What I Believe, Redux

I’ve copied below an essay I posted in this space on 29 July 2008. It’s posted verbatim, and is preceded by a brief, contemporary introduction and also an embedded song. There’s much more, too, at the bottom of the page.

Belief is an odd topic of discussion. Belief leads directly to the mentality of conquest, human superiority, patriarchy, and faith-based junk science. What’s not to like?

We adhere so strongly to our beliefs, however ill-supported, that we are driven to acts of insanity. Clinging even tighter, we fail to recognize the insanity. We “believe” it away.

Check with any denier of climate change. Or denier of abrupt climate change. Or nearly anybody embedded within civilization, unable to question civilization. In the latter case, along with many others, the belief isn’t stated. It’s assumed.

Civilization is assumed, without question, as unimpeachably good. In that way, it’s a lot like hope.

No questions allowed. Questioners are ignored, and perhaps laughed at. But rarely fought, contrary to Gandhi’s famous line.

The price of oil did not rise to $150/barrel in July, as I had predicted. Instead, the price climbed slightly above $147 before falling to about $120. John McCain would have you believe the plummeting price resulted from BushCo’s promise to drill offshore. Most economists attribute the decline to a weakening economy, although they fail to admit the profound extent of the demand destruction here and abroad.

What’s the first law of holes? When you’re in one, stop digging. Or, in this case, stop drilling.

Since I was wrong about the price of oil, my views on other issues are suspect as well. I encourage skepticism about all that follows.

I’m amazed anybody cares what I believe, at least enough to ask. Belief is personal, and what I believe is not relevant to what you believe. At least, I hope not. But, since you asked ….

I try not to believe. After all, as Nietzsche pointed out, “Belief means not wanting to know what is true.” Instead of believing, I try to think. But it’s sometimes difficult to separate the two, and it’s often difficult to marshal enough evidence to allow thought to proceed unimpeded by belief. I suppose I’m skeptical, even about my skepticism. Usually, I think that’s a good thing. And I recognize I’m quick to offend, especially when my words are unaccompanied by my smiling face and accommodating body language. Continue reading at your own risk.

I believe we spend too much time in this country debating belief, especially belief in spirits. And I believe we routinely confuse religion with faith or spirituality. I believe we shouldn’t mislead children into believing there is a Santa Claus, an Easter bunny, a tooth fairy, a unicorn on the dark side of the moon, or a god. I think it’s a sad commentary on the state of our cultural affairs that we finally get around to telling the truth about only the former three. Even sadder commentary is provided by the paucity of people who take time to think about what they believe, how they live, and what they live for.

People who know me, even slightly, would describe me as neither spiritual nor religious. I do not believe in spirits, so I can understand the common conclusion about the former. I think organized religions are, to a great extent, absurd, violent, and immoral. When I think about the impacts of organized religion on society, I’m an anti-theist. But most of the time, I’m an indifferent rationalist, open to evidence but realizing faith is based on the absence of evidence. Or, as I tell the occasional student who asks, I believe in one fewer god than you. Unless you’re Hindu, in which case I believe in 33 trillion fewer gods than you.

I believe all life is loaded with religiosity. After all, religion is merely a set of beliefs and practices. Consider, for example, the set of beliefs and practices in my own uniquely quirky life: I’m a self-proclaimed rationalist and skeptic with a penchant for social criticism. In the latter role, I comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable with religious fervor. I religiously seek the truth (and I believe it should be spelled with a lowercase ‘t’). I religiously count steps when I’m walking. I religiously exceed the posted speed limit when I drive. And like Albert Einstein, I am a deeply religious unbeliever. And so on, ad nauseum. I suspect you get the point.

I believe Spinoza nailed the issue about religious spiritualism when he concluded that, if a triangle could think, it would imagine God to be like a triangle. Upon learning this story, most people accuse the triangle of hubris.

I believe Nietzsche was correct about our lack of free will, and overwhelming evidence accumulated since his death supports this view (e.g., the mind as computer, and vice versa). Nietzsche recognized that our ability to choose can overcome our lack of free will, but only with great intellectual effort (and, very often, intellectual suffering). Our absence of free will constrains, but does not eliminate, our freedom to choose. I believe education facilitates the process of choice over will — that is, I believe education, when it works, is an intellectually painful process — and I believe all education is, ultimately, autodidactic.

I agree with Jules Henry, in his classic book, Culture Against Man: “School is indeed a training for later life not because it teaches the 3 Rs (more or less), but because it instills the essential cultural nightmare fear of failure, envy of success, and absurdity.” Public education in this country has become exactly the essential cultural nightmare it was designed to become by the likes of John Dewey and the United States Congress. It serves corporate Amerika by creating belief-filled drones incapable of deep thought. And, paradoxically, I believe John Dewey was right when he wrote: “Education is not preparation for life. Education is life itself.”

In part because of the virtual absence of deep thought by mainstream Americans, I believe western civilization will suffer a profound and sudden collapse, thereby joining the 23 major civilizations that failed before it (albeit at different rates, from different apexes and to different nadirs). I believe the collapse of civilization will be complete, in this country, within five years, and will be accompanied by suffering that is unimaginable to most of us.

I believe this is a damned sad state of affairs.

I believe I will not live through the ongoing collapse. But I will fully engage the collapse, and act as if I will survive it. Acting “as if” is one rapid and appropriate way to ensure something positive will happen. Rosa Parks sat on the bus “as if” doing so were right. And, of course, it was.

Acting and living “as if” is a powerful approach to improving the human condition. It enables quick identification of the obstacles to improvement. It is the route to social change often espoused by contrarians and social critics (not to mention Buddhists). To live in opposition, as Christopher Hitchens points out in Letters to a Young Contrarian, “is not to be a nihilist. … It is something you are, not something you do.” Hitchens knows about our lack of free will.

Many people, including several friends, find it hard to believe I can go on, given what I believe (and especially what I don’t believe). As if spirits, or faith in a life better than the one we get on Earth, make life worth living. As if one life is not enough, given its rarity and splendor. As if we need the promise of something else to carry on through our trivial existences on this celestial speck of dust at the edge of an insignificant galaxy. As if dying wasn’t part of the deal from the beginning, for individuals, civilizations, and entire species.

I have no problem finding things to live for, finding meanings in this most insignificant of lives. But I’ll save that issue for another day. Meanwhile, I welcome your thoughts, especially the ones that point out the many errors in my logic.


This week’s broadcast of Extinction Radio features an interview with me. Catch it in the archives here shortly after it broadcasts on Activate Media at 3:00 Eastern today.

Comments 181

  • And I am somewhat pleased to learn you count your steps. LOL
    I catch myself doing it all the time.
    I was a serious seeker. I think we really WANT the stories and gods to be real. Wouldn’t that be wonderful and horrible. So I looked and looked… but never found anything that felt remotely true, real, remotely believable.
    Just like the 9 year old who still wants all the stuff that Santa brings we refuse to admit that we don’t really believe.

  • Belief is an odd topic of discussion. Belief leads directly to the mentality of conquest, human superiority, patriarchy, and faith-based junk science. What’s not to like?

    Epistemology is the science of knowledge generation within society (The Pillars of Knowledge: Faith and Trust?).

    Religionists and scientists alike are impacted.

    Agnotology is the science of ignorance generation within society (Agnotology: The Surge).

    Again, religionists and scientists alike are impacted.

  • I believe the collapse of civilization will be complete, in this country, within five years, and will be accompanied by suffering that is unimaginable to most of us.

    I welcome your thoughts, especially the ones that point out the many errors in my logic

    29 July 2008 + 5 yrs = 29 July 2013 … Never set dates.

  • Thanks, Guy – it’s as true today as it was then. Especially the points regarding “edumacashin.”

    Dredd gets it:

    Rising seas may swallow albatross nesting grounds sooner than expected – ‘Sea level rise is happening even faster than predicted, which means that these impacts will happen even sooner’


  • I very much doubt that anyone would be capable of ignoring, or laughing at, the philosophy of Mike Tyson?

    Speak softly and carry a big stick – Gandhi


    The Second Coming – W B Yeats, 1919

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

    Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

  • I could be wrong, but at some point during the start of the Reagan Administration it was decided that the country should be color coded into Red and Blue and that once one was in this or that state, their politics were decided forever and ever. Belief had become even more simplistic and narrow focused to absurdity. One must be either 100% in favor or 100% opposed, no room for any other viewpoint.

    And so, now 35 years into the Reagan Administration as we near the final quarter of the 2016 Presidential election and the beginning of the first quarter of the 2020 Presidential election, one must be either 100% in favor of this or that candidate based entirely upon the color of their team. Debates between candidates of the same color indicate either 100% proof of your candidate’s superiority or 100% proof of sinister forces out to undercut your candidate.

    Belief has been replace by certainty. Doubt is for losers, quitters, and people without a moral compass. If you find fault with Obama you must then be in favor with the Republicans. If you hate the war crimes of Bush/Cheney, then you must be a cheerleader for the Clintons. There can be no other possibility. There can be no other opinion except the ones approved by the color code you follow.

    Climate Chaos is impossible to discuss under these conditions. Greenland hasn’t melted 100% nor is it 100% frozen therefore it cannot be mentioned because it does not fit into an absolute. The human race has never gone extinct before, therefore it is impossible for the human race to go extinct. Once everyone is dead, then we can talk about what to do. Until then, I’m giving 100% support to a system that does not care what I think at all.

  • The only 2 things in history that all of the world’s cultures have had in common are two shared core beliefs. They are Life-After-Death and Money. Both of these things are NOT real, they are human inventions. We made them up for control and power over people. As long as we get money and power we will perpetuate the lies.

    We pretend ignorance to NOT change anything out of fear of loss of money and power. While we possess the technological power of Gods, we are political fucking ass heads. Politically, we are too stupid to live.

