Edge of Extinction: Mine Tailings

For about a week, somebody has been promoting my work on various social-media platforms and an email distribution list. I received this email message from the person this morning:

“Very disappointed this morning Guy. I am gonna keep watching from sidelines. I had huge plans using banks of web and social conversations information collected regarding all things “climate change” that apparently pissed some persons or entity off; the crowdfunding and my intended information about those plans were increasingly gathering positive steam and becoming much too public. I have been definitively warned to back off. Whatever/whomever caused this reaction has way more power and sophistication than i could have imagined –having gained complete access to all my data, computers, and phone! I had the crap scared out me to say the least. I retracted all of my recent activist social postings and spent hours yesterday scrubbing all data regarding said. Please there is no need to reply. I am neutralized. My latest post/comments on your site had my email address in the body of that post. I would be most appreciative if you waxed that comment.”

“‘Nuff said”

“Best of everything to you.”


I was interviewed by Reverend Billy from the Church of Stop Shopping last Thursday morning. The interview will air Wednesday, 3 June 2015 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern on WBAI radio in New York City. Catch it on the Internet by clicking here.

Amy is trying to connect with folks in San Francisco (or nearby) to bring Guy to the Bay Area. Please contact amyvegan@gmail.com

Also seeking vegan folks to brainstorm the creation of 100% vegan urban community in or near Portland, Oregon along the light rail line.


To support my forthcoming tour in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and also southwestern Canada, click the donate button below. Alternatively, click here.


12-26 June 2015, Pacific Northwest, tentatively including the following:

12 June 2015, 7:40 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. radio interview, The Early Edition, CBC Radio One Vancouver, Vancouver, British, Columbia: 88.1 FM, 690 AM

12 June 2015, 12:00 noon – 2:00 p.m. Runaway Climate Change: Can We Stop It? A Discussion with Guy McPherson. Room 2270, SFU Harbour Centre, Vancouver, BC.

12 June 2015, 6:30 p.m. presentation and discussion, Heartwood Cafe, 317 East Broadway, Vancouver, BC

14 June 2015, 1:00 p.m. presentation and discussion, Island Savings Centre, 2687 James Street, Duncan, BC

15 June 2015, 6:00 p.m. presentation and discussion, Start Now Gardens, 1134 Bloomington Avenue, Bremerton, Washington

17 June 2015, 5:30 p.m. presentation and discussion, The Royal Room, 5000 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle, Washington (dinner at 5:00 p.m., reservations encouraged)

18 June 2015, 7:00 p.m. presentation and discussion, Public Library, 1270 Madison Avenue North, Bainbridge Island, Washington

19 June 2015, 6:30 p.m. presentation and discussion, King’s Books, 218 St. Helens Avenue, Tacoma, Washington

22 June 2015, 7:00 p.m. presentation and discussion, Traditions Cafe, 300 Fifth Avenue SW, Olympia, Washington

24 June 2015, 3:00 p.m. book-reading and -signing, Tsunami Books, 2585 Willamette Street, Eugene, Oregon

24 June 2015, 7:00 p.m. presentation and discussion, Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 1685 West 13th Avenue, Eugene, Oregon

25 June 2015, 6:00 p.m. presentation and discussion, Community Library, 901 C Street 98660, Vancouver, Washington

26 June 2015, 6:00 p.m. presentation and discussion, Portland City Club, 901 SW Washington Street, Portland, Oregon


Catch Nature Bats Last on the radio with Mike Sliwa and Guy McPherson. To catch us live, tune in every Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time, or catch up in the archives here. If you prefer the iTunes version, including the option to subscribe, you can click here.

Yesterday Pauline Schneider interviewed musician Marc Black. Next week I’m going solo, and will interview artist and anti-nuclear activist Mimi German.


Please visit the DONATIONS tab. I’m open to non-monetary donations, subject only to your creativity. For example, I would appreciate your generosity with respect to frequent-flyer miles.


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

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

Comments 70

  • Indeed, how far we have degenerated from the days of the unitary prospector to the daze of the tailings of the tar-sands exterminators sent here from the future to destroy us.

  • Amy, all of us are bewildered & exasperated by the escalating craziness of unfolding events.

    You will have so much more information about how to proceed as events unfold this summer.

    Any congested urban area, of course, is surely a poor choice to face the climate disruptions & civil unrest that are surely coming.

    It saddens me that you are seriously considering that there really is a vegan community solution.

    More & more I am forced to face the fact that our choices will soon come down to how & when we choose to die before we haven’t any choices left.

    We are at the door to hell on earth & soon.

    I Saw a Man Pursuing the Horizon by Steven Crane

    I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
    Round and round they sped.
    I was disturbed at this;
    I accosted the man.
    “It is futile,” I said,
    “You can never —”

    “You lie,” he cried,
    And ran on.

  • I live 10 miles from this amazing place, imagine that people lived here 3,500 years ago.


  • It’s really quite simple Guy. Rule #3: Overt intolerance towards any race of peoples will not be allowed. Done.

  • Lidia ~

    “Now this is rich…!”

    yes, our Kingdom is infinitely rich. filled with Light, joy and ecstasy beyond all possible limits.

    right here. on this rock in space. on many rocks in space.

    the Christ Consciousness lives right here, now, in this Universe, as much as it does in the highest Heaven.

    it is here, for any and all who wish to live it.

    “Like the God/Christ character you *could* live radiantly in heaven, but just choose to muck around here with us mortals and burn some fossil fuels while you’re at it.. “

    I see it, and I live it ALL now, here, and I don’t have any doubt I’d rather be here, now, than zipping around with the angels in Heaven.

    this is my heaven. our Heaven. we share it even now with so many others, and we can hardly wait to see what’s coming next with our Creation.

    “just so you can keep your hand in at being a failure?”

    practice, practice, practice! if we are not constantly failing, we are not doing our job. what fails, fails, and what works, works. we use what works, and leave behind the rest.

    we can only know the ultimate “right from wrong” by doing, being and living inspired. we are given infinite opportunities to figure it out, and we do not shirk our gift of responsibility to do just that, even if we fail, time and again, painfully.

    we will never stop.


    Christ consciousness is the state of awareness of our true nature, our higher self, and our birthright as children of God. Christ consciousness is our living expression as a child of Spirit as we unfold our own divine life plan onto the earth plane: bringing heaven to earth. Living in the reality of our “christed” self is actually being fully alive and invested in who we truly are. In our “christed” self we live as inspiration for others to seek this for themselves so we can collectively move our planet forward into the divine plan for planetary transformation and glorification.


    what matters is what any of us chooses to matter. it is forever left as our choice.

  • ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVsxVo26AoU

  • I’m reading an excellent book about The Wartime Career of
    German General, Frido von Senger, entitled,

    “Neither Fear Nor Hope”

  • @Spezio

    More & more I am forced to face the fact that our choices will soon come down to how & when we choose to die before we haven’t any choices left.

    We are at the door to hell on earth & soon.

    But, man, is that really something new for you? Not for me. That’s my condition since i was born. Heads up, nothing to gain, nothing to loose! 😎

    @mo flow

    I really appreciate everything you said here on board, may it be about Buddha or Christ or else. Great inspiration, brother!

  • Just for the fun of it:

    ” Stand by me | Playing for Change | Song around the world”

  • mo flow,

    “Christ consciousness”! NOW i understand why one individual on this here blog loves u so much AND also why MY best friend referred to himself as a ‘Christian Atheist’. Thank you. I had never encountered this idea before and I only had to read a few sentences.

    It is too bad that humanity doesn’t get it. I believe that we are in a state far, far, worse than we can possibly know. Me. personally; I’m ready to go but I can’t pull the trigger for some stupid reason. I wish I could! I am so tired and i AM A PRIVILEGED WHITE MAN.

  • They will not be able to ship the ore when the ports are inundated by the invasion of the ghost of Eric the Red & Co.

  • Guy Fawkes McPherson, V dude!

    Any 5 year old troll is way more sophisticated than me.

    Any idiot savant can tell you, we’re not sure about the savant.


  • “I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me” (Vox).

  • I saw what must be the world’s smallest ants today, about 1mm … so small they were actually transparent. Totally amazing!

