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David Grinspoon

Your comments are most unkind and quite a misrepresentation of my views. I know being snarky and fatalistic can be fun and satisfying. But is it helpful? If you bother to read the book you might find that we agree on more than you think, and that I am not so sanguine about us achieving these changes we need to make. However, your fatalism is corrosive and destructive and not helpful. At least some of us are out there trying to move humanity toward the mature response we will need if we are to move beyond our current stage of planetary vandalism.

Dave Cohen

I stand by everything I said. It is a characteristic behavior of the human species to indulge in the kind of hopeful fantasies you offer up. But acknowledging the true gravity of the situation here in the Anthropocene wouldn't be very good for book sales, would it?

I apologize for calling you a "douchebag." That was definitely snarky. But I have seen so much wishful thinking from so many human beings over the years that I have nothing but contempt for it.

To begin your education, try really hard to take a realistic view of the sum total of human behavior on this planet, taking into account the ongoing sixth extinction, very rapid climate change, the wholesale destruction of marine ecosystems and so on. Consider seriously the possibility that you are delusional.

That would be the beginning of wisdom.

-- Dave

David Grinspoon

You are arrogant to presume that I have not studied these topics. I have spent four years writing a whole book that takes a deep dive into these subjects, and spent decades more studying and teaching about planetary systems and the human impact. If you actually tried reading my book you would find that my views are not at all as you caricature them, and you might learn something and get a new perspective beyond your knee-jerk angry response at anything remotely hopeful.

Here is a little more commentary I wrote on your comment.

I don't wish to converse with you further.


Yeah, Dave, you aren't being helpful.

It would be helpful if you agreed with everyone else that humanity is capable of accurate self-perception (there's little to no evidence that anyone but a handful can even come close), that the foundations of our industrial and technological civilization wouldn't require altruism or self-sacrifice in a move towards sustainability (there's no solid evidence of this, just wishful and theoretical papers from people like Mark Jacobsen, who only look at one aspect of the problem and discount all the others), that we have the time for humanity to suddenly mature and change course without massive ecosystem failures (there isn't), and that we don't face a harsh future already (and the subsequent social turmoil and wars) because of soil and water depletion, biodiversity loss, sea rise, increased storms, and so on (and we do).

You too could count yourself as one of the heroes of the age, with the subsequent book sales and accolades, by helping to convince the few humans who do realize there is a major problem with our species and its actions that there is a happy ending to our story.

But, instead, you are being destructive and corrosive by daring to question others and their assumptions. Shame, shame.


The Anthropocene is a crap concept anyway-- another way in which we aggrandise ourselves. Just call it the end-Holocene mass extinction and be done with it. Or even end-Pleistocene. The Holocene is really too short to be its own epoch.

But really, Dave, maybe we should all of us here at DOTE buy and read his book so we can be more mature. If we ask nicely he may give us a bulk rate price.


Dave, you heathen. How dare you propose something that suggests that humanity is not as ultimately capable of remedial reversal of actions in the interests of self and planetary survival as those who worship at the altar of St.Homo Sapiens believe with an almost childlike faith and wide-eyed narcissistic awe and wonder. O ye of little faith.

That final benediction of "I do not wish to converse with you further" is as exemplary of the meme of the little girl with eyes screwed shut, hands clasped tightly over her ears, foot furiously stamping crying "Is NOT!!!" as you are likely to find any time an existentially supportive axiom is asked to answer evidence that questions its "rightness."

David Laskaris

On his hipster-esque "Funky Science" blog retort Grinspoon wrote,

"I am prepared to be challenged by intelligent and insightful critiques of my work."

Just as long as those critiques jive with his own point of view, I'm sure. Otherwise he'll get all arrogant and huffy by crying about one's "negativity." Seriously, for an "astro-biologist," that dude is hugely disconnected from reality.

@Robert, I had the same picture in my mind when I read that line; a little girl, fingers in her ears, screaming "LA LA LA LA LA....."

Dave Cohen

This is what happens when you bump hard into Human Nature.

There's a lesson for DOTE readers who have been wondering what I've been talking about.

Everything Grinspoon said in that Aeon article I quoted is motivated (as in "motivated reasoning" aka. bullshit). He is motivated by the need to keep hope alive, which arises from instinctual optimism, he is motivated by instinctual sociality and anthropocentrism, by his own self-interest, he's motivated because he has kids who have to live in our degraded future, etc. But of course he is blind to his own motivations. He's whistling in the dark. He is filtering in the face of human-caused existential threats. That's what humans do.

