes Monkey,

    the way you describe the beach of doom: “A beach campfire under the stars where reports of encounters…” is precisely how I understand it. It’s nothing to do with being depressed or even sad. Please people, try and understand that. It’s just about recounting, recording, informing and entertaining possibly like-minded people, that’s all. In other words connecting.

    That’s how it was first coined and used by ulvfugl, the one who can’t be bothered anymore and who’s tried of the same discussion taking place over and over again.
    Thanks for putting it into your own words.

    Dear Caroline,

    You don’t rant. You’re connecting, at least with me.

    By the way, here’s a very good way to remove earth (humus) from under your fingernails. It’s my tried and tested method:
    After brushing with soap, use toothpaste on your nailbrush.
    I find that all these decades of working with the soil have left my hands fairly rough, especially under the fingernails. Neither of us are “ladies”, just women. Great!
    It’s also a good idea to have half lemon rind handy for extra cleansing and softening.
    I used to use a paste made from sea salt and olive oil for my finger tips and nails but that can be a bit painful when the skin is rough and slightly broken. Toothpaste works just as well and is also fantastic for cleaning silver jewellery.
    Sorry to sound like and advert but it works”. If you don’t work in the garden for a few days, the skin on your hands can almost become “ladylike” again if you try this.

    Have a lovely weekend.

  • typo alert: “tired of the same discussion”. Please excuse any others!

  • @Haydukes Monkey – Thanks. Your post got my day off to a good start…

  • The source for the mysterious “1-in-850 year event” of fast sea level rise near NYC may now be solved (The Question Is: How Much Acceleration Is Involved In SLR? – 4).

  • 2015-04-30 – Wheelchair bursts into flame at 6 AM in apartment in McKinney (Texas), woman burned

    2015-04-30 – Garbage bursts into flame in garbage truck in Dayton (Ohio)

    2015-04-30 – Recycling plant hit by fire, pile of wood ignites in the rain, in Hardeeville (South Carolina), near the coast

    Quote: “Norm Lamarche, General Manager at Able Contracting Inc., in Okatie, responds to questions about a fire that started early in the morning at Able Contracting Inc., on April 30, 2015. ‘seems very suspicious that a fire starts in the [heavy] rain,’ said Lamarche.”

    Note: No more suspicious than peoples’ tapwater being flammable, which has been happening too. Methane is odorless, and it is also lighter-than-air so it’s accumulating in the upper atmosphere. Some is probably getting into the rain – there’s no reason it wouldn’t. Hydrogen sulfide is a heavier-than-air gas but it too will get blown into the upper atmosphere from time to time and it’s also water-soluble. So the rain itself may ignite fires and eventually the rain itself may be flat-out flammable, just like the flammable tapwater that people have reported in their homes in recent years. Just think about the consequences of flammable rain…[http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/]

    Good morning everyone. Spring is finally emerging here in SE PA, where the trees (that haven’t been destroyed from the brutally cold winter and other conditions) are beginning to leaf out, the weeds are popping up with the grass and many flowers are in bloom. Birds are chirping, i saw some bees and heard some “peepers” on the side of a road in the marshy weeds. Life keeps trying to continue living, despite our best efforts to wreck it all via our abundant self-serving stupidity.

    i’m enjoying the comments, discussions and links – thanks to everyone here.

  • 5-2-2015 -Saturday

    I can think of thousands of cases, that cover ALL races, like, Unit 731, created by the Japanese Army.

    Had never heard of this case, until…now. Anyone can be a Nazi or a politician in America, if they aspire.

    “Unit 731”

    “… a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army that undertook lethal human experimentation during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) of World War II. It was responsible for some of the most notorious war crimes carried out by Japan.”

    “It was officially known as the Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department of the Kwantung Army.”

    “Instead of being tried for war crimes, the researchers involved in Unit 731 were given immunity in exchange for their data on human experimentation.”

    “Some were arrested by Soviet forces and tried at the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials in 1949.

    Americans did not try the researchers so that the information and experience gained in bio-weapons could be co-opted into the U.S. biological warfare program.[9] On 6 May 1947…

    Douglas MacArthur, as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, wrote to Washington that “additional data, possibly some statements from Ishii probably can be obtained by informing Japanese involved that information will be retained in intelligence channels and will not be employed as ‘War Crimes’ evidence.”[10]

    And, finally, “Victim accounts were then largely ignored or dismissed in the West as Communist propaganda.”


