Psychology

Dress for Success

youtube-Logo-4gc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of RE

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Published on The Doomstead Diner on December 19, 2016

john-michael-greer

Discuss this article at the Doom Psychology Table inside the Diner

In the last few days Inside the Diner we have been pursuing a discussion regarding Archdruid John Michael Greer, who runs the Archdruid Report.  It's a blog not that dissimilar from the Doomstead Diner, in that its main concern is with the Collapse of Industrial Civilization.  However, as is with the case for all of us Kollapsnik Bloggers like Albert Bates, Ugo Bardi, Dmitry Orlov, James Howard Kunstler, Raul "Ilargi" Meijer, Guy McPherson, Gail Tverberg, Steve Ludlum, Allan Stromfeldt Christensen and innumerable others on this Bandwagon nowadays, everybody has a somewhat different spin on the situation.  We all don't always get along with each other all too well either. lol.  Egos tend to be large and get in the way quite often, and the different spins can cause conflict also.

JMG, or "Mr. Wizard" as I often refer to him is a bit different though, because in addition to being a Kollapsnik Doomer, he also served as a Religious Leader in the Druid camp, as Archdruid of the AODA, the Ancient Order of Druids in America (he has now begun a new sect though I am informed, the Golden Dawn Druids).  He also costumed up for this role, with clothing straight out of the Middle Ages, and a massive and bushy beard as well to go with it for a real look of religious authority.  He may very well have Sapient Crows Nesting in there that will take over from Homo Sap when we go extinct and nobody would ever know it.

As Religious Leaders go, this kind of dress and outfitting is not uncommon.  His Popeness, Vicar of Christ on Earth, Pope Francis also has Official Clothing that is utterly removed from modern dress.

https://peopledotcom.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/pope-francis-600-1.jpg

In the Russian Orthodox Church, the Bishops ALSO wear this kind of clothing.  They ALSO sport the Big Beards!

https://mospat.ru/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/IMG_0197.jpg

The Muslim Imams ALSO have their distinctive dress!  The Sheiks ALSO!

http://gopthedailydose.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/jpg1-640x390.jpg

still more big beards!

https://tariganter.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/heads-of-states-of-the-gulf-cooperation-council-gcc.jpg?

These guys do occassionally trim the beardThe clothing however is not entirely practical these days.

Now, why do these people DO this?  It's because of symbology mainly.  It is "distinguishing" and makes them different than "normal" people.  Do regular people walk around dressed in robes like this nowadays?  No, nobody does really.  For the Muslims, you gotta be a Saudi Prince to dress up in this type of getup.  Most people in Saudi Arabia do not dress in this getup, they wear jeans and t-shirts like everybody else.

The curious thing about it is that in many cases, this type of clothing runs back to the Middle Ages at the very least, if not BCE.  It was all Grand and Elegant for the Era, and set the Elite of the society apart from the Hoi Polloi, who were likely mostly dressed in rags.  It lends a visual sense of AUTHORITY to their presence.  They are someone who should be listened to and respected, because they are so well DRESSED! LOL.

The Religions haven't changed their dress code for success for their leaders all that much over the centuries, what worked to impress the hoi polloi in 500AD still seems to work pretty good today.  On the secular level though, Fashion in Clothing for the successful and respected has morphed over the years.

Back in the court of Louis XIV this is the kind of clothing you wore to set yourself apart from the unwashed commoners:

https://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/mt/2015/09/Louis/lead_960.jpg?1441118329

What do our Secular Leaders all wear TODAY to Identify themselves as someone to be Respected and Listened to? SUITS!  Very EXPENSIVE suits made by Armani and Brooks Brothers etc.

http://www2.pictures.gi.zimbio.com/Banking+CEO+Testify+Before+House+Use+TARP+CmVEDD-Lx6Xl.jpg

Penguins on Parade

Look at EVERY picture on the net of EVERY Western "leader" or bizman, and they always are in the full regalia with the Silk Tie and the Gold Cufflinks, etc.

http://www.thecubiclechick.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/2013-08-13-14.29.19.jpg Now, walking around in Walmart, how often do you see anyone who is even wearing a cheap suit and tie, much less one of these extraordinarily expensive outfits?  About NEVER.  I cannot remember the last time I saw anyone even wearing a TIE at Walmart!  Well, except for the Manager, who wears the Tie as the Symbol of his power inside his own Walmart store.  None of the Customers are ever wearing Ties.