Without a good-enough theory of human nature, humans are just babbling. In the absence of such a theory, humans, as in this case, always assume a blank slate. We can change! Anything is possible!

What is that based on? It couldn't possibly be based on demonstrable previous human behavior.

I guess everything that's happened on Earth has been some kind mistake which we can easily fix. Really, how absurd is that? If humans could fix it, it would already be fixed. We're long past the point where humans should have taken the consequences of their actions seriously. And still they do nothing. That's the phenomena (behavior) that needs to be explained.

And this guy still thinks I should read his book (his 2nd comment above). I watched the video instead. Jesus wept.

-- Dave


@Dave: Or, get it for someone for Valentine's Day:

Or, a cat:

Stop being such a Debbie Downer, dude! Yeesh.



So, I'll preface this by acknowledging that the guy you are arguing with here is a bit of a self righteous windbag.

Having said that, I've followed your writings and I can't help but agree with much of what you conclude about human nature. Maybe you've previously addressed this, but something I haven't seen from you is the "so what"? A cursory view of your writings leaves one with the impression that you conclude "we suck, we are screwed, the end" (again, I don't want to mischaracterize your views. I've not read everything. But that's the gist I've taken from 20 or so blog posts.)

I have a problem with that approach. Again, I tend to agree with a lot of your conclusions about the basic nature of humanity. Its the ultimate nihilistic observation. But what do we take from it? What principle is in that realization that could order human society? Because the realization itself sort of discounts all other known ways of ordering human society (in terms of political and economic and social and cultural systems), so what's left. If everyone agrees with you and I about our nature, what is left? All I can think of resulting from that is the ultimate anarchist's dream; a true State of Nature. That seems....worse.

I guess you could summarize all this by stating I do think humans largely lie to themselves, but that maybe that's the least bad option?

This will not require altruism or idealism or self-sacrifice, only accurate self-perception and enlightened self-interest.

That's really quite a statement, isn't it? I mean, it's essentially the neuro-psychological equivalent of saying that the only thing needed is for humans to grow wings and learn to fly through space without oxygen.

No biggie there. Any day now.

Dave Cohen


Re: But what do we take from it? What principle is in that realization that could order human society? Because the realization itself sort of discounts all other known ways of ordering human society (in terms of political and economic and social and cultural systems), so what's left?

The Flatland model doesn't provide some new basis for ordering human societies. Across the range of possible variation, human societies are ordered, and have always been ordered, by the expression of human nature itself.

That's why human societies, at least the large, complex ones we are familiar with, are so flawed. Utopias don't exist and can't exist.

Not that this realization helps us out much.

-- Dave



Thank you for putting to words some of my thoughts. With regards to the "so what" question, my working hypothesis is that the destructive course humanity has set for itself is locked-in and inevitable until some sort of evolutionary event takes place which changes the hardware in a positive direction. And given evolutionary events happen over a long period of time and that humanity, in many ways, has even hindered those biological evolutionary processes from occurring, it's more likely humanity will critically harm itself beyond repair before a mass extinction event takes place from which humanity will be able to survive by forcing an evolution of the hardware to take place.

Like Dave, I am sick and tired of people who try to argue software solutions when they themselves CANNOT make the most simple, basic and self-honest distinction between expertise and punditry.


As an astrobiologist, you are no sociologist. You may have studied certain areas of your scientific specialty, but you obviously have no ability to discern the existing social and political forces that are driving the sixth great extinction, the over 400 CO2 levels, ocean acidification, and all the other confirmed accelerating processes of eco-destruction engendered by the planet's regnant human supersystem.

William Catton and Craig Dilworth warned us of this massed threat in their formative books, yet they also forecast that there would be cheerleaders and greenwashers ready to scoff at the truth-tellers. While climate-change deniers and transnational corporate predators ascend to the top political positions in the marauding empire, you accuse Cohen and other skeptics of being the planet's worst polluters, an obnoxious and ridiculous conceit. They've done nothing but reject the vacuous bromides of flunkie tech fantasists such as yourself.

Alexander Ač


I think this is only 2nd time when person in charge actually reacted in the comments (it was Guy McPherson before). I guess these people reacted since they are not *that* far from Flatland, other "criticized" people are not even able to comment (standard filtering, probably they where to shocked and too offended to react).

