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Thanks Dave!
See ya !!


Dave, all that's left to say is "thank you"! So often I've read a post that I had nothing useful to add, but I can say that my pov has been deepened and enriched immensely. Perchance you will drop by occasionally to share A little more. If not, there is more than enough to ponder and reflect on. Thanks again.

Te Cho


I'm surprised at this abrupt loss. Questions are only now gradually forming.

1) What determines the strength/degree of 'flatlandness' or self-deception of an individual. There are those (few) that see things more (not 'absolutely(?))' clearly than others, it seems to be a range and not yes/no. Is it the degree of 'Live and Grow' (L&G) ? If so, if one is near zero L&G then one (always?) sees things more clearly - less self-deceptively? What if one is below zero (assuming they can't / don't 'end it all'). Psychologists say depressed people see things more realistically. Is that the only way to see clearly?

2) On a different note, I've wondered this for a long time, before this blog.
And it doesn't just suck for you, it sucks for pretty much everybody, even the most "successful" humans among us. Filtering is the only way to get through it.

How many people are / can say they were glad they were born? What percentage? If one answers 'NO' , how can you have children with a clear conscience? Self-deception they will have a better life?

I believe you are incorrect. Many people have a life that does not suck. (Not speaking from personal experiences...but observations.) Happy people (based on your model) are more likely to self-deceive - they have more to loose. Thus the great extent of flatlanders(?).

((Must go to lunch now before break over. Looking forward to thoughts on these matters.))

Thank you.


The first rule of flatland is that you can't talk about flatland.


Dave, I keep coming back here because of the sometimes funny, always insightful blurbs you put out there. I hope you change your mind about new content, but as someone who has also been disappointed (repeatedly) by what usually turns out to be be basic human programming I understand your frustration.

Dave maybe you just need a nice long vacation. There's some states now that have legal (ish) marijuana, maybe you need to chill out for a while. Maybe you'll find some inspiration to keep writing, maybe on another topic that interests you; even if its not something as important as what ultimately drives human behavior, you could still do some good. Or maybe just have some fun.

If this really is the last you publish, so long, and thanks for all the fish! Next time you're in Chicago let me know and I'll buy you a beer.


Thanks for helping us understand what is going on.

Varki's denial theory adds an important missing dimension to flatland. I think you would enjoy reading it.


Best wishes.

Ken Barrows

Thanks for the articles. You put it out there; that's all that you can do. Because humans are who they are, you knew your writings wouldn't receive widespread recognition.

It is difficult for humans to avoid "live and grow." Rare is the person to resist the temptation. In my unsuccessful social quests, I probably would have been better off helping the poor or dogs and cats instead.



I will miss your viewpoint and commentary when gone. You provided an immeasurably valuable service to me. I constantly find myself moving through society, observing people in person or on television or the internet, and I regularly (almost all the time) find myself saying to myself (sometimes out loud!), "What the fuck are these people doing?" or talking about or thinking? Then I look around, expecting the people around me to be equally gobsmacked at the sheer insanity of what is on display. But it mostly never happens. For the longest time I floated between two thoughts: "What the hell is wrong with me?" and "What the hell is wrong with these people that they don't see that this is insane?"

You and DOTE provided me with an answer, a revelation really. You provided an explanation and a place where I could find other people who could see the insanity (even if there were very few of them). We are social animals. Having other people who could also see some of the same things as me was wonderful. Having somebody who could explain what we were seeing and why it was that so few others could see it was even more so.

This endeavor was never destined to provide an income, a fact of which I know you have always been keenly aware. That sucks, but, as you say above, the ability to Live&Grow while anchored in the "reality" of Flatland is limiting to the point of suffocating. If you've decided to be done with sharing your observations, I fully understand. But, whatever you do, do not walk away thinking that your efforts were not meaningful. They did not change human nature, they did not change Flatland, but they provided something incredibly important to at least some of use out here trying to make sense of what is happening around us. For that, thanks so much.

Be well.

Kevin Paulsen

I will miss the insight and realism of the DOTE blog.
Thank you.
Stay well Dave.
Warmest regards.


As others have already said, many thanks Dave for both your deep insights into the realities of human life and your acceptance rather than denial of them. I would like to add my very best wishes for your future journey in life. Thanks for playing!

One other thought: RobM's link to Varki's denial theory is probably better seen as corroborating your insights rather than adding to them - it is another (useful) way of conveying the essential limitations of our "big brains". Most of us couldn't cope with knowing the truth about ourselves and consequently living with the inherent contradictions and pointlessness of the "live and grow" imperative. Our lives must simply go on until they stop.