In the Banking industry, center of all the power in this society, just about everyone down to Teller level is required to wear a Tie, at least the males anyhow.

http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2008/10/08/article-1073909-02DD200900000578-913_634x598.jpg While I worked on Wall Street, I also Dressed for Success. I also wore the Full Suit & Tie, in fact often the 3 Piece style including the Vest popular back then, and the requisite pocket watch with Gold chain to go with that.  Vests aren't as popular these days amongst the Wall Street crowd though.  Getting geared up in the morning to go to work was a freaking CHORE.  Getting your Windsor Knot on your tie JUST right and balanced often would take 2 or 3 tries.  Then after a day at work and riding the subway there and back with a lot of stinky commuters, your suit was all rumpled and you can't just throw a Brooks Brothers suit in the washer & dryer, it's gotta go to the Cleaners for Dry Cleaning.  Your shirts all need to be pressed.  If you have a maid or stay at home wife who is good at ironing, that is usually good enough but if you are a single Corporate Ladder Climber fucking Joffrey & Twyla Tharp Ballet Dancers after a day's work ripping people off and snorting Coke into the wee hours, you don't have time for this yourself so you gotta drop your shirts off at the cleaners too.  Even back in the late 70s, my weekly Chinese Laundry bill was around $50 1970s dollars.  Then there was the money spent on the minimum weekly Shoe Shines for the Italian Leather shoes.  I will tell you, such shoes are really not all that comfortable even if you spend a fucking fortune on them (I did, custom made lasts, the whole 9 yards) and they positively suck if you get some NYC Slush on them in winter or even step in a fucking puddle in the spring.  They're really only good going straight from the Limo into the Office Building, and then only if somebody carries you inside on a rainy day.  Most of us lesser Korporate Klimbers who did not have our own Limos yet would wear a pair of sneakers to commute to work with the classy Italian Leather shoes in a backpack, then you would change shoes in the bathroom before going to your office.  Talk about fucking stupid behavior!  Cheap Chinese Sneakers beat the PANTS off Custom Italian Leather shoes in every area except FASHON.

http://unrealitymag.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/teacher1.jpg It was a little better when I went into Teaching, you didn't have to wear the full Penguin Suit, but they still "suggested" a collar shirt and tie at the time.  It was a very SERIOUS suggestion, as in if you didn't take it you were snubbed and not going to get plum teaching assignments.  Far as I know, nobody ever got fired for wearing a T-Shirt, but all the old time Top Teachers who got the AP & Honors classes wore the Shirt & Tie and dress pants, not jeans.

Believe it or not, this Dress Code bizness even extended into my career as a competitive gymnastics coach, although the dress code was a LOT more comfortable.  In that profession to gain respect and status you had to wear an expensive Track Suit made by Adidas or Alpha Factor and a collared Polo Shirt with your gym name embroidered on it at the very least to all the Local, State & National Meets you went to if not every day in the gym.  Don't wear jeans and a t-shirt, it's not "Professional" looking enough!

http://www.luxury-insider.com/sites/default/files/uploads/trump1.png All of this Dress Up bizness is symbology about setting yourself apart as an Authority Figure and/or RICH.  The Middle Ages style clothing worn by religious authority figures are all made of fine cloth which was not available to most commoners of the time.  They also are often dyed with colors that weren't available to most people.  Hats are bejeweled to further up the status symbolism of the outfit.

For the modern era, the Suits have to be customed tailored to really look & fit right, The Ties gotta be the finest Chinese Silk and the shoes STILL have to be the stupid Italian Leather ones!

I do grasp the psychology of this and why these folks all dress this way, but I find it ridiculous.  Whether it is Religious Leaders in Robes, Saudi Sheiks in Robes, Walmart Managers wearing Shirt & Tie or Banksters in Armani Suits, they all look like clowns to me and I LOSE respect for them because of this.  They're all utilizing dress to try and BUY respect.  But the psychology still exists in just about all cultures, even First Nations people Chiefs all had fancy headgear and beadwork on ceremonial clothing.

Nowadays, I no longer need to Dress for Success in anything, I can schlep around all day in sweats and a t-shirt or my pajamas if I want to, nobody is around to care or give a shit.  This is one of the greatest benefits of retirement.

https://sojo.net/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/blog/110030799.jpg?itok=ejXsh13y When I walk about the society, I look at the way people dress, and what kind of statement they are trying to make with this dress up.  Women have their own dress up codes to signal who they are, depending on the style of the day.  Religious Outfits of all varieties are quite peculiar in their symbolism, from the extreme parsimoniousness of the Calvinists in the All Black outfits to the extravagance of the Roman Catholics with the flowing robes and jeweled headgear.

I have my own style of dress and motif these days also, the "Indiana Jones" motif complete with the Fedora and the leather jacket.  It's not meant to impress anyone with my authority though, it's more of a joke on authority.  The motif also is pretty functional clothing, as opposed to the silly gowns or the Armani suits.  My sneakers and boots also work just fine in rain or snow or slush, I don't gotta switch them out for doing my daily bizness anymore.