Now, the "end" of this conversation was also easily predictable:

"I don't wish to converse with you further."

You just destroyed the essential hope of Grinspoon, his sincere belief that "we can make it if situation goes bad enough" - and I am going to do my bit to help the "transition". It is not nice to destroy peoples beliefs, its not social, hell, its not flatlandish.

But here DOTE readers cannot be disappointed by a lack of understanding from others. Since we already are disappointed!

Thank for the work and for my part, it was pleasure to interact with you!



Alexander Ač


it should read "not that far from non-Flatland", but I think its clear anyway...


Dave Cohen

Re-watching that Grinspoon video, I think I might have been too kind to that delusional motherfucker.

-- Dave

Phil Stevens

The whole "Anthropocene Epoch" concept is bullshit. The "Anthropocene" is an event, not an epoch. The 100,000 years that it's taken human beings to destroy the planet is a blink of an eye in geologic terms. It'll leave about as much of a trace in the geological record as the iridium layer laid down by the asteroid impact that did in the dinosaurs.


Adjunct professor in Colorado ... paid by the class at the rate of about $47 per in classroom hour, no benefits ... but a cool title one can carry for years, even if you don't have any classes. I'm still one myself, technically. What a douche. But hey, he spent four years writing - plenty of time for that as an adjunct. ROI on reality driven conclusions sucks. Transformation into an enlightened whatever ... that's where the money is !

david higham

How can any person who is aware of the acceleration of the destruction of ecosystems and species extinction in the last several decades optimistically say'I think we're just getting started on this planet',
as if the trend is positive? Delusional is correct. Thanks for the bucket warning. To D.Grinspoon: The Great Barrier Reef will be dead
in the near future. Has the enormity of that tragedy begun to penetrate
your armour-like skull?



Re-watching that Grinspoon video, I think I might have been too kind to that delusional motherfucker.

-- Dave

I watched it. Ended up wanting to punch him in the nose. Hard.

david higham

Those 14.8 billion human hands are doing such a fine job at present,who could be anything but optimistic ,particularly when we have an extra 150 million human hands to help along each year?

Mike Roberts

Oh boy. I'm glad you mentioned having a bucket handy, Dave. No I didn't throw up but only the early warning prevented it. I was surprised you didn't underline this line, "The Anthropocene begins when we start to realize that it has begun." but I guess you had to draw the line somewhere (as it were), otherwise the whole thing will be underlined.

I loved his last remark, "I don't wish to converse with you further." That tells us all we need to know; he's not interested in getting to the truth only in selling books. People love to read this stuff because it reinforces their view that humans are special. It's book that can't fail. And it can't fail precisely for the reasons you expound so well in your Flatland model.

Interesting that Grinspoon was the first commenter, though - maybe he's a big fan of yours! :) On second thoughts, reading the additional commentary he linked to, perhaps not. That is hilarious as he is doing much of what he accuses you of doing - there is no doubt that he hasn't read your Flatland essays but he should. He really should.


Oh man... that was a Flatland car wreck if I ever did see one!

Dave, your critique within the original post/comments was as surgical, enlightening and all the whilst entertaining as ever. An absolute delight to read!

Simply brilliant comments from everybody else too!

My 2 cents... reading through David's extracts/comments, it's quite obvious (in-between the nauseating suggestions of a zeitgeist shift in the collective consciousness of humanity) that this fellow thinks we CAN have our cake and eat it too! I personally consider this to be the pinnacle of Flatlanderdom!

I had a slight aneurism after reading this - "Responsible global behavior is ultimately an act of self-preservation of, by, and for the global beast that modern technological humanity has become."

So preserving the very thing that's systematically devouring the biosphere is responsible global behaviour... and visa versa!? Well, so long as there is "mass awareness" of this fact that is! Wow the ‘mature Anthropocene’ sure does sound clever as fuck.

John from NY

Yes Dave you were too kind to that delusional motherfucker.

Anthropocene is as bullshit as it gets. Walking for 25 minutes to my office through midtown of Manhattan, particularly 5th Ave and the Flatlander crowds doing their usual insatiable consuming and money worshiping in the Capital of Empire, is NOT fun at all. The Capital is full of "delusional motherfuckers", which reminds me of the Hunger Game movies...I have a firm belief that the Empire is headed that direction fast and furious, and will destroy everyone and everything before surrendering to Nature...