    AND THIS: “Everyone is crying out for Peace but None is crying out for Justice.”

  • Correction to: “Everyone is crying out for Peace but None is crying out for Justice.”

  • 5-2-2015 Saturday:

    Edgar Allan Poe understood the forces behind police violence. He continues, “Yet, for a while, I saw; but with how terrible an exaggeration! I saw the lips of the black-robed judges. They appeared to me white — whiter than the sheet upon which I trace these words — and thin even to grotesqueness; thin with the intensity of their expression of firmness — of immoveable resolution — of stern contempt of human torture.” This surely is the very picture, if not of officer Reid who shot Aura Rosser in the face in Ann Arbor on 10 November 2014, then it is a picture of the county prosecutor, Brian Mackie, who with thin-lipped, white contempt refused to indict him with homicide. Grotesque indeed! Let the horrors of the pit and the pendulum befall him and the cronies he serves unless, until justice is served!

    Peter Linebaugh.

  • Mike K: as always, thank you. So glad you’re here.

    Haydukes: LOVE that quote on your refrigerator—-is it courtesy Ed Abbey?
    Your mention of the nightly raccoon bird feeder raid was timely as I read your post just after coming in from putting out the feeders which I take in each night ——the raccoons figured out a way around my “raccoon baffle” and they keep getting into tussles with my border collie!
    And appreciate your mention of turkeys, woodcock and more.
    The arrival of woodcocks is a joy that is indescribable. Their funny peenting sound (for years I thought it was an insect) is more thrilling each year . . . the sound of their flight and their airborne displays are amazing. Such goofy looking birds too! Makes me smile just thinking about them. Snipe are pretty magnificent as well. Have you seen/heard snipe soar and make the “winnowing” sound through their feathers?! Not one thing that costs money could bring me as much joy as these things. For anyone interested there are many excellent youtube posts on both birds.

    Sabine, Reading your post made the beautiful day even more beautiful! Thanks for the hand cleaning/moisturizing tips! My hands are a disaster and could use all the help they can get. I’ve spent over 20 years trying to protect wetlands, prairies, woodlands and it shows in my hands and the worry lines/frustration lines on my face.
    Spent a few years in “local government” trying to fight developers and “think globally by acting locally”. Wow. What an experience. When it got to the point where I had to restrain myself from jumping across the table and throttling the developers (and their entourage; attorneys, phony greenwashing reps etc.) I knew it was time to take to the fields and do my work silently with only the sound of flora and fauna in my ears which is where I’ll be today.
    Please pass along any treatment recommendations you have for worry lines. I know, I should stop worrying! I can just see Robert Callaghan rolling his eyes and thinking, “it’s bad enough this site attracts all those —expletive—- zen buddhist, ontological, spiritual, types . . now it’s turning into a beauty treatment/helpful hints blog—expletive”

    On a final note:
    Here in the midwest bats were flying last night!! Hummingbirds, orioles, grosbeaks and more should be arriving this (warm) weekend.
    For those that don’t know the recipe for hummingbird water: 1 cup sugar added to 4 cups boiling water, boil for about 2 minutes and change weekly.
    None of the red dye is needed!! That is poison!

    Time to put out feathers for Tree swallows—they always line their nests with white feathers. They nest in bluebird boxes (I pair them so both bluebirds and swallows nest 15-20 feet apart). I keep an old pillow handy and throw out the feathers in the morning and it’s miraculous that within minutes, birds (swallows and other species) arrive and put on an wondrous display trying to swoop up the feathers to line their nests.

    In honor of Tesla (more on that later) saving the day—–more gallows humor:

  • Find out why McKibben and Klein are frauds and how divestment and the Keystone campaign are distracting delusions.

  • Mikey K.

    You wrote: “there are none so blind as those who refuse to see””


    Then in solving your problem, I would simply suggest that you open your eyes. But then that would require an understanding that it requires a command from your intellectual headquarters, an area which is obviously in dire need of mental connectivity.

  • RE: Tesla

    How can anything called a“Gigafactory” be a good thing? That seemingly intelligent people like Robert Fanney (Scribbler) are singing the praises of this Tesla plant is beyond comprehension.

    TESLA PLANT REQUIRES 25,000 TONS PER YEAR OF LITHIUM COMPOUNDS(http://seekingalpha.com/article/2151933-tesla-factory-electrifies-lithium-producers)

    This means massive mining.