    Life is sometimes a catch 22 sandwich. A scary message Guy, but no surprise. First, heartfelt thanks to whoever it was who made the valiant effort. The closer we get to critical mass, as far as getting the NTE message out, the more resistance will be felt. The last thing ‘they’ want is mass panic or mass depression, or mass anything that interferes with mass consumption. Makes one consider using incription, but not sure how much that would help. In comparison, it was so much easier and safer to be an ecovist in the 60’s and 70’s and even 80’s. I have an internal dialogue going these days- total resistance and the loss of freedom that entails, but realizing that since the gears of change are already in motion and cannot be stopped or changed, I want with all my heart to just be here in the natural world and not be deprived of that.

    I saw what must be the world’s smallest ants today, about 1mm … so small they were actually transparent. Totally amazing!

  • @Wren

    Yeah, I like that raw, handmade sound and also the lyric! I sing and play guitar too 😎

    I had a repetitive dream in my earliest childhood:

    There were huge waves, Tsunamiwaves and I was swimming, drifting in an ocean of water, there were houses, cars, people, animals, bicycles drifting all around me, everywhere was just oceanwater….

    Another repetitive dream from earliest childhood was a black silhouette standing in the doorway who always just waved his hand and said “Come workin”.

    And once I had a dream when I was seventeen:

    I came to a river and the water of that river were black as black can be, it must have been the river Styx. There was a bridge over that black river and I stepped onto that bridge to cross the river, but when I was walking over that bridge, I fell down into the black river for no reason. I were in deadly terror, I tried to swim, but that black water were alsmost like thick air, it did not carry me. And there were black silhouettes who were driving unicycles over that black water and they ran over me, so I began to drown, to sink. That’s it, I thought, I will die now, bye bye world. But when I was dying and drowning, I realized that I could breath under water.



  • I wish a smooth passage some day to all of you!

  • “Christ consciousness is the state of awareness of our true nature, our higher self, and our birthright as children of God.”

    For anyone who gets to that threshold, it is only another step to where there is no longer a distinction between river and ocean; in fact the realisation that there never was any distinction, as between water and wetness. There is no “higher” self; there never was. You ARE Buddha, not “will be”. Realising it is a whole ‘nuther ball game.

  • @Robin Datta

    Yeah, no distinction between river and ocean, only if we distinct it in our consciousness. Four states of consciousness:

    Deep sleep/Death, Dreaming, Awake and fourth the consciousness about the fact, that those three are One.

    But Savitri answered to almighty Death:
    “O dark-browed sophist of the universe
    Who veilst the Real with its own Idea,
    Hiding with brute objects Nature’s living face,
    Masking eternity with thy dance of death,
    Thou hast woven the ignorant mind into a screen
    And made of Thought error’s purveyor and scribe,
    And a false witness of mind’s servant sense.
    An aesthete of the sorrow of the world,
    Champion of a harsh and sad philosophy
    Thou hast used words to shutter out the Light
    And called in Truth to vindicate a lie.
    A lying reality is falsehood’s crown
    And a perverted truth her richest gem.
    O Death, thou speakest truth but truth that slays,
    I answer to thee with the Truth that saves.
    A traveller new-discovering himself,
    One made of Matter’s world his starting-point,
    He made of Nothingness his living-room
    And Night a process of the eternal light
    And death a spur towards immortality.

    – Sri Aurobindo

  • Curious ~ I am so glad to inspire you, brother!

    I love so much of what you post here, but please remain conscious and very respectful of the two post per day limit. :O) (right now you’ve got five, just in this thread so far today, that is way too much!).

    the limit is indeed two.

    shep ~ you are so welcome. more to say later, on many things…

    Robin ~ “whole ‘nuther ball game”

    who is at bat?

  • Dredd recommended an article; “I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me” (Vox)

    Here are few selected excerpts that I claim are routinely demonstrated in this blog;

    “Personal experience and feelings aren’t just a salient touchstone of contemporary identity politics; they are the entirety of these politics.”

    “In such an environment, it’s no wonder that students are so prone to elevate minor slights to protestable offenses.”

    “It’s also why seemingly piddling matters of cultural consumption warrant much more emotional outrage than concerns with larger material implications.”

    “The press for actionability, or even for comprehensive analyses that go beyond personal testimony, is hereby considered redundant, since all we need to do to fix the world’s problems is adjust the feelings attached to them and open up the floor for various identity groups to have their say.”

    “All the old, enlightened means of discussion and analysis —from due process to scientific method — are dismissed as being blind to emotional concerns and therefore unfairly skewed toward the interest of straight white males. All that matters is that people are allowed to speak, that their narratives are accepted without question, and that the bad feelings go away.”

    “So it’s not just that students refuse to countenance uncomfortable ideas — they refuse to engage them, period.”

    “Engagement is considered unnecessary, as the immediate, emotional reactions of students contain all the analysis and judgment that sensitive issues demand.”

  • Thanks, Wren, I needed that!


    Mo, Shep, Curious and all the wanderers that aren’t lost, it’s a sweet vibe, the consciousness thing. Its made my life worth living, real or not. I think it is…real, the evidence is there. Who crashed the party and pooped in the punch bowel? Doesn’t really matter any more. I love the word ‘Christ’. I don’t know much about what it is but I try to guard and protect it, I only let good things share its space in my heart.

  • I’ve decided on two posts tonight. I wondered, should I strain my brain or have a little fun? So I posted this…

  • I posted this at the tail end of the last thread before I realized it was done. Duplicate post makes my two for today then.

    Tales of the Open System

    I have a few things to say regarding those of us who now speak of softer matters like compassion, love and equanimity, instead of engaging the powerful with the harder truths of civilization and agitating for changes of behaviour during this time of accelerating collapse.

    My teachers have always told me that one speaks best from personal experience, so I propose to say these things by telling my own story.

    I’ve been speaking the harder truths to whoever will listen for over a decade now. At times it was a relentless effort, and my writings have been read by literally thousands of people. I’ve hit climate change, energy use, agriculture, sustainability, venal politics, the role of the deep state, the shadowy powers-that-be sitting spider-like at the center of the web of society gobbling all the goodies they can reach. I’ve written hundreds of articles on these topics, and given many public talks as well. In other words, I’ve done my time in the trenches.

    All the way along I’ve been driven by a burning desire to know why. Why is this happening? Why are we so deep into overshoot? Why can’t we seem to turn back? Why do the COP conferences on climate change keep failing? Why do species keep going extinct? Why can’t we seem to muster the political will or social capacity to protect any aspect of this planet and its precious biosphere from our endless rapacity?

    My investigations into these questions have followed a process called “inductive reasoning”, which involves using empirical observations to discern patterns, and from there to infer underlying principles. Here’s how the process unfolded.

    First I delved into what is known about collective and individual behaviour: group dynamics, game theory, the nature of psychopathy, social and neurological reward mechanisms, the nature of competition and cooperation, greed and altruism.

    That survey prompted me to examine human behaviour throughout history. I was looking for threads of universality that cut across time and cultural differences and reinforce the sorts of behaviours we are trying, unsuccessfully, to counter today. I found them.

    That study led me to evolutionary psychology, which pointed me in turn towards the operation of processes of natural selection.

    The deeper I dug the more ominous the answers became. Two years ago, after more than eight years of virtually full-time investigation culminated in a two-year orgy of research, I found myself staring at the hardest truth I could possibly have imagined.

    I had dug all the way down, as far as I could go in the macroscopic (i.e. non-quantum) world. I was all the way down at the fundamental building block of the physical universe:The Second Law of Thermodynamics, and how it operates in open systems.

    The chain of induction I had forged was unbroken from there all the way back up to such human conundrums as the laws encouraging loggers to deforest Malaysia for palm oil plantations; the bottom trawlers and drift-netters decimating the oceans; the farmers sucking the aquifers of the Great Plains and India dry for irrigation; to the rise of authoritarian security states and failed states; to the constantly rising levels of CO2 from cars and power stations – in short to the whole damned clusterfuck.

    These are the broad brush-strokes of my big picture:

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics described by Ludwig Boltzmann’s entropy equation (S = k log W) provides the physical context for the growth in size and complexity of open systems. The effects of this driver are discernable in every aspect of life, from unicellular bacteria to human beings; and in every aspect of behaviour from bacteria swimming up glucose gradients to the creation of human institutions that support energy and resource extraction activities.

    This operation of the Second Law has been dubbed the Maximum Entropy Production Principle, or MEPP. In summary form, MEPP implies that a system acts to degrade whatever energy gradients it uses as quickly as it can, consistent with maintaining the integrity of the system. The system extracts as much free energy as rapidly as it can from the raw gradients, and uses that energy for its own survival, self-repair, growth and reproduction as needed.