For Mr. Wizard with his Druid outfit, this makes him REALLY special.  Not too many Druids wandering the streets these days in such getups.  Then the huge and bushy beard also sets him apart in this culture.  About the only people here in the FSoA who routinely let their facial hair grow exceedingly long are the Amish, and there aren't too many of them around.  For them, this is also a symbol of Authority & Power, in fact "Beard Cutting" is a means of shaming men in the Amish culture.

https://dudo6el28sqqp.cloudfront.net/gothamistgallery/2016/8/18/2bbbccbc4081816trumpstatueusq-11-jpg-mobile.jpeg In order to divest myself of giving anyone credence based on how they dress up, if they are attractive looking I just picture them in my mind's eye as NAKED when I talk to them.  If they are fat, old and ugly, I imagine them with a big paper bag over most of the meat package, with just the head sticking out. If they have a lot of facial hair, I imagine them with a fresh shave.  I am not interested in people's clothing statement or hair statement all that much.  It's fucking stupid cultural bullshit.  People who dress these ways are using their clothing to exert authority in a certain way.  The religious folks do it one way with one motif, the bizness leaders and politicians do it with another motif, but it is all the same thing, defining yourself as a leader of a particular cult in the society.  Our biggest cult here these days is the Capitalista Cult, and the leaders all wear the Armani Suits.  Over in Saudi Arabia, the leaders of that cult all wear the Bedouin style robes from the days they still rode on Camels. The Catholic bigwigs still wear the gear from the heady days after the fall of the Roman Empire when they took over the bankstering bizness.  Mr. Wizard is a Wannabee Druid Cult leader and has the outfit to prove it.

I strive to be the Indiana Jones cult leader.  I want everyone to be Adventurous Archaeologists.

http://akns-images.eonline.com/eol_images/Entire_Site/2014226/rs_1024x759-140326100842-1024.2harrison-ford-indiana-jones.jpg

A Demon Haunted World

rage_against_the_machine_1280x960gc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of tdOs

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Published on Pray for Calamity on March 31, 2016

Gaia_Mother_Earth

Discuss this article at the Psychology Table inside the Diner

Earth_Goddess_by_stolen_designsShe picks up a stick. Her two year old hands are pristine, without callouses. Standing straight up she begins to walk forward on the path that leads along a ridge line deep into the forest. On uneven ground her steps still betray a clumsiness, but she overwhelms her lack of experience with exuberance and then turns to see me walking a few steps behind her.

“Dada get a big stick?”

She wants me to use a hiking stick as well. Last year I would carry her in a hiking pack, and I would use a large stick for support as I navigated slopes and downed tree trunks. Now she imitates the habit using the small bit of hickory in her hand, poking the ground with it as she walks, and she expects me to do so as well.

“You want me to find a hiking stick?”
“Uh huh.”
“How about this one?”

Leaning over I pick up a bowed piece of a fallen branch and proceed to snap off the twigs that jut from it in crooked tangles. It is a brittle piece of wood and suffices as more of an accessory than anything, but my daughter is happy that we are now both equipped for our walk. She turns once more down the path. A two year old girl takes confident steps with her hiking stick in one hand, and a plastic pink magic wand in the other. We are going out in search of fairies, and she flat refuses to embark on such an adventure without her wand.

Economic collapse finds itself a popular plot device across a broad spectrum of the internet. Those who anticipate such a collapse monitor the details of international trade, noting the ups and downs of stock and bond markets, currency values, volatility and shipping indices. Economic collapse is one of those concepts that is out the door and around the world generating hype, fear, and sales of pocket knives before anyone who would take the time to explore its value can even settle into an armchair. As with so many other premises and cliches we are bombarded with, most people take for granted that the economy is even a thing.

In 1776 Adam Smith published his magnum opus, “An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations,” in which Smith establishes the now firmly entrenched and wholly mythical notion that barter societies preceded the invention of money, which was an inevitable progression due to its efficiency at facilitating trade. In “Nations,” Smith also establishes the idea that the economy is even a thing that exists and that can be studied. Of course, it will be men like himself that are capable of doing the studying and imparting their wisdom onto the world. It is quite a ruse, if you think about it, inventing a specter and then inventing the business of studying it.

When we speak of “the economy,” what are we even talking about? The Dow Jones Industrial? The S&P 500? Or are we merely speaking of some amalgamation of the habits and behaviors of humans which combine to provide for our daily acquisition of needs? It may seem silly to question because it is such a prevalent notion in this culture, but for the majority of human existence, there was no economy. It was an idea that had to be invented, and now, there are whole academic wings dedicated to the maintenance of the idea, as well as sections in newspapers and channels on television focused solely on its changing winds. Those who lord over such institutions have their charts and maps and a host of methods for describing the economy to everyone else. At times, they speak of their trade as a science, which would lead one to believe that the thing which they observe is predictable, that they could establish some level of capable control over it. At other times, the economy is a wild thing, and it moves and thrashes of its own chaotic will like a storm squall.