    My proof, if needed.

    World War III For Water Food In 10 Years from collapse

    If You Stare Into The Abyss Long Enough, It Starts To Stare Back At You

    Collapse Data Cheat Sheet from collapse

  • Dear Guy,
    Having read this essay carefully, and (I think) thoughtfully, I’m a little nervous about expressing my genuine puzzlement (for fear of being branded stupid). But I wonder if you could say a bit more about the difference between free will (which according to Nietzsche, humans do not possess) and the ability to choose.

    Maybe I’m too literal minded or simply missing something here, but I’m honestly baffled: Doesn’t the ability to choose presuppose or rest on a foundation of free will? Somehow, I’ve always assumed that choice both depended on and gave credence to the existence of free will.

    Oddly enough I was have a similar discussion the other day with a friend (as we were clearing our garden for the coming winter), and I would love to bring some new insight to our next conversation

    I keep turning over the question: How do free will and the ability to choose differ? Which I guess begs the question: What IS free will (and what is its opposite), and in its absence, how are choices made? How am I able to choose this over that, if I’m not free to choose?

    That said, I certainly recognize the ubiquitous nature of automatic (or automaton-ic),non-thoughtful, somnambulistic, almost robotic human behavior, often masquerading as choice, but in reality more programmed than consciously planned and plotted.

    Maybe the point is that free will is not a ‘given’, that humans for the most do not act freely from a place of thought and deliberation and hard-won values and principles, based on evidence as to what is real and true…?

    It reminds me of a lecture series Doris Lessing gave some years ago: Prison We Choose to Live Inside. I get that it is hard work to break free of cultural conditioning, herd mentality, comfortable old patterns of thought and ‘comforting’ beliefs.

    Please know that I am not quibbling, but trying to understand the apparent paradox between lack of free will and the ability to choose. Thanks.

  • Thanks for your important question, lark. It’s clear from recent comments here that your question is shared by many. I doubt I can provide a sufficient response.

    We typically process about 14 million bus of information each second. The bandwidth of consciousness is 18 bits. That doesn’t leave much room for conscious decision-making.

    Each of us is the product of genetics and personal history, as with every other organism. As a result, and as supported by abundant research in myriad disciplines, the decisions we believe we are making are made before we are aware of the decision. I recommend a quick online search and a lot of reading and thinking.

    We choose the brand of breakfast cereal at the grocery store. Or not. But most ethicists say we ought to act as if we have the ability to choose, even though we don’t. Otherwise, the legal system is turned upside-down. Apparently most ethicists view such a turning as a bad idea.

    Imagine imprisoning for life every person who commits a certain crime (or granting a death sentence). After all, the person is extremely unlikely to be rehabilitated if s/he lacks free will. The only option is rewiring the brain, and society is unwilling to contemplate that alternative.

    Again, I recommend additional study of this subject, especially at the intersection of psychology and brain science. There is plenty of literature on the topic, much of it accessible to those of us who are not neurobiologists.

  • So, if I choose not to do the research, then it wasn’t done freely of my own free will. I’ll bet Spezzy will have a field day with this one.

    Handy Dandy Peak Minerals Chart

  • my simple, and possibly childish, answer to free will is:
    within the restraint of our dimension, OUR “RULES”, this IS whether you chose it or not.

  • The “no free will” philosophy is quite a dark abyss.

    Guy said: “the decisions we believe we are making are made before we are aware of the decision”. Paradoxically this seems a bit self-deceiving. As to convince oneself of the opposite of what’s really happening. You think you are making decisions but you are deciding that you’re not.

    Additionally this “no free will and no choice” philosophy creates troublesome implications. If there is no choice or free will then any and all could begin killing, raping and coercing with zero justifiable opposition. Regardless of the supposed scientific merits the philosophy is quite dreary.

    Determinism suggests we are pre-programmed robots. I choose to disagree.

  • I suspect this thread will devolve into a shitstorm of uninformed comments. Please do a little homework before you join the parade of idiocy.

  • the philosophy of mike Tyson…”everybody has a plan…until they get punched in the face.”

  • With regard to the existence of spirits or unseen entities with consciousness, I searched some (because it would take lifetime to search all or even most) of what there is to ‘know’ as part of my mid-life ‘spiritual’ crises (which, C. G. Jung’s work anticipates as a part of life for everyone) and cannot conclude as to the non-existence of such ‘things’. While pretty much impossible, although not completely impossible, to prove scientifically (and I believe this is due to the fact that consciousness is a process and not something static and therefore measurable), there is simply too much that cannot be answered and qualifies as bonafide mystery in this realm for me to conclude against the existence of any such ‘things’. I would not say, however, that this constitutes a ‘belief’ on part part, so much as an openness to possibilities, which my personality favors, in any event as a perceiving, rather than a judging, type. I find the rush to closure on such realms to be at least as troublesome as the belief in dogma, because both are guilty of shutting down the bonafide mysteries in our midst which I find, at least, quite entertaining and, at best, extraordinary.

  • 147$ when predicted 150$ is close enough . true enough

  • the philosophy of yogi berra…”it’s deja vu all over again.”

  • Since I inhabit this space and work in a trailer park, I know all about shit storms.

  • the philosophy of kilgore trout…”go take a running jump at a rolling donut”

  • Gail Tverberg’s latest article here: http://ourfiniteworld.com/2015/11/03/oops-low-oil-prices-are-related-to-a-debt-bubble/

    and the punch line:

    “We should not be too surprised if the economy starts taking major downward steps in the next few months.”

    Gail admitted to me recently in a private email that she believes collapse will be the only thing that can stop climate change. There’s been a lot of words, a lot of number crunching and a lot of internet bandwidth over the last fifteen years to reach that conclusion at last.


    @lark – Just act as though you have free will and do what you think is right. The belief that you have it is what matters. That’s what I believe.

  • Ponerology is the the study of evil within theology.

    Political Ponerology (A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes)


    insightful stuff

  • Zarquon said: “Just act as though you have free will and do what you think is right. The belief that you have it is what matters. That’s what I believe.”


    If you have free will you don’t have to act like you have free will.

    If you have to act like you have something then obviously you don’t really believe you have it.

    In other words you are acting like you believe something you don’t believe. That’s enough to give one a headache.

  • @djl, of course the majority of individuals “choose to disagree”, continuing to “enjoy” a fantasy world where what they do and think actually matters. The social function of the organism proceeds much better that way. Scientific determinists are a tiny minority of social misfits.

    As for “deciding” we aren’t making decisions..this is just a proven biological fact which, as Guy says, can be easily researched. You are “free” of course, not to “believe” those findings, but the fact remains that thoughts are physical, and are results of a material process, whatever we rationalize about them after the fact.

    What I would like to ask Guy is: knowing this, why are you still so angry, do you think?

  • Lidia, it’s odd you find me angry, especially considering we’ve never met (correct me if I’m wrong). I don’t find me angry. Nor do the people around me, if they’re to be believed.

  • .
    … free willy !

  • Preverted, “I’ll bet Spezzy will have a field day with this one.”

    You knew? My brain is on fire.

    If only I could type like Bud Nye …

    Another question; Could Bud be related to science-y Billy Fuckster?

    I can talk a blue streak though, as in Christopher Hitchens w/o the smoldering cigs.

    My hobby horse is unbridled, & that could be dangerously consuming.

    I’ve been passionately & primarily focused on the free will conundrum/dilemma for the last 27 years.

    My initial response to Lark’s honest “plea for peace of mind/brain” was damn close to Guy’s kindly response.

    We both “saw” Lark’s well-phrased confusion & intellectual agony.

    I was working on it, when I read Guy’s well thought out response/direction.

    Lark, assuming that you don’t know Libet, start with hard nosed experimental scientist, Benjamin Libet.


    He knocked the socks off free will.

    I must disagree, however, with Guy’s terms; “rewiring the brain.”

    Reprogramming the brain’s neural networks is better – the brain meat stays the same.

    I don’t mean to insult Guy by making such a claim, but I am uncannily like him.

    We both arrived at identical conclusions, especially after empiricist Igor Semiletov OBSERVED Arctic methane plumes that were a kilometer in diameter in 2011.

    Oh yeah, Guy’s piece is a puncher, as in Tyson.

    “I’ll be back.”

    Ditto for djl.

    djl, science IS determinism – what causes what?

    But scientific determinism doesn’t make anything happen – that would be “fatalism,” & the concepts routinely get terribly muddled & mixed up.

    SD does its best to “describe” what happens in the world, as in – how does our earth revolve around the sun.

  • djl said – ‘If you have free will you don’t have to act like you have free will.’

    I hate to be pedantic but try exchanging my word ‘act’ for ‘pretend’ if it makes it easier for you; the effect will be the same. Although I believe that I do not have free will, I act (pretend) as though I do. That’s what I believe and that is Guy’s heading for this thread, is it not? It works for me. Action Is The Antidote To Despair.

    Sorry, third post of today, I’m done.

    Open this box with the key you will find inside.

    The following statement is true:
    The previous statement is false.

  • Lidia said: “of course the majority of individuals “choose to disagree”, continuing to “enjoy” a fantasy world where what they do and think actually matters. The social function of the organism proceeds much better that way. Scientific determinists are a tiny minority of social misfits.”


    Of course our actions matter, else there would be no reason to come here and chat. There would be no reason to move to a mud hut in New Mexico and broadcast the service. There would be no reason to be.

    I realize you and others view our existence as meaningless and irrational, and so once again I wonder why you feel the need to come here and “set things straight”. You and your philosophy may suggest you are meaningless, but I don’t think you are meaningless. Besides, you seem too self-important to think you are meaningless.

  • Lidia said: “As for “deciding” we aren’t making decisions..this is just a proven biological fact which, as Guy says, can be easily researched. You are “free” of course, not to “believe” those findings, but the fact remains that thoughts are physical, and are results of a material process, whatever we rationalize about them after the fact.”