    Open systems need energy and other resources in order to function. When several open systems compete for common shared resources, they do so according to a principle developed by Alfred Lotka and H.T. Odum, called the Maximum Power Principle or MPP. This principle tells us that when such systems compete, the one that can mobilize the most power (i.e. degrade the most energy in the shortest amount of time) is more likely to prevail.

    MPP is the principle that drives the “natural selection” in evolution. The living systems that result from natural selection under the influence of MPP have a built-in bias towards growth, whether they are plants, multi-celled animals, human societies or institutions.

    Together, MEPP and MPP are the principles behind the growth of network complexity and hierarchy that we see in both natural and artificial systems:

    Increased network complexity permits systems to develop more specialized sub-systems, and thus become more adaptable. Hierarchies make systems more efficient by allowing the development of specialized control functions that permit more efficient operation of larger systems. Those controls are the feedback loops identified by the science of cybernetics. They help to explain such human phenomena as road and communications networks, and the layered structure of the modern corporation.

    All open systems depend for their existence on the material and energy resources of their environment. The nature of those resources – their quantity, quality and availability – shape the system’s structure and development. This dependence is obvious in plant and animal morphologies with their specialized feeding systems – for example roots and photosynthetic leaves, or grinding molars and cutting incisors.

    More significantly for me, this resource-dependent morphological development operates in human societies as well. Anthropologist Marvin Harris describes through his Principle of Infrastructural Determinism how cultures exhibit traits that allow them to take best advantage of their varied environments.

    As a result of all the factors I’ve just outlined, all human social institutions – from technology to politics, art and religion – act directly or indirectly to support and reinforce the operation of this chain of principles. Aside from any other functions it might perform, all human behaviour has as its core purpose the maximally efficient dissipation of energy gradients.

    In light of this, it should be obvious why degrowth movements have never gained any serious traction. Individuals may sometimes and in some ways “break out of the mould”, because they are single elements of a vast and overwhelmingly complex system. But the operation of human societies is as statistical in nature as a gas in a thermodynamic demonstration chamber. In that setting a particular molecule may have its own velocity, but overall the gas shows a uniform behaviour that is the aggregate of all its molecules.

    The analogy is that while you or I may choose to leave our job and live in a mud hut, this will cause only an infinitesimal change in the overall behaviour of our society. Most people will not follow our lead. The laws of statistical mechanics apply just as much to societies as they do to gases.

    In all of this you may have noticed that there is precious little evidence of any ability of human ingenuity, foresight, free will or consciousness to change the operation of the system. That is because human minds are conditioned by that chain of connections just as surely as our bodies. Thoughts of degrowth in a time of surplus are literally, perhaps even physically, unthinkable by the majority of human beings. Instead, the vast proportion of our collective creativity is pressed into the service of the growing open system of civilization – with the results we see around us today.

    Well, well, well…

    It should now be fairly obvious why, when I reached this point in my inductive investigations, I promptly had a nervous breakdown.

    When an animal finds itself in an inescapable situation it will first tear itself apart trying to force an exit. If that does not succeed the animal will usually collapse and wait for death. I had torn myself apart and suffered the collapse, but being human I was disinclined to simply sink into passivity and wait to die – or just say “Screw it, nothing matters!” and party till Doomsday. Instead, I was determined to explore my newfound fatalism as deeply as I had explored our human condition, in the hopes that I would find at least some philosophical comfort while I lived out my remaining days.

    It took some time, but a suitable personal philosophy gradually took form – woven from Buddhism, Taoism, my understanding of Advaita and the “amor fati” of Epictetus and Nietzsche.

    From that fertile philosophical conjunction was born my current peace of mind, and my deep compassion for ALL creatures that are swept along by forces beyond their control. My anger, blame, guilt and shame withered and fell away. In their place blossomed a love I had not previously known. It is a love that is all-embracing, touching the saintly and the venal without distinction or favour. A love that does not bind, but rather frees with forgiveness all that it touches. In a way, my collapse had been transformed into a Dark Night of the Soul.

    This has been a most blessed and miraculous journey. One that I would not wish on anyone.


    I accept that this explication of the origins and causes of the modern human predicament is going to cause great consternation for many. After all, one of the cornerstones of the Western Enlightenment is the concept of human agency, and my hypothesis leaves precious little room for its operation. And to most people the whole notion that the structure and operation of modern corporations and political parties find their basis in “18th Century steam engine science” is going to seem frankly preposterous.

    If you find yourself feeling that way, I would ask that you just let the matter rest. Whether I am right or wrong about any of it probably doesn’t make much difference to how the world will unfold. If anything, pay more attention to my penultimate paragraphs. If you can arrive at a place of compassion, equanimity and love without having to go through an existential collapse along the way, you will have – at least in my opinion – succeeded at one of the loftiest endeavours in life.

    Best wishes,
    Bodhi Paul Chefurka

  • Guy, The rev Billy show does not show up for me on the link.

  • I believe that there may be things that are presently deemed impossible by the overwhelming majority that are in fact realities. I have no way of proving this in the manner that my contemporaries would accept. Nevertheless I have experienced some of these things in their ultimately real facticity. When I confronted D.T. Suzuki (bringer of Zen Buddhism to America) at the East West Philosophers Conference at the University of Hawaii in 1965, I asked him, “How do we know you are enlightened?” He responded that the only way anyone could know that would be if they were enlightened. Apparently, I concluded, you have to be there in that state of consciousness to know whether another is also there. There is a Zen saying – two thieves need no introduction.

    To paraphrase Wittgenstein, Of that which they do not know, you need not speak. It would be no use. So to even speak as I have shows my ignorance, but perhaps also my hope that the impossible might be possible. Hints sometimes catalyze intuitions unpredictably. A tiny seed thrown into an ocean of false certainties.
    Enough. Actually too much. Let the dead bury the dead? But….

    So if you think I am more than a little strange – this is more true than you know. I am neither proud nor ashamed of that, it’s just how it is. When my Korean friend and judo teacher said to me, “I am not the usual Korean” I answered “And I am not the usual American.” And we laughed the laughter of two conspiratorial outsiders knowing each other.

    Thanks for your profoundly revealing narrative Paul Chefurka. It is a pleasure and an honor to know you better.

  • “who is at bat?”

    No one. The phantasmagorical web of probabilities at the quantum level that manifests as an apparently robust world of matter & energy in time & space continues on in its own merry way. En route, the toughest mirage to recognise, and thereby delegitimise is one’s sense of “I” & “not-I”. As long as that persists, “I” is at bat.

    “the concept of human agency, and my hypothesis leaves precious little room for its operation”

    The concept of human agency was discarded in the Vedic and Buddhist traditions – many moons ago.

    “One who is a knower of the truth, although he is engaged in seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving, sleeping, breathing, talking, evacuating, accepting objects and blinking the eyes, realizes that all his sense-functions are interacting with the respective sense-objects. Therefore, he thinks, “I am not doing anything.”” B.G. 5:8-9

    There is a recognition that one is consciousness (not one “has consciousness” – in fact no one has consciousness). Its concomitant is de-identification from the insentient body-mind complex.

    The Vedic and Buddhist samsara manifests as amor fati.

    Hope not too many overposts… not counting and trying not to stomp on anyone by overposting.

  • Paul Chefurka: This has been a most blessed and miraculous journey.


    You win the Diogenes award for today, Paul


    Paul Chefurka: One that I would not wish on anyone.


    What I don’t wish on anybody is for someone who hasn’t gone all the way through this kind of a journey to stand up as a Spokesperson of Doom – because he or she is just gonna hurt a whole bunch of people with all that shadow stuff you worked through fully.

    If you’re hating on Jews, or transsexuals, or causasian males, or some “empire” out there – you haven’t figured out Jack Shit yet. Better to sit down and shut up, rather than adding your personal piss to the pool.

  • Buddha-ism, in the Noble 8-fold Path, one of the precepts is:
    “See the world as it actually is.”
    Which after a few years of contemplation, I actually translate quite literally as:
    “Now that we’ve got you this far, don’t be a Buddha-ist.”
    or something along those lines. Because, truth be told, all the Buddha-ists around me kind of conveniently en masse missed that particular part.

  • @mike k,

    Thanks for your continued generosity.