So people watch the signs. They generate charts. They consult the experts. Some believe that the economy, despite its tantrums, is an all loving God that will always rise again, and so they tithe. Others believe the economy is a false idol set to feast on the souls of the avaricious or the merely ignorant, and so they prepare.

As someone who long ago came to the conclusion that the civilized method of human organization is one that is always bound to fail, I have many times put forth the suggestion that we need to transition into living arrangements that do not rely on the creation of cities. This is all to say, I have an anti-civilzation philosophy, which to the uninitiated perhaps seems extreme or absurd. Consider quickly, this definition of civilization offered by wikipedia:

A civilization is any complex society characterized by urban development, social stratification, symbolic communication forms (typically, writing systems), and a perceived separation from and domination over the natural environment by a cultural elite. Civilizations are intimately associated with and often further defined by other socio-politico-economic characteristics, including centralization, the domestication of both humans and other organisms, specialization of labor, culturally ingrained ideologies of progress and supremacism, monumental architecture, taxation, societal dependence upon farming as an agricultural practice, and expansionism.

To be against civilization is not to be in favor of some inhumanity towards others, but simply to believe that urban development, infinite growth, ecological destruction, social stratification, agriculture, etc. are ultimately unsustainable pursuits that are dooming our possibility of existing very far into the future. Further, the anthropocentrism inherent in such societies results in the widespread extirpation of the other beings with whom we share this planet.

Suggesting that we abandon, once and for all, the project of civilization is often met with a buffet of criticisms. That civilization gave us the sciences, and the sciences – usually now expressed simply as Science! – gave us a candle in an otherwise dark, demon haunted world, is usually proffered as reason enough for humanity to continue on a civilized trajectory. Critics of anti-civ ideas would have us believe that as primitive people we lived in constant fear of disembodied spirits that stalked and haunted us, manifesting as sickness and death that we could not otherwise explain. Science! they claim, was a great demon slayer that has brought illumination in the form of germ theory and biology, and thanks to optics of all kinds, both micro and telescope, we can see that the universe both minute and macro is not subject to god or djinn, not spirit or elemental but merely to the wind of a grand mechanical clock of subatomic particles and fundamental forces.

What light! It bathes us in such cleansing luminance! Fear not as you walk through the world sons of Ptolemy and daughters of Hypatia!

Now check your stocks. There are movements in the markets. How is your 401K?

More is happening in the space around you than you can possibly imagine. Your body is equipped with various sensory abilities that allow you to gather information about the world around you, and this information is used to generate a picture of existence that you as a biological entity can use to go forth and attain your survival. This picture exists in your mind only, and it is further shaped and formed by your particular biological makeup, as well as the cultural programming that you have been inculcated with since birth.

The world you see is not the world I see, let alone, is not the world an owl, or a butterfly, or a snap pea sees. Human societies have a habit of claiming that through their sciences that have been able to package and interpret reality as it is. The fun sets in when we notice that each of these societies that has claimed such a handle on reality have all, in fact, had different descriptions of reality.

Again, more is happening around us than we could know. We are filtering. We are constructing from the pieces we capture. We are naming and simplifying and manufacturing volumes of symbols. In a sense, we must do so so as not to be crippled by the overwhelming weight of all that we experience. But ultimately, more is not included in our picture of the world than is included. The cutting room floor actually contains more reality than the final film playing out in our heads.

It is this understanding that stays my hand when others might wave theirs in dismissal of the disembodied phenomena that live outside of the lens we in the modern industrial world currently use to view our surroundings. Those who fear the crumbling of the city walls for what hordes of demons might come rushing in like a torrent to corrupt our understandings so finely crafted over centuries of weighing and measuring might do well to look around and see which demons already stalk the streets and halls. We have traded one set of lesser gods for another. You many not make offerings to the spirits of rain after holding the dry dirt in your fingers, but your faith in tomorrow’s full stomach might have you watching for a little green triangle to come drifting across a stock ticker. Where a few centuries ago a geomancer may have cast a chart that relied on the anima mundi – or soul of the Earth – for its answers, today’s economists are numerologists drawing meaning from the staggered lines that connect disparate values of commodities and currencies, hoping to tease from it all some prediction about future well being.

Am I attempting to claim that germs do not exist? Of course not. Am I attempting to claim that science has produced nothing of value? Of course not. I am simply suggesting that civilized life has not rid the world of demons, but merely shifted the demons we concern ourselves with. Priests have not gone out of fashion, to be sure, they just wear a different costume and spin incantations of a new variety. This class of priests extends far beyond the realm of economics, and the demons they promise to exorcise can be found anywhere uncertainty and fear have taken root. The simple fact is that life is a dangerous pursuit, and we all enter into it with a debt. We owe our lives and will all be held to account sooner or later. If we do not create cultures capable of accepting this most basic truth, we will invariably create cultures that attempt to mitigate our fear of death with palliatives. The palliative du jour in our particular civilization is technological domination of the ecological systems of the Earth, and it is this behavior that is responsible for the variety of cataclysms now unfolding globally. Sea ice melt, top soil loss, forest die offs, oceanic dead zones, mass extinction of species, climatic disruption; all have now long passed the formative stage and are well underway.