    Scientific fact and religious truth. Both concern man-made rituals and principles so I view them in a similar light.

    It seems you confuse observation, or information gathering, with decision-making. Yes, individuals are subject to others and the environment, but taking in information is not really imposition. The observer is just as much a part of the process as the environment.

    Taking in information does not really oppose free will. Information is gathered and then free will is used to choose how to act or think regarding that information. The information is not the actual choice or decision itself.

    And I never alluded that thought was or wasn’t physical.

  • The medial prefrontal cortex keeps a lid on the limbic brain in social situations. There are decisions being made. There is “will” but it’s not free. If you truly had free will, you would starve to death, but a steady trickle of dopamine keeps you moving in the right direction. The Maximum Power Principle (Odum)is imprinted in our brains, and with the liberating power of technology and fossil fuels we will complete our suicidal journey in the least time possible. The Russians, Chinese and others are making the same journey and the path is narrowing. Who gets knocked off? If only the Wizard of Oz could give us some “free will”.

  • James said: “There is “will” but it’s not free. If you truly had free will, you would starve to death”


    I would change “would starve to death” to “could starve to death”.

    If one had free will they would have the choice to starve. “Having” to starve because of free will would not be free will.

    If one had free will they wouldn’t necessarily starve to death but could choose to starve to death. This is a choice that can be made.

  • Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism.pdf by Chogyam Trungpa

    “Speak softly and carry a big stick”: Teddy Roosevelt

    We are all unwitting actors – indeed marionettes – in a play so apparently real that we imagine ourselves to have a sense of agency, a feeling that “I did it”. With realisation it becomes “This body-mind complex did it, and “I” is witnessing awareness is masquerading as this person”.

  • “ Faith may be defined as fidelity to our own being, so far as such being is not and cannot become an object of the senses; and hence, by clear inference or implication to being generally, as far as the same is not the object of the senses; and again to whatever is affirmed or understood as the condition, or concomitant, or consequence of the same. This will be best explained by an instance or example. That I am conscious of something within me peremptorily commanding me to do unto others as I would they should do unto me; in other words a categorical (that is, primary and unconditional) imperative; that the maxim (regula maxima, or supreme rule) of my actions, both inward and outward, should be such as I could, without any contradiction arising therefrom, will to be the law of all moral and rational beings.“

    Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Essay On Faith

  • Robin Datta said: “We are all unwitting actors – indeed marionettes – in a play so apparently real that we imagine ourselves to have a sense of agency, a feeling that “I did it”. With realisation it becomes “This body-mind complex did it, and “I” is witnessing awareness is masquerading as this person.”

    @Robin Datta,

    Seems like schizophrenia.

    As Lidia said: “Scientific determinists are a tiny minority of social misfits.”

    “Delusions of control – Belief that one’s thoughts or actions are being controlled by outside, alien forces. Common delusions of control include thought broadcasting (“My private thoughts are being transmitted to others”), thought insertion (“Someone is planting thoughts in my head”), and thought withdrawal (“The CIA is robbing me of my thoughts”).”


  • Almost seems like a semantically generated confusion. Whether it’s conscious free will or genetics and personal history, something is making decisions. I guess it depends on how broad the understanding of “I” is.

    To quote Yogi Berra again, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it”.

  • Lark, Guy: with thanks to Tom above, who recommended a perfect piece about exquisitely beautiful Pacific Albatross losing their nesting habitat.

    It is short, sweet, & to-the-point.

    Using it as exemplary empirical science applied to the free will question is not at all convoluted or difficult.

    It is a perfectly stated demonstration of scientific determinism in action; with empirical data gathering & subsequent computer modeling prediction – what determines/causes what?

    When I first clicked, I had difficulty taking my eyes from the captivating large photo of the magnificent nesting albatross.

    Even a jet setting yuppie “environmentalist” on his flight to Europe would be combat furious, if I accused him of coldly assassinating a beautiful nesting albatross by spewing tons of CO2.

    Here is the original to-the-point-piece from Audubon.

    Unquestionably, sea level rise is the changing/accelerating variable determining future events, whether this species of albatross will survive or not?

    SLR is empirical, meaning a material, physical, & quantifiable process.

    SLR sets the material & physical limits of the albatross’ ability &/or “freedom” to nest & survive in this specific environment/habitat.

    The changing physical environment/habitat is “selecting” for Albatross’ survival or extinction.

    Indeed, not much more SLR “demands” either albatross relocation or extinction

    No habitat = no survival, at least not at this limited island address!

    If Albatross nesting behavior cannot adapt “correctly” meaning survivable (whether the Albatross know it or not), they will go extinct.

    IN BRIGHT NEON & BOLD FACE; SLR limits the albatross’ evolutionary “choices.”

    Staying & continuing to nest is not a viable “option or choice.”

    It is an evolutionary trap.

    If albatross “instinct” continues to literally rule the roost/roosting, extinction “will” probabilistically follow.

    And extinction will follow – just as the night following the day is determined by the earth’s rotation.

    Wildlife EVOLUTIONARY biologist Karen Courtot sums it up;

    “This persistence may have once helped albatrosses and petrels survive, but now “it could be one of their downfalls,” Courtot says. They cannot perceive when their preferred nesting habitat has gone bad—a phenomenon called an evolutionary or ecological trap.”


    Albatross do not know that nature & nature’s laws determine what happens in our evolving world, including both human behavior & human thoughts.

    Humans have the capacity to “know” that SLR is happening, but the evolutionary forces remain, as always – inexorably determining!

    W/o over doing it, nesting albatross on Midway are perfectly analogous to increasing salt water intrusion from increasing SLR into the groundwater supplies in South Florida, Bangladesh, & many Pacific Island habitats.

    The question that we must always ask as human animals in a deterministic world of thermodynamic scientific laws is not – do we have free will, but …

    What social & environmental forces condition our behavior/thoughts & therefore, limit/determine our so-called “choices.”

    B.F. Skinner’s ABOUT BEHAVIORISM is a very readable treatment of scientific determinism explicating human behavior, while condemning mentalistic accounts.

    Tragically, even mentioning Skinner’s behaviorism labels me an intellectual dinosaur, especially by modern cognitivists.

    How could any living entity, including pretentious human consciousness, be excepted from nature’s deterministic laws?

    All of what I claim here as synopsis is stated in the light of Libet’s empirical law(s) demanding that we always must look to the physical & social environments when trying to answer questions about what conditions human/animal behavior.

    A necessary disclaimer; I am NOT claiming that human “instinct” is “driving” us to extinction.

    I am not completely satisfied with my efforts here, but I must “mange bene” – my hunger has been “determined.”

    If only pretentious intellectuals would remember to ask simple questions about simple things like simple hunger.

  • I’m sorry, but I have no choice

    View post on imgur.com

  • There are scientific(!) arguments for a free will and there are scientific arguments against it. Therefore I’d say, we got free will, but our will is not always completely free.

    Here is a nice little video of Noam Chomsky talking about the question of a free human will. He quotes William James:

    If you believe that there is no freedom of the will, then why bother presenting an argument?!

    Part I:

    Part II:

  • Gerald Spezio said: “Wildlife EVOLUTIONARY biologist Karen Courtot sums it up;

    “This persistence may have once helped albatrosses and petrels survive, but now “it could be one of their downfalls,” Courtot says. They cannot perceive when their preferred nesting habitat has gone bad—a phenomenon called an evolutionary or ecological trap.”


    @Gerald Spezio,

    Ms. Courtot would have to be a bird brain to make such a statement.

  • Dredd

    ‘Never set dates.’

    Matt Savinar suggested it could be ‘all over’ by the end of 2004.

    Not long after, Matt Simmons suggested Saudi oil extraction was at peak and that global oil extraction would soon be on the way down.

    Mike Ruppert pronounced it ‘all over’ shortly after Fukushima blew up.

    Then there was the Mayan calendar frenzy.

    From 2004 till 2014 we heard about an ‘imminent US attack on Iran’.

    Then it was ‘WW3 by the [northern] summer of 2015’.

    That was followed by the Shemitah/Blood Moon September 2015 collapse predictions, along with more mainstream predictions of financial collapse in October 2015.

    Hmm. Add 5 years. And then add another 5?

    Every aspect of life for most humans (and other species) is being made worse by central banks, corporations and the bought-and-paid-for liars who occupy the halls of power, but they clearly can keep their games of Ponzi economics and death-by-a-thousand-cuts going a lot longer than most realists thought possible. Next up: worldwide negative interest rates?

    I see there has been an improvement in the US drought situation


    which suggests food shortages won’t commence for a while yet.

    And Brent oil back down around $47 suggests cheap fuel to power the insanity will be available for a while longer.

    Surely the government of Canada can print money to subsidise tar sands extraction: jobs; growth. And the US government can subsidise fracking if present trends continue. After all, there are no debt ceilings.

    So, it is perfectly clear that the environment will continue to be sacrificed to maintain Ponzi economics. Until it can’t be.


    I believe I am going to be offered the opportunity to participate on some kind of ‘choice’ concerning the NZ flag. Having determined that the whole matter is irrelevant, I cannot provide any details.

    At this point of time I’m not in room 101, and can continue to ignore it as completely irrelevant, along with practically everything else presented by the mainstream culture.

    Pity the children, fed crap food, brainwashed, and maturing on a planet that is being murdered.

  • I am utterly flabbergasted by Chomsky’s stumbling defense of “free will” in video 1, especially Chomsky cavalierly blowing off Libet’s powerful experimental evidence demonstrating brain activity preceding awareness or physical movement.

    Some of the most powerful experimental evidence strongly supporting the basic behaviorist claim of environmental history determining both behavior & thought cannot be simply blown off as mere speculation & opinion.