Dave Cohen

Re: Varki

from the 4th essay, top of the Human Instincts section --

Live & Grow at its most basic level expresses Life versus Death, but it would also be a mistake to always construe this as literal death as some theories assume. Similarly, it would also be a mistake to reduce Live & Grow to "selfish genes" or similar theories. Again, this imperative is highly elaborated in humans, so if the goal is to understand human behavior generally, one needs to delve into the details.

"literal death" has an associated link to Varki, whose theory posits a very improbable evolutionary just-so story for which there is no evidence whatsoever. I did not take the time to trash Varki because I had bigger fish to fry. I went on to talk about the fact that existential threats apparently got extended by evolution to include threats (e.g. to self image or social status) which are not in fact existential (implying literal death). This was one of the most important points I made in the 4th essay.

In any case, references to Varki here indicate that the person in question did not 1) bother to read the 4th essay; or 2) did not understand it. Of the two, the first point is the more serious matter.

This is one of the reasons why I am not going to write this blog anymore.

-- Dave

David Laskaris

Well, Dave, that's that, huh? It was a good run I must say. What are your plans now?? Will you be starting another blog concerned with another topic? For some reason you do not strike me as the type of person who keeps things to himself, and when you have something to say, Hell or high water you say it. Whatever you do, I wish you luck. I also sincerely find some peace somehow. That angst will eat you alive, and without DotE to relieve the pressure occasionally I kinda worry about ya.

I just do not see gardening doing it for you.

Last thing: As we say on Facebook whenever somebody says they're done and deleting their FB account, "You'll be back."

Peace to you, Dave. And thanks for all the fish. ;)


Thanks Dave, the road to flatland has been surprisingly enriching in that you managed to articulate what I think I felt but couldn't express. My consciousness has been altered forever through my reading of DOTE and humans make a bit more sense to me now when observed through your flatland lense.

Philip Steiner

Wow, Dave. I've earnestly tries to keep up with you, since I'm more or less on the same page wrt the human condition, and I too will miss you POV.

As for dealing with the daily grind, that's why I mostly prefer to sit home playing mindless video games or watching vapid TV shows. It's all going to be over soon, anyways.

Hope you find something else to share with us social monkeys. It was fun!

Dave Cohen

@Te Cho

Re: I believe you are incorrect. Many people have a life that does not suck. (Not speaking from personal experiences...but observations.)

Well, of course you are not speaking from personal experience, which for everyone always suck. You are going off biased experiences, which amount to imagining that other people's lives do not suck. But if you really got to know those other people, and questioned the self-serving stories they tell you, you would find out that their lives really do suck, being subject to all the cruel vagaries of unconscious human life on this planet. But of course there is always massive filtering going on. Read the 4th essay.

There is no escape, though people always believe, because they are compelled to, that there is an escape from all this human horseshit (that's human nature).

-- Dave


Take a break, Dave, but come back sometime. There is always new stuff coming up, your thoughts on which we would all benefit.

Mike Roberts

Dave, I will be very sorry to see no new material here. I've always looked forward to reading a sane voice in this crazy world, one that can clearly grasp the truth. Even if you often think I haven't learned much, I feel I have, and you have certainly influenced my world view a lot. Without this blog, there isn't any other site (other than sites of info such as RealClimate) that is a must-go-to.

I think I can honestly say that I don't find "meaning" as such, in many of the things you mention early in this post but I do think there are certain ways of living, within Flatland, that make sense (e.g. permaculture), so I try to follow that sensible route, where possible in this crazy world, though I'm really not sure it's worth it. However, I am what I am, so I will continue to tell myself (for now) that it is worth it, but, of course, that's subjective.

Anyway, enjoy your retirement but, again, I'll miss your posts.

Mike Brehm


If you're ever in the Flagstaff area, drop by the library and ask for me (Mike- the oldest IT guy). I'd like to take a hike with you in the Canyon and, well, basically, shoot the shit. And have a beer or two.

You've been a great influence on my way of thinking about humanity and the way our species "rolls/evolves/just-does whatever-it's-going-to-do".

If nothing else comes to pass from your OUTSTANDING work over these years, please know that some of us paid attention.

Elsewise, i wish you peace and happiness - man that sounds so hippy-diipyy, new age but you know what I mean



As has been said-- thanks for playing, Dave!