But so afraid of the dark beyond the city gates, the civilized world clings to their neon gods. They pray to markets and justice, progress and innovation. The Maya may have found it prudent to sacrifice some humans, perhaps by throwing them into a cenote or by letting the blood of a Pok-ta-tok victor to replenish the vigor of the tree of life. We modern civilized are far more sophisticated, and instead sacrifice the salamander, the Ash tree, the island chain, the clean flowing river, the indigenous tribe, or the global poor.

If we refuse to defecate in the river because we consider the water sacred and believe it contains within it a spirit of its own, does it matter? The water runs clean. If we continue to clear cut jungles so as to mine for rare Earth metals using diesel fuel and laborers fed mono-crops all because we believe that technology will somehow repair the wounds we have inflicted on the living planet, can we really claim that our demon free world is now safer?

She kicks up leaves as she walks.

“Shh!” I crouch low, squatting on my hams and I tap my ear with a forefinger. “Listen.” My daughter emulates my posture and I cannot help but smile. She looks out into the mass of trees before us. I whisper when I ask her if she sees any fairies, and she whispers her replies.

“Yes.”
“How many?”
“Two fairies.”
“What color are they?”
“Blue.”

The afternoon sunlight is gold as it falls all around us. We stay there a while and I tell her that we must not disturb the fairies. We tell them that we are not there to do them any harm. We are nice people, we assure them. We hope that they are safe in the forest and we wish them well in their endeavors. After all, the forest can also be home to goblins, which is why I am glad my daughter had the foresight to bring her wand.

The psycho-dynamics of the financial market

ethics-and-compliancegc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of Brian Davey

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Published on FEASTA on February 19,2016

Discuss this article at the Doom Psychology Table inside the Diner

Mental health problems and debt finance are strongly linked. People in debt have a higher incidence of psychiatric problems, and there is a higher rate of psychiatric symptoms among the people working in the finance sector too. During a bubble, egos are pumped up with asset values – and, when the bubble bursts, reputational collapse occurs with corresponding psychological effects.

When we look at the financial markets from an emotional and mental health angle, we don’t find optimal equilibrium states and rational people adapting to them. Instead, we come across a large number of unhappy, dysfunctional and disorientated people. Let’s look first at the debtor – creditor relationship from a mental health point of view.

Mental Health and Debt

For a start, there is a striking correlation between mental ill health and debt – on both sides – lenders as well as borrowers. Among other things, it is now well documented that self-reported anxiety increases with the ratio of credit card debt to personal income; that the onset of mortgage debt has a negative impact on mental health on males; that of people receiving debt advice, a high proportion (62% in a UK study) reported that their debt led to stress, anxiety and depression which they are likely to consult their doctor about; that there is a relationship between debt and post natal depression; that debt is the strongest predictor of depression; that difficulties in repaying debts are strongly connected with suicidal ideation and self-harm; that debt is associated with feelings of shame, social embarrassment, a sense of personal failure, negative self-identities and is implicated in isolation, social exclusion and strained relationships. (Fitch, Chaplin, Trend, & Collard, 2007)

Now let is turn to look at the situation on the other side, among the people who lend money, or at least those who manage and direct the credit markets. Mental health problems can be severe in the heat of financial competition. Drugs and alcohol are commonplace on Wall Street.

In a study of 26 men ages 22 to 32, all prestigious Wall Street brokers, researchers at Florida’s Nova South-eastern University examined how work stress affects brokers” physical and mental health. Led by John Lewis, Ph.D., a psychology professor at NSU, the study found that a broker’s average workday was 10 to 12 hours long, and that those earning the most also slept the least. The participants rarely missed work, calling in sick an average of twice a year but suffering from the flu or a virus at least twice as often. And despite being wealthy, the brokers were unhappy. Thirty- eight percent met the criteria for subclinical major depression, while 23 percent were clinically
diagnosed with major depression—shocking, considering only 7 percent of men are currently depressed in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. (Gorrell, 2001 update 2009)

A few years ago, during the financial crisis of 2007-2008, New York newspapers revelled in stories about stressed-out traders reaching breaking point. One broker, Christopher Carter, was charged with assault for throwing a hedge fund manager, complete with an exercise bike, at a wall in an Upper East Side gym. The hedgie’s offence? He grunted and shouted, “You go, girl!” too loudly during a spin class.

In London, a hedge fund manager, Bertrand des Pallières, made news during the time of the financial crisis because he was so busy shorting stocks that he didn’t notice for three months that his £80,000 Maserati had been towed away.