    I thought that I was asking for an onslaught of intellectual attack by high fashion cognitivists for advocating Skinner’s scientific & material behaviorism, but for Chomsky to invoke literary intellectual/psychologist William James as authority for much of anything makes me shudder.

    I have carefully studied in detail Chomsky’s heated dispute with B.F. Skinner over Skinner’s behaviorist contentions in his 1959 book, VERBAL BEHAVIOR.

    I didn’t enjoy “Verbal Behavior” because it is very dense & difficult, but I plowed through it 20 plus years ago.

    I am much more up-to-date & sophisticated about anthropologist Marvin Harris’s vehement disputes with Chomsky about Chomsky’s vague & un-operationalized “intuited” knowledge.

    Chomsky’s “Cartesian Linguistics” was unscientific & literary torture for me, but that was 20 plus years ago also.

  • @Robin Datta

    You appeared in many comments to have studied indian philosophy, especially the Upanishads and else. I got great respect for indian philosophy in gereral. But where do the Upanishads eg say that there is no agent, no free will, where do the Upanishads or indian philosophie in general say that we are marionettes, meat robots without any free will? There are some big misunderstandings of indian philosophie in the western world I think. One big mistake is to say that there is no “I”, no agent, no free will. Western Buddhists for example often maintain that Buddha said that- but in fact, he never did. He was much to clever, to maintain such heavily one-sided statement, he always prefered the middle path, no extreme positions. It’s not about negating the Ego, the “I”, but it’s about overcoming Ego- ism.

    To sum up my recent posts:

    The biggest nonsense I ever heared is actually the hardcore-materialistic assertion against those who believe in any god or in the Great Spirit or in life after death or in whatever, that they are completely wrong and have no free will either. When there is no free will anyway, then there is no need to argue against those religious people, because then they just did not freely decide what they believe in, then they are determined to believe in what they believe in and, if so, then they are totally determined to believe in whatever, just like any atheist. Nonsense.

    To say that there is absolutely no free will is an extreme position. To say that the will is always totally free is another extreme. To me the Kosmos does more appear as something that avoids extreme positions, but oscillates between two positions, it preferes the middle path mostly, call it:

    Nagual/Tonal, Yin/Yang, life/death, man/woman, science/religion, theism/atheism, high tide/low tide, day/night, two sides of one coin or whatever.

    Nemesis aka Curious (sorry for any inconvenience)

  • Guy said: “We typically process about 14 million bus of information each second. The bandwidth of consciousness is 18 bits. That doesn’t leave much room for conscious decision-making.”


    I’d like more information on this calculation as right now I’m a bit skeptical.

    I realize the reference is in Gray’s book, and he references Vincent Deary, but I can’t seem to find an actual formal report or explanation as to how he arrived at these figures.

    In addition if humans only consciously process a small percentage of information, how are they able to acknowledge the rest? And if by technological assistance, how do we know the results weren’t skewed by that technological assistance, considering that humans aren’t really the same as technology?

  • Clarke Owens (600ppm) Review of “Going Dark” by Guy McPherson
    (PublishAmerica 2013) The information for which I bought this book is contained in a single chapter, “Climate Chaos Is Poised to Kill Us All.” It is hurled at the reader in a flurry of statistics, without explanation of what, to a conservation biologist, must appear very elementary terms. (What is a “seam”? What is “albedo”? I have had to find my answers outside the book.) But one can understand the basic argument, which is that “A minor change in Earth’s atmosphere removes human habitat”(88)– and we are already far down the road of more than a minor change.

    According to the sources cited, humans cannot survive where the combination of temperature and humidity is equivalent to 95 degrees F. and 100% relative humidity– which would include, for example, a temperature of 100 degrees F at 80% relative humidity (89).

    Various research groups project a global increase of up to 7 degrees centigrade by 2100 or 5 degrees centigrade by 2050 (88). Lower projections are on record, but seem to have occurred less recently, suggesting that the more up-to-date research indicates rapidly rising projections. “An increasing number of scientists agree that warming of 4 to 6 C causes a dead planet” (102). This condition is expected by 2060.

    As of 2013, carbon dioxide emissions were over 400 parts per million (ppm), up from 280 ppm at the dawn of industrial civilization, the cause of the disease (91). McPherson cites one source that “every molecule of atmospheric carbon dioxide since 1980 comes from human emissions” (91). This evidently refers to the burning of fossil fuels, mainly coal and oil.

    Methane releases are worse than carbon dioxide, and occur with temperature rise (91). Methane vents and seams have sprouted and grown in Siberia, the Arctic, and Antarctic regions (91-93). These details are just a small sampling of the kinds of effects that add up to a currently-unfolding cataclysm which cannot be stopped.

    The remainder of the book has much more to do with the reason why this environmental degradation can’t be stopped, which is that industrial civilization cannot simply be turned off. It is the only thing that people know– the idea that the technological inventions of mankind are uniformly good and admirable, and that endless growth is the only acceptable or thinkable model. It’s obvious, for example, that no western politician running for office could dare to say otherwise and hope to be elected. It’s also obvious that our economy would immediately tank without the continued burning of fossil fuels, and the investment in their continued use, even with dwindling reserves. The slow but steady resurgence of our economy after the near Depression of 2008 is a cause of grief for McPherson, as, I assume, would be the rise of the shale gas fracking industry, because it means that fossil fuels are not done yet; and that, therefore, there is no chance to reverse the incineration of our habitat.

    So the rest of the book is devoted to McPherson’s odium for the system which is destroying the natural world– a world which was so beautiful, which could have nurtured our species and other species a good while longer had we known how to value it and live in harmony with it–something we have clearly failed at.

    McPherson’s rhetoric is as strong as any rhetoric could be. He despises capitalism, the use of money to obtain needed goods, human overpopulation, the American economy based on hegemony over the world’s natural resources and thus on endless war (he considers Obama a war criminal), the support for this system inherent in all institutions, including, most notably, academia. In order to be honest,he has put his money where his mouth is by retiring from his full professorship at the University of Arizona at the age of 49 and taking up a gift-economy existence in what he describes as a “mud hut” shared by his spouse and another family. He is age 53 as he writes the book.

    He considers his retirement the biggest mistake of his life, because he feels himself to be a teacher. Nevertheless, I did not see any retractions of his general condemnation of all facets of American and/or western civilization. I did note, as I began reading the book, that the publisher is an author-subsidized firm, and that McPherson says flatly that his previous books were not taken seriously, and that people in academia considered him crazy, perhaps mainly for walking out. The book is not written to impress academics. It is written in a desperate attempt to tell the truth. In McPherson’s view, as I read it, it is impossible to buy into any of the trappings of our civilization and at the same time to tell the truth.

    I find myself in sympathy with the trend of his thought. More importantly, I think he is telling the truth, in the sense that his dire predictions are based on data coming from, apparently, respectable scientists, and the trend is all in the same direction.

    For that reason, it makes little difference whether you want to condemn McPherson for his pessimism, or castigate him for his lack of “patriotism,” or whether you want to ignore everything he says as wrong or overstated. Like anyone, I hope he is wrong, but I have not seen any serious science that shows an opposite trend. So, even if the world does not end by 2030, why should that make us ignore McPherson, if the world ends in 2130?

    The only questions left are philosophical ones, and that’s largely what McPherson’s book offers. For me, it helps to think of myself as a cell in the universe. That is what I believe I am; what all living things are, based on my experience and observation of life. The human brain, it seems, was clever, but not clever enough. It overvalued itself and did not respect nature enough. When humans become extinct, there will perhaps come into being different types of species which can adapt to the new state of the Earth; or if the Earth goes dead, there will surely be other worlds somewhere where new cells come into being and continue the process of which we were only one tiny part, in one tiny corner of the universe.

    KEVIN MOORE – Thank you for reporting, much better than I do, on the Rand Corp analysis & Pentagon plans for World War 3 in progress. This is the week Guy should have been arriving to do presentations here in D.C. but instead we are going deeper into denial & attacks from Lamar Smith & Mitch McConnell. A scandal is in the works to distract from the Paris meetings. Putin has a huge team working on economic reasons not to curb carbon or any industrial greenhouse gas emissions.

    I’m walking away from empire in a few more weeks.

  • When you search for “scientific argument for a free will”, you get around 96.600.000 results:


    Therefore I try to avoid extreme positions like hell 8-) Chomsky and million others (AI- Ingenieurs, computer specialists, linguists, neurologists, psychiatrists, brain specialists, philosophers ect) argue that the question of a free will isn’t as simple as it appears to be.

  • @Guy,

    Thanks, but I’m still skeptical .

    So far I don’t see much of an explanation of how they arrived at these calculations.

    Furthermore, and more importantly, the whole premise seems flawed to me. It seems they are trying to measure conscious intake by measuring output.

  • You can lead a horse to water,
    but you can’t free willy

    You can tune a piano,
    but you can’t tuna fish

    If it barks like a duck,
    it’s quacked

  • The hardcore-materialistic statement of “no free will” is based on cosmic, universal determinism. Modern quantum physics prooved that extreme determinism wrong. Since Einstein already we don’t live in a Newton- Universe, a cosmic machine anymore.

    Yes, the Kosmos barks like a duck


  • test -getting a lot of 404 errors..

  • Public education in this country has become exactly the essential cultural nightmare it was designed to become by the likes of John Dewey and the United States Congress. It serves corporate Amerika by creating belief-filled drones incapable of deep thought. And, paradoxically, I believe John Dewey was right when he wrote: “Education is not preparation for life. Education is life itself.”

    You’re way way off on Dewey. His ideas were largely rejected by the plutocracy. What little good there is in the system is probably due to him. Chomsky went to a Deweyite school and contrasts it with the horror of going to a traditional high school. I couldn’t find the videos where he talks about that at length, but this should help:

  • Good posts Nemesis.