    That latest piece was triggered by a comment from G.S. in the last thread or two, as well as by a couple of discussions on FB in which I was sharply questioned about how “compassion, awareness and love” could possibly coexist with my cynical pessimism about the world and the human role in it. It’s the first time I’ve chronicled my journey through worldviews and its most recent transition.

    It’s odd, but until I started writing I had a very different understanding of how the last few years had unfolded. It goes to show how malleable our internal stories really are. Every inner certainty coasts on an unexamined wave of maybes. That feels like an important awareness for people like me who are dedicated to a life of gnothi seauton.

    @Robin Datta,

    Try this on for size:

    The sensation of agency is an illusion borne of the self-reflective awareness of change, riding on the back of the delusion that the reflection in view is a “self”. Bernardo Kastrup’s concept of beings as reflective vortices in the field of “mind-at-large” helps to unpack that idea.

    There is no self, there is no agency, there is no world to be acted upon. There is only consciousness – “mind-at-large” – and the temporary images that arise from excitations within it.

    And yet there is all of that, and more. The analogy being, of course, quantum superposition. You pays your money and you takes a look. In that instant the choice is made.

  • “See the world as it actually is.”

    To paraphrase from YMMV, “Your perspective may vary”. To use a pre-Buddhist Vedic metaphor, the snake seen instead of a dimly lit rope is no less real as long as it is thus misperceived: within the realm of that (mis)perception it can have very real effects: the person who sees the snake may have a heart attack.

    When dreaming, see the world as in a dream (swapna avastha = dream state). When awake, as when awake (jagrat avasta = waking state). When in dreamless sleep, as in that state (shushupti avastha = (deep) sleep state). The last of these seems a void, closest to Reality, to the Void that is the Plenitude, best intellectually approached – with the caveat that intellection is totally inadequate – in Kabbalah, and the term there used is Ain Sof. In the Vedic tradition it is called the Fourth state.

    Unlike the other three states, each of which excludes other states, the Realtty includes within it all states. Direct grokking, (in contrast to intellection) is what’s required when one is told “You are the Buddha”.

    As is stated in the Vedic thadition, (Taittiriya upaniShad (2.9.1)): Words turn back failing to have grasped It, and the mind likewise.

  • Punch bowel! HAHAHAHAHA! O, what a nimrod I can be!

    Paul, your paper is astounding, brilliant! Too bad you weren’t around two hundred years to write it. Maybe we wouldn’t have cooked our goose then crawled into the oven after it.

  • Thanks Kirk, but one thing the research convinced me of is that it would not have made one iota of difference to the outcome if someone had come up with the whole story much earlier. The idea that we might have voluntarily counteracted the influences of both physics and evolution is a forlorn hope.

  • Thanks Wren,

    for mentioning once again what REALLY matters and for keeping the conversation on track.

    There are some tiny ant species considered a “nuisance” or even a “pest” by humans. Because they are so small, they can easily live and multiply in human habitation. Therefore, they are “dirty”, an “animal weed” to be destroyed. The nasty creatures could potentially contaminate sterile hospital equipment, and that would never do. Naughty ants!

    Never mind that we humans can “easily live and multiply”, spreading like a cancer on the surface of the Earth. Other species must not be allowed to do that. We grow like a cancer but other species – except the ones “useful” to us, the domesticated ones – must not be allowed to do that. We inflict chemical warfare on them daily, everywhere, all around the world…and we reap the consequences in our own fragile bodies. Homo iDiotus. rules.

    However, it’s not about humans, its about ALL life on this Earth! Our only home, our Earth, our Mother! I find,it’s important to meditate on this daily.
    Our individual spiritual paths are only that: individual ways of coping and our compound personal experience which feeds and builds intuition and guides you. It’s important to keep this within the context of what we call “nature” because our personal “nature” is part of that. Nobody (note the “body” in that word) can really get away from that. You have to take your body with you and look after it.
    In other words, it’s possible to become “wiser” with age.

    We all have these personal spiritual paths to walk on, and it’s nice to share and discuss them but they are less than secondary what should be our “reality”.

    Get out there all of you brothers who still feel separate. Be with what we humans call nature (like Wren) and connect your inner selves (whatever that is for you personally) to what really matters and what will be gone soon.

    Sometimes I think that way (state) of being might be easier for women to get to. It was certainly easy for me.
    I know there are exceptions among the men here. So what do I know….
    Just musing.

  • [from Geophysical Research Letters]


    Time scales and ratios of climate forcing due to thermal versus carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels


    The Earth warms both when fossil fuel carbon is oxidized to carbon dioxide and when greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide inhibits longwave radiation from escaping to space. Various important time scales and ratios comparing these two climate forcings have not previously been quantified. For example, the global and time-integrated radiative forcing from burning a fossil fuel exceeds the heat released upon combustion within 2 months. Over the long lifetime of CO2 in the atmosphere, the cumulative CO2-radiative forcing exceeds the amount of energy released upon combustion by a factor >100,000. For a new power plant, the radiative forcing from the accumulation of released CO2 exceeds the direct thermal emissions in less than half a year. Furthermore, we show that the energy released from the combustion of fossil fuels is now about 1.71% of the radiative forcing from CO2 that has accumulated in the atmosphere as a consequence of historical fossil fuel combustion.

  • “There is only consciousness – “mind-at-large” – and the temporary images that arise from excitations within it.”

    Mind, whether at large or not, is insentient (“ja(r)da”): subtle, but no more sentient than a rock. Excitations are within the mind. Sunshine is unaffected whether it shines on a sewer or on a flower bush, but it gives perceived form to both. Consciousness is unaffected by space, time, matter and energy or any combination thereof. Void, Plenitude.

    What one owns, is separate from oneself, one is not that. What one IS, one does not own. “My mind”: one owns it. “My thoughts”: one owns them. “I am…” another thought, one owns it. Direct experience trumps narratives.

    The sense of agency (kartitva) is dependent on the “I”-maker (ahankara) both of these being excitations within an edifice of excitations called the mind.

  • Exactly so, Robin.

    Oops, that was three. Somebody shoot me.

  • Tom, the June 2015 paper by Zhang & Caldeira is a mandatory scientific concept, a genuine tour de force, for understanding “forcings” in global “heating” & climate change.

    It is on a level with evolutionary theory as mandatory to understand the natural world – “you can’t get there w/o it.”

    The title says it all; “Time scales & ratios of climate forcings …”

    The definitive paper has a long & prestigious pedigree.

    When I first read Zhang & Caldeira’s stipulation; “Over the long lifetime of CO2 in the atmosphere, the cumulative CO2-radiative forcing exceeds the amount of energy released upon combustion by a factor >100,000,” I had a had time absorbing it.- it was just too much.

    The number/factor, “greater then 100,000” is staggering.


    Alas, it appears all too TRUE, & why we will all be dead soon, & not from skin melanoma.

    From the text even Archer knew it as early as 2006; but instead of facing it, Archer comfortably concluded that heat death was way off in the distant future.

    Archer is still in love with his abstracted theory.

    Ah ha, the heat from the sun dwarfs man’s focus on himself, especially when we put numbers on it.

    Although the paper doesn’t say it; quantifying our “lucky ol’ sun’s constant radiative forcing,” is more important than counting Buddha’s bowel movements, wondering who is attached to what?, what is consciuosness?, Krishnamurti’s love affairs, my first ride on the subway, or wondering what my dreams “mean.”

    When I am thirsty & hungry I have no trouble concluding what to do.

    Not a Jungian archetype, philosophical meandering, or Freudian dream analysis anywhere.

    In Feynman terms; NO mugga, mugga, mugga.

    Love of truth first, what & whom we love comes after?

    I am almost sure that Jack-the-Ripper’s Mum loved him.

    I know that General Westmoreland’s Mum loved him.

    Ditto for Donald Rumsfeld.

    Mitch McConnell & Jimbo Inhofe couldn’t care less about radiative forcings – they have a different philosophy.

    Hey, “I am not a scientist,” but I know how to work the crowd & quote Pontius Pilate.

    A star is much more than a titillating song about rolling around heaven all day.

    One informs & the other titillates.

    I don’t know if Zhang & Caldeira can sing, but maybe if they did, they could reach more bewildered philosophizing pilgrims before they gasp for breath in their own philosophical mine tailings.

    In 1951, hard nosed scientist/empiricist, Hans Reichenbach, admonished us in his. “The Rise of Scientific Philosophy,” to realize that philosophy can only be informed by scientific facts.

