Sociopaths Assume Control

Too many times to count, I’ve pointed out that when greed is our only gawd, sociopaths assume control. Finally, I’ve come to realize something even worse: Sociopaths assume control, regardless of the desires of the populace, in any civilization.

Civilization allows food to be stored (hence, controlled). As one of many adverse consequences, human-population overshoot is assured. And then, as surely as darkness follows the setting sun, some people take advantage of others. The lazy, manipulative “takers” arise because not everybody is able to keep track of everybody else. This situation does not arise in societies small enough for everybody to know everybody else (i.e., anarchism, tribalism). Empathy, the most important of human attributes, becomes a tool for exploiting those who have it by those who don’t. If civilization springs forth, sociopaths assume control.

My naivete on this topic, and many others, was largely removed during the summer of 2011 when my teachers at the mud hut conclusively demonstrated how badly misplaced was my faith in humanity. Finally, far too late to positively influence my own life in any meaningful manner, I realized the lengths to which some people will go in pursuit of personal gain. On a positive note, I learned to let go, instead of being dragged. I thank my teachers every day.

One outcome of the primary lesson given by my late-in-life teachers was that I could never again achieve greatness as a teacher. Fortunately, the lesson came late in life: I could not have committed myself to a life of service, much less a life as an excellent teacher, had I known at an early age the horrors lurking in the hearts of humans. Great teaching — that which facilitates learning — demands faith in, and knowledge of, every student. Once the veil of sociopathy is removed, there is no putting it back.

There’s another factor, too, underlying my latter-day learning. I’ve long known, and taught, that birth is a sexually transmitted disease. Furthermore, it is lethal in every case. And yet Earth’s human population has grown more than 40% since I began my (apparently futile) academic career in 1988. No evidence suggests my own students have followed my lead regarding procreation. Or, rather, its absence.

Faced with environmental catastrophe and the near-term extinction of humans, I’m often informed I cannot understand the gravity of the situation because I have no children. Paradoxically, a strong motivator for me not having children was because I understood the gravity of the situation before I began teaching in the academy.

Of course, the human-population issue is one predicament among many that arises from civilization. I’ve spent decades observing the horrors of civilization, and many years documenting them. I’ve often pointed out that the world is becoming a worse place every year, contrary to the perspective of my contemporaries. In my own words, and occasionally those of others, I am a witness to the horrors of civilization and imperialism. In bearing witness and reporting the horrors, I don’t fit into the dominant culture.

Unlike most people afflicted by civilization, I’m free of hope. Hope and fear — both four-letter words — are the two sides of the same “unknowable future” coin. Acting on either emotion is a prescription for disaster, as I illustrated clearly when I left the life I loved to pursue the counter-cultural path that has brought so much pain. Now, finally, I’m going forward, freed from the cage of hope.

Comments 124

  • Bizarre After the snub – a thaw? I must read, but I post here first.

    Natalia Shakhova, Igor Semiletov, Valentin Sergienko, Leopold Lobkovsky, Vladimir Yusupov, Anatoly Salyuk, Alexander Salomatin, Denis Chernykh, Denis Kosmach, Gleb Panteleev, Dmitry Nicolsky, Vladimir Samarkin, Samantha Joye, Alexander Charkin, Oleg Dudarev, Alexander Meluzov, Orjan Gustafsson

    http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/373/2052/20140451

    The East Siberian Arctic Shelf: towards further assessment of permafrost-related methane fluxes and role of sea ice

  • http://www.edwardgoldsmith.org/49/thermodynamics-or-ecodynamics/

    The best refutation I have read of why the State, technology and western thinking is “anti-evolution” and is causing the collapse of the biosphere.

  • Dear Dr. McPherson ( Guy ),

    Considering that more or less everyone has been subject to the conditioning of mainstream society since birth, it seems that in general, informal(?) partnership arrangements have a high likelihood of failure. I’m sure the lawyers benefit greatly from this.

    Great observation in hindsight I can almost hear you say.

    “Difficult people are your best teachers.” Seems as if we have a lot of these types of teachers these days. I wonder if they can learn from each other?

    I wish you all the best in finding a resolution to your situation so that you can continue to help educate those people of the planet who are interested in hearing the truth of our shared predicament.

    In a sane world the work you are currently doing, in pulling together the results from many disciplines and correlating it, would be publicly funded and you’d have a hired team of top notch researchers.

  • @Dave Thompson,

    Sir I wish to know what plane of existence you and
    Naomi Klein are on it is this simple exponential growth of humanity
    is what will kill us and the ecosystem beyond repair. Our own shitty
    ego’s are humanities worst enemy and mother earth’s worst enemy. I
    suggest you and her better reeducate your selves on sociology and
    social economics. Most industrialized nation states have forgot you
    can eat dandelions, raise your own chickens, get water from the well
    so on and so forth we have been brain washed to much !