    “Mining is like a search-and-destroy mission.”
    Stewart Udall

    Is ANYONE (besides those here and a few other non MSM sites) talking about the short and long term environmental impacts of this factory, the sprawl that will develop as a result, the horrid consequences of mining just so humans can keep their air conditioners running, add more cars to roads and basically deliver “green power” that perpetuates high consumption western life styles?

    I want to know about that desert and the life that was there before this industrial park existed. I want to know about all the creatures that will be destroyed in Nevada and elsewhere as a result of human greed and ignorance. I can’t find anything on the internet that describes the land/desert and the ecosystems of this area. If anyone can, please pass along.

    I can only find things like this from “Fortune” magazine:

    “Legally, the giant industrial park is giving the 980-acre gigafactory parcel to Tesla. But as part of the deal, the state of Nevada is paying the park’s owners $43 million for right-of-way to extend a four-lane road through the complex to US Highway 50, a major interstate. Gilman has sought the extension, which will cut travel times to and from the industrial park and open up thousands of acres for development, for more than 15 years. “That’s our reward,” Gilman told Fortune. “It’s going to happen. It’s because of Tesla that we’re willing to work this particular transaction.”
    The state will also pay for construction of the road, called USA Parkway, at an estimated cost of $70 million. The extension is scheduled for completion by December 2017.
    In addition, Tesla TSLA -0.01% has options to purchase another 9,000 adjacent acres, including 7,000 acres for a wind-farm with the potential to produce about 140 megawatts of electricity, according to Gilman.”

    Would you describe Elon Musk as a man pursuing a life of excellence? Or is this about the pursuit of money? Or the beliefs of Nick Bockstrom?

  • I attempted a post on RS that included the links provided here regarding energy density, BBCs article on the Inner Mongolia rare earths mine, sunweb’s excellent blog post, and a few of my own such as “The catch-22 of energy storage”, Spain’s results on its large-scale PV electrical generation.

    The post didn’t make it onto the the Tesla thread.

  • Jean Turcot,

    You’d do well to take your own advice regarding “intellectual headquarters” and then stop trolling.

  • Following up on Caroline’s excellent considerations regarding Tesla’s Gigafactory desert desecration, over at robertscribbler’s blog, a fellow named “dnem” also cut to the heart of this lunacy:

    “I’m sorry. I’m sure this is lovely technology, and will surely get better with further upgrades. If I did not have a b/u generator already, I’d slap one on my grid-tied solar house ASAP. BUT, I don’t see this as a game changer as it is not even playing in the right game. If the game we’re trying to win is delivering 24/7 “green” power to full scale, high-consumption western style lives to billions with a few more billion to be added soon, we all lose. This will be just another massive (MASSIVE!), unsustainable global industrial infrastructure. That said, high-quality storage is an important part of an intelligent wind-down of the global consumer machine and a hoped for return to a resilient, relocalized economy. But THAT remains the game we need to win, and we’re not even playing it yet.”

    Indeed! This is precisely why I’m not buying into the smoke and mirrors hype and hopium either.

    But one of the best things I know of as being hopeful and worth one’s time paying attention to these daze is the ethereal flutelike singing of a Hermit Thrush wafting through the woods. Or seeing a wild Lady’s-slipper flower! I’m also waiting for, with bated breath, the return of our area Baltimore Orioles, bats, and, with luck, any magnificent Monarch butterflies too.

    This and, of course, any beauty treatment advice — now open: Guy’s Beauty Salon! — is what keeps me sane!

  • The Lab Coat Limit

    I’m always fascinated that people can swallow such concepts as quantum foam without a hint of burp-back, or contemplate the theory of MEPP (the Maximum Entropy Production Principle) without protest, despite its pervasive aura of teleology – and yet run screaming for the exits when someone speculates that mind may not actually be generated by the brain.

    Contemplating “dangerous thoughts” like unavoidable self-caused human extinction is all fine and dandy, but when the “lab coat limit” is reached where support from traditional science stops, further exploration ceases and the mind snaps shut like a bull’s arse in fly season.

    Yes, the idea that there is something we could call “mind” that exists independent of our particular neuronal arrangement is gaining some scientific support. So what? Who really cares if we can shoehorn that idea into a 250-year-old socially entrenched materialist worldview? The only reason people need to do that, as far as I can tell, is to ensure that their social status as “good thinkers” isn’t jeopardized.