  • The thing is that current human social and cultural structures DO NOT follow the same mechanisms that the rest of the complex systems in nature follow, from atoms organising to form molecules to cells to tissues to organs to organisms to populations (don’t mean to attribute conscious actions to these objects but I’m too lazy to write carefully). Top down organisation (governments, etc.) where one member of a hierarchy dictates what happens with the other members is not following the same bottom up principles that allow proteins to fold or cells to organise, etc. Their dynamics which should be nonlinear and near-chaotic (edge of chaos or complex) is really not (though there are aspects of human organisation that are like this, as a whole humanity is governed by a few via the threat of violence).

    If you have a million copies of a particular protein folding (I consider proteins to be the simplest examples of complex systems in biology), even though it has been optimised by evolution to take the pathway that leads to the lowest free energy (which is a balance between minimising enthalpy and maximising entropy), not all will fold to their native biological relevant functional state. In simulation it’s worse: one in a million may end up assuming the correct fold (this partly means we don’t know the physics of these simple complex systems entirely but also says a lot about the nature of the problem).

    My point is that an atom or residue in a protein or a cell in a tissue has more autonomy than a human being in the world today (AFAIK—there could be cultures that are organised bottom up but I’m not aware of them). It’s this ignoring of lessons learnt from evolution that I think is the reason for our predicament but there’s no reason that in a parallel universe that humans could not have gone another way and had a self sustaining trajectory. Agency is irrelevant – both trajectories are a matter of chance, but each is subject to chaotic phenomena (i.e., sensitivity to initial conditions).

    Biological life occurred on this planet through the interactions of complex systems (and their components) and flourished for billions of years. Intelligent life also, at least for hundreds of millions of years, since I consider the nematode to be intelligent and they probably go back to a billion years. Sentient creatures also could’ve followed this trajectory if they all had actually followed the lessons that allowed life to flourish for billions of years. In any event, after human extinction, life will go on – that is a testament to its robustness, and with enough time sentient life will rise again and have another go.

    Paul, I thought you gave up on grand unified theories… 🙂


  • Amor fati (wiki) “My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it—all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary—but love it.” – Nietzsche

    N speaks of the iron necessity of our fate, and implies that any attempt to change it is an idealistic lie and impossibility – his version of hopium, a concept strewn all over these blog pages. So his idea is not irrelevant to the concerns being discussed among us here. Our personal philosophies are an important factor in the events that are unfolding on Earth today.

    But are we truly caught in the unchangeable chains of rigid universal determinism, from which it is impossible to escape? Are we victims of Cosmic Laws like the second law of thermodynamics, from which there is no escape? Is our feeling of freedom of choice and agency merely a pitiful conceit of a nonexistent self? Is our situation the one endorsed by hard headed scientists and authoritative mystics from which there is no escape?
    Must give us pause….

    In the 19th century, having seemingly wrestled ourselves free from the iron restraints of The Church, we awoke to find ourselves in the even steelier grip of the newly fledged Scientific Establishment. Some count Nietzsche as one of the first existentialists to struggle with this difficult situation. Hopelessness, of course, has always appeared to be an option. “There is no way out, accept your fate” beckons as the only real solution.

    And the answer is (drum roll)……..not yes or no, but yes and no!
    When I put my determinist glasses on everything reveals itself to be part of a great totally predictable clockwork universe grinding on its way to a predetermined and meaningless end. But when I remove those perspectival glasses and put on a pair that discloses the world of indeterminacy, quantum entanglement, emergent properties, unlimited possibilities, infinite unknowns – a whole different reality meets me. This new view of reality does not deny or replace the other determinate reality, but pervades and supplements what would otherwise be a narrow view of things. Reality is not determined or undetermined exclusively – but both together. Agency and non-agency likewise are partners in the ambiguous blending of perspectives and possibilities that is reality.

    So where is hope in this complex affair? It lies in the darkness of the yet to be known and the possibilities yet to be realized, as well as in reflection on the incredible advances already achieved, the unexpected leaps already leapt. Present forecasts based on probabilities that may only reflect our lack of deeper understanding, cannot prevent the amazing appearance of black swans winging their improbable way through the clouds of our unknowing….

    Embracing hopium as the only reality, thus abandoning all hope may seem a welcome refuge from the maddening complexities and uncertainties of reality, but in the end like all escapist ideas replacing the difficult path of searching for the elusive truth – it fails to satisfy our deeper needs or provide the impetus for a way forward on our winding path…. These escapist ideas have been with us since the early days of humankind, and only offer a certain variant of their own hopium or delusion. In short: Hopium is really hopium.

  • Since the NBL site is now back up, I offer this article from the CounterPunch folks who never seem to be wrong about anything.

    This has to do with the absolute, total ignorance of justices. Anyone ready for more of the Noble Savage?

    6-4-2015 Thursday

    The anthropological ignorance of the justices talking about marriage today was nothing short of astounding.
    As Justice Kennedy said, asking of pro-LGBT attorney Mary Banuto, “How do you account for the fact that, as far as I am aware, until the end of the 20th Century, there never was a nation or a culture that recognized marriage between two people of the same sex?”
    So here we have a group of mostly white men, certainly none of them Native American, revealing their abject ignorance about “two spirit” people (otherwise known by the French as “the Berdache”) who inhabited this continent far longer than the couple hundred years of their United States. Same-sex relationships on this continent were not only tolerated, but celebrated for centuries before the slave-holding, misogynist Europeans “civilized it.”
    Unfortunately the attorneys on our side totally blew it by failing to point this out. For the vast majority of human existence, as evidenced by anthropological studies of “primitive” peoples around the globe, women and men treated each other, and their same- and differently-sexed relationships, in ways that put our present “civilizations” to shame.
    So will a same-sex marriage victory hinge on the ignorance of our nation’s finest legal minds regarding the many thousands years’ history of acceptance of same-sex relationships here in North America, and by hunter-gatherer societies around word? These histories, by the way, are many times longer than the histories of Judaism and Christianity, with their centuries of enslavement of wives as literally the property of their husbands.


  • Good to see NBL back up after being taken down for several hours. I did start to wonder whether it was all over.

  • “Good to see NBL back up”

    “up” sort of like “agency” seems to be a slippery concept these days.

    let’s just say, right now, I have the sensation that “NBL is up.”

    Ram ~

    It’s this ignoring of lessons learnt from evolution that I think is the reason for our predicament but there’s no reason that in a parallel universe that humans could not have gone another way and had a self sustaining trajectory. Agency is irrelevant – both trajectories are a matter of chance, but each is subject to chaotic phenomena (i.e., sensitivity to initial conditions).

    excellent points in your entire comment.

  • All deniers know that if NBL is down they are saved from NTHE.
    Taking down sites is a prime example of pretzel logic,it changes reality.
    It’s good to know global warming is over & everything is back to unlimited growth.

    I’m still looking for a good psychiatrist.

  • The show must go on. Thanks to the techno people for getting NBL back up and running.
    Obviously, the information here is striking a few nerves, and that’s a good thing.
    And of course, thanks to Guy, for making this all possible in the first place.
    Spending time here with this virtual family, is very comforting, and it helps to make me feel that I’m part of a very special group of thoughtful, and caring individuals who understand completely where things are headed. It’s continuing to be an amazing journey.

  • some fine entertainment for the Intermission in Reality when One is not Experiencing Agency…

    “I produce music as an apple tree produces apples.” ~ Camille Saint-Saëns


    A Zen master visiting New York City goes up to a hot dog vendor and says, “Make me one with everything.”

    The hot dog vendor fixes a hot dog and hands it to the Zen master, who pays with a $20 bill. The vendor puts the bill in the cash box and closes it.

    “Excuse me, but where’s my change?” asks the Zen master.

    “O my brother,” says the vendor, “change comes from within.”

  • @Paul, thanks.. that was a great comment. Though I have come at it more from the economic and scientific aspects, without near so much detailed study of anything spiritual or philosophical, I’m come to essentially the same conclusion. I won’t go into all the boring details and stages, not least because I’m not nearly so good a writer.

    I’ve arrived at equanimity. I have much more compassion than I used to, but there are many things I will never “love”.. I really don’t understand the “love everything” exhortation. I’m just never going to love NASCAR or Dick Cheney.

    @Ram: “Top down organisation (governments, etc.) where one member of a hierarchy dictates what happens with the other members is not following the same bottom up principles that allow proteins to fold or cells to organise, etc.”

