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Excellent article. Your mention of 50% that vote, still trusting government is something I ponder as well as someone in the G. Carlin wing of political observation. I've met many R's and D's that believe that they just need a new "CEO" and everything will be fine. But I still find that many people vote purely as a sort of "root for my team" as if parties are your favorite football team. The fact that R's and D's hold such power still and generally support a status quo that looks more and more like something only lemmings could support--often amazes me. Clearly good old cognitive dissonance is a big part of this 'ignorance bliss' and of course confirmation bias. So many people I know just reinforce their beliefs by endless amounts of talk radio/tv that strongly reinforces their Rep/or Dem thinking. Tribalism by proxy continues....if ignorance was bliss, then why isn't the US one of the happiest countries in the world? Maybe Schopenhauer was right?

John D

I have a brother who is an engineering grad from MIT, and his brain is hardwired for optimism. I have tried to discuss issues of oil depletion and the end of growth, and he is on a totally different planet than I am. I can't figure it out.

Dave Cohen

@John D

He's hardwired for optimism. Most humans are. There's nothing to figure out.

Just knowing that is the key. You don't have to talk to or argue with your brother about those issues anymore. You might ask yourself why YOU'RE so strange... ;-)

-- Dave


Glad to be a part of The Proud, The Few, the not Willfully Ignorant!

Gordon Bohm

Dave, I realise that this article (Terrified Woman From Another Universe Wakes Up Here) is only a metaphor for your feelings, but among the 33000 odd Google hits the so called events were first reported in April last year not January of this year by the credulous reporter who's article you reference.

Stale bullshit does not a good metaphor make.

I would have tagged this comment to the original story but time has passed and in any case my point ties in obliquely with the above article and your statement that people by and large want to remain ignorant.
Let the light of Google shine on the dark corners of ignorance.

Thankyou for your continued efforts to educate. Did I pass the test?


Dave Cohen


"Terrified woman from another universe wakes up here" works at all times. That "story" is timeless.

I'm not sure why I would bother to google it to see when the original "story" appeared. It doesn't matter. I have a rather dark sense of humor. That sense of humor keeps me reasonably sane.

I drink Chardonnay to deal with the things humor doesn't ameliorate.

> Thank you for your continued efforts to educate. Did I pass the test?

Oh sure, don't worry about.

-- Dave



You got that right, but the few? Methinks you're being overly generous :-)

This post seems worthy of sharing, once again, a quote from Joe Bageant found in his book Rainbow Pie:

"America  doesn't like whiners. A whiner or a cynic is about the worst thing you can be here in the land of gunpoint optimism. Foreigners often remark on the upbeat American personality. I assure them that our American corpocracy has its way of pistol-whipping or sedating its human assets into the appropriate level of cheerfulness."

Society Gates, a song by Dub FX, isn't that far off the mark of today's post either.
Video url: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc67C94wSx0
and the lyrics are as follows.

Humanity is conformity
Conformity is society
Society is this reality

The faces that saw me
And the angels that warned me
They told me to run
And dispose of the gun
I could have escaped
Be gone with no trace
Instead I just stayed
Within society's gates

Cos I can run but I can’t hide
And I must justify
The way I live my life
Until the day I die
I live within these gates
I cannot go against
So I must see it through
There’s nothing left to do

They said I was crazy
And they called me a fool
But words cannot change me
And my respect for the rules
I may be part of the system
But if I could rule this land
The rules would be different
But I am just one man...

Don Levit

One of my favorite books is "The Sane Society" by Erich Fromm.
In it, he posits that the world is basically insane, and those who are sane have little influence or control over their lives.
I feel like a genius and a saint compared to the average guy.
And, let me tell you, I am not close to either!

I have never been so happy since I realized how miserable I am.
Don Levit

william sorlien

I stopped reading somewhere around the first paragraph . . . but not for the obvious reasons! I sometimes suffer from info overload, having been apathetic most of my life. This will be my second time around at my state primary causcus though. I feel it's for all the bananas this time. Could be, though, whatever the outcome, I end up buying that "farm" at an undisclosed location.


“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” - Jiddu Krishnamurti


@John D and Dave -
I think there is something to this technology thing and optimism. I wish Dave you would explore this more in the future.... that is the relationship between technology, optimism, the hard truth, and the likely compromise given population levels. I think these "optimists" will realize their "optimism" but at the cost of many poor people unable to participate in the newer technology.


The nations extreme addiction to psychiatric meds of all kinds go a long way in accepting ridiculous behaviors.


"Nearly one third....incorrectly believed that solar energy contributes to global warming"

Do you mean that they believed that the use of solar power contributes to global warming?

Or do you mean that they believed that the sun, as the largest source of energy the in solar system, prevents the earth from freezing solid?

Or does there have to be invisible sun, (that gives its heat to everyone)?


At the risk of sounding like one of the 30 percent you mention, isn't the sun pretty much the main thing that warms the earth, during times when the earth is warming? Can anyone clarify what's meant by that sentence? Help!

Dave Cohen

This language by the authors of the study --

"incorrectly believed that solar energy contributes to global warming"

is a bit misleading. What they meant is that changes in solar irradiance have contributed to the Earth's recent warming trend.

All other comments on this aspect of my post will be deleted.

-- Dave

Dave Cohen


Yes, you're right about there being a link between faith in technology and optimism. It is expressed in this common assumption:

Technology solves all problems

God only knows, people can't change their behavior. So if technology doesn't solve all problems, and it quite obviously does not, then we're pretty much up shit creek without a paddle, aren't we?

While I have talked about optimism and faith in technology separately, I have not talked about how they go together. So I will post on that link in the future.

-- Dave

Phil S

Maybe one (well known, well documented) "problem" is that the more one knows, the more one realises one DOESN'T know, and for many this is not a happy situation. Better to be ignorant "and comfortable in that ignorance" than better informed, worried, depressed and with a feeling of hopelessness for the future of one and all.

As for "Global Warming" on which subject everyone and their dog has a (usually firm) opinion - where there's "easy research funding" there's always bad science. Perhaps the "supporters" of the current dogmatism might have more credibility if they didn't immediately denigrate any and all research that didn't fit their "accepted outcomes".

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