Sad to see you hang up your hat, but I understand why you are doing it. This has been a tremendous site and really helped put a frame around all the frustrating things I have seen in our species. Your voice will be missed but it is still good to know you're out there observing.



Thanks for writing and good luck with anything you might chose to do next.

All the best,


Dave Cohen

There are relatively few comments here and this really is your last chance to say something on this website. I will not take a "vacation" and come back as a few people fantasized. This is it.

And I am reminded by the relative lack of comments that I have written this blog with very little support for years now. Where were the comments? There were relatively few. Where were the e-mails? There were hardly any. Where were the donations? I got a few, and I was grateful for them.

But many times, and for long periods of time sometimes, there was basically nothing we might call support for this blog outside a few people, and always the same small group. The silence was deafening.

And I was writing all this for free without any advertising of any kind. Life is a two-way street, or at least it should be. Reciprocity is one of the few things evolutionary psychologists got right.

If you're sorry to see this blog go, ask yourself how much effort you yourself put into it -- comments, e-mails, donations.

I did get good support from a few people -- very few -- and they know who they are. If it hadn't have been for them, I would've quit long ago.

And looking back, considering kind of things I was saying, none of this is too surprising (see the post I wrote). But enough is enough.

-- Dave




You have been a unique ray of explanatory "sunshine" in a world of confusion and bafflement. You have fleshed out ideas I held for decades about why this species is so maddeningly perverse and for that I am grateful for your efforts. You are correct in that this site, by its very nature, must remain hidden from view because it speaks unutterable truths-backed by evidence-that are insulated from both comprehension and acknowledgement by the nature of what they describe-Flatland by definition cannot accept its flatness.



Bob Davenport


Thanks much and best wishes. Your Flatland series has given me much to think about (having just read them). In return I've given you next to nothing except knowing someone else read them and appreciated your line of reasoning. Buy a cup of coffee with that, eh?

A flatland delusion for you. There are many different personalities among humans and abilities among humans (why?). Perhaps, like some exotic alloy those trace elements really do make a big difference to the larger whole.



I think something truly unique and remarkable was taking place here, and it was an honor and a privilege to participate in it from time to time. I do look forward to the occasional addenda to the Flatland series on this site. Even though I'll miss the interaction that took place in the comments, I understand the wish to close things as they are.

Besides the honest and incisive analysis of surface-level topics like the environment, the economy, and politics that were presented here, there was a deep awareness of humanity and the human condition that I don't think would have been found elsewhere. It has enabled me to make many large steps in my own thinking. Additionally, I found that I was not completely alone in believing something was really "rotten in Denmark", as Brian also alluded to, and saw a coherent and detailed examination as to why it's rotten. All of these things have been invaluable to me, and I can't thank you enough, Dave.

Thanks also to the others who participated here.

Best wishes to all, but especially to you, Dave, who took the time to share so openly, had the abilities to present your exceptional views so well, and at least compared to the dog years in lifespan of an internet presence, for so long. I hope this website can remain online for as long as possible, so that others might find it in their own time.


Long time reader, not a fluent English writer...

Thanks a lot for your writing, Dave. It has been a voice of sanity. I'll miss it.

You sound a lot like my father, by the way. He has no grand "theories", but seems to have an intuitive grasp of the main themes of your blog. And I remember myself struggling with them in the adolescence... I really wonder why some people can try to analyze the human condition "from the outside", but the vast majority simply lives it.

Thanks a lot, Dave.

Dave Cohen

I want all of you to remember this --

The only person on Earth who to my knowledge has said that humans do not have the capacity to respond appropriately to their own big self-created problems (like destroying the biosphere) is me, yours truly.

Remember that, even if you remember little else (and no doubt that's what will happen because nothing sticks -- see the 4th essay).

-- Dave

Vilius Z.

Dave, all - thanks for playing

A banned ex-commenter

Dave, have you ever read any John Gray (*not* the "Men Are from Mars.." author, the other one)? I think he'd be right up your alley.

"Straw Dogs" and "The Silence of Animals" are among my favorite books:

“We think our actions express our decisions. But in nearly all of our life, willing decides nothing. We cannot wake up or fall asleep, remember or forget our dreams, summon or banish our thoughts, by deciding to do so. When we greet someone on the street we just act, and there is no actor standing behind what we do. Our acts are end points in long sequences of unconscious responses. They arise from a structure of habits and skills that is almost infinitely complicated. Most of our life in enacted without conscious awareness. Nor can it be made conscious. No degree of self-awareness can make us self-transparent.”