    But are they really top-down? Most of us here would probably agree that (just as an example) neither Bush nor Obama have real control over the systems that describe life in the modern USA.

    In a bee hive, when the queen dies, the rest of the hive ‘randomly’ pick some new larvae to feed Royal Jelly. The hive creates the queens, not vice versa. And Bush and Obama, and warlords and kings before them, are far more a Product of the social order than they are creators of it. In the aggregate, we feed these people their Royal Jelly.

    “if they all had actually followed the lessons”.. Ram, what ARE “the lessons”? (I would say, figuring out how to get along from one day to the next.) Who is the teacher? (I would say, death.) The problem is, we ARE following the lessons of getting along from one day to the next. When there wasn’t room for all of us, we went to new places where there was more room, and when there wasn’t more room we killed some folks, and when surplus energy turned up we could kill folks a little less, and grow the population a little more. It always works, until it doesn’t.

    What we are doing has not been maladaptive in the short term. On the contrary, our species is a huge success story! The teacher will be death, death, death. But these lessons are really boring. The teacher is always death, whether you burn too many hydrocarbons, or kill the last megafauna and starve, or you eat your seed corn, or you chop down the last tree on the island. Or you might get left out in the cold as an infant or an old or sick person. That’ll teach *you*!

    There is nothing in the universe which is static, so how can you posit a static human population, one which has “learned its lesson” and thus never suffers untoward death? I’m struggling to imagine how you think such a universe would actually function, because it is not possible within our existing one.

    Anyway, there are always as many human deaths as there are births, so no one individual ever goes to the head of the class. No-one person, or group, or species, ever “wins” the game.

    There is no such thing as a “self-sustaining trajectory”. That is a complete oxymoron.

    @mike, “Our personal philosophies are an important factor in the events that are unfolding on Earth today.” How so? I don’t think they are a factor in the least. Difficulties, and then tragedies, will be visited upon the faithful as well as the faithless of all religions and ideologies. Your personal philosophy matters to you, and you alone. You can, and will, conjur up anything that makes you happy, as you then go on to describe, whether or not it jibes with physical reality.

    “are we victims.. of thermodynamics?”
    Argh. Do you feel you are a “victim” of gravity because you cannot fly?

  • Perhaps I went overboard. A more defensible statement would be that “[presidents], warlords and kings… are as much a Product of the social order as they are creators of it. The queens give birth to the workers, but the workers create the queens.

  • To the causes recently proposed for our self-annihilation trap by Paul Chefurka, I would like to add an emotional dynamic that derives from the way we find our nervous systems “wired” by evolution:

    A secondary, primary-emotion-avoiding, reactive process may very well serve as the single most important, HUMAN process (aside from the more fundamental thermodynamic processes) that accounts for most of the self- and other-destructive behaviors of humans throughout our history as a species, with its highly probable climax of near term human extinction. This secondary, primary-emotion-avoiding, reactive process probably also accounts for our obsession with magic and religion. For just one of many possible concrete examples, resenting another person’s good relationship (an example, from the movie “Seven Years In Tibet”) serves as a secondary, reactive emotional response that “protects” the resenting person from a more painful primary emotion, probably great sadness related to not having such a rewarding relationship.

    Uncomfortable, reactive, emotion-“covering” effects like this serve a person in the short term by “helping” them to avoid and distract themselves from their still more painful primary emotions. (This can have survival value in some situations in the short term.) Thus, our reactive emotions work in powerful, immediate gratification, negatively reinforcing ways, much as consuming crack cocaine, alcohol, and many other mood altering drugs does, but it occurs immediately, internally, and thus much more powerfully. (“Negative reinforcement” refers to relief from discomfort or pain, not to punishment as many people believe.) In summary: we find ourselves fatally, emotionally wired to avoid PAINFUL BUT HELPFUL EMOTIONS by replacing them with less painful and UNhelpful emotions.

    Given the adaptive value and automatic, spontaneously changing nature of our primary emotions (anger, fear, joy, disgust, surprise, and sadness), while our secondary reactive emotions do not have much adaptive value and do not readily change, it would probably serve us all well frequently to ask ourselves, “What do I do here that keeps me out of touch with my primary emotions?” and then commit to working at not doing those things. What a nice idea. But notice the Catch-22 here: a person will pursue this internal questioning and responding process only if they have a strong willingness to face and go through significant emotional pain—the very process that we so strongly work at avoiding. Most people normally will do this kind of painful emotional work only with much empathic support of another person; thus the importance of empathy in helping those processing the high probability of NTHE.

    Meanwhile, far more often than not people react with strong, secondary, reactive anger when others challenge their favorite beliefs that they use to avoid their more painful primary emotions, perhaps most often and most strongly, fear—just as many people probably do as they read this comment. This accounts for much of the bullying, verbally violent writing that occurs here at NBL and in many other places. It also emphasizes the importance of slowly, gradually helping people to explore these powerful emotional issues, as they can, using empathy. We will have little success in helping people by challenging and pushing people; we will do much better to create safe emotional environments that allow spontaneous, unconscious, emotional processing to occur.

  • Take down all the websites you want. You’re still going extinct.


  • Martin:
    Thanks for the video “Avebury from the sky”. Those remembrance monuments of the ancient inhabitants (in what later became the nidus of global imperialism) inspire awe, respect and humility for those now-lost remembrances, a loss that entailed the loss of their cultural identity.

    I for one, have no regrets about the two centuries of British Raj, for it gave me English as my native language although it was not the first language of either of my parents.

    “Although the paper doesn’t say it; quantifying our “lucky ol’ sun’s constant radiative forcing,” is more important than counting Buddha’s bowel movements, wondering who is attached to what?”

    True in its realm. Oxidative & radiative timescales belong to that realm. Who would’ve thought that burning a tank of gasoline might approximate or exceed a forest fire.

    With the bucket metaphor, bucket = body, water = brain, surface of the water = mind, and the reflected image of the sun = conscious being, even after boiling away the water and melting or burning the bucket, the sun continues to shine, undiminished by the absence of the reflection.

    “Top down organisation (governments, etc.) where one member of a hierarchy dictates what happens with the other members is not following the same bottom up principles that allow proteins to fold or cells to organise, etc.”

    Thanks for that clarifying concept! It is from bottom up that the top can exist. A top that acquires and exerts control while disregarding signals from the bottom tends to disrupt the system.

    “But are we truly caught in the unchangeable chains of rigid universal determinism, from which it is impossible to escape? ”

    Depends on who the “we” is. If it is the – insentient – body-mind complex, then the answer is yes.

    “Hopelessness, of course, has always appeared to be an option. “There is no way out, accept your fate” beckons as the only real solution.”

    Hope is an option for the “I”. No “I”, no hope.

    “Reality is not determined or undetermined exclusively – but both together.”

    The phantasmagoria at the near- and sub-Planck realm, conveyed through concepts such as quantum foam and vacuum energy, and the interactions with conscious observatioon suggest that the apparent robustness of the edifice built from such building blocks imay be delusory.

    “abandoning all hope may seem a welcome refuge”

    It is not the hope that has to be abndoned, it is the hoper that has to be recognised as an apparition, a mirage.

    “nervous systems “wired” by evolution:”

    That’s the water in the bucket. The reflection – the conscious being – of the sun off the surface of the water may be mistaken for the source of light. ‘Tain’t.

    Once again, possession excludes being. “My emotions” owned by the person, and therefore are not the person. No more the person than a tree growing in the person’s back yard is the person.

  • Counterpunch is never wrong? The site which has been pushing 9/11 official Kool Aid since 9/11? Which claimed Peak Oil is a hoax?….. Surely you just, Shop.:-)

  • mo flow, thanks – and thanks for your efforts to get this site back. I wondered what happened!

    lidia: As I said, human systems are not all top down but collectively, it is not all bottom up (or near all bottom up), the latter is the only kind we see in the rest of nature in successful systems (which I will define in a bit). It’s the deviation from bottom up organisation that appears to not work (see note below about bottom up organisation being necessary but not sufficient). It’s not just single individuals (though in some countries there is a cult of personality), it’s institutions that are running the show. Basically almost all humans are cogs in a machine that serves to benefit a select elite who’re guiding the system enough so that the benefits are skewed in their favour, enough to prevent chaotic dynamics of what a complete bottom up system would be. The human social organisation is unique on this planet and AFAIK, to this universe. Whether it is by the institution of governments or corporations or groups of learned elders, or even individual people, if a particular set of actors seen and exercise control over the actions of other, the further away from bottom up dynamics you’ll get. The further away you get, the less adaptive the system as a whole becomes to the environment and eventually this leads to stagnation or collapse. Leaving it to chance is better than letting a few individuals decide what happens with rest (either by sentient thought, like we do) or via mimicry. It’s the creation of systems of warlords and kings and peasants and labourers that is the problem.