  • From the time that it was instituted, I have regarded the two-comment rule as inappropriate when points have been made and those points merit detailed discussion.

    On the other hand, if commenters simply use the site to sling insults at one another, two comments are too much. (I wrote that as two comments is too much, then changed it to two comments are two much: neither sounds correct, though I believe the former is technically correct.)

    Things are not looking rosy for those who have invested heavily in the house of cards. However, for those wishing for financial collapse to bring down ‘the system’, things are looking up:

    http://in.finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=%5EDJI&t=1y&l=on&z=l&q=l&c=

  • Here is a great essay from Derrick Jensen,

    August 10, 2015
    Liberals and the New McCarthyism

    by Derrick Jensen

    It’s easy enough, some sixty years after the fact, for us to cluck our tongues at the cowardice and stupidity of those who went along with McCarthyism. It’s especially easy for liberals and academics to say that had they been alive back then, they would certainly have had the courage to stand up for discourse and to stand up for those being blacklisted. That’s partly because universities like to present themselves as bastions of free thought and discourse, where students, faculty, and guests discuss the most important issues of the day. Liberal academics especially like to present themselves as encouraging of these discussions.

    Bullshit.

    A new McCarthyism—complete with blacklisting—has overtaken universities, and discourse in general, and far from opposing it, liberal academics are its most active and ardent perpetrators, demanding a hegemony of thought and discourse that rivals the original.

    For the past decade or so, deplatforming—the disinvitation of a speaker at the insistence of a special interest group—and blacklisting have been, to use the word of an organization that tracks the erosion of academic freedom through the increased use of deplatforming, “exploding.” Between 2002 and 2013, disinvitations from universities went up six times. And no longer are the primary blacklisters the capitalists (as was the case in the 1950s) or the pro-Israel lobby (as it has been for the past few decades). The pro-Israel lobby is still blacklisting like mad, but it’s been overtaken these days in the anti-free-speech sweepstakes by those who often consider themselves the brave heirs of Mario Savio: the liberals and leftists. And the targets of the liberals and leftists are not confined to the right (although they do certainly target right-wingers as well). Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges was recently deplatformed because he speaks out against prostitution as exploitative of women. Only outcry by women forced the college to reinstate him. Writer and activist Gail Dines was recently deplatformed because she speaks out against pornography. Last year an anarchist organization called “Civil Liberties Defense Center” lent its efforts to attempts to deplatform writer and activist Lierre Keith from the University of Oregon because she’s a radical feminist. The irony of an organization with “civil liberties” in its title attempting to deplatform someone because her ideology doesn’t fit its own doesn’t escape me, and probably won’t escape anyone outside of anarchist/liberal/leftist circles. Last year, female genital mutilation survivor, child bride survivor, and feminist activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali was disinvited from receiving an honorary degree at Brandeis because she writes, from unspeakably painful experience, about how millions of women are treated under Islam.

    Capitalists used the rhetoric of “communism” to blacklist. The pro-Israel lobby uses the rhetoric of “Anti-Semitism.” And the modern-day McCarthys use the rhetoric of “oppression” and “trauma.”

    Things have gotten bad enough that comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Larry the Cable Guy have all said they can’t or won’t play colleges any more. As fellow-comedian Bill Maher commented, “When Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and Larry the Cable Guy say you have a stick up your ass, you don’t have to wait for the X-rays to come back. That’s right, a black, a Jew and a redneck all walk onto a college campus and they all can’t wait to leave.”

    Things have gotten bad enough that this spring The Onion put out a satirical piece titled, “College Encourages Lively Exchange of Idea: Students, Faculty, Invited to Freely Express Single Viewpoint.” The article concludes with fictitious college President Kevin Abrams stating, “‘Whether it’s a discussion of a national political issue or a concern here on campus, an open forum in which one argument is uniformly reinforced is crucial for maintaining the exceptional learning environment we have cultivated here.’ Abrams told reporters that counseling resources were available for any student made uncomfortable by the viewpoint.”

    Things are much worse than I’ve so far made them seem. Brown University recently held a debate about sexual assault on campus. In response to the very existence of this debate—and this time it’s not The Onion reporting, but rather The New York Times—the college set up a “safe space” where those who might be made uncomfortable, or to use the politically correct parlance, “triggered,” by the debate could remove to relax with “cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma.” A student gave her reason for using the safe room: “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs.”

    Silly me. I thought being challenged was a primary point of college.

    Over the past few years I’ve talked to several university instructors (especially adjuncts) who’ve told me they’re afraid of their students. Not physically, as in their students killing them, but rather they fear that uttering any opinion that any of their students—either
    deepgreenrconservative or liberal: it swings both ways—find objectionable will lead to that student complaining to the administration, after which the instructor may lose her or his classes, in effect be fired. And I just read an essay by an instructor in which he mentions an adjunct whose contract was not “renewed after students complained that he exposed them to ‘offensive’ texts written by Edward Said and Mark Twain. His response, that the texts were meant to be a little upsetting, only fueled the students’ ire and sealed his fate.”

