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09/25/2013

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Brian

Super article Dave. Thanks.

By the way, they way you describe science is the way many of us look at your writings... helping those of us who want to know understand how things really are.

Now, for the fun....

More importantly, "struggles over new ideas and information" only become struggles when the news science delivers deals a near-fatal blow to what humans are doing and how they think of themselves.

So, this week's cover of Time should be met with nothing but happy acceptance, no? I saw this in a news stand and immediately shook my head in wonder. I have not read the article, but the cover is priceless.

Andy

I agree that, as you say humans are a species, what you see is what you get. That's mostly because of your articles over the past few years. Philosophically humans have free will, but our behaviour is governed by the instincts you've described in flatland, which sums human behaviour pretty well.

Searching for a pearl harbour moment is probably a fruitless search. Yet imagine if we actually found one, then you'd have to throw your hands up in the air and ask "what the fuck do we do now?" More of the same I imagine. The results would be discredited, and the all important 'public opinion' would be split 6 ways from Sunday, and so it goes.

There is no hope for saving the biosphere from greater destruction, here is an ecologist who claims we don't even need it.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/14/opinion/overpopulation-is-not-the-problem.html?_r=0
Of course it comes from the NYT, so it has obviously passed the golden standard, enjoy!

Thanks for your work Dave.

Eric Thurston

Still paying attention. Thanks Dave.

Mike Roberts

Thanks for another excellent piece, Dave. I'm so glad you decided to keep busy.

You're right that what the public believes is irrelevant to what is actually happening but, unfortunately, it matters to how the people react to the news and to what our so-called leaders might do to "deal" with the issue. Of course, what I've learned from this blog is that it doesn't matter what people believe because people are people and so our environment will continue to deteriorate until some new equilibrium state is reached, which will almost certainly be something we wouldn't want.

Thinking about that phytoplankton issue, there have been enormous changes in the oceans over the last 60 years, though not caused by the probably specious decline of phytoplankton. I wonder how that deterioration in biodiversity and biomass in the oceans affects the phytoplankton issue.

Oliver

Such a thorough piece, thanks Dave.

Two aspects really hit home with me:

...bad future outcomes are written in stone and can not be changed by the actions of the relatively few humans who understand how dire the situation is...

...for the relatively few humans who want to live a conscious life on this planet to the extent to which that is possible, meaning the people who want to know what the situation is, Bad News or not, looking at the science is an indispensable part of understanding and coming to terms with Reality.

This raises a conundrum, best explained as a flow from unconsciousness to consciousness:

- Human attitude / Reason
- I don't care about Reality / I am stupid, or living in denial
- I want to understand what's going on / I am curious
- I'm now worried that the biosphere is endangered / I am thoughtful
- I care a lot about what's happening / I am inspired
- I want to help protect the biosphere / I am motivated
- WTF, people must be deaf and blind! / I am frustrated
- I think humans won't change enough / I am doubtful
- I give up, we're fucked / I am depressed
- I'll keep observing but the outcome is certain / I am aware and calm

The conundrum? The "I'll keep observing" attitude (having come to terms with Reality) is almost back to square one, verging on "I don't care", in the sense of having no impetus to do anything about 'it'. I guess this lies at the core of determinism. Not so much "don't care" as "caring is not relevant".

Sigh.

Dave Cohen

@Oliver

Re: human attitude/reason

That's very perceptive. In fact, I wish I'd written it, which is the highest compliment I have to offer.

I can look back on my life and see that I went through every stage you described.

Now, that I have reached "enlightenment" -- I am aware and calm -- it's clearly time to order another glass of wine.

-- Dave

Dave Cohen

Re: Time Magazine Cover

Can Google Solve Death?

Some things are too absurd to illicit a response. Here we have a good example.

But along these lines, it is interesting that --

1) Bacteria have evolved to become immune to most (or all) of our antibiotics. New drugs are very hard to make, and humans are running out of ideas along those lines. 23,000 people a year are dying of infections by drug-resistant bacteria.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/17/health/cdc-report-finds-23000-deaths-a-year-from-antibiotic-resistant-infections.html

2) SSRI antidepressant drugs are quackery disguised as medical progress. In fact, the drug companies have given up on them, and again are running out of ideas as to how to create a new class of effective drugs. It was/is all bullshit.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/09/psychiatry-prozac-ssri-mental-health-theory-discredited.html

Do you see a trend?

Regarding depression, maybe, just maybe, life among the humans is really fucking depressing. Time Magazine covers with the headline "Can Google Solve Death?" is a case in point.

-- Dave

Compound F

glad to see you're still bomping around in this abandoned den of malevolence.

I really like your work.

Always have.

Mike Roberts

Nice one, Oliver. I'm sort of on the last point, outcome is certain but keep observing. However, I'm not sure I'm calm about it. There is another aspect, too. Given that I know the damage that the society/economy that I'm either explicitly or implicitly supporting is doing, should I seek to disassociate myself from that as much as possible or say "to hell with it, there isn't anything I can do that will make any difference, I might as well continue to help destroy my environment"? I'm kind of struggling with this one at the moment.

Oliver

@Mike Roberts - Yes, you're alluding to the conundrum I've experienced. I'm sure conscious people automatically care about what's happening, so they can find it painful to choose to observe without attempting to run against the tide of certainty like some latter-day King Canute. My calm comes from allowing myself to emotionally dissociate myself from the mess that humans are making, even as I understand that my membership of the species de facto incriminates me.

This is a conflict that in my opinion is unresolvable. The best advice I've ever heard is to enjoy the crazy ride we're on. And helping others along the way is a sensible distraction.

Tom

Oliver, are you the same guy who posts on Mobus's site?

I appreciated your comment and reposted it over on NBL. I hope that's okay with you.

Tom (yeah, him)

Dave - I'm new here, but wanted to say I'm a fan now. Keep up the good work. i'll be reading you regularly now. Thanks.

Larryshultz

Dave, thanks for your posting this month. I thought you may like this link
http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/
There are some good older posts there on the impossibility of continual growth.

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