    Successful systems are those with dynamics that enable arbitrarily long trajectories unless an external (top down) force acts upon it to cause stagnation or collapse (arbitrary is not the same as infinite). I see self-sustaining trajectories all the time: life on earth before humans came along is an example. It has gone on several billions of years and includes both biotic and abiotic systems. Within biotic systems, particular classes of organisms have been around for billions (bacteria) or hundreds of millions of years (plants). What exactly do you find oxymoronic about the phrase “self-sustaining trajectories” as it applies to complex systems? A requirement for these trajectories may be the availability of energy, but as we see with humans, the availability of energy does not guarantee a self-sustaining trajectory. The plants systems and the earth (minus plants) systems have coexisted together creating a larger Earth system with a collective trajectory that has lasted hundreds of millions of years. The food chain is another example. A protein folding into its 3D shape is the simplest example of a self-sustaining trajectory — doesn’t even require energy once the protein is synthesised. The protein doesn’t fold into a 3D shape and sit still – it is constantly in motion but yet its structure can be determined by x-ray diffraction.

    The key qualifier with regards to your maladaptive statement is “short term.” Success within our evolutionary trajectories is a long term affair. Killing off all our food supply before we find a way to create new sources from our crap/output isn’t a sign of success—it is failure. The path taken to accomplish something is as important as accomplishing that something (in this case, optimising free energy landscapes). Evolution serves to ensure that the paths taken by all the different actors in the Earth system all work together in a form of long term equilibrium—this is the nature of chaotic systems. The fact that we’re facing NTHE means that our trajectory isn’t one of the successful ones. The Dinosaurs as a whole AFAWK were actually successful – they managed to keep it together until something beyond their control happened. This is not the case with humans, which is self inflicted.

    With regards to lessons, evolution is the teacher (sort of). Really, our teachers are the systems (organisms/populations) that have managed to survive long term. This is the only criteria that matters in the context of this forum – we are after all discussing the reasons for why we are facing NTHE.

    Finally, I’ll say that bottom up organisation appears to be a necessary condition for these self sustaining trajectories as per my research, but it is NOT sufficient. I’ve not figured it out entirely but there seems to be a huge element of chance involved. In my simulations, I see complex adaptive systems achieve a dynamic equilibrium once in a million trajectories that are bottom up (but this is better relative to a zillion top down trajectories, NONE of which). There are a lot of dead ends in evolution.

    When I say “arbitrarily long”, it means in the number of steps taken. In simulations, I have to literally kill the program to stop it – otherwise I expect it would go on forever (provided the computer was supplied power and it kept running). I have no way of knowing it would or not (this is the Halting Problem). But all simulations of systems where there was a top down component that prevented its dynamics from being chaotic all collapsed or stagnated sooner or later. I saw this with simulations of protein folding, cellular automata, infectious disease, and with ethical framework like iterated Prisoner’s dilemma. This is matched by my observations of the behaviour of biological systems (obviously not every single one of them).

  • robin, exactly (it is from the bottom that the top exists). The problems begin when those at the top forget that and thinks it is due to their superior skill or some other “pull by your bootstraps” exercise that the dynamics gets disrupted. If we had a king that allowed complete autonomy over his/her subjects such that the subjects all interacted as though there were no king, then the dynamics of system would appear bottom up and with a certain threshold number of individuals and interactions, would display chaotic dynamics. If a king pretended to be this way and secretly his police were offing those that threatened his rule, then the dynamics would change and, as you said, would disrupt the system. And while this may be successful *in the short term* to the benefit of the king, in the long term, it makes the kingdom less robust and more fragile.

  • Sheesh, what was THAT all about? This Account Has Been Suspended. WTF does that even mean? Who does the suspending? Why? NSA/Homeland (In)Security? i found it very suspicious coming right after a similar bunch of 404 statements a day or two ago and especially after that e-mail Guy received (at the top of this page). Somebody is hassling this site for whatever reason. Like Wester says, it doesn’t change anything regarding the outcome.

    Great job keeping us on-line mo! You da MAN! (not meant to be taken in a patriarchal sense).


    Coming Soon to Us All: The Choice Worse Than Sophie’s

    [ends with]

    And how long do we suppose it will be before one day, with the power out and the water off and the phones down and the food running out, our neighbor comes to our gate and says, “I’m hungry and I’m thirsty and I need your help.” Okay, that’s one question and it’s fairly easy to handle. Now the next question: what if, in a line behind him, there are a couple dozen more neighbors?

    What do we decide, and how do we make the decision?

  • Ram, you said The thing is that current human social and cultural structures DO NOT follow the same mechanisms that the rest of the complex systems in nature follow

    Alpha wolves, silverback gorillas, chickens… There are dominance hierarchies all over the landscape in nature. IMO their development, including that of modern human social systems is every bit as as emergent as a bucket of folded proteins. Or do I misunderstand the thrust of your argument?

  • got here early
    what happened
    Tom-had the same experience with the site
    what happened, Guy

    now I’m getting>>>CLEAN TALK>>>FORBIDDEN
    can’t post

  • Sabine, thank you.
    You are a born diplomat and just so cool – love reading your posts here!
    In my life, as part of my path, I am making an effort to cultivate gratitude.
    It shifts my focus and whatever neurochemistry it invokes, feels very grounding and good.
    So I am grateful for this site … in all its frustrating glory … our little beach community.
    And I am grateful for knowing – in the digital sense at least – all of you.

  • TOM:

    A really good friend next door to me has already some several years ago come to me and told me that if his family was starving he would ask me for something to eat and if I did not give it to him, he could take it.

    I understood and told him that would be a good time for both of us to share my revolver. We would flip a coin.

    Jeff: No, well 98%! U did notice I said, “never seem”!

    Peak oil and 911 are not my favorite cups of tea but I will keep an eye out now for any errors. As far as my favorite, as bro Mo Berman would excoriate me for, identity political topics, there are plenty of others that they are absolutely correct on, in my view. Give me a better site and with a better progeny beginning with Claude Cockburn and his boys. They have risked it all in pursuing truth. No sure why they haven’t been Manninged and their site ‘suspended’ too. 🙂

    Mo flo: a fine joke!

    A couple of quotes:

    The Vietnamese have a saying, Nine men, ten opinions.

    And also, When buffaloes collide, flies die.

  • Tom,

    Yes when people get hungry they get mean. I don’t relish the idea of five or ten hungry men pounding on my door. With no food to find, I can easily imagine all hungry eyes turning to look at me for their next meal. Hopefully, I’ll never have to deal with such a situation. I’d like to think that we can band together and work together to work and provide for each other… each person contributing for the good of all. Call me a Socialist.

    Thanks to all for getting NBL back up and running. I’d really like to know who was behind the temporary crash.

  • @mo flo

    Sorry for posting more than twice the other day, I didn’t realize that two-post-rule until recently!

    It has been said here that there is no agency, no self, no free will. But that’s just one side of the reflective, intellectual mind. Some teach that there is a self (Atman), others teach that there isn’t a self (Anatman). Just everything that arises got two faces, two sides at least. I don’t cling to Atman and I don’t cling to Anatman.

    All things (dharma) exist: affirmation of being, negation of non-being
    All things (dharma) do not exist: affirmation of non-being, negation of being
    All things (dharma) both exist and do not exist: both affirmation and negation
    All things (dharma) neither exist nor do not exist: neither affirmation nor negation.

    “Everything exists”: That is one extreme. “Everything doesn’t exist”: That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle…


    Buddha didn’t teach that there is no self (or Ego, or “I”), but he rather teached what is not the self (Anatman). As long as one states and defends that there is a self, others will come up and fight against that opinion stating that there is no self. As long as one states and defends that there is no self, others will come up stating that there is a self. Anybody who neither states one or the other can’t get into a fight anymore. It’s all about words. No clinging to words, to clinging to anything, no fight about anything, real freedom.

    Watch your breath: You can breath intentional and “it” can breath unintentional also^^

    @mike k

    Agency and non-agency likewise are partners in the ambiguous blending of perspectives and possibilities that is reality.