    The political correctness posse has started coming after me. I’ve been deplatformed twice this year, by liberals at Appalachian State and Oregon State Universities. The logic behind the deplatformings makes an interesting case study in the McCarthyism and circular firing squad mentality of the liberal academic class.

    Part of what’s interesting to me about these deplatformings is that given what I write about—my work more or less constantly calls for revolution—I always thought it was inevitable that I’d start getting deplatformed, just as I’m always detained when I cross international borders, but I thought this deplatforming would come from the right. Not so. It’s come from the left, and, well, to use a cliché, it’s come out of left field.

    To be clear, I’ve never been deplatformed because I’ve written scores of lines like, “Every morning when I wake up I ask myself whether I should write or blow up a dam.” I’ve never been deplatformed because I’ve written about the necessity of using any means necessary to stop this culture from killing the planet. I’ve never been deplatformed because I’ve written about taking down capitalism. I’ve never been deplatformed for making the satirical modest proposal that a way to stop environmental destruction is to attach remote controlled cigar cutters to the genitals of CEOs, politicians, and land managers who claim their decisions won’t harm the land (let them put their genitals where their mouths are, I say (which is something they’ve probably already tried to do)) and when their decisions harm the land, well, bzzzt, and I guarantee the next CEO, politician, or land manager won’t be quite so quick to make false promises. I’ve never been deplatformed for calling in all seriousness for Tony Hayward, ex-CEO of BP, to be tried and if found guilty executed for murdering workers in the Gulf of Mexico, and for murdering the Gulf itself. I can say all of those things, and not have the slightest fear of deplatforming.

    Why was I deplatformed? In both cases because I hold the evidently politically incorrect position that women, including those who have been sexually assaulted by males, should not be forced—as in, against their will—to share their most intimate spaces with men. I’ve been deplatformed because I believe that women have the right to bathe, sleep, gather, and organize free from the presence of men.

    That’s it.

    Yes, I think it’s ridiculous, too.

    Even though I wasn’t going to talk about this right of women at all, but rather the murder of the planet, a small group of students—in this case those who identify as transgender—at Applachian State was given veto power over whether I would speak at the university. They said that my mere presence on campus would be “an offense” to their community. Bingo: disinvitation. I was likewise deplatformed from Oregon State because, in the words of the professors who deplatformed me, my presence would “hurt the feelings” of the students who identify as transgender. Never mind, once again, that I wasn’t going to talk about them at all.

    Do we all see what’s wrong with deplatforming someone because he or she may hurt someone’s feelings? Once again, silly me: I thought I’d been invited to speak at a university, not a day care center.

    My recollection of the universities I have attended or taught at is that a primary purpose was to foster critical thinking and the exploration of vital issues of the day, not to protect students from anything that might “hurt their feelings.” A purpose was to help them become functioning adults in a pluralistic society. Clearly, that’s gone by the boards. And I wasn’t even going to talk about transgender issues, which means it would be my mere presence that would hurt their feelings. Do we all see what is very wrong with basing campus and regional discourse on whether someone’s feelings will be hurt, and worse, on “hurt feelings” that won’t even be based on what the blacklisted speaker was actually going to talk about? What does it mean to our society and to discourse that one group of people—any group of people—is allowed to hold campus and regional discourse hostage by threatening that their feelings may be hurt? Should Christians be able to deplatform Richard Dawkins because he hurts their feelings? Should atheists be able to deplatform Christians because the Christians hurt their feelings? Capitalists are killing the planet. The murder of the planet certainly hurts my feelings. So let’s deplatform all the capitalists.

    The kicker on me getting deplatformed because my presence would be an “offense” to, and “hurt the feelings” of, those students who identify as transgender, is that not only was I not going to talk about them, I barely even write about them. I’ve done the math, and out of the literally millions of words I’ve written for publication, only .14 percent (yes, that’s point 14 percent) of those words have to do with their issues: two short essays, only written after my female comrades began receiving a host of rape and death threats simply for wanting to sleep, bathe, gather, and organize free from the presence of males (and you’d think that rape and death threats by men who object to women wanting space away from men would be the end of the discussion: it is, but not in the way you think: it’s the end of the discussion because the men win and the women and their allies get deplatformed). .14 percent of my work is 1.4 words per every thousand. That’s the equivalent of five words in this entire essay. Even if it were worthwhile to deplatform me over the issue at all, they’re deplatforming me because they disagree with .14 percent of my work. Hell, I disagree with a lot more than that. The cult-like demand of loyalty on the part of the new McCarthyites is so rigid that 99.86 percent agreement does not suffice.

    And the essays they object to weren’t even disrespectful (which is more than I can say for my treatment of, say, capitalists), just a political and philosophical disagreement.