“Most people today think they belong to a species that can be master of its destiny. This is faith, not science. We do not speak of a time when whales or gorillas will be masters of their destinies. Why then humans?”

“If there is anything unique about the human animal it is that it has the ability to grow knowledge at an accelerating rate while being chronically incapable of learning from experience.”


To anyone seeing this at some later date, you might wonder if Dave has thought of this person, or that one, or this or that concept.

I've found a simple keyword search starting with "decline of the empire" followed by the person or subject answers that question every time. For instance, "decline of the empire" "john gray" yields these links, in chronological order:

One could then read those posts, and maybe have an inkling why Dave would be a little irked that someone would ask him, yet again, about subjects he has discussed several times, all without mentioning or commenting on any of Dave's own work, even on a final post when they could do so.

You might be frustrated, too, to see over and over how you are "effectively invisible", despite years of effort. There have been those, though, who have appreciated what has been given by Dave in the past. I'm hoping there might be one or two out there, as well, who will catch this site at some future point, and gain from having found it.

And there! I ended my last comment here with some obligatory hope. Whaddaya know? I still hope it's true.

Thanks again, Dave.

Alexander Ač

Hi Dave,

there it goes, finished! Almost nobody will notice, nobody will cry, nobody will make stories about it! Not one TV station, newspaper, or radio channel can never ever link to your work. Yes, its fucking invisible!

Frankly, I was a bit surprised but later much pleased when DOTE went off-air first time (http://www.declineoftheempire.com/2013/07/dote-goes-off-the-air.html) and still lasted for almost 4 years! A lot of material since then!

For me DOTE is and always will be a social story since I knew I will enjoy every post. Actually I was happy that I can read something which describes reality about humans and their ultimate fate without motivated bullshit and other flatland gibberish.

I was happy that I am not the only person annoyed about what I see every day and willing to share it with others, even if without much or any (real) attention. Yes, its true - people don't want to know truth (shit) about themselves - they are unable to face it. There never was any gain in understanding humans!

I can safely write this comment since nobody except small inconsequential echo-chamber of marginalized humans can possibly read it even if internet is working for millions of years (which by Flatland definition is impossible anyway).

By the way, what is the best evidence for the validity of flatland model than the fact what a) few will read it, b) even less will fully understand and c) nobody can talk about it??

All the fucking optimists of the world can unite and talk/write/present about great human achievements till they all die, it changes nothing about hopelessness of almost every human on this planet. Everybody can think of how to make world a better (well, less fucked) place to live, while continuing to trash it all the time immediately after the "enlightenment period". Here comes your fucking eco-driver since in Flatland everything is easy and simple and nothing is complicated!

All Flatland articles were essential for those few who could at least partly understand why things are the way they are. Good thing is they are for free and also (hopefully) forever. Virtually nobody has ever done that and probably nobody ever will.

I don't know if I may ask that service, but I would welcome a virtual space (discussion forum), where DOTE-close readers can exchange their thoughts on new bullshit coming out every damned day. In fact, its more and more every day - since its a great growth story to tell!!

This comment is absolutely not exhaustive nor it provided anything critical to Flatland model nor extended its knowledge at all. I just felt few people will read it with interest.

R.I.P. DOTE - 31. 1. 2010 - 22.3.2017!


Dave Cohen


Of course it is annoying to be told about John Gray in the comments on the very last DOTE post.

But this nonsense is not unexpected. It accords with so much of my experience writing this blog.

I've gone far, far beyond John Gray on this website. After all, John Gray is a political philosopher with impeccable academic connections, a publisher, and all the flatland stuff that follows from that. So when Gray dares to say that humans do not make ethical progress --


-- all I can do is laugh and shrug it off.

Humans spinning their wheels? Me being told about John Gray on this discussion thread? Same thing.

-- Dave

The Wet One


If this is the end, I'd like to thank you for your thoughtful and insightful comments and observations.

You're a real mensch.

I hope one day to have the drive and wherewithal to add something to the store of human knowledge and understanding as you have attempted to do here.

Good luck and godspeed in your future endeavours.

The Wet One

Brian Sheller

When I got to the end of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire I started back at Page 1, Volume 1 to meet Augustus and Hadrian again.

I hope the readers here will test their memory of this decline by going back to the start.

Thank you, Dave.