    The great-ape’s evolved social instinct for group membership is so strong that it makes us perform all kinds of damaging mental and physical contortions simply to ensure that we don’t get ostracized.

    Of course we all have psychological blind spots and limitations that come from our particular combination of personal history, environment and genetic shaping. I’m not excluded. I still balk when someone asks me to consider chem-trails or aliens in government for example, even though they are just ideas. As such they are intrinsically harmless and may be useful to contemplate. The best I can do at the moment is to recognize that I have a boundary in those areas, and work to overcome it.

    If anyone is interested in doing similar work with their own boundaries, I can heartily recommend two books. The first has many of the qualities of a textbook, while the second is more like a work-book full of delightfully playful belief-stretching ideas.

    The more formal book is “Why Materialism is Baloney” by Bernardo Kastrup. Despite its insouciant title, the book is a serious philosophical work. Kastrup extends the idealism of Hegel, Schopenauer, Bishop Berkeley and theoretical physicist Amit Goswami into the realm of everyday experience, using modern language. If you’re in the right place, as I was when I read it, it’s a paradigm-shifting book.

    The best companion work-book I can recommend is my friend Timothy Scott Bennett’s science-fiction novel “All of the Above“. That book helped me recognize the inherent irrationality of my resistance to ideas that are considered beyond the pale by the materialist community, and started me on the road that is leading past this point today.

  • Fellow pilgrims, we are coming down the the final wire in a race that cannot be won by anyone.

    A few weeks ago Paul Russell said on this blog; “Because nothing matters everything matters that much more.”

    Paul has not returned with any further commentary.

    Yesterday, Kiwi Kevin said, “Brace for impact.”

    The next five short months will, almost surely, give us much hard empirical data about how long we have to live & how quickly we will have to respond.

    We are going extinct, & there is no way out, around, or through.

    Everything else appears to be blind bleating hopium.

    This is my second big looming question; “Where & how will I die & with whom?

    Not too tough.

    I do not have an answer for the tough first question; “What do I/we do about innocent delightful children.”

  • Just a thought: Say 1 B Tesla cars. 6,840 batteries per car. It’s a mere 6.840 trillion batteries to produce with no carbon emissions. Yeah, sure.

  • @Paul Chefurka – Let me test the elasticity of your mental stretchiness a little bit….

    The ancient image of a tree with it’s roots in Heaven and it’s branches being all things in the Earth below is a metaphor for the Ray of Creation. This understanding stands materialism on it’s head. It assigns the foundation of everything to a subtle realm, with the gross world being largely derivative and totally without any independent reality apart from it’s emanation from that higher source, and the subtle connection to that source that gives it being.

    For the dedicated materialist, that there are subtle dimensions from which all the phenomena we are ordinarily aware of emanate is heretical nonsense. But what if one who manages to slyly slip loose from the constraining restraints of the sensory model of reality, and even reason itself – should begin to cognize dimensions far beyond the ordinary, and cognize Beings far more advanced than we humans? Initial visitors to these realms would tend to clothe these Beings who are in truth beyond physical embodiment with more familiar and accessible material forms.

    Although the frontiers of physics have told us that there is enormous energy and significance at the quantum level of reality, most of us still behave as if this was untrue or irrelevant.

    What if further, one should experience that our whole reality is arising in a field of intelligence, power, and inconceivable love that is the reality of every single thing that we experience in our world including ourselves? Even the shit stick in the outhouse (no toilet paper back when) as Zen so charmingly puts it. What then? What to do with this confounding and mostly incommunicable knowledge? Can we make Satchidananda relevant to our modern crisis, bring help desperately needed from another realm, which is really the foundational reality of this realm….?

  • Paul, I appreciate your comment today very much. I have no doubt whatsoever that “mind” is not limited to “brain.” There has been quite a bit of statistical evidence for some time that has pointed to mind not being limited to physical brains, but such evidence has gained little traction in the accepted version of reality. I’ve meant to write a few times that I also appreciated your comment a few days ago regarding how there are no universal answers, only personal ones. How true. Or at least, personally acquired answers. Maybe there are universal answers, but we all still have to find them on our own. The game is rigged that way.

  • Sabine…. Trolling??? Since you are familiar with the term, I am looking forward to its interpretation. I have only become aware of this quality since I started a few voyages in these blogs, and since you are enlightened as to its merits,or demerits, please indulge my curiosity. It’s always a pleasure to be informed by a kind person.