Jim Cramer, a hedge fund manager turned television stock picker, told the New York Times that drugs tended to reinforce traders’ inability to spot a looming downturn: “Prozac and all those other drugs banish the ‘this is the end of the world’ thoughts. Which means you are not as anxious as you should be about an obvious downside.” (Clark, 2008)

During the panic, therapists reported that there was an epidemic of psychological illnesses in the finance sector, while some of the managers used some of the oldest of psychological strategies for coping – avoidance, denial, switching off mentally in the heat of the crisis. An example was James Cayne, chief executive officer of the Bear Stearns bank.

The German news magazine Der Spiegel described Cayne’s work style thus:

“Even in times of the greatest crisis the boss of investment bank Bear Stearns did not let himself be distracted from his hobbies. Last July, as one of his Hedge Funds broke down, the head of the board travelled undisturbed to a several day long bridge tournament in Nashville, Tennessee. While his troops fought for survival Cayne was not contactable. He had turned his mobile phone off. Its ring could have disturbed the many times American bridge champion.” (Die Bank Raeuber, 2008)” – translator author.

Even a cursory glance reveals therefore that, from the point of view of community mental health, the credit system is highly dysfunctional. Of course mental health workers meet desperately unhappy
people living absurd lives all the time. Meeting people trapped in belief systems that, from the outside, seem crazy goes with the job. Normally, to be unlucky enough to qualify for a mental illness diagnosis, the apparently strange belief system that you have, and your strange way of making sense of the world must be unique to you. It will be seen as part of your inability to communicate with others. Then a psychiatrist can damn you with a variety of diagnostic labels like “thought disorder” which are said to be the symptoms of something deeper.

Over the last couple of decades, it has become clear that a lot of these strange thoughts are actually interpretable with a bit of effort. Psychologists, therapists and counsellors who become good at this quickly note emotional response patterns in society at large – the common cultural assumptions that help form collective emotional responses made by whole groups of people. There is nothing new in this. Freud applied his ideas out of the consulting room in observations about the wider world and his ideas were picked up by the advertising industry in the manner already described.

Using what we know about group emotions, it seems to me that it ought to be possible, and would indeed be valuable, to integrate the knowledge of group psycho-dynamics into our understanding of the way that markets evolve, including financial markets.

As explained in the previous chapter, using borrowed money during a boom phase, as long as asset values continue to inflate, it is easy to make money using borrowed money. This is called leverage and the point about leverage on the way up is that it can get out of control. Betting that asset values will go up with borrowed money creates a further pressure pushing those values up even more in a self-fulfilling prophecy. Such self-fulfilling prophecies are common in mental health – confidence leads to success and builds confidence even more. However, where there are no limits to mood enhancement, it leads into mania – and that includes on the financial markets…

Egos get pumped up at the same time as assets values

In the circumstances of a leveraged boom it is not only asset values that get pumped up but egos. Ordinary mortals who, in other circumstances would see themselves as no more or less important than anyone else, suddenly become very rich and acquire the symbols of social success that are so important to “marketing characters”. It is, thus, not only bank balances that swell in size when bonuses are announced.

Trading rooms are fiercely competitive places and the action is fast and furious. In finance, just as in any other branch of life, the more one devotes one attention to the matter at hand, the better one will do. The broader and deeper one’s knowledge is, the more edge one will have over everyone else. However, this has some resemblance to addictive behaviour. In an addiction, everything and everyone takes second place to the addiction. The guru who understands the markets better than anyone else probably understands the other things in life less well – and certainly gives them lower priority. For the finance experts, it will probably seem self-evident, ultimately, that the way out of problems is to buy one’s way out. This will not make for happy relationships. (Kreitzman, 1999, p. 26)

Earlier in the book, I quoted the example of the currency trader whose marriage was wrecked because of the way that he tried to keep track of the 24 hour currency market and woke every 2 hours to keep track as markets on the other side of the world opened. This is the kind of thing that a manic person will do. The fact that other people in the financial markets are living in the same crazy way is likely to mean that it is not interpreted as mania, but it does not change its essential character. The euphoria of mania is like the excitement of a small child the day before its birthday. This child cannot sleep because the next day will bring a pile of presents, a party and lots of attention. The manic person cannot find a way to switch their feelings off and is constantly on an adrenalin high. Often enough, in these circumstances more and more commitments are taken on. What is missing is the idea of a personal limit to one’s practical and work capacities.

In the life of a person who is not wealthy, these practicalities and the urgent adrenalin-charged character of their relationships will eventually mean that they come unstuck. Making ever more commitments means that they over-reach. Complications are not foreseen. Other people do not play ball with grandiose designs. If one does too much one doesn’t have time to wash one’s clothes and do the washing up. Life, practicalities, projects and relationships fall apart as one goes past one’s limits.