Dave Cohen

@The Wet One

You probably know I quoted you at the end of the 4th essay.

I tried to get in touch with you before I did so, but you've hidden your identity. So I gave up. Just so you know.


-- Dave

J. F. Mamjja

Thanks Dave.

I will miss your ongoing insights into
the day to day freak show, but your cannon
is here and it speaks for itself.

Thanks for playing, you hit it out of the park.

A banned ex-commenter

Jim, once again I've apparently offended in merely trying to connect. Par for the course.

Dave, above, claimed to be "the only person on Earth who to my knowledge has said that humans do not have the capacity to respond appropriately to their own big self-created problems", .. "the only person on Earth"!! so I figured he must be ignorant of others, such as Gray, who have made similar observations (I could come up with others, but why bother?). I took Dave at his word and gave him the benefit of the doubt, more fool I.

Best of luck to all on the downslope.

Dave Cohen

@A banned ex-commenter

Sorry, you don't get away with your bullshit. Not here, not today.

I have read Gray. Yes, he made the statements you quoted.

In fact, he rarely writes about subjects like climate or the ongoing mass extinction and when he does, for example at the beginning of Straw Dogs, his general observations are correct -- humans are rapacious primates who have always exploited nature for their own purposes -- but his actual knowledge of what's actually going on on Earth is woefully inadequate. He does not know the details as I do. He is a political philosopher. He quotes that idiot Lovelock.

He does not know the science as I do. He hasn't read it. He certainly doesn't seem to understand the disastrous consequences of what is happening on Earth today.

And yes, to my knowledge, I am the only person who has said without qualification that humans will not do anything significant about climate change. Such statements would be too risky for Gray to make. He's got a publisher and books to sell.

Gray has read Naomi Klein, however, and to his credit, he doesn't like her much.


I guess I kicked you off DOTE in the past, and now I see why. And now, for one of my final acts, I will kick your sorry ass off this website again. Finally, a pleasurable thing for me to do here on DOTE.

-- Dave

Hater Hank

Waaaa waaaaa waaaaa, so the great Dave Cohen is closing up shop and moving on. Good. It's about fucking time. No more will we read about how special he is because Dave thinks that he is the originator of doom and how fucked up the human species is. Finally Cohen is dismounting his high horse. No longer will we read his streaming tears about how nobody understands his sorry ass. His whiny fragile bullshit ego got old years ago. It became pathetically sad to read him time and time again maligning people like a common everyday internet tough guy living in his parents basement. And he still sniveled like a bitch because nobody read or commented on his blog, yet never understanding that a little sugar might, just might, get him more readers to stroke his thick, yet fragile ego. So, there he sits, king of his precious Flatland, like a Captain Obvious Supreme decrying the inactivity of humanity to realize it is its own worse enemy. No shit, humanity sucks. Fucking duh. Tell us something new.

In a prior comment in another thread he implied in typical Cohen fashion that a commentator wouldn't have the guts to tell him to his face how wretched of a man he is. Well, I would. It's spit in your deserving face and laugh. I'd do it with glee.

Good riddance to you, Dave Cohen. May once great Decline of the Empire waste away in the garbage heap of the great internet dumping ground. It's a tragedy that it must die because you never got the attention that you so desperately desire, you fucking puss, and chased off all those who might have given you the time of day but committed the cardinal sin of questioning you. Yeah, good riddance.


Meh. Someone has to pipe up. It seems I'm always the one to have to do it, or else Dave has to take it, so here goes....

This is what Dave got for his 7+ years of effort - anonymous trolls who despise him yet for some reason follow his site to the end, who never thank him for anything he had to say and the countless hours it took to publish the site for free, who seem to think the site was their property in the first place to say whatever they wanted yet probably never sent Dave a dime for its upkeep, who ask him for something new yet probably never read the four main essays (or if they did, didn't understand them), who whine to themselves and others about him refusing to accept their bullshit, who pretend that they might have been nice if they were treated with kid gloves but later reveal their ugliness in its full form, and who happily kick him out the door when he is no longer willing to bear it.

Thank you, anonymous troll, for making humanity suck even harder. Your parasitic, destructive selves are a shining light on our species. You may now go to other sites to spread your bullshit ever further, and you may rest easy knowing you helped end one of the only, if not only, sites that refused to cater to the constant stream of bullshit we see everywhere else. Be proud, as I'm sure you are, of your bravery, wisdom, and intelligence.