    “No free will” is an absolute, declaring no degree of free will whatsoever.

    “Free will” isn’t really absolute, and allows for various degrees or perspectives of free will.

    Yet another reason I advocate the latter.

  • @Guy, re. anger, I’ll just use the closest example to hand:

    I suspect this thread will devolve into a sh**storm of uninformed comments. Please do a little homework before you [join?] the parade of idiocy.

    Now, even if I read that to myself in the calmest, gentlest tone possible, it still sounds nasty to me, however odd you may consider that reaction to be.

    If you really think people don’t have much in the way of free will, then the “parade of idiocy” is going to be par for the course. If people can’t help being idiots, then there is no point being peevish with them about the situation. Their eyes are not going to be opened by the sheer dint of humiliation risked in your possibly thinking them idiotic.

    –(going to break this comment into pieces to try and isolate the content problem triggering the 404)–

  • I’m in a local group that has decided to dip into the study of Non-Violent Communication, and words like “shitstorm”, “parade of idiocy”, etc., would raise jackal howls. [N.B., I haven’t studied NVC enough to speak about it beyond that… I’m not sure if I even agree that NVC is a valid universal goal. From an ecological point of view, a giraffe monoculture might be just as unhealthy as a jackal one.]

    Whether *you* find *yourself* angry is neither here nor there. My observation of your writing here is that you have used, and continue to use, a lot of language that communicates anger. [Remember I was one of the few who didn’t like your radio-show theme music because it sounded harsh and aggressive to me? “It’s payback time, motherfucker” isn’t violent language?] Anyway, my point is: if people in the aggregate can’t help their programming for power, status, what-have-you, then there is no point snarling at them, I don’t think.

    The seemingly-angry words above did not appear to be coherent with the content of the blog post, so I thought I would raise this apparent disconnect—anger vs. acceptance—to see whether you had something thoughtful to say about that, because it certainly will come up with people, and perhaps already has done in the course of your active counseling.

    Let me be clear: I have no interest in making a judgment about whether you should be angry or not. It’s perfectly understandable to be angry, especially if one feels a situation is unjust. But if one has consciously set aside notions like justice and morality—if one accepts them to be contextual social constructs in service to larger physical and evolutionary forces—then there isn’t any room, logically, for anger, or snottiness, or whatever you want to call the non-neutral emotion evidenced above. At least that’s the way I see it, but then I’ve been amply vilified here for holding these deterministic views.

  • What does interest me for now is what happens in the liminal spaces.. Why do some people accept vs. not and what happens at the transition? What makes some people angry or not angry? I listened to Guy’s interview with the glacier scientist who acknowledged her T.Rex-sized* carbon footprint and I was utterly fascinated by her rationale, which to me smacked very much of “having to destroy the village in order to save it.” In NVC-speak, what are her Needs? For status, fame, money, excitement, intellectual stimulation, physical challenges, the need to be right or to be listened to? I have found myself having to defend Science in these pages, but it must be acknowledged that the bulk of Science is part-and-parcel of the omnicidal human project. As such, what can be “excellent” about it?

    *obviously more than that of many hundreds of thousands of actual T-Rex, a being which did not have exosomatic ways of accessing stored carbon. Interesting how “human-scale” has become an oxymoron…

  • If you really think people don’t have much in the way of free will, then the “parade of idiocy” is going to be par for the course. If people can’t help being idiots, then there is no point being peevish with them about the situation.

    That’s exactly what Noam Chomsky and William James tried to say :-)

  • Lidia said: “I’m in a local group that has decided to dip into the study of Non-Violent Communication”


    But they didn’t really decide… did they.

  • Oh, and your treatment of the cashier, described by you in one of the recent radio shows, seemed bizarre and borderline sadistic to me. She was just trying to get to the end of her shift and didn’t need you to be snidely needling her over songs and phrases she never heard of from films you never saw. What was the point of all that? .. and yeah, it’s not news that people like cashiers ask “how are you?” without really being sincere. But it’s a Sincere Insincerety that acts as a social lubricant. Next time I hope you give her a break and ask her how her day was, because odds are it was shittier than yours.

  • Lidia said: “Oh, and your treatment of the cashier, described by you in one of the recent radio shows, seemed bizarre and borderline sadistic to me. She was just trying to get to the end of her shift and didn’t need you to be snidely needling her over songs and phrases she never heard of from films you never saw. What was the point of all that?”


    Don’t criticize Guy, after all he has no free will, he didn’t have much of a choice.

    Determinism is quite entertaining.

  • Lidia, w/o endorsing Meyers Briggs but using one of its workable categories for pedagogy in the vernacular.

    Guy is a classic “thinking” type as opposed to “feelers”/personalizers.

    He communicates, or fails to, in a very direct no nonsense manner, & his direct manner can be taken as offensive or attacking, especially to “feelers.”

    My in-your-face Mum conditioned me to behave in a similar fashion.

    Guy & I both claim the very same objective scientific methods & techniques for dealing with the chaotic diversity of sense data in the world.

    Four decades ago when I scored 21 thinking versus 0 feeling; the MB test scorers were very concerned about me. They had never seen such a beast. “Is this guy alright?” they asked.

    For those who may want to invest some brain cells in a scholarly & hard nosed treatment of free will &/or what conditions behavior.

    I realize that time is short & intellectual work may seem superfluous to many good folks with NTE looming.

    Never-the-less, I still suggest scientific materialist Marvin Harris’s short & easily grasped synopsis of his Cultural Materialism & behavior analysis.

    an excerpt;

    “Contra prevailing opinion, the role of verbal behavior in the evolution of human cultures can easily be overemphasized.
    Indeed, such overestimation is an intrinsic defect of both psychological, cognitive, and cultural idealism, for whom (the cultural idealists) quite literally, in the beginning there was the word — whereas, quite literally, for cultural materialists, in the beginning, there was the foot — a proposition empirically confirmed by the last fifty years of human paleontology and the archaeology of the lower Paleolithic.”


    As a thoroughgoing materialist, I would add after foot, “and the stomach.”

    Kiwi Kevin will, almost surely, appreciate Harris’s materialist &
    anti- mentalism thesis.

    Harris unabashedly acknowledges his debt to Skinner & radical behaviorism.

    Although Harris’s demands for operationalized terms & concepts is “sound science;” you will not see operationalized terms in much of what passes for social science.

    Much social science is pure literary sorcery.

    Cognitive idealists posit that ideas cause everything, but they never explain what causes the all causative ideas.

    Complete article; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2223157/

  • Determinism is quite entertaining.

    That’s for shure^^

    Most worldviews of ordinary people are based on experiences or assumptions, not on scientific, experimental outcomes. Nobody can keep up with day by day scientific results, nobody. Science is a (rather small) part of life, NOT the other way around.

    When we are being born, when we are drinking a cup of tea, when we die there is no interest in science, no theoretical assumptions based on mathematics and physics whatsoever. There is only breathing, feeling, thinking, experiencing. Life writes books, but Life (and Death) is in no way just a fuckin schoolbook with some scientific, materialistic, mathematical or chemical formulas in it, never ever :-)

    @Guy McPherson

    You know the difference of drinking a cup of tea and just describing a cup of tea scientifically, don’t you…

    “ Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
    and rightdoing there is a field.
    I’ll meet you there.

    When the soul lies down in that grass
    the world is too full to talk about.”

    ― Rumi


  • @djl, I didn’t set out to criticize Guy; I was asking a serious question about the anger I perceived. I have no doubt that our host is, to all accounts, extremely generous and personable. I have absolutely nothing against him, and I greatly appreciate the knowledge he has shared and the venue he has provided here, along with his forbearance.

    Since for me it is tomorrow, I’ll follow with the remainder of my long post, the part that responds to some of the earlier of your recent comments.

    @djl: Of course our actions matter, else there would be no reason to come here and chat. There would be no reason to move to a mud hut in New Mexico and broadcast the service. There would be no reason to be.

    There *isn’t* any reason to be, that we know of. Does the sun have a reason? Does a tree have a reason? does a platypus have a reason? No, they have precedents, which isn’t the same thing as what humans usually mean by “reasons”, in the sense of fulfilling a higher narrative purpose.

    You bring up mental illness. What can be more mentally ill than believing in things that are not demonstrably there, and creating “reasons” for them out of nothing? Yet this form of “illness” renders people extremely socially fit: most people say they would rather elect a Muslim to be US president than an atheist.

    Our actions matter *to us*—they don’t matter to the aggregate forces to which we are subject. Reasons to come here and chat are mainly the need to socialize and commiserate when one’s existential concerns are not acceptable to the vast majority.

    [I see that Gerald has done a nice job of teasing out our knowing something from our capacity for effective action.]

    A good reason to move to a mud hut is to prolong one’s life even if only by a year or two, a month or two…? Hell, people will dedicate millions to extending their lives or those of their preemie spawn a mere number of weeks while intubated and ventilated. So there is no getting around that near-universal prime directive: that unreasonable “REASON”, which is, IMMEDIATE GENETICALLY-PROGRAMMED SURVIVAL for oneself and offspring.

    Other reasons for moving to a mud hut are the obvious ones of fewer and potentially-more-congenial neighbors, less noise, more room and resources for oneself, access to more healthful food, less likelihood of experiencing intense and ongoing mob violence, etc., etc… I won’t comment on the need to broadcast since it has already been discussed a bit by others here in previous threads; suffice it to say it all still has to do with the general furthering of the human project.

    Please note that just because activities appear irrational in the sense of they-do-nothing-to-prevent-inevitable-climate-change, it cannot be said that there is no reason for them in the absolute.

    It seems you confuse observation, or information gathering, with decision-making.
    I don’t confuse them; I see them as indivisible, which is different.

    The observer is just as much a part of the process as the environment. Sure.
    And I never alluded that thought was or wasn’t physical. Okay.