A rich person may not have some of the complications of ordinary life which would floor a manic person. Their money can buy servants and, with enough wealth, sex (though not love) is no problem either. Many of the practical problems in life can be solved with money or a credit card – until the crash.

The whole history of the market economy tells us that a crash comes eventually. Euphoria impairs judgement. The overconfidence of rich and powerful people, because it cannot be held in check by the countervailing power of those who are not as strong economically or politically, nevertheless, reaches a point beyond which it cannot go further. As I once argued in a psychotherapy journal:

“The ancient Greeks already knew how to describe situations like this. This was a job for the Goddess Nemesis whose role it was to maintain equilibrium on earth “rebalancing” happiness from time to time. In fulfilment of her role, Nemesis had a tricky relationship with the goddess Tyche – who was irresponsible in handing out Luck and Fortune, indiscriminately heaping her horn of plenty, or depriving others of what they had. In particular Nemesis would wreak havoc on those favoured by Tyche if they failed to give proper dues to the gods, become too full of themselves, boasted of their abundant riches or refused to improve the lot of their fellow humans by sharing their luck.” (Davey, What Future?, 2007)

People who become too full of themselves eventually believe that they can get away with anything in the pursuit of their addiction. In the literature about the financial crisis of a few years ago we could read over and again that the banks did not trust each other. When trust breaks down, we have a very specific kind of psycho-dynamic occurring between people.

A Professor of Organisational Ethics at the Cass Business School, Roger Steare, undertook integrity tests on more than 700 financial services executives in several major firms and came to the conclusion that: “There is a systemic deficit in ethical values within the banking industry. This will not change by hanging a few people out to dry”.

The results of these tests indicate that, as a group, they scored lower than average in honesty, loyalty and self-discipline. Steare compared traders to “mercenary hired guns”, who regularly switched firms to maximise earnings. (Hunt, 2008)

Reputational collapse

Behind the technical language of “liquidity”, is a language that distances us from the deeper reality.
The truth about the credit crunch was that it was a reputational collapse of the participants of an entire economic sector – the people running this sector overreached themselves. The really damaging thing has been that most of them have been able to get away with it because governments feel that they must bail them out. This means that the whole charade will happen again… and again… until society organises a fundamental root and branch reform of this sector.

The road that has brought humanity to this crazy point has been one where there have been, and still are, plenty of illusions. These are little different from the illusions that a manic person would create. Cassandras who try to express the folly of pushing beyond the limits are ignored.

In the case of the financial markets, because the manic process is a collective one, the illusions are repeatedly embodied in institutions and are dignified with words like “financial innovation”.

Rather as a mad person will split off the part of their personality that does not fit their cosy self-image, that is, the murderously angry and hateful self, so the financial institutions split off the financial junk that earns them fees making predatory loans to people who cannot afford to pay them back or are in other ways dubious ethically and financially. The splitting hives securities off balance sheets into “special purpose institutions”. Rather as the mad person will wishfully believe what they want to believe rather than hard realities, the banks have paid other organisations to give AAA ratings to the worthless pieces of paper that they issue so that everyone, including themselves, can believe that everything will be OK.

Such strategies have their parallels in mental mechanisms of avoidance – the pathologies unravelled by clinical psychology. But then, to use the terminology of Freudian analysis, the repressed truth, the reality that has been held at bay, returns. The worthless assets have to be taken back onto the books. Reality bursts through the illusion.

To conclude, it would be valuable to integrate into our theorisation of what happens in the course of the credit and other economic cycles and events, the emotional changes of the people involved as they act and live through these events. Very often, people live with their emotions but barely notice them. They have no language or concept systems to describe their emotional responses and we may describe them as emotionally illiterate. Not having reflected deeply on their own emotional responses and those of others, they may act in ways which are unconscious, lacking in self-awareness. As explored in other chapters, this kind of person lives through what the therapist Erich Fromm called a “marketing personality”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philosophy of the Absurd

PhoenixRisinggc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of Fenixor

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Published on the Doomstead Diner on October 30, 2015 & Peak Resources on October 31, 2015

It is beauty, in all its forms, life as it is lived, that makes me shed tears…

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_axVgXvgTKc/VjP0RlLlwQI/AAAAAAAAA_0/gnqOXR3CpTE/s1600/IMG_3681.JPG

Discuss this article at the Doom Psychology Table inside the Diner

Is it all for naught, we ask? This cold and uncaring universe goes against our feelings, our wants and dreams of purpose and meaning. And yet we are nothing but a burst of energy in a void of matter, a blue dot, an experiment, a random process. All ideas of intention and free will is but semantics. Yes, it is hard to accept. But I do not feel less today than yesterday because of my realisation. 
 