  • Sabine – I am sure you must know the prime directive for trolls: Don’t feed them!

  • mike k..

    Funny that you would be better informed than most about trolls…. their leader maybe ? If it feeds like a troll. if it thinks like a troll, it must be a troll, except for Mike of course….

    How is the air at the top of your perch?

  • just want y’all to know i dig this blog to china and back (mostly, like anything, it’s imperfect)! my inner nerd feels compelled to inform u that the opposite side of the world from me here in the northeastern usa is actually i think a point the indian ocean, well off the coast of southwestern australia, but it’s popular among amerikans to say that if u dig a hole deep enough, u’ll end up in china, which might be the other side of the world if amerika (the nation which has hijacked that name when spelled with a ‘c’, not the continents) was same latitude/longitude, except south of the equator, not north.

    ‘The great-ape’s evolved social instinct for group membership is so strong that it makes us perform all kinds of damaging mental and physical contortions simply to ensure that we don’t get ostracized.’

    very astute observation, mr. chefurka. similarly, so much of what many humans do is status seeking, and when that is frustrated, i think we’re quite prone to self destructive behavior, psychologically and physically, based upon self observations as well as observing others.

    ‘What if further, one should experience that our whole reality is arising in a field of intelligence, power, and inconceivable love that is the reality of every single thing that we experience in our world including ourselves?’

    mr. chefurka, the thought of having such an experience is almost beyond my imagination. how does one reconcile a (sur)reality replete with pain, cruelty, and suffering, with an intelligent, powerful, loving hypothetical surreality? this brings to mind the ease of pointing out the illogic of faith in a perfect, loving, omnipotent god. a creator must mesh coherently with a creation, mustn’t it?


  • @mike k,

    Interestingly, Kastrup addresses your very question in chapter 7 of “Why Materialism is Baloney”. I’ve copied some relevant excerpts below.

    In Kastrup’s metaphor, reality is conceived as a membrane of mind. Like a physical two-dimensional membrane it has a large set of natural vibrational or resonance modes that deform it in various ways. The deformations of the base membrane are conceived as forming perceived reality, from the physical universe and its contents, to living beings at varying levels of consciousness, up to self-reflective human consciousness.

    A second important element of Kastrup’s theory is that a normally operating brain acts as a filter that keeps experiences originating in the wider consciousness from appearing clearly within our normal perceptions. Compromises of brain function such as injury, drugs, reduced blood flow etc. impede this filtering function. As a result, consciousness experiences that are normally filtered out can flow into the region in which our self-reflective awareness operates. This facilitates the experience of non-ordinary states of consciousness such as those experienced by some savants, users of psychedelic drugs, practitioners of holotropic breathwork, those undergoing NDEs etc.

    The rest of this post is taken from Kastrup’s book, pp 186-190.

    Traditional cultures

    It is striking how traditional cultures around the world seem to have been consistently non-materialist. Native American Indians, the great civilizations of Central and South America, Amazonian Indians like the Zuruaha mentioned in Chapter 1, Australian Aboriginals, Siberian and African tribes, etc., all held – and most still hold – strongly to non-materialist worldviews. We casually explain this to ourselves today with the arrogant presumption that our Western civilization is philosophically superior and simply knows better. Traditional cultures – we like to think – were, and still are, plagued by superstition and ignorance. Yet, I suspect that this is too simplistic and easy an explanation. It dismisses the question rather than answer it. After all, if materialism really is true, it is difficult to see why human beings anatomically identical to at would, for thousands upon thousands of years, have insisted on basing their entire culture and society on beliefs that have never had any empirical basis in reality.

    I dare to offer a different explanation here. Unlike all traditional cultures, Western civilization has reached a degree of technological and social advancement that allows for unprecedented levels of physical health and comfort. We eat more than well; we live in heated houses; we move about in sheltered vehicles; we developed effective treatments for a variety of chronic diseases; etc. In contrast, members of traditional societies were often exposed to the weather, to malnutrition, to extreme physical exertion, and to chronic health conditions. I suggest that such level of exposure would have compromised brain function sufficiently to induce non-ordinary states of consciousness One regular basis. To put it simply, traditional people would be regularly exposed to what they called ‘the otherworld,’ a part of reality otherwise filtered out by well-functioning brains. Their non-local, transcendent experiences wouldn’t be merely personal and idiosyncratic, but validated at a collective level, since most members of the society would also experience them. Such sharing of transcendent experiences ensured that a non-materialist ontology became enshrined in most traditional cultures as the official worldview. Their ontology wasn’t based on superstition, but on shared empirical observation recorded, thereafter, according to allegorical images and narratives peculiar to each particular culture.