    Taking in information does not really oppose free will. Information is gathered and then free will is used to choose how to act or think regarding that information. The information is not the actual choice or decision itself.

    Except that is your wishful thinking; I used to believe that, too, but it turns out that that is not what actually happens in the brain. Information is gathered (in real life, this is always imperfect information, let’s make clear), a decision is made, and then the brain rationalizes the decision and fits it into a narrative that it can socially live with. See the story of the glacier scientist I referenced earlier. She knows what she is doing, but she can’t not do it. Everyone here knows a thousand ways in which he or she as an individual is omnicidal, but even with that knowledge, we keep doing it. “IT” which is trying to stay alive and lead a gratifying existence within our current social context. That is what we are designed to do, and what all those billions of bits of data in our brain’s bandwidth are dedicated to maintaining, mostly in a subconscious/unconscious manner.

    More djl: Lidia said: “I’m in a local group that has decided to dip into the study of Non-Violent Communication”

    @Lidia, But they didn’t really decide… did they.

    Ha ha, djl, what a card you are!

    No, they did not “decide” at all, in the way that you think.

    They “decided” on a strategy that has the potential, however slight, of leading to greater group cohesion and mutual assistance, leading to improved survival. Since they (this is a co-housing group) collectively have seen the writing on the wall: that individualism, the dominant convenient paradigm (which they were perfectly happy with pre-crisis!!), now shows itself to be a future liability. Such behavior is perfectly within the parameters of my declared understanding that we operate to achieve self-advancement and self-/species-preservation in virtually every discernable human activity. Along similar lines, a couple of years ago I began studying permaculture, which sounds like a wonderful system for arriving at a more stable form of natural human co-existence with other life forms, but in reality is just a more efficient and sophisticated scheme for human co-optation of the landscape. The third ethic of permaculture, “SETTING LIMITS TO POPULATION AND CONSUMPTION”, swiftly became transmogrified into the mealy-mouthed “fair share” or “return of surplus”…

    The members of the co-housing group are aware of increasing physical constraints and want to pool resources (leaving aside the fact that, for various reasons, legal co-housing set-ups mostly end up being more costly than individual homes). To facilitate the pooling of resources in any unconventional, or even conventional, human arrangement, conflict-management training is a good idea. Basically these poor sods (all of us poor sods in the developed world) are “tasked” with artificially re-creating—out of the teeming cess-pit of modern industrial life—the small inter-connected agrarian or horticultural communities of yore. This is necessary (but obviously not sufficient) to offer humankind any potential for long-term survival. It won’t work, but, as I said above, most people’s information set is incomplete, and then add on top of that those with more complete information who refuse to “believe” in abrupt climate change, or in the incapacity of either technology or some false “better” human nature or divine presence to “save” us. My husband and I follow the group to see where it might lead and, as on this blog, to engage in social connection with people who are aware that the current state of things cannot continue.

  • Hi Guy, I feel the same way when it come to live with the knowledge that things are going to get pretty ugly. For most of the time I’m still a cheerful person and live my life as best I can.
    People saw what happens when a disaster like a hurricane. Looting and killing was a common place. Having said that the very best comes out as well.
    Now imagine what people are going to be like when the lights go out, the water stops running and the supermarkets shelves are empty.
    As for a timeline….. climate change is already on the way and the economy can go at any moment.
    People see the oil price low and seeing this as a good sign….. all oil companies pumping like crazy in order to keep up with their repayments so they don’t go bankrupt.
    Keep up the good work Guy

  • @Lidia – I do not perceive Guy’s demeanour as anger. I suspect there is often an element of sardonic admonishment, no-doubt born of an upbringing infused with sibling rivalry – which was then followed by immersion in competitive sports and a career trapped in the gears of academia. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly – and who can blame him? Sometimes a humorous put-down can give a jolt to the senses if it is conveyed in a good spirit. If you have experienced Liverpudlian humour you would recognise this instantly.

    @Kevin Moore – Predictions are fine and especially if you get them right! I was amazed with Ken Deffeye’s accurate prediction of Peak (LSC/conventional) Oil as fourth quarter 2005
    It’s been snake oil with smoke and mirrors holding together the thin threads of empire ever since.

    @Robin Datta – my apologies for the mis-attribution of the quote “Speak softly and carry a big stick” to Gandhi. It was indeed Teddy Roosevelt in 1900, and in a very different context than the one in which I conveyed. Roosevelt was blackmailing congress for more money for overseas wars and for cutting back on domestic spending to do so. Gandhi may have used the quote in jest as a jibe against US imperialism?

    @Robert Callaghan – I love the Street Art graphic even though it is almost certainly photoshopped. And, if you are into Floyd, you might like Karnataka (and their spin-off: Mostly Autumn)? I saw the Floyd in 1972 as an awestruck sixteen year old aspiring rock star. The best one was at The Rainbow, Islington, London – flying pink elephants etc and all in quad surround – wicked! Loads of the actual concerts that blew me away as a kid have surfaced on youtube – Genesis, Moody Blues, Yes, Crimson etc. What a nostalgia trip! Where did all those dreams go I wonder?

  • I chose not to breath this morning.
    Didn’t work very long.
    I chose not to think about it.
    I thought about it.
    Now I imagine there are those who can achieve what I can’t.
    A very few, if any.
    Not sure how this changes anything.

  • lidia, words like shitstorm, are as funny as a flock of shitbirds raining manure down on humanity. maybe I’m overthinking this…

  • …some might even call it poetic justice.

  • I believe Nietzsche was correct about our lack of free will …” – Guy’s post

    The cognitive scientist, Lakoff, points out that 98% of our cognition is ‘subconscious’ … thus 2% of our cognition is consciousness:

    Probably 98 percent of your reasoning is unconscious – what your brain is doing behind the scenes. Reason is inherently emotional. You can’t even choose a goal, much less form a plan and carry it out, without a sense that it will satisfy you, not dis­gust you. Fear and anxiety will affect your plans and your ac­tions. You act differently, and plan differently, out of hope and joy than out of fear and anxiety.

    Thought is physical. Learning requires a physical brain change: Receptors for neurotransmitters change at the synapses, which changes neural circuitry. Since thinking is the activation of such circuitry, somewhat different thinking re­quires a somewhat different brain. Brains change as you use them-even unconsciously. It’s as if your car changed as you drove it, say from a stick shift gradually to an automatic.

    (The Toxic Bridge To Everywhere).

    Any free will (depending on definition and context, etc.) would therefore take place in some percentage of the 2% (consciousness) would it not?

    That is quite limiting, and seems to be in accord with Nietzsche:

    My basic question concerns the meaning of freedom in Nietzsche’s work. Nietzsche suggests that, in reality, a will can never be absolutely “free” or “unfree”—rather, any particular will is going to be strong or weak to some actual degree, ruling indeed though ruled in turn. So (he claims) our “free will” is a “boorish simplicity, a long folly, owing to our extravagant pride”—from Beyond Good and Evil:” (Philosophy Stack Exchange).

  • that’s what I call a shitstack of knowledge…no offense.

  • I was recently one of those pure scientific determinists, but I found a better (for me) way to look at the question of free will:

    “The degree of free will one has in any decision-making process is inversely proportional to the number of people involved in the process.”

    This takes into account social norming, groupthink, the bandwagon effect, etc.

    The philosophical question of whether free will “really exists” or not is largely irrelevant. The way our neural circuitry evolved to promote group cohesion and the fact that most of our decisions are made within a social context mean that most of the time even if free will does exist, it is not in play.

    Notice that the examples people give as evidence for “free will” tend to be unencumbered personal choices. How many of those do we really get to make in our lives?

  • CO2 levels hit record high for 30th year in a row: WMO

    Greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere reached a record high in 2014 and the relentless fuelling of climate change is endangering the planet for future generations, the World Meteorological Organization said on Monday.

    “Every year we say that time is running out. We have to act NOW to slash greenhouse gas emissions if we are to have a chance to keep the increase in temperatures to manageable levels,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement.

    His annual plea for the world to do whatever it can to cut greenhouse gas emissions – which come mainly from burning fossil fuels and from agriculture, cement production and deforestation – comes weeks before negotiators from over 190 states convene in Paris to try to agree a new U.N. climate deal.

    [world yawns, oblivious . . .]

  • Thought is physical.

    So, that sounds quite interesting to me. Shure, science does “know” so much more than religion, doesn’t it? Well then:

    Any mass, any physical object can be quantified- how much mass does a thought have? And how many millimeters or centimeters or meters is a thought long? Is it one millimeter or just a half? And what color does a thought have? Is it round or quadrangular? How does it taste and smell? Can it be put under a microscope? Has any thought ever been isolated in any laboratory?

    I got great, great respect for Nietzsche (I am German), especially for his “Antichrist” ect, but he was a loner and loser in real life and you know where he ended, don’t you? He was a loner who never had a real life, therefore he dreamed of the “Übermensch” and of the “Willen zur Macht”. He was a victim of repressed, western, white bourgeoisie, just like Crowley.

    First, christianity tried hard to steal our physical, natural body, now science tries to steal our mind and Spirit :-) Not science will rule the world of the near future and not politics and not religion, but Mother Nature will, muhahaha, I like that, I relly like that 8-) Sela.

    All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.

    Friedrich Nietzsche

  • Lidia said: “There *isn’t* any reason to be, that we know of.”


    “That we know of.” That says a lot in itself. You can’t speak for everyone Lidia, and you can’t really determine that for others. Of course there is reason to be. Maybe you just aren’t looking hard enough. Or maybe it’s your determinism. Either way, I feel there is reason but I won’t go any further. Some things are to be pondered on one’s own.

    Lidia said: “You bring up mental illness. What can be more mentally ill than believing in things that are not demonstrably there, and creating “reasons” for them out of nothing?”