And that realization, right there, might be the "accurate self-perception and enlightened self-interest" that delusional motherfucker was looking for. He can now go back to his cocoon to masturbate to his fucking book.


John from NY, are you being clever and ironic? You live, work and consume in Manhattan alongside the hordes you despise. What makes you so special as you walk amongst them to your office? Do they not think like you? You and they are the same, as we all are.
None of us are special or clever.


Hey Grinspoon, quit grinning and suck on this:



And while you're at it, suck on this too!

Andrew McIntosh

Aeon's a weird site anyway. There's been one or two articles that have been alright but I stopped reading it a couple of years ago because it just came across as too "Age of Aquarius", like science for hippies or something.

That article - I notice he hedges his bets when he suggests that this "Sapiezoic aeon", as he's pleased to call it, doesn't necessarily have to involve humans. "I don’t assume it will be humans (Anthropos) who will attain the wisdom to run a planet or, more accurately, to run with it.... If we humans do not make the leap to sapient planetary management, other species could develop this ability in the future. If we blow it this time, another human or hominid civilisation might rise again, perhaps learning from our mistakes. Or we might need to change ourselves beyond recognition to achieve the necessary level of wisdom and self-control. Earth might have a Sapiezoic aeon that does not begin with us."

I don't know any more than he or anyone else does. Personally I believe any kind of life that gets to the technological level we have will stuff it all up just as badly. There's nothing so exclusive about we humans, any other species evolved to use tools and make up stories in their heads would do what we've done. As for that futurist/trans-humanist notion of "changing ourselves to achieve the necessary level of wisdom and self-control", yea, that's pretty "Age of Aquarius".

Dave Cohen

@Andrew McIntosh

Every damn thing Grinspoon says is made-up, it is fabricated horseshit.

He's making up these fantasies as he goes along, and since doing so is socially successful with the humans, it's a winning strategy and therefore it "works" for him. Hmm...

This "get along and go along" social behavior is far simpler than people reading here think it is. What it does, in the Grinspoon case and so many others, is make a mockery of reality. Only social success matters with humans. Everything else is secondary or meaningless.

-- Dave



You mention that "Lonely Planet" sits on your bookshelf. I read the John Mack review you linked to and came away with a quite different view of Grinspoon. John Mack finds him quite open minded.

So may I ask - what's your opinion of "Lonely Planet"?

Survival Acres

The hubris that most scientists exude about our future (hopium on steroids) is hard to stomach. After twenty years of reading and studying their measurements, I’ve come to realize that they don’t even believe their own data or understand the true significance of what it all means.

Grinspoon is seriously delusional (I watched the video). Pretty typical of many scientists today. Although I appreciate the work and dedications that many do, I’m pretty sick and tired of their delusional notions that we are “the answer” when it is fucking obvious we are the problem and fully intend to continue on this pathway of utter insanity.

So I have written a few thousand articles on these topics.


They always prescribe "more" as the panacea for planetary disaster. It never dawns on the majority of them that this can never work.


@Survival Acres: there's nothing wrong with your first, second, and last paragraphs, but you just HAD to link to your own site, and you didn't realize how that directly applied to the very same critique Dave is applying to Grinspoon. Please re-read the last two sentences of his comment to Andrew.

And now, I have done the same thing (to this limited audience), but it was also done to help Dave from bursting a blood vessel.

Cheers, all, and happy holidays however you you mark them. I also watched the Grinspoon video. He specifically makes the comment in his blog post to Dave that he thinks several readers here will watch it and prefer it over Dave's response. Delusion seems to be the key word on this matter.


@ Jim - no bad thing that link by Survival Acres to his new web address.

Like Dave, it's great writing.


@Jeremy (not MG): it saddens me you don't realize the gulf of difference between Dave's writing and his, or its commercial link and why that's relevant, or the deeper point of this post, the one underlying the obvious one that Grinspoon himself is delusional, but I won't fight about it. To each their own. We're all traveling on our various but self-interested paths, marked continuously by carefully fabricated delusions and a near total lack of accurate self-perception, anyway, and that's the problem of our species without solution.

Jeremy MG

I've seen Survival Acres at other message boards. Same motivations as Grinspoon, different solutions. "Renewables won't save us...but just maybe my freeze dried food pails will do the trick. You wouldnt want to watch your family starve, would you?" These motherfuckers just can't help themselves. He'll probably includes a link to his site in his kid's letters to Santa.