    In the West, spontaneous access to such transcendent experiences has become nearly impossible. Non-ordinary states of consciousness no longer have collective momentum, since our sheltered lives ensure optimal levels of brain activity and function. The isolated instances in which people do have non-local, transcendent experiences are comparatively few and far between; enough for them to be treated as dismissible anomalies. This is why it has become at all possible for at to adopt a materialist view of nature in the first place.

    Notice that, even in the West, non-materialist worldviews were the norm before the technological and social advancements that to much improved our health and comfort. Medieval Europeans lived in a magical world populated by fairies, elves, angels, and demons. If one goes back in history to a time before the dominance of the Roman Empire, the prevailing worldview among Northern Europeans was paganism, almost the antithesis of materialism.

    Parallel realities and nested consciousness

    The reality we live in is a function of our psychic structures: the patterns of vibration of the broader membrane that resonate with our psychic structures determine our shared, empirical experiences. It is thus conceivable that them are ego-capable beings whose psychic structures are to different from ours that no pattern of vibration of the broader membrane could resonate with both their and our psychic structures. Our respective realities would, thus, be entirely different and disjoint. Moreover, it is conceivable that none of the vibratory patterns that these beings put out into the broader membrane of mind would resonate with our psychic structures, and vice-versa. As such, we would not be able to perceive anything about their existence and neither would they perceive anything about us. For all practical purposes, these beings would not occupy the same framework of space-time that we do. In effect, we would be living in parallel realities.

    It is fun to speculate whether there could be conscious beings whose reality is disjoint from, but yet so close to, ours that, through a slightly altered state of consciousness, we could establish a degree of resonance – a form of communication – with them. The world’s traditions am certainly full of mythological references that could conceivably fall under this scenario: fairies, elves, djinns, nixies, gnomes, sylphs, grey aliens, angels, demons, etc.

    There is another way in which we could speculate about the existence of parallel realities under the worldview developed in this book. Imagine that a region of the membrane of mind differentiates itself in two steps: in a first step, a large area of the membrane protrudes according to a certain topography that supports specific patterns of vibration. Let’s call this first protrusion a base structure. In a second step, multiple psychic structures – each corresponding to a conscious being – then protrude from the base structure. There is, thus, a sense in which the specific modes of vibration supported by the base structure determine the empirical reality – the physics – shared by the psychic structures protruding from it: whatever modes of vibration are not supported by the base structure cannot be part of the empirical reality of the respective conscious beings. It is conceivable that there could be countless base structures across the broader membrane of mind, mob entailing a very particular parallel reality with its own distinctive, internal physics and logic. Our entire universe may be but one of myriad base structures.

    It is interesting to notice that, like any protrusion, a base structure is itself a conscious entity with its own ‘unconscious.’ This way, there is a sense in which our entire universe may be the partial image of a conscious entity: an Anima Mundi or a Platonic Demiurge. Similarly, since the human body is a kind of micro-universe composed of trillions of individual living cells, the exact same rationale may apply at its own level: your body may be the partial image of a base structure from which trillions of microbial-level protrusions emerge. In this case, your brain may correspond to a segment of this base structure that has folded in on itself, giving rise to an ego ‘attached’ to the broader micro-universe of your body. Finally, what applies at both the cosmic and human levels may also apply at levels in between: take, for instance, James Lovelock’s ‘Gala’ hypothesis, under which our planet is seen as a self-regulating organism!. Earth could be the partial image of a base structure from which all plant and animal protrusions emerge.

    The general notion behind all these speculations is that membrane structures can emerge from membrane structures in a nested manner: protrusions rising from protrusions, which in turn rise from protrusions, and so forth, like fractals. The degree of freedom with which the topography of mind can conceivably organize itself along these nested levels – the nuances, details, and complexities of the organization – transcend, almost by definition, our human ability to visualize them. As such, the membrane metaphor is formidable in its potential explanatory power.

  • @tvt,

    The comment about inconceivable love was made by mike k, not me. I don’t conceive of “love” as being an ontological primitive, for a variety of reasons.