    Part of the problem is that a terrible (and manipulative) rhetorical coup has taken place in academia, where political and philosophical disagreement have been redefined as “disrespect” and “traumatizing” and “hurting their feelings,” such that the “victims” may have to dash off to a “safe space” to play with Play-Doh and watch videos of puppies. As the (highly problematical) professor and writer Laura Kipnis puts it, “Emotional discomfort is [now] regarded as equivalent to material injury, and all injuries have to be remediated.” A fearful college instructor observed, “Hurting a student’s feelings, even in the course of instruction that is absolutely appropriate and respectful, can now get a teacher into serious trouble.”

    That is a rhetorical coup because it makes discourse impossible. Those who perpetuate or support this coup have made it impossible to talk about the subject (or, clearly, any subject, including the murder of the planet), because any disagreement on any “triggering” subject is immediately labeled as a lack of acceptance and as disrespect.

    To be clear, if no one is allowed to disagree with any one particular group of people—whether they be Christians or Muslims or capitalists or those who support (or oppose) Israel or those who identify as transgender, or, for that matter, members of the chess club—for fear their feelings will be hurt, then there can be no reasonable discourse. And if the purpose of a college lecture series is to make sure that no one’s feelings will be hurt, there can be no speakers. Allowing any group to hold discourse hostage to their feelings is the death knell for pluralistic society. It leads to fundamentalism. It is a fundamentalism.

    It’s a classic trick used by despots and pocket despots everywhere: to ensure agreement with your position, make certain that all other positions are literally unspeakable. For the religiously minded, the epithet of choice has often been blasphemy. For the patriot, it’s traitor. For the capitalist, it’s commie. And for the liberal/leftist/anarchist, it’s oppressor.

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    When I was a sophomore in college, the Colorado School of Mines invited Edward Teller to speak. One of my classes required attendance. The lecture was precisely what one would expect from one of the worst human beings of the twentieth century. But some thirty-five years later, the only thing I remember of that year-long class consisted of the great classroom discussion the next day, with some students hating him and others defending him. The professors—no fans of Teller’s insanity—used this as an opportunity to teach their twenty-year-old charges to build and defend an argument. Why did you find his views so offensive? Defend your position. Convince us.

    To my mind, that is the point of college.

    I once asked my friend the Okanagan activist Jeannette Armstrong what she thought of an attack by another writer on Jerry Mander’s book In the Absence of the Sacred. Her answer has guided my life and career: if he didn’t like the book, he should have written his own damn book.

    And that is the point of writing.

    So, if you disagree with me, great! If you think women don’t have the right to gather free from the presence of males, then make your argument. If you feel Israel is not committing atrocities, then make your argument. If you feel capitalism is the most just and desirable social arrangement possible and that communism is the devil’s handiwork, then make your argument. In each case make the best argument you can. Show that your position is correct. Make your argument so sound that no sane person could disagree with you (and lots of people—sane or otherwise—will still disagree with you: that’s the fucking point of living in a pluralistic society). And when somebody doesn’t agree with you, don’t fucking whine that your feelings are hurt or that you’re offended by an opinion different than your own, but instead use that disagreement to hone your own arguments for future disagreement. Or change your perspective based on that disagreement.

    That is the point of college.

    We’re not all going to get along. But no one is saying you have to invite every speaker into your home. No one is saying you have to accept them into your internet- or face-to-face-discussion groups. No one is saying you have to like them. No one is saying you have to listen to them. Hell, no one is even saying you have to acknowledge their existence. But if you fear a certain discussion or lecture is going to traumatize you such that you need to go blow bubbles and watch videos of puppies, then maybe you should just not attend that discussion or lecture, and later on maybe you should discuss those feelings with a therapist. Don’t project your triggers onto your fellow students. Don’t deprive everyone else of something because you object or because it might trigger you. It is not everyone else’s—or the world’s—responsibility to never make you uncomfortable.

    That’s the point of living in a pluralistic society.

    I blame society for this mess. Every indicator is that people are becoming significantly more narcissistic and less empathetic: as Scientific American reported back in 2010, “A study of 14,000 college students found that today’s young people are 40 percent less empathetic than college kids from 30 years ago,” and noted that “the sharpest drop in empathy occurred in the last nine years.” The article reports that “today’s students are less likely to agree with statements like, ‘I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective’ and ‘I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me [sic].’” So it should not come as a surprise that these students demand and expect that public discourse be formed so as to not “hurt their feelings.” Pretty much everything in this society—from capitalism to consumerism to incessant advertising and corporate culture to the selfish gene theory to neoliberalism to postmodernism to the superficiality of Internet culture—reinforces this narcissism. How many decades ago was “The Me Decade”? And how much worse has it become since then? Well, about 40 percent.