Dave Cohen


Thanks for your response. I am going allow Hater Hank's vituperative bullshit to remain here, kind of like a perverse monument, if only to remind everyone what really is at stake in the stuff I've written.

What did a guy above say? He took this from the movie Fight Club of course --

"The first rule of flatland is that you can't talk about flatland."

There you go.

-- Dave

Dave Cohen

@Hater Hank

By the way, nobody, including you, ever "committed the cardinal sin of questioning [me]" in some serious way. It never happened.

All the "questioning" was based on the fact that I was telling human beings that they were shit, generally speaking. And they didn't like that much, which is perfectly understandable.

And didn't you just demonstrate that?

very best to you,

-- Dave


i have followed you for some time now and just want to sincerely thank you.
Yours has been one of the few sites I've read consistantly over the years and I do appreciate all the hard work and time you have invested in it.
thank you Dave.



I combined the four essays into one: 174 pages! That's a lot of work.

Thank you for all that hard work. Thank you for keeping the web site up as I return to many of the posts frequently.



Thank you, Dave. I've enjoyed reading your blog posts and some of them have been very illuminating. Given some of the comments you have made over the years, I have to conclude that this endeavor hasn't turned out as you would have liked. It must have taken you many hours of research and thought to craft your articles, so I understand your disappointment in being a nobody despite your best effort, but therein lies the joke. It's a joke you played on yourself, and your bitter failure is the punchline. Try not to care so much in the future, Dave. You'll feel a lot better.

Mike Roberts

Dave,I'm cheating a bit here because it's you who really made me see this but I have also been saying for years that humans will do nothing meaningful about climate change. I've said this numerous times but I don't think anyone ekse has believed me. A study by Rockstrom et al last week just bolsters this view. Considering what would need to happen for there even to be a chance of limitung warming to a catastrophic 2C, there is no chance humans would do what's necessary.

Mike Roberts

Hah. Hater Hank so hates this blog that he read it "time and time again".


Dave, I've thought a lot about your post, Live and Grow and wanted to add though that i think it's more Live and Consume, growth being a byproduct of consumption. Since we consume even when we don't grow. for instance, older people don't grow or reproduce but still consume.
anyway, just wanted to put that out there, good luck to you Dave, I wish you well.



"The only person on Earth who to my knowledge has said that humans do not have the capacity to respond appropriately to their own big self-created problems (like destroying the biosphere) is me, yours truly."

Bang on Dave! That's how I first stumbled upon DOTE... looking for answers as to why we don't/won't/can't/still aren't/never will stop destroying the biosphere (and in the process ourselves). As others have noted, DOTE has been a rare light in the darkness, a refuge for the mind and spirit, an escape from the never ending day-to-day horrors of flatland. I better understand myself and (even moreso :-D) those around me thanks to you Dave.

"I believe I can see what motivates people at this basic level, and a few other people I've come to know here on DOTE can also see it, and that's got to be good enough from my point of view."

Good enough!? I'd say that's a fairly significant achievement... if only those flatlanders could know what they were missing. :-)

So thanks Dave, I've greatly enjoyed and appreciated your intellect and humor. You will be sorely missed.

AND hey Tom, nice parting words dude... "Yo Dave, great blog! Pity you suck and you're dumb and a loser."

Ahh Flatland... you never cease to amaze!

Dave Cohen


Over the years I made lots of comments to others that I now regret.

All of these comments, every damn one of them, was born of a deep sense of frustration that people weren't understanding what I was trying to tell them.

I am so glad to leave all that behind me now. What a relief.

This comment is the 50th one on this thread. That never happened before, not once in 7 years. And all I had to do was quit to get it to happen. And how many flatland mediocrities can post some bullshit or basically nothing at all and get hundreds of comments each time they do it?

I am glad to leave that frustration behind, too.


-- Dave


@Idiocracy, yes it's the "light in the darkness" that I will miss - even if it gets repetitive (for Dave), knowing there was a web site I could go to a couple of times a week and laugh at the idiocy and know my feelings of frustration and hopelessness are shared by a few other people was a light in the darkness. There is precious little of that, well pretty much none now. Sigh.


See, I went and randomly picked a post to re-read and it made me laugh out loud really hard! Ahh. Sometimes we need to laugh at the insanity.


"We need something but we do not know what it is. That's the "daunting" element. Some statements express Flatland so beautifully that one can only sit back and stare at them, awestruck."

I'm poking around at old posts now because of the geo-engineering project at Harvard that is launching soon.