@Jeremy MG: fook, I'm tired of fighting.

I don't have the same level of disdain for SA as I do for people like Grinspoon, though. At least his is a somewhat practical "solution", though it's immensely meaningless and deeply self-interested.

DrFunkySpoon's basic assumption is that humans can mature with accurate self-perception, even if he mentions the chance is slight, and ignoring the bloody obvious which seems to have escaped him that we don't have a lot of time left to do it, if at all.

There's no evidence to back DrFunkySpoon's assumption, other than a few scientists reporting their specific findings while crapping their pants and the handful of humans that have the impulse to look outside what's on TV that day. We just elected Trump, after all.

It's the hero's journey to save the day, though. It's a potent elixir. Dream the impossible dream, after all. But, let's say for a second that's it's possible that humans, even with truly accurate self-perception being an egregious delusion, could at least wake up to climate change, just one of the massive problems facing us in the near future.

Carefully spun delusions about our cleverness and self-perception only help to put up one more roadblock of denial in the path to meaningfully addressing climate change. He says we won't need altruism or self-sacrifice. Seriously. He's the one being "unhelpful", and he's making money off spreading his delusions to the very few people who do care about it. It's more Pied Piper than Superman - hope sold for personal profit as a comfort blanket to keep people contented. It's so infuriating that words can't express it, and over time that just becomes disdain.


@Jim This sentence; " He specifically makes the comment in his blog post to Dave that he thinks several readers here will watch it and prefer it over Dave's response." is the key. Of course almost all will "prefer" his delusional nonsense over what Dave posts. As soon as Homo Sapiens evolved the capacity to convince itself that what imagination produced with its concomitant triggering of the brain's pleasure centers was True Reality we were off to the races inventing "realities" that simply felt better, were more reassuring, or empowering, or even just less icky, uncomfortable and less downright hurtful. If he could have said something like "readers will find what I say more verifiably accurate" then there may have been some merit there but, of course he couldn't.

For quite a while I have believed that of all the successes science has had in displacing or destroying myths humans have invented, its Kryptonite would be addressing things observable on a human scale especially those involving human activity, most pointedly the idea that what we actually are isn't demonstrably what we as a species think ourselves to be. Scientists, despite their training, are, after all, humans as well.


Jeremy MG: I don't sell food. I do however have opportunity to post over on that blog. I gave the Survival Acres company away a year ago due to illness and the unknown future I was facing. They graciously offered me space to blog and help for medical costs, which did not happen.

Making fun of me shows your true character. I find you reprehensible. Your insinuation is stupid - and inaccurate, but you're none too bright yourself.

The link was simply intended to be reinforcement of the position I posted here - more is always the solution, when that can never be true. I have hundreds of articles pointing this out. Since I almost never post here (and won't bother again due to morons like yourself) the link was shared in hopes others would go read this for themselves.

Not unlike what Dave has done himself, he shared the information to allow others to make up their own minds. Stupid comments like yours pollute everybody's efforts.

Jeremy MG


Go fuck yourself. You are nothing but a slightly more enlightened Jim Bakker. Unlike Jim, I view you as more reprehensible than Grinspoon. His book will set you back a few bucks. Your (previous) business sets people back potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars selling your own form of salvation. Id like to offer you plenty of dick to eat for sustenance during the end times.


Holy shit Jeremy MG.

I think we're all pretty much on the "same side" here - at least compared to the average Joe.

If this is how we behave towards each other during times of relative plenty, then God help us (he won't of course) when the SHTF and we're really in need of a cooperative approach to the unfolding hard times.

Peace to Jeremy MG and JR.

Jeremy MG

I don't have patience for doomers who are selling a bullshit solution repackaged in a different form. Instead of electric cars and 3d printing, it's food pails and guns. Very little from that crowd about any kind of community building. Just hunker down with your powdered eggs and shoot hungry people until the tribulation passes, and you can inherit the earth.

I succumbed to doomerism at a young, impressionable age. I made a lot of stupid decisions as a result. Ones I wouldn't have made now that I know better.


dave, i'm saddened by your apology for using the summary word "douchbag". the word succinctly describes Grinspoon, so why retract it or apologize?

i won't be buying his book, unless it's for laughs.


i'd like to put Grinspoon and Guy McPhearson in a room and watch what happens. they're both about the same height and weight.

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