    I also blame liberals/leftists/anarchists, who are in some ways merely replicating the Stanford Prison Experiment, in that having gained some power in the Academy, they’re using that power the same way that capitalists or anybody else who gains power so often does, by denying voice to anyone who disagrees with them.

    And I blame the groundlessness of postmodernism, with its assertion that meaning is not inherent in anything, that there are no truths, and that each person’s perception of reality is equally valid. As well as destroying class consciousness—which is one reason modern blacklisting is often based on claims of how some speaker will supposedly hurt or trigger the individual, rather than emphasizing harm or gain to society as a whole—postmodernism has led to much of the insanity we’re discussing. As philosopher Daniel Dennett commented, “Postmodernism, the school of ‘thought’ that proclaimed ‘There are no truths, only interpretations’ has largely played itself out in absurdity, but it has left behind a generation of academics in the humanities disabled by their distrust of the very idea of truth and their disrespect for evidence, settling for ‘conversations’ in which nobody is wrong and nothing can be confirmed, only asserted with whatever style you can muster.” And if all you’ve got is rhetoric, that is, “interpretations” and “assertions,” as opposed to, say, factual evidence, then the only way, or at least the most tempting way, to conclusively win an argument is through rhetorical manipulations. If you can’t say, “Your opinion is wrong, and here are facts showing your opinion is wrong,” you’re pretty much stuck with, “Your opinion is oppressing me, triggering me, hurting my feelings.” And that’s precisely what we see. And of course we can’t argue back, in part because nobody can verify or falsify your feelings, and in part because by then we’ve already been deplatformed.

    Among other problems, this is all very bad thinking.

    And finally I blame the professors themselves. The word education comes from the root e-ducere, and means “to lead forth” or “draw out.” Originally it was a Greek midwife’s term meaning “to be present at the birth of.” The implication is that the educator is an adult, who is helping to give birth to the student’s capacity for critical thinking, and to the student’s adult form. This is not accomplished by making certain that no one be allowed to speak who might “hurt their feelings.” This is not accomplished by protecting students from “viewpoints that go against . . . dearly and closely held beliefs.” It’s accomplished by challenging students at every moment to be better thinkers, challenging them to question their own assumptions, challenging them to defend their positions with far more intellectual rigor than merely stating, “That hurt my feelings.”

    I blame the professors also for not standing up for discourse itself. If you’re going to be a professor, if you’re going to be a midwife present at the birth of the critical minds of your students, then defending free and open discourse should be a calling and a duty. It should be a passion. It takes no courage whatsoever to fail to stand up to attempts to destroy discourse, whether the blacklisters are capitalists, the pro-Israel lobby, leftists, liberals, or students who perceive themselves (and who are evidently perceived by professors) as so fragile their feelings will be hurt by dissenting opinions, their feelings which must be protected no matter the cost to society and to discourse. This failure of courage does great injury to everyone, including the students perceived as needing protection from disagreement. I wish the professors understood that their job is to be educators, not baby-sitters (and codependent baby-sitters, at that). I wish the professors were defenders of discourse.

  • Anthony,
    I have only read one and a half pages so far of the article you refer to above. It would be hard to find a better example of confused misunderstanding of the second law of thermodynamics. It is interesting to see that the date of the article is 1981. The confusion no longer exists.
    The existence of life on Earth is not a refutation of the entropy law.
    The important point to remember is that while life may appear to contradict the entropy law because there is a local ( on Earth ) decrease of entropy,When the Earth-Sun system is considered,(remember that the energy to allow the existence of life on Earth comes from the sun), there is a net increase of entropy.
    Thanks for the link,though. I have bookmarked it and included it in a file,right next to articles from Onion.

  • @Wester

    J. Edgar Hoover thought justice could not replace law & order.

    According to Wiki, Hoover died in bed at his Washington home of a heart attack. Actually, Hoover died of strangulation in the back of his car on the way home from work.

    Seems Hoover smoked out the pending Watergate operation, the Canaanite conspiracy to overthrow the Nixon Administration, and he was thinking about warning the White House.

  • For Gerald & Curious,

    Sometimes we need science because our eyes and brain are known to be flat-out incorrect.

    I imagine Mr. Carillo thinks about the wonders of science a few times each day.
    The novelty will possibly wear off, but he’s free thanks to science.

    Oh, yeah, we also need science to refute silly or malicious misconstructions (lies) made by denialist predators.