    For me the basic nature of reality is consciousness. Consciousness doesn’t care what it becomes aware of, or whether humans interpret the contents of consciousness as good or evil. The contents simply are what they are. The moral distinctions we draw between good and evil are irrelevant at the level of pure consciousness.

    I don’t believe in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent god. As a result there is no “problem of evil”. This is similar to how Kastrup’s theory reveals the “Hard Problem of Consciousness” to be an illusion generated by our worldview.

  • http://www.themarketbusiness.com/2015-05-03-nasas-budget-slashed-by-house-science-committee
    In the Senate, testimony by Bolden was used by senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as an opportunity to claim that Earth sciences aren’t “hard science,” and NASA’s attention would be better focused in other places
    Republicans don’t want you to see what’s coming
    Will be fun to watch sceptical eyes widen.

  • Bud, tl;dr
    Remember, nothing really matters, including what you feel about your life, or human extinction, or whatever.

  • “Keep your garbage with yourself. It’s simple. If you can’t do that, you are not worthy to use nature as your playground.”

    Whereas it’s ok to jet around Kingdom Come using nature as your playground as long as you pack out your Capri Sun drink bags and plastic straws?

    @Paul C., the site you’ve linked to, Bernardo Kastrup, claims that “the media too easily errs on the side of materialism”.. yet another blog I recently found makes the more coherent claim that the mainstream media abhors atheism and hews strongly toward theistic and “spiritual” narratives:


    (From a marketing perspective, this is as one would expect, seeing as >80% of the US populace claim to believe in a “god” character.)

    @Paul C. “mind may not actually be generated by the brain.” Ok, what generates mind, if not the brain?

    Why should altered cognitive states be thought to be engendered by unidentifiable external sources rather than by material changes in brain chemistry which have in fact been measured??

    “In contrast, members of traditional societies were often exposed to the weather, to malnutrition, to extreme physical exertion, and to chronic health conditions. I suggest that such level of exposure would have compromised brain function sufficiently to induce non-ordinary states of consciousness”

    Here, the “non-ordinary” (I would say the “sub-optimal”) is offered as the desirable.. which I find a little bit alarming. An ascetic guru wandering the planet in a state of delirious malnutrition… is that either “normal” or a condition to be aspired to? Is puerperal fever or schizophrenia or rabies or the plague or dehydration a condition to be aspired to because of the delirious states these maladies might provoke? This is an abominable statement only an arrogant modern academic could make.

    This way, also, lies the questionable claims of historical religionists regarding their saints: those who flogged and starved themselves, those who anecdotally survived on their own urine or solely eucharist wafers or some other bizarrely-restrictive comestible… in order to achieve and maintain a delirious state in which they felt closest to a divinity.

    All of these attempts are material attempts, with material processes acting upon a material brain. This includes Buddhists closing themselves in a sensory-deprivation box for a mont, and the ingestion of peyote or ayahuasca, just as it does the more mundane practice of Lent.

    Managing religious experiences is a deeply material, bodily, process. You light the candles, the incense, the chants are made deep and thrumming and repetitive.

    The great failing of humanity is to have favored the imaginary, the fantasical, and immaterial over the material, as I see it. To truly understand the material—the energy exchanges, the atomic behaviors, the thermodynamics, the genetics.. that would be understanding indeed. But we don’t understand them well (rather, we childishly don’t want to understand them well). So much is known, but rejected for other reasons. There is more that we already know but have pushed aside than there is to discover anew in a lifetime!

    I know plenty of folks who will marginalize these comments because they don’t understand where I am coming from. To me, being a materialist doesn’t mean embracing most of what modern science offers.. on the contrary! To understand nuclear power (for example) is to immediately understand that it is to be left unattempted. I would not build a home or a school out of concrete and expect it to last more than 50 years, much less a nuclear plant.. so WTF??!

  • Lidia, nothing I say will change your mind.

  • Paul, I read your quotation above, and I hate to say this, but I think your guy Kastrup is full of baloney as to why indigenous people were non-materialistic.

    I agree that indigenous cultures are non-materialistic, but it’s not because of starvation, exposure and other life-threatening experiences. I grew up with 19th century American Indian elders who were all from the old Indian Territory before it became Oklahoma Territory. My great-great-grandmother didn’t speak English until she was about ten or eleven years old, and she didn’t know how old she was, but her earliest memories as a very young child around age three were connected to the Civil War. My great-grandmother and two of her brothers also had Cherokee as their first language. As an adult I worked in Indian Health Service for over a dozen years and have strong ties to the traditional Native community in Alaska. I have lived with traditional Alaska Native people for decades, I have lived with their way of seeing the world since I was born.