    Suggesting we are completely controlled by external forces like marrionettes seems a bit schizophrenic to me. And absurd.

    Lidia said: “Our actions matter *to us*—they don’t matter to the aggregate forces to which we are subject.”

    I disagree. Our actions not only matter to us, they can also matter to others (if they choose/decide those actions are significant) and they “matter” to, or at least affect, the environment.

  • Dredd said: “The cognitive scientist, Lakoff, points out that 98% of our cognition is ‘subconscious’ … thus 2% of our cognition is consciousness”


    The percentages may seem striking, but I would argue only the important things are consciously processed, the larger percentage of information is possibly unimportant “junk”. The important things are consciously analyzed and decided upon.

  • Geneva (AFP) – Concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere hit a new high in 2014, the UN said Monday, warning the resulting climate change was moving the world into “uncharted territory”.

    Greenhouse Gases Reached Record Highs In 2014 Huffington Post
    UN issues climate warning, three weeks till Paris summit AFP
    Climate curbs will slow temperature rise; more needed for 2C goal: U.N. Reuters
    World split over carbon-cutting in climate battle AFP
    ‘Catastrophe’ climate warnings as carbon levels break new records AFP
    18 Of The Most Dangerous Roads on Earth LifeDaily.com Sponsored 
    In its annual report on Earth-warming greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the World Meteorological Organization said concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide once again broke records last year.

    “Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are now reaching levels not seen on Earth for more than 800,000, maybe even one million years,” WMO chief Michel Jarraud told reporters.

    “This means we are now really in uncharted territory for the human race,” he warned.

  • Furthermore the necessary acts of breathing and eating do not oppose free will. One must breathe and eat to be an animate being to have, to utilize free will.

  • Thought is mechanical, the movement of thought is the pursuit of pleasure.

    The will is the summation of desire.

  • ppl have and do chose to not breath or eat
    is that not action of will?

  • therefore:”necessary acts” are excluded?

  • mt said: “ppl have and do chose to not breath or eat
    is that not action of will?
    therefore:”necessary acts” are excluded?”


    Choosing not to breathe or eat, however one may go about it, is a choice and is attributable to free will, at least in my view.

    “Necessary acts”, such as eating and breathing, do not oppose free will because they are acts which allow free will to be utilized. In addition one can use his or her free will to choose to discontinue those very “necessary acts” as mentioned above.

  • I appreciate that most (if not all) here still have the luxury (of time and without debilitating hunger/thirst) to debate/claim what they believe to be the truths of life or whatever you want to call it.

    With that said: can’t wait to get back to NTE basics instead of the “shitstorm” of who’s right, who’s wrong while ecosystems collapse around us (free will or not— it’s happening now).

    In the meantime, at this point in time does it really matter if we know we don’t have free will? I suppose one can feed the ego by claiming they know and that they have integrated this knowledge into their psyche and as such are . . . better? More advanced? In any case, it seems to me that philosophy is predominantly built on ideas from the work of white males (dead and alive). As such I get tired of reading quotes from famous white men who have manned the various bully pulpits throughout his-story.

    I agree with this post from the site Philosophy beta: (this is NOT arguing about the existence of free will or not. I have no interest in that discourse)

    “The dominant interests of Western philosophy have been shaped by the limited perspectives and depluralized views of white men; the inclusiveness of women and other minorities in philosophy is a pressing concern. Too often philosophy becomes a display of testosterone gymnastics that undermines “outside” perspectives.”

    and this:


    “Philosophy is predominantly white and predominantly male. This homogeneity exists in almost all aspects and at all levels of the discipline. The philosophical canon, especially in so-called “analytic” departments, consists almost exclusively of dead, white men. The majority of living philosophers—i.e., professors, graduate students, and undergraduate majors—are also white men. And the topics deemed important by the discipline almost always ignore race, ethnicity, and gender. Philosophy, it is often claimed, deals with universal truths and timeless questions. It follows, allegedly, that these matters by their very nature do not include the unique and idiosyncratic perspectives of women, minorities, or ‘people of culture.’ ”

    Free will or not I declare: living in the 6th extinction is my truth and I am not prepared emotionally or physically. Like many I am trying to make ends meet, pay the bills generated by my choices living amidst industrial civilization while trying to stay upbeat as my teen daughter excitedly prepares for college. This can leave me in a temporary pat-like state —–staring out the window with a border collie on my lap watching the trees die!

    A recent video Guy posted had a segment about living each breath with one’s death in mind. It feels that with each breath I take there are thoughts of extinction of all life on the planet (not just mine). It infiltrates everything I do. The death of most? all? life on this earth is upon us, breath in . . . breath out . . .
    while my daughter decides which of her favorite stuffed animals (made in China) and books to take to college.

    Peace, kindness, music and non-violent communication to all!


    p.s. Lidia, I agree with your points about NV communication, thanks for posting—- as they say, sticks and stones can break bones, words can break the spirit. Hoping to get an update on the murderous massive development proposed for your neck of the woods; how’s it going?

  • @Guy McPherson & Dredd

    I just could not believe that Nietzsche really denied free will, so I just thought twice and remembered “Willensfreiheit und Fatum” and other writings of Nietzsche. Denying free will just does not fit to Nietzsches philosophy, especially when it comes to his “Willen zur Macht”. All in all, Nietzsche came to the very same conclusion like I do:

    Will is a mixture of determerminism (Fatum) on one hand and freedom on the other hand- and more than that: He even said that free will got much more weight, is much more important than Fatum :-)

    Wenn aber das Fatum als Grenzbestimmendes doch noch mächtiger als der freie Wille erscheint, so dürfen wir zweierlei nicht vergessen, zuerst, daß Fatum nur ein abstrakter Begriff ist, eine Kraft ohne Stoff, daß es für das Individuum nur ein individuelles Fatum giebt, daß Fatum nichts ist als eine Kette von Ereignissen, daß der Mensch, sobald er handelt und damit seine eignen Ereignisse schafft, sein eignes Fatum bestimmt, daß überhaupt die Ereignisse, wie sie den Menschen treffen, von ihm selbst bewußt oder unbewußt veranlaßt sind und ihm passen müssen. Die Tätigkeit des Menschen aber beginnt nicht erst mit der Geburt, sondern schon im Embryon und vielleicht—wer kann hier entscheiden—schon in Eltern und Voreltern. Ihr alle, die ihr an Unsterblichkeit der Seele glaubt, müßt auch an die Vorexistenz der Seele glauben, wenn ihr nicht aus etwas Sterblichen etwas Unsterbliches sich entwickeln lassen wollt, ihr müßt auch an diese Art der Seelenexistenz glauben, wenn ihr nicht die Seele in der Luft herumflattern lassen wollt, bis sie endlich in den Körper hineingepfropft wird. Der Hindu sagt: Fatum ist nichts, als die Thaten, die wir in einem früheren Zustande unseres Seins begangen haben…

    Wenn wir also den Begriff des unbewußt Handelns nicht blos als ein Sichleitenlassen von frühern Eindrücken nehmen, so entschwindet für uns der strenge Unterschied von Fatum und freien Willen und beide Begriffe verschwimmen zu der Idee der Individualität.

    Je mehr sich die Dinge vom Unorganischen entfernen und jemehr sich die Bildung erweitert, um so hervortretender wird die Individualität, um so mannigfaltiger ihre Eigenschaften. Selbtätige, innere Kraft und äußere Eindrücke, ihre Entwicklungshebel, was sind sie anders als Willensfreiheit und Fatum?

    In der Willensfreiheit liegt für das Individuum das Princip der Absonderung, der Lostrennung vom Ganzen, der absoluten Unbeschränktheit; das Fatum aber setzt den Menschen wieder in organische Verbindung mit der Gesammtentwicklung, und nöthigt ihn, indem es ihn zu beherrschen sucht, zur freien Gegenkraftentwicklung; die fatumlose, absolute Willensfreiheit würde den Menschen zum Gott machen, das fatalistische Princip zu einem Automaten.

    Friedrich Nietzsche, Willensfreiheit und Fatum (Freedom of Will and Fate), 1862

    Sorry, I did not find any english online version. But Nietzsche here says that FREEDOM OF WILL is much, much more than Fatum (Fate). He even says that who believes in Fatum/Determinism only is nothing more than a dumb automate, the real MAN is a man of FREE WILL and he even reminds here of the Hindu Philosophy of KARMA and says that our Fatum is nothing else but the effect of our former actions. He knew indian Philosophy quite well.

    Well, that’s how I learned Nietzsche and it fits much better to Nietzsche than what you said/think about our good, old Nietzsche 8-)

    Mit freundlichen Grüssen aus Deutschland,

  • To give you the essence of Nietzsche:

    All in all we are BOTH, fatum/determinism AND free will. A man without any free will is nothing but an automate and a man without any fatum/determinism, with absolute free will would make a god out of man, wich he isn’t. Fatum/determinism connects us to the unorganic matter and free will makes us to IN- DIVID- uals. We are both, fatum/determinism and free will. And the more we get educated the more free is our will.

    Well, that’s what Nietzsche said in essence.

  • @Caroline

    With that said: can’t wait to get back to NTE basics…

    Yeah, that’s a task of just a second:

    F I N.

    What else do you need? Is there anything more about it?! Everthing that is finished is just FINISHED, isn’t it?! Why write (and sell) books about a finished subject? Why make interviews about finished subjects? Why make blogs about finished subjects? Why debate hours and hours and days and months and years about a finished subject? It’s extremely boring in the long run, isn’t it?! Just go to the graveyard and you will see anything you need to see about NTE.

    It is not about changing things that can’t be changed anyway, it is not about eating a meal once, twice and a thousand times again and again. It is about changing what can be changed and what needs to be changed desperately. One thing comes to my mind:

    To change how we treat nature, how we treat Mother Earth, how we treat ourselves would be a good starting point.