  • life/surreality is too complex/mysterious for limited human intelligence/consciousness to make sense of it all, assuming it’s even possible to do so. so i agree with oldgrowthforest and others who deride it as not offering any solutions as to what exactly ails humans (besides our obvious limited/flawed nature). otoh, i object to anyone who associates rationality with not caring or lacking ethics/’morality’. imo anyone who doesn’t give a shit about the environment, other species, or the future is by definition either crazy and/or stupid, traits i associate with rigid, flawed, dogmatic minds. the biggest problem isn’t understanding but still not caring, it’s being too damned ignorant, misinformed, misopinionated, and/or delusional to understand what one should care most about. rationality may have it’s limits and flaws like anything associated with humans, but it sure beats living in a world of make-believe, or relying upon magic or miracles to try to live an optimal life, an ethical life, one that makes some kind of sense, of proper priorities. which is not to say there’s no place for the irrational, given the limits of reason, but i’ll take a sherson who tries to live in accordance with facts/logic any day over one who doesn’t.

  • “as not offering any solutions as to what exactly ails humans”.

    Is that the only reason to do science? Really? Sometimes you just want to know how things work, because knowing is better than not knowing.

    My conservative sister gifted me a book by Thomas Sowell (a supposed intellect in her circles). I had to force myself to plow through some of the most dopey and uncompelling prose I’d ever read, and I quit outright when I came across his argument (paraphrasing) that it was better for people not to think that the earth went around the sun, because for all intents and purposes that was (he claimed) indistinguishable from a scenario in which the sun revolved around the earth. See? the sun comes up and then it goes down! It was politically related in my mind to Bill O’Reilly’s spiel about the tides… (God makes them go in and out, they are otherwise inexplicable) but presented in a fatherly-counselor sort of way, rather than an idiotic-blowhard way. I thought at first the guy (Sowell) must be joking, just posturing for rhetorical effect, but I read it again and he appeared to be dead serious!


    To the extent that, in knowing new things, we have destroyed and forgotten a lot of old things of worth, that is tragic. And the Wordsworth poem Martin posted is emotionally compelling.. it is sad to put away old myths. But would you really rather live life believing in Thor or Santa Claus or the tooth fairy? Really? I wouldn’t, and I don’t see anything particularly healthful in fantasy stories, especially when they cause no end of absurd conflict. Let the conflict at least be over something factual… is what I would say in a conventional discourse.

    But then I have to stop myself and remember that religions and other fabulisms (including the myth of scientific progress and human improvement) are technologies that give us the excuse to burn through more resources faster. Their perverse irrationality is a feature, not a bug.

  • The latest piece on Orlov’s site resonates well with what many of us here have been saying:

    Monday, September 07, 2015

    Eventual Consequences

    The US empire has murdered some 40 million people since World War II (according to John Stockwell), has suppressed popular social change in dozens of countries, has overthrown and assassinated their leaders and has organized and trained right-wing death squads that murdered and tortured their citizens. Both Al Qaeda and ISIS are largely US inventions. Meanwhile, the US enjoyed nearly the highest per capita income in the world, peace, harmony, and consumerism for decades—until recently—while sowing chaos abroad. But there have been no negative consequences for the US—until its recent economic decline.

    Henry Kissinger, one of the greatest war criminals of the 20th century, lives on into his 9th decade and is consulted regularly as a respected geopolitical expert by governments and the media alike. He seems to be in the media a lot these days. He even makes quite a bit of sense; it is uncanny how people stop lying once they retire. But in case you don’t know, while he still had a day-job, Kissinger orchestrated the four-year secret bombing of Cambodia which killed two million people and set the scene for the Khmer Rouge genocidal regime of Pol Pot. He got the Nobel Peace prize for agreeing to the Vietnam peace accord in 1973—which had first been offered in 1968. Barack Obama collected his Nobel Peace prize too—and went on to destroy Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen, and perpetuate drone warfare in Pakistan and other places. Sometimes the Nobel Peace Prize seems like a license to kill.

    Dick Cheney’s Halliburton company made billions while Cheney oversaw the torture program during the Bush administration. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and other Iraq fabulists walk free, while the truth-tellers Manning, Assange and Snowden remain imprisoned, trapped at an embassy, or live in exile. Many other whistleblowers, such as Binney, Drake, and Kiriakou, have also been punished. But John Woo, who wrote the torture memos in which he claimed that torture was legal, is now a highly paid faculty member at UC Berkeley. Clearly, there are cases where truth won’t set you free, but lies are richly rewarded.

    So, what about consequences? We like to explain to our children that if they keep doing bad things to good people, eventually they will pay. But so far there don’t seem to be too many consequences for any of these perpetrators.

    Until now.

    For example, there is the refugee problem, which seems to be affecting all the countries that bombed, invaded or otherwise disrupted the countries that are now causing the refugee crisis. It never seemed to dawn on the highly compensated eurocratic morons that helping the US empire to destroy Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen, and sow chaos all over the Middle East would result in a torrent of humans deluging their shores. And now they are reduced to explaining at the top of their lungs how the refugee crisis has nothing at all to do with their foreign policy.

    On the other side of the Atlantic, it never occurred to the Americans that their support of right wing coups in Central America, such as the recent one in Honduras, or their support for the insane drug war in Mexico, or their sowing of massive violence, destruction, and poverty in the region, would lead to the horrendous illegal immigration problem that Donald Trump is currently making hay out of.