It makes me wish to find a light in the darkness.

Some Guy

Appreciate all your effort into this. Can't count the number of times I've read something, shook my head, and muttered 'flatland' to myself.

All the best.

The Wuthering

Re: The first rule of flatland is that you can't talk about flatland.

In earliest teenage years, because I did not know the existence of that tacit rule, speak of flatland is exactly what I used to do in moments of extreme frustration; in throw-away Dorothy Parker-like dry comedy quips.
The look of frozen terror on listener's faces, together with their open mouths and dropped jaws, soon taught me that telling the truth as I saw it was not the way to create "harmony."

Further came the realization that my type of sense of humor- comedic mockery of the insanity of the world in a few well chosen words- was understood by very few........But,oh, when they understood, they understood. The looks of pure terror were unmistakeable.

"Oh, I see," I used to think to myself. "You are afraid." Life for you, then, is a game of cheap play acting to control the fear. We choose a cheap role for life and play dumb about understanding anything.

In middle age today, I have finally stopped playing dumb and role playing. As much as possible, at least. The role playing is boring and frustrating beyond belief.

Dave, I wish I had come across your blog years ago instead of recently. You were a beautiful discovery: hilariously funny,witty, intelligent, breathtakingly truthful and curmudgeonly.

Please come back. Don't go away. There are not enough of you (us) in the world. You could write shopping lists or whatever. It wouldn't matter.

Much love.


I appreciate your work Dave, because you carefully explained and studied something that I noted odd about people. The lack of peoples awareness, and willingness, to consider that they are in actually actors in a game of life, and how they think, how they value, how they see the world is all part of the game too.

There is only the 'game of life', and peoples perceptions, desires and thought process exist within that system.

We are "Live and Grow" dimensional beings who actually inhabit a larger dimension that we're not aware of (but complain about its influence).

It takes serious mental training and adjustment to see Flatland I think, which may be why so few people took interest in it.

Personally, I went through a LOT of questioning about life, and whether it was worth it, or what was the origin of the motivation for, or point of, doing anything. It was only though a severe nihilism that I think I learned what I needed to learn, to be able to grok flatland. It was only when it goes to the point when I was stare at someone at work, doing their work, and just see an automaton acting according to a biological imperative, albeit in a clever and complex way. What is this person doing, and are they aware of how ridiculous they look and act?

The flatland essays where the first I read which gave me that 'A ha!' moment, when this observation made sense, and I WAS seeing what I thought I was seeing.

Thank you again,


Dave Cohen has left the building.

Dave Cohen

Let me remind you that DOTE will be up indefinitely.

The archives are there and will remain there.

I will reorganize the front page a little, and I still have a few things related to the flatland model I want to write up.

Anyone can take the flatland examples I've provided on this blog over the years and see them out in the world at any time. There are always millions of examples to choose from. Most stuff we experience or see on the internet are examples of normal Live & Grow actions or stories. Those are not interesting.

The interesting cases for me were the ones where we could catch a glimpse of flatland itself. For example, are chimpanzees persons?


C'mon! -- chimpanzees are chimpanzees. Only a fucking human would ask if chimpanzees have human rights.

Or, how about using artificial intelligence to detect people at risk of suicide?


Only a human would believe that technology could help us detect suicide risk. And of course all suicides should be nipped in the bud because human life is so fucking wonderful all of the fucking time. To think otherwise...

Or -- I bet you didn't know this -- that social stratification is good for you. Because we need experts!


If that bullshit isn't motivated, what is?

And here's an easy one --


Jesus wept.

It goes on and on. I see lots of stuff every day, but only a few things give us a glimpse of flatland itself. As I said, most of the rest is the usual Live & Grow nonsense.

-- Dave



It is a pitty you are feeling so strong about "flatland" that you are outside mainstream academia.

I can only speculate that there might be people out their that are smart enough to play dumb to get be where they want to be.

On the other hand I understand that it is not easy to go against one's own nature and be something what we are not.

I enjoyed your work over the years.

I wish you peace and contentment.

All the best.


Dave Cohen

This comment thread will close on Wednesday at noon.

No need to prolong this.

-- Dave

The Wuthering


I used the expression "curmudgeonly" in reference to you before.
It was a compliment, of course. Hope you understood. The truth tellers I have known have always been so.
Curmudgeonly for me: indicative of deepest heart together with very much alive mind.

Once again, thank you for your work.