  • Lark, if you can, please tell us how you are progressing about the problem/issue of free will.

  • the thing that sets me apart from most folks, is that even as a child, my goal in life was to be free.

  • digixplor, “Even as a child, my goal in life was to be free.” Makes the most sense to me… It is the most important asset anyone can ever have. Much of our imprisonment starts with our parents, then our immediate family, then onto our society and then to the world. When someone or something imperils freedom, it is the worst imprisonment one can encounter. Some are imprisoned by dreams of wealth, others by social positioning, and too many by religious ideologies. For myself, life without freedom is not worth living. To be free from other people’s perception of life is the most important freedom of all, as much of the baggage they carry is the heaviest burden of all.

  • To moderator….. If my comments warrant moderation…. go fuck yourself… how’s that for moderation?

  • Regarding free will, all I know is that whenever I ask myself why I ‘chose’ to do something, I can come up with the ideas that affected my ‘decision,’ and when I ask myself why those ideas exist in my mind, I can come up with how these ideas came to be there, etc. etc., ad infinitum until the only ‘decision’ I may have made was to choose my parents. I disagree with Chomsky, who seems to say that unconscious decisions are still evidence of free will; I think free will has to be conscious by definition. I also think that if I am moved (by whatever ideas may be wandering around in my mind, conscious or unconscious) to say something to someone else about something, it’s just going to be another factor in their decisionmaking process (or not.) So it’s pointless to ask ‘why bother discussing this’ when we’re all just bouncing ideas around like balloons at a party and we can do it or not and it may or may not make any difference to anything.

  • Guy,
    Your suggestion is well taken. As I suspected however, I don’t think your thought process is as pure as you pretend it to be. Right Guy McPherson. The only reason I ever visited your site was that I thought it was indeed a site in which ‘moderators’ were not busily at work doing exactly the opposite of which I respect the most, the freedom to exercise one’s opinions as one sees fit. As you are well aware, I have been more than restrained in my comments on your blog, or any blog for that matter, but in your case, since you have indeed chosen to become that which I detest, a self-appointed censor, and since you have labelled other people as ‘assholes’ in many instances, may I offer you a similar compliment, as in check your own anatomy to see if you indeed are possessed by that which seems most virtuous to you. Oh, by th way, you may discover after all that your ass is just as pretty as those you so generously portray. You are crude, at best, with a self-important demeanor deserving of God herself.

  • Hi Guy,
    Looks like your second comment in this thread was spot on:

    “I suspect this thread will devolve into a shitstorm of uninformed comments.”

    If only there was free will so people could freely choose not to post…

  • islandraider,
    After a little introspection, my comments were indeed out of place. And I offer my apologies to all posters on this blog who are indeed more respectful than my outbursts on censorship. I will try to be more sensible in the future on any blog and not to lose my composure. No matter how much one believes one has it together, there seems to exist some hidden mud in one’s character that reminds me anyway that there is still a lot to learn about one’s self that needs to be improved.

  • digi, your casual comment; “the thing that sets me apart from most folks” may deserve more reflection – because it can be claimed to be the greatest human delusion & mother error.

    Apartheid is a severed species.

    None of us are apart …
    from every one of our bewildered fellow pilgrims.

    None of us are apart …
    from the living planet that nourishes us all, every one.

    A materialist’s axiom; We don’t come INTO the world – we come OUT of the world …

    And ALL of us will soon be returning to the star stuff of the world, eh?

    Starstuff, dust unto dust, dirt unto dirt, et cetera.

    “The Colonel’s lady & Mary O’Grady are sisters under the skin.”


    “THE ANSWER” Robinson Jeffers

    Then what is the answer?- Not to be deluded by dreams.
    To know that great civilizations have broken down into violence,
    and their tyrants come, many times before.
    When open violence appears, to avoid it with honor or choose
    the least ugly faction; these evils are essential.
    To keep one’s own integrity, be merciful and uncorrupted
    and not wish for evil; and not be duped
    By dreams of universal justice or happiness. These dreams will
    not be fulfilled.
    To know this, and know that however ugly the parts appear
    the whole remains beautiful. A severed hand
    Is an ugly thing and man dissevered from the earth and stars
    and his history… for contemplation or in fact…
    Often appears atrociously ugly. Integrity is wholeness,
    the greatest beauty is
    Organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty
    of the universe. Love that, not man
    Apart from that, or else you will share man’s pitiful confusions,
    or drown in despair when his days darken.

  • Zarquon

    ‘@Kevin Moore – Predictions are fine and especially if you get them right! I was amazed with Ken Deffeye’s accurate prediction of Peak (LSC/conventional) Oil as fourth quarter 2005’

    Perhaps you missed my meaning.

    Yes, predictions based on scientific evidence are very valuable, and should lead to behavioural changes. However, they don’t.

    Back in 1976 M King Hubbert predicted global extraction of conventional oil would peak around 2000, and then go into decline, bringing an end to financial-economic-social arrangements established in the first half of the 20th century.

    Quite a while before that, in 1957 Admiral Rickover gave a speech which included:

    ‘In the face of the basic fact that fossil fuel reserves are finite, the exact length of time these reserves will last is important in only one respect: the longer they last, the more time do we have, to invent ways of living off renewable or substitute energy sources and to adjust our economy to the vast changes which we can expect from such a shift.

    Fossil fuels resemble capital in the bank. A prudent and responsible parent will use his capital sparingly in order to pass on to his children as much as possible of his inheritance. A selfish and irresponsible parent will squander it in riotous living and care not one whit how his offspring will fare.’


    That speech was not acted on, and it was highlighted half a century later:


    The highlighting was ignored.

    The important point is that science-based predictions provide guides to behaviour, like beacons in the dark, informing us which direction to take, and THEY ARE TOTALLY IGNORED BY THOSE IN POWER. Thus, those in power drive societies in completely the opposite direct to that required by rational interpretation of the scientific data provided.

    In my previous comment, I was pointing out, perhaps not clearly enough, that many predictions made over the past decade were not scientific and did not eventuate, and it won’t make any difference if predictions are based on the soundest science available, those in power will continue to prop up their Ponzi schemes by any means possible, even if that propping up will result in earlier arrival of much greater calamity.

    This leads us into the realm of what is rational thought and what is not.

    People immersed in ‘the system’ thus believe there are no constraints to expansion of industrial civilisation, even tough to think so is to think irrationally.

    Or perhaps they just don’t think at all beyond the task immediately before them.

  • “none of us apart…from every one of our fellow bewildered pilgrims”…no, but it does not mean that I have to share your shackles, in whatever form they might take…if I am able to see them.

  • From Guy’s post to lark yesterday

    We typically process about 14 million bus of information each second. The bandwidth of consciousness is 18 bits. That doesn’t leave much room for conscious decision-making.

    Depends on the CPU clock speed and job queue/stack doesn’t it?
    We went to the moon on 16-bit technology.

    From the short article reached by Guy’s first link:

    Dr. Zimmerman suggest that we only perceive around forty bits of information per second (Zimmerman, 1986); while according to Zimmerman, our sensory systems are picking up information flow at a rate of eleven million bits per second.

    Guy’s second link displays a graph with the number 20 associated with “consciousness”, presumably to represent the bandwidth of 16 bits/second (that others are saying is 18 or 40 bits/second)…and at the lower right side of the graph, associated with the line for “consciousness”, is the number 50, presumably meaning that at some point the bandwidth of consciousness is more like 50 bits/second. A-a-and the width of the line segment associated with bandwidth of the brain is only 2.0-2.5 times as wide as the line marked with 20 for the b/w of consciousness. So, those 11 or 14 million bits of info coming into a brain with only about 50 bps bandwidth must have a lot of time on their hands, waiting to get through that bottleneck…no wonder most humans are so focused on the past.


    From the first of two pages that constitute “Is Free Will an Illusion”:

    According to their view, free will is a figment of our imagination. No one has it or ever will. Rather our choices are either determined—necessary outcomes of the events that have happened in the past—or they are ­random.

    Our intuitions about free will, however, challenge this nihilistic view.

    From page two of “Is Free Will an Illusion”:

    We still do not know conclusively that our choices are determined. Our intuition, however, provides no good reason to think that they are not. If our instinct cannot support the idea of free will, then we lose our main rationale for resisting the claim that free will is an illusion.

    Nothing written between these quotes provides evidence to support the assertion that our instincts can no longer support the idea of free will.
    There *is* evidence that much of what goes on in our brains does so at a level that we do not have conscious access to…but that’s not enough novelty even for a Master’s thesis, much less for any serious, Nobel-level award.

    Stereo (like expository and persuasive prose) can be cool & fun, except when the left & right speakers are 180 degrees out of phase.


    And you data set is HOW big?

    Everything we know, at least know scientifically, seems to come from an interplay between matter and energy. But relatively recent and generally accepted work in the area of matter and energy says that the matter and energy we deal with is about one-twentieth (5%) of what comprises the universe. NASA puts the percentage of dark energy at about 67% and the percentage of dark matter at about 28%. Doesn’t leave much room for saying that we’ve got it all figured out and nailed down.

    To quote Cyndi Lauper and Tom Gray:
    “We think we know what we’re doing
    We don’t know a thing”


    No doubt genetics & physical and social environments play a huge role in constraining our degrees of freedom.
    Also, unconscious activities in our brains do a lot of pre-processing in advance of our conscious attention getting involved…sometimes to our benefit and often to our detriment.
    Neither of these facts preclude all instances of free will.
    They may preclude some instances,
    certainly constrain others,
    but blackout-bingo?
    Doubt it.

    Optimist…the glass is half full
    Pessimist…the glass is half empty
    Engineer…the glass is 100% larger than it needs to be