    I second that.

  • Thanks for your patience. Big thanks to Harry Lerwill for his generous work. I’ve posted anew: https://guymcpherson.com/2015/06/widening-circles-awakening-through-the-dying-time/

  • Paul, there is a continuum of system regulation from bottom up to top down, with an extreme example of the former being a really strong dictator who rules with an iron fist according to their whims (humans have had several examples of those) and on the other end you have the simplest complex systems like proteins where all atoms/residues are on an equal footing (i.e., each residue is as important as any other to the system), and that’s only looking at it in two dimensions (whereas in reality the type of order is itself a rugged landscape).

    The best way I can put it is that there are no governments and dictators and presidents and centralised grids in non-human organisms that are going about raping the planet and using up all the resources with a tiny subgroup/elite reaping all the benefit as we see happening with humanity today. When and if things like do happen in part at least (say a single bacterial colony using up all the nutrients in a petri dish because there’s no competition and no natural evolution to set up multiple independent feedbacks) then the species dies out.

    Nature of course has hierarchies, but hierarchies themselves can be created bottom up or top down. Non human social systems are generally equal opportunity given their genetic endowment, have a level playing field, are representative of the members of the system, in flux, and evolution ensures that systems that don’t establish a natural equilibrium with the rest of their environment don’t survive. Again, exceptions to this as weeded out over time just as humans will be weeded out. That is, what trajectory is taken to optimise the energy gradient matters as much as the optimisation occurring. If you go about it with a top down club, it is not sustainable.

    In the end it comes down to the dynamics of the system being considered: is it chaotic or not, and this is quantifiable if you can observe their behaviour. Even in some human created systems, as I said, there are some things that are more bottom up than top down. The move towards democracy, free markets are all moves towards bottom up organisation. The thing is that it truly needs to be bottom up: what we have currently doesn’t even come close. For example, by free market, I mean free market: no government created monopolies of any kind, including IP. And like I said, just because a system is organised in bottom up doesn’t guarantee it will last forever. It appears to be a necessary but not sufficient condition. Top down organisation does appear to detrimental always.

    And I’ll have my cake and eat it too by saying that the *best* examples of long lasting systems of living organisms are bacteria, plants, and fungi and we really don’t know if the mild (relative to humans) push towards more rigid hierarchies seen in “higher” mammals and primates is really sustainable or not. What we do know is that among living systems, bacteria are among the most successful and humans are headed towards NTHE (which I assume everyone here buys into). We’ve also studied many of these systems and modelled them as best as anyone can today and that’s in line with my top down/bottom up comments. This is a correlative analysis: meaning that I can’t really say a priori which systems will succeed (success defined as arbitrary perpetuation of the trajectory of the system), just what characteristics are present in the ones that have succeeded and the ones that fail, based on both observation and modelling.

    And then one can rationalise why this is the case, and there’s some evidence for it. The top down approach to solving the energy optimisation problem is inefficient in the long term relative to the bottom up approach. The greedy approach is inefficient at navigating complex energy landscapes (it gets stuck in local minima). The evolutionary approach is what works at optimising these landscapes (as evidenced by evolution itself and also an optimisation procedure called genetic algorithms based on this idea). Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. A few individuals taking over the system robs it of its diversity and makes it less adaptive in an ever changing environment.


  • shep ~

    It is too bad that humanity doesn’t get it. I believe that we are in a state far, far, worse than we can possibly know. Me. personally; I’m ready to go but I can’t pull the trigger for some stupid reason. I wish I could! I am so tired and i AM A PRIVILEGED WHITE MAN.

    yes, it is worse than we can possibly know, and… with no doubt at all, it is better than we can possibly know. the struggle to just live through this god awful fearful symmetry is what this poem is all about, possibly…

    In what distant deeps or skies.
    Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
    On what wings dare he aspire?
    What the hand, dare seize the fire?

    And what shoulder, & what art,
    Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
    And when thy heart began to beat,
    What dread hand? & what dread feet?

    What the hammer? what the chain,
    In what furnace was thy brain?
    What the anvil? what dread grasp,
    Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

    The Tyger

    the terrible process of life, and the paradox of the One living it, tearing it all down, again and again, to build it up again, anew, with seemingly no consideration for the horror of it all… but that hand that seizes that fire also is the hand that gives the fire, to burn away all, until all darkness is seen through, and all that is left is the dread knowledge that you and the fire are One.

    Robin ~

    For anyone who gets to that threshold, it is only another step to where there is no longer a distinction between river and ocean; in fact the realisation that there never was any distinction, as between water and wetness. There is no “higher” self; there never was. You ARE Buddha, not “will be”. Realising it is a whole ‘nuther ball game.

    who is at bat? yes, nobody. probably because almost no one will dare claim responsibility for either designing, playing, winning, or losing, this game. who in their right mind would dare such a thing?

    knowing the purpose of the hammer, nail and wood, the builder builds the house, and then moves in. once living there, the concepts of hammer, nail, and wood, no longer apply, and the Reality of Living is known only to the dweller within.

    Curious ~ no problem. this poem of Sri Aurobindo’s… thank you!

    O Death, thou speakest truth but truth that slays,
    I answer to thee with the Truth that saves.
    A traveller new-discovering himself,
    One made of Matter’s world his starting-point,
    He made of Nothingness his living-room
    And Night a process of the eternal light
    And death a spur towards immortality.

    death, and the fire…

    It lies in the darkness of the yet to be known and the possibilities yet to be realized

    yes… the paths yet to be taken. thank you, mike k, again.

    Ram ~ all credit for fixing this goes to Harry Lerwill. much appreciation, Harry!

  • Ram, let me try another approach.

    My basic point is is that all human activities are organized around the goal of attaining maximally effective dissipation of energy gradients through the extraction of free energy. I originally said “maximally efficient” but Stanley Salthe has since corrected me. The goal is not efficiency in energy use; it is effectiveness in free energy extraction from the gradients.

    For this purpose, hierarchic systems work best because they are most coordinated. We discovered that principle long ago – for example when we began to undertake massive building projects like stone pyramids.

    The reason for hierarchic systems in human society are quite different from the dominance hierarchies in animal societies. I was unclear on this point until this morning when Stan gave me that one-word correction that changed the course of my thinking.

    While human hierarchies arise through a natural selection process under the control of the Maximum Power Principle, the selection criteria are significantly different from those at work in the plant and animal kingdoms.

    I’m still working out the finer points of this hypothesis. Sorry for any confusion I may have caused.

  • To clarify one point above:

    Hierarchic systems with top-down organization and control work “best” because the resulting degree of coordination allows them to produce the most work in the least time – i.e. to generating maximum power from the resources available.

  • Hi Paul, thanks for clarifying – I agree things have gotten mixed up and I apologise for any confusion also. If I understand you right, you’re saying you’re talking about human activities and cultural evolution, as opposed to biological evolution, and you’re talking about extraction of energy, as opposed to finding low energy states. I’ve gathered that, but when you wrote that recently, I thought: But generating maximum power from the resources available in the least time over what time frame? The system that can optimise energy extraction for a billion years (or for an arbitrary period) at a steady rate using a bottom up approach is better off than a system that is gung ho on energy extraction and kills itself off in a couple of million years, all other things being equal.

    Top down systems do not exhibit complex nonlinear (chaotic) dynamics (if they did, they’d be bottom up). As such, bottom up systems are better at adaptivity to environmental changes and at finding the optima of complex energy landscapes than top down systems (this I can empirically demonstrate and have published a lot on). See also Eric Raymond’s The Cathedral and the Bazaar. The path taken matters as much as the end goal in *biological evolution.*

    That’s why I wrote that we ignore the lessons of evolution at our own peril. If we think we can go one up over a system that has been around for billions of years and has resulted in what we call life, then we better get it right. We didn’t. This new system can be MPP or representative democracy or a dictatorship, it doesn’t matter. It has to survive. For this bottom up systems are best.

  • A synthesis of our respective ideas is that the MPP as it applies to energy extraction/use based on top down hierarchies, an approach that humans have taken ignoring what is happening in the rest of biological evolution, is the reason our system is stagnating or collapsing around us. These systems inevitably do so. Bottom up systems are the only ones that appear to be capable of an arbitrarily long trajectory by achieving a complex equilibrium. Or, the cathedral model is less efficient than bazaar model in the long term. There is no biological drive towards building cathedrals but organisms do build bazaars.