    Need more examples? Australia helped bomb Vietnam and supported Indonesian dictator Suharto’s domestic massacre and genocide against the people of East Timor, among its other supporting imperial roles. Suharto ruled for three decades, stole billions and lived to a ripe old age of 86. Becoming a genocidal dictator seems to be a good plan if you want longevity. Australia, on the other hand, has a refugee problem too—and from that exact region.

    More consequences are on their way. The people in the EU still haven’t fully realized that helping the US start a new cold war by puppet-mastering an illegal coup in Ukraine, then imposing sanctions on Russia under false pretenses would be bad for business, disrupt trade and help collapse the Euro. But they are learning fast.

    And then there is the biggest consequence of all: The US and Europe seem to be suffering a devastating series of climate problems such as heat waves, forest fires, droughts, floods, hurricanes and the like. California in particular has been in an extreme drought for the last four years. California epitomizes the American consumerist, car-centric culture that is largely responsible for the vast increase in CO2 emissions, and exports this toxic lifestyle worldwide through the entertainment industry of Hollywood. Climate disasters seem rampant in the US—the country that has emitted the majority of CO2 emissions that are now causing climate change. The US even had a Polar Vortex deep freeze each winter the last two years affecting the east coast. But that’s only the beginning; in a few decades, the entire Eastern Seaboard of the US, where half the population lives, is going to be underwater.

    Call it coincidence, call it karma, call it their luck running out, or whatever else you want. But what if it’s cause and effect? What if it takes a while, but the consequences of your actions do eventually come to haunt you?

    Gary

    http://cluborlov.blogspot.co.nz/2015/09/eventual-consequences.html

  • I found Jensen’s essay to be very good,except where he nonchalantly calls
    for Capital punishment. IMO,capital punishment should not exist for three reasons:
    1.The deterrence effect is minimal or non-existent.
    2. There are many examples where people were executed,and subsequently
    found to be innocent.
    3. If we accept the premise that a less violent society is preferable,it is important that the state set the example that violence is not justice.

  • Guy,

    I believe you can teach at a college again. I’m sure there is some college somewhere that would want you. ( My Cousin Billy is teaching college in some former Soviet block country, which one I forget). If universities don’t want you, I’m sure you can find a teaching job at a community college at the very least. Why not explore that opportunity? That way you can bring in some money instead of continuing to live on a shoe string. If you are lucky to get such a job, my advice would be not to say much of anything to students that goes beyond the curriculum. But yet again, why listen to me? I’ve managed to F___ it all up more than once in my life.

    Ray

  • Hi Kevin
    Yes, Sad to say because I grew up believing in the American way and they helped to save us from the Nazis, though it was USSR that really destroyed the German War machine. Yes now we have Warshington and the Empire of Chaos, the Great Satan relentlessly devouring the weak and foolish totally without any sense of decency. Sauron was a pussy in comparison.The cruelty and inhumanity of the Iraq 2003 invasion stripped the US of any moral clothing leaving it naked in its greed and horror. So sad for us Brits who loved the US, the city on the hill was, but became a pile of writhing greed and arrogance. Cameron is not much better, he’s clocked up his own war crime bombing Libya with Sarcozy. The US treats its own people like shit too and is so stupid as to believe socialism is communism another failed ideology.

  • I still like ordinary Americans, they have 100% no say in their dictatorship, take Guy an exemplary human being, no one in NZ like him,sadly.Americans believe in language and real communication which seems lacking here in NZ, we like to be brutish rugby players who grunt our meanings between scrums, we have an anti intellectual culture that thinks sensitivity and thought are for wimps and poofs!

  • @ John, I said;”Here is the latest and greatest from Naomi Klein. This woman is very smart, the question is how can she tout the idea of a green energy transition to renewables with a strait face?” Perhaps you misunderstood my point? Klein is disingenuous at best and outright lying at worst when her and the like, talk about a green transition. The predicament of humanity is now upon us and will not be fixed (as you imply) by eating dandelions,chickens and windmills pumping water from a backyard well.

  • following mrogness timely direction;

    Ginger or Mary Ann?

    Schmidt/Acher or Semiletov/Shakhova?

    A mild criticism would demand some focus on the excessively “academic” tip-toeing through the tulips … (while there are some tulips left?)

    The last statement/excerpt from the intro (below) IS the most momentous prediction in history.

    published 7 September 2015

    Abstract;

    Sustained release of methane (CH4) to the atmosphere from thawing Arctic permafrost may be a positive and significant feedback to climate warming.

    Atmospheric venting of CH4 from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) was recently reported to be on par with flux from the Arctic tundra; however, the future scale of these releases remains unclear.

    Here, based on results of our latest observations, we show that CH4 emissions from this shelf are likely to be determined by the state of subsea permafrost degradation.