    I find Kastrup’s entire theory bizarre. For the record, however, I find most non-indigenous theories about indigenous people bizarre, and most of them are bizarre. This particular topic however, would take so much discussion that I will offer this:

    Kastrup, as usual has it backwards. It is not because they suffered that their brains were changed. They simply see what is right in front of everyone and available to be seen. They do not live in their heads they non-indigenous people do. Western culture is always living an alternate reality, not the material reality in front of them. In fact, when it comes to plain pragmatism, indigenous people are far more pragmatic, far more “realistic” and materialistic. One of my favorite “Oh, yeah, that’s it” moments regarding Native cultures came from a super low-budget, one-guy-one-camera educational and cultural film about several elders taking teenagers from larger villages in Alaska on a remote camp where they learned traditional subsistence skills. At one point an older woman is teaching the teenagers to gut and fillet salmon. Some of the girls were squeamish about the blood and guts and made faces and “ewwwww!” sounds.

    The elder woman very calmly said, “It washes off.”

    Yes, they are more psychic, mystical, aware of certain realities. But it’s not because of the misery and hardship of their way of life. They just see something that is obvious that non-indigenous people can’t see because they are too full of other things. They are always caught up in associations and created meanings in an attempt to universalize EVERYTHING and form a god-like understanding of reality.

    They are more mystical because they don’t think they are God. Westerners can’t see the spirit at work, can’t see a Creator for a very simple reason; they are God.

    When you don’t think you’re the epitome of the Creation within and around you, it’s a lot easier to see the spirit at work in everything.

  • I write “they” too often. Westerners are always caught up in associations and created meanings, and indigenous people are more psychic, mystical, etc. I spent a great deal of time with my great-grandmother when I was a little child, and plenty of time with her until her death when I was in my mid-twenties and she was near 90. I saw their attitudes at work from the time I was born. I saw their abilities, their understandings, how they LIVED their understandings.

    I promise you, their mysticism and spirituality is far less dramatic than being a result of deprivation, hardship and regular near-death experiences. It’s so much more immediate and straightforward than that.

    I’m not that much American Indian by blood, but I am by culture, and I came out a lot like them, including their mysticism. I think like them. When I look at the world, I don’t see a universe of cause and effect, I see a world of change and response. When I look at nature, I see intelligence at work. I look out of my little eyes onto a world of Life, not things. When I observe the animals, I don’t see “dumb animals,” I see beings with lives and purposes of their own.

    And I see beauty everywhere. I’ve never seen a single natural setting that was not beautiful, not the oceans or the deserts or the tropics or the frozen Arctic. It is all so very beautiful that it shatters me and I don’t understand how I can experience all this beauty and still breathe.

    Westerners get in their own way. They “learn” too much, and universalize too much, and label too much to see the beautiful gift that is right there all the time. This gift of life on Earth that indigenous cultures valued, and therefor they valued the Earth herself, never was Good Enough for the Western perspective. And that, more than starvation and suffering in the elements, is the cause of the difference in the views.

    Who is more “materialistic”? The person who sees the real material consequences of destruction, or the person who consumes material resources beyond reason or decency? Is “materialism” even the problem? Really? Because, I’m here to tell you, indigenous cultures were very good at predicting things like how the world was going to be murdered if people did certain things, and they were right.

    Is “materialism” just another way of saying “hubris”? Psychotic arrogance? Is “materialism” just another way of saying “depraved destruction” based on psychopathic lack of respect?

    Words confuse people a lot, and in this culture words make people incapable of seeing reality altogether.

  • @ogf,

    Kastrup knows this aspect of his theorizing is highly speculative. So do I. I think it’s an interesting inversion of traditional thinking, and since I like that kind of thing I’m totally OK with it.

    Kastrup’s theory does absolutely nothing to change the way this reality works. All of science is still available to us. Sleight of hand is still sleight of hand. Indigenous and colonized thought processes are still what they are. The framework of idealism (which has solid, albeit fully Westernized roots going back to Berkeley, Hegel and Schopenhauer) just gives us another way to think of the ideas of meaning and reality.

    If it doesn’t resonate with you, that’s fine – it won’t change anything one way or the other.