Dave Cohen

@The Wuthering

Don't worry about it. On the other hand, I do not respond well to "asshole", "dickhead", etc. (trolls).

Read the archives.


-- Dave

The Wet One

Hi Dave,

I'm very pleased that I was able to add something of value to your thinking. I'm sorry that I didn't get word of your efforts to contact me earlier. If you want to make a small edit to attribute the excerpt to me or some such, please do. If not, that's quite alright.

Again, all the best to you.


The Wet One


Hi Dave,

I once received a vicious response to a long letter I sent you engaging with your ideas, so I don't comment here lol, but I wanted to thank you for the essays. I have read them many times, they are on my computer so I can go back to them, and they have certainly had a tremendous impact on my own thinking. I also have pointed any of my friends with open minds towards your site so they can read for themselves, and strongly encouraged them to do so.

The funny thing is that I most often use your arguments in conversations with real people, taking your side lol (and always with credit given to you), even though when I wrote you I wanted to raise some questions in good faith to see what you might make of some other factors. So, in a way, you have won lol. I certainly have more sympathy with the flatland theory than I do with almost every Big Serious Person you have mocked in your blog. In fact, it is hard to take seriously anyone who hasn't considered some form of what you have so carefully outlined as a potential way of viewing human nature.

I hope you will keep writing and posting in the end, you do have an audience even if they don't comment. Not everyone enjoys online participation, I personally detest it and do it very rarely so when I get knocked in the teeth I prefer to lurk only lol, unlike real life where I am considered caustic and combative even by my closest friends. Best of luck!


Hi Dave,

Seems like this will be the first and last time I'm commenting here. Thanks for your years of hard work: providing a realistic description of human nature and documenting the madness that is 'Live & Growth'.

Best of luck for any of your future endeavour!




I'll miss your writing and "voice" Dave. Thank you.

Alexander Ač

This is is it. End of DOTE. Without much fanfare, without any fanfare indeed. No story to tell here. on the other hand, the de-carbonization flatland craziness continues unabated! And why wouldn't? Nothing can stop it, see the Science magazine issue from 23th of March, 2017.




Hello Dave

Seems appropriate somehow to circle back to my original identity here. Diogenes carried his lantern round during the darkness of daylight hours. That's where actual light is of most value. Jacob Horner, however, carried his "cosmopsis", a better fit for a more recent condition.

For the past seven years you have been of immense value to my own project. To say I'm very grateful is simply not adequate...Truly.

My current condition does not permit the cogent critique deserved by your model, and so many of your other posts. Perhaps some day...if we're both still around.

Such a critique would certainly include some discussion of Schopenhauer. And music, as related to both you and him. It would also include the matter of conditioning..about which we may somewhat disagree. And the use of "hard-wiring" as metaphor, which I have always found to be interesting...and troubling. Possibly, most of all, the issue of Reduction, which, of course, might not apply to a "good enough" theory, but should always be kept in mind. There are also the "ism" categories and the traps they set. Ah, well...perhaps some day.

In the meantime...I was pleased to see you ended your essay with the clip of Cohle's pessimistic views, sort of post-modern Schopenhauer redux with a twist or two. Oddly - and disappointingly - Cohle ended that series with a bit about Light and Dark...


Oh, well...great tv nontheless.

Carlin said we have front row seats...Taibbi says the show is unstoppable...these days, old as I am, I often imagine storming the stage.

Sometimes the pool-pah...

Very Best Dave...Rock On,

Dave Cohen

Dear all,

This post is now closed to comments. This was the last post you could comment on. There won't be any more daily posts.

DOTE will remain up indefinitely. The archives will be there for anyone to read for free.

I will write up a few appendices to the 4th essay, but I can't tell you when I'll do that.

I will re-organize the front page and create a resources page. On that page I will include a selected list of links from the archives pertaining to the Flatland essays.

I always wrote for posterity. Perhaps the suffering humans of the post-2050 world will be able to read what I wrote. Maybe some of them, finally, will be able to recognize themselves in what I told them about human nature.

I hope in the future that someone on Earth will publish another website carrying on in the tradition I started. If no one is able to do that, well, then there was only me and that's all she wrote.

As it turns out, and this was not preordained as my own process of observation and putting things together worked itself out, the news about humans is not good. This is going to be a tumultuous and tragic century, though we can't know the exact details of how things will unfold. One thing we know for sure is that the "flatland" view of human capacities is delusional.

Thanks for reading.

best to all of you,

-- Dave

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