    We observed CH4 emissions from two previously understudied areas of the ESAS: the outer shelf, where subsea permafrost is predicted to be discontinuous or mostly degraded due to long submergence by seawater, and the near shore area, where deep/open taliks presumably form due to combined heating effects of seawater, river run-off, geothermal flux and pre-existing thermokarst.

    CH4 emissions from these areas emerge from largely thawed sediments via strong flare-like ebullition, producing fluxes that are orders of magnitude greater than fluxes observed in background areas underlain by largely frozen sediments.

    We suggest that progression of subsea permafrost thawing and decrease in ice extent could result in a significant increase in CH4 emissions from the ESAS.

    1. Introduction

    The Arctic seabed is believed to contain a significant pool of organic carbon and methane (CH4) preserved within and beneath the subsea permafrost, including permafrost-related and continental slope CH4 hydrates [1–3].

    Sustained CH4 release to the atmosphere from thawing Arctic permafrost and dissociating hydrates were suggested to be positive and likely to be significant feedbacks to climate warming [4,5].

    Some authors believe that CH4 fluxes from subsea permafrost, more than 80% of which occur in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS), will depend on rates of CH4 production in gradually thawing sediments [6], while subsea permafrost will remain frozen for millennia [7].

    Others believe that permafrost failure caused by long-lasting warming by seawater due to sea-level rise and global-change-induced warming, which in the twenty-first century is very pronounced over the ESAS [8], will destabilize massive gas reservoirs, leading to large-scale CH4 releases, including release of pre-formed CH4 long preserved within and beneath subsea permafrost [9,10].

  • My latest post highlights two forthcoming radio shows. Both will take calls from listeners. Catch the details here.

  • Check out “Kakistocracy”.

  • Un-FROZEN Sociopaths:

    Scientists who discovered a prehistoric virus called Mollivirus sibericum in the Siberian permafrost plan to give the virus its first wakeup call since the last Ice Age. It’s hoped the study could shed insight into ancient dormant viruses that could, it’s feared, get another chance at spreading as permafrost retreats due to climate change.

    The team, from the French National Centre for Scientific Research, announced its plans in a study published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal.

    The virus is classified as a “giant” virus because it’s visible by light microscopy. Mollivirus sibericum carries a complex genetic structure that houses more than 500 genes, according to the study’s abstract. The influenza virus, in comparison, has only 8 genes.

    The same team that discovered Mollivirus sibericum found another 30,000-year-old virus, Pithovirus sibericum, in the same Russian permafrost. As described in PNAS last year, those scientists revived a sample of Pithovirus sibericum in safe lab conditions and determined it was still infectious, though it only affects amoebas..& Disney princesses on ice.

  • I’m gratified to know that Mcpherson and this blog have recognised this particularly bitter truth. That civilization has always been run by predators -(e.g because the lack of empathy expands or more accurately, removes the rule-book for a social-climber). Civ at this point looks like an elaborate mistake, a hilarious contradiction. Just picture for a second, the colonials versus the native americans. In retrospect it was the natives who were civilized, many of them had a meritocracy and sustainable agriculture. We on the other hand, just look like cogs in an organized form of barbarism, oppressed by our own social machine, rats in a portable rat-race.

    I’ve entered my twenties with the veils of global deception slipping off left right and centre. The medieval Cathar and his whispered suspicion that ‘by birth you have been trapped here, in the devil’s realm’ is fairly accurate to anyone with actual experience. I realised pretty quickly that I had come into in a dying world.
    It’s curious to note that every well-researched person i know has arrived separately to the ”it’s-rigged” conclusion (i.e that society’s leaders are pathological by nature). It seems this realisation is swimming the ‘Gaian mind’ at the moment, it is becoming obvious to quite a few.

    I have a vague feeling there may be a wildcard at the ‘end of time’…When people know they are technically dead, there is nothing they dare not do. This would spell chaos, of course, but also an insane tenacity.
    In a post-disaster tribe situation, psychopaths don’t do well in long-term tribal setups. The natural conflict between the human creature and his predatory parasite may enter a different phase, if the post-disaster humans have an altered consciousness. Call it fanciful, but I do wonder if there is a chance of an evolutionary leap. That If enough people came to consciousness…
    I mean in the wildnerness, a conscience is important. If it wasn’t crucial, then the majority of our species would be born without one, right? Longterm existence requires empathy.

    Anyway, given the climate fiasco, I consider myself already dead. Guy is diligent in saying that hope and fear hinder the last purposeful stretch of life.
    My greetings to all fellow eyes on this messageboard. apologies for my insupportably long comment.

    I will leave with this thought:
    Abundance feeds not only yourself but your tapeworms. (Agrarian civilization is the platform on which we are subject to our human parasite (pathological predators).
    Go into deprivation, and the tapeworms shrivel over the longterm.
    it’s like any ecosystem.