Life is simply a philosophy of the absurd, a futile search for meaning and clarity in a world devoid of God, eternal truths or values. As such, are we condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task, is there no way out?, you ask. According to Albert Camus “The struggle itself […] is enough to fill a man’s heart”, for what is life if not a series of experiences, of day by day living? So it is for the blue whale, the orangutan, and the arctic fox. We are not so special as we have come to believe. 
 
Upon insight, people react differently, some with sadness others with slackening life force or caring due to denial or intentional forgetfulness. But we don't have much of a choice but to accept the absurd and create a meaning of our own. No wonder that such a great number of humans today suffer from mental illness since they have nothing left: no nature, no culture, no community, no language…nothing that creates identity and thus meaning in our uncaring world.
 
We want to live and survive and yet if we continue on like today we will likely self-destruct. Prior generations only had to worry about one existential problem at a time (last time it was nuclear proliferation) but our current dilemma is the result of multiple converging crises, all life-threatening. Deforestation, ocean acidification, antibiotic resistant diseases, peak oil, ecosystem collapse, freshwater scarcity, resource conflict, economic collapse etc. 
 
Most people are not convinced we are in the midst of a collapsing global society, but a few of us are. And so if we follow the reasoning of Camus we have three different options, either 1) suicide, 2) nihilism, or 3) revolution. Unfortunately 1 million people die each year from suicide, that's one in every 40 seconds, and WHO estimates it will increase to about one in every 20 seconds by 2020. And there are plenty of people in the nihilism camp, I would say a majority, but I can find few in the revolutionary segment. At least here, in northern Europe. But perhaps we are late, as we see movements in Greece, Spain and Portugal towards self-determination and decentralisation of decision-making. 
 
From ecology we know that crisis creates opportunity in otherwise rigid systems difficult to change. The question is one of timing, to see the window of opportunity and seize it. Of course, this will play out differently depending on scales and places. So far we have not reached a critical tipping point in social behaviour. But there is a great tension, a rising worry, more disorder as entropy exacts its vengeance.

The Final Personal Solution

Death-Rattlegc2smOff the keyboard of RE

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Published on the Doomstead Diner on September 20, 2015

Discuss this article at the Psychology Table inside the Diner

This week, a close friend, really practically a Brother of one of the Diners committed Suicide.  The exact reasons for this as yet are unclear, but it is clear that this fellow had many troubles through his life, his ability to do the kind of fine work he had made his living at was impaired, his life was not going well for him, and he made the decision to end it this week.

His age, mid-60s since he was 3 years older than my friend Eddie, who also writes here on the Diner regularly.  This isn't the first suicide this year that touched Eddie's life, a contemporary of one of his children also pulled the life plug on himself.  In his case, apparently battling depression for many years.

Here is what Eddie wrote about his own friend this week Inside the Diner, Remembering his Friend and Brother:

Where do you start? There is so much I could say about him. A hundred stories, easy. I want to write something, but it is hard, hard. So fucking hard.

Okay, here goes.

We even had the same name.

Middle names, that is. Because we were both named for my father. It was my father's middle name too, but Dad was called by it…and he was called by it too, even though I was not.

FRIENDSHe was three years older than I was. We were childhood best friends. Yes we were. But it went much further than that. We were like brothers, two brothers of different mothers. Best friends whose fathers were also best friends.

And it went further still. My family was friends with all his many aunts and uncles, and grandparents….and we were good friends with his mother's people too. They were country people who lived right in Mud Creek Bottom, which would figure in a lot in our development.

Our relationship was better in many respects, than real brothers, because he lived a hundred miles away when we were growing up. We spent every Christmas together. In the summer, he'd spend a week at my house in the sticks, and I'd  spend a week at his house in the burbs. I looked forward to every visit. The first night he would be at my house, I wouldn't be able to fall asleep.

We were always going to get up early the next day and go exploring, or hunting. We used to wander up and down Bridge Creek for miles, not any respecters of property rights. We travelled with stealth, hidden from view down under the canopy of the creek. We mostly went unnoticed, even though we went armed. First with our BB guns and later with rifles and shotguns.

Anyway, I would lie awake long after he was sacked out and sawing logs, but I'd be awake at first light, and I'd poke him, and he wouldn't wake up. He'd tell me to leave him alone and then he'd turn back over and sleep for a couple more hours.

It went on like that from my earliest memory, until he turned into a teenager and we found reasons not to spend so much time together. But it didn't end there. We stayed close for many years, drifting apart in adulthood.

Like some other city kids I knew, he turned to petty larceny as an adolescent,out of boredom and for thrills and free beer, stolen from garage refrigerators in the Dallas tract house suburbs. He always got me in trouble, being the one who had nerve and lacked the kind of respect for authority that I had seemingly hardwired into my psyche.

After a couple of years of not seeing each other, he showed up at my surprise 21st birthday party and gifted me with a whole ounce of the finest Lebanese blond hashish. Best party ever.

I got married first and he did soon after. He was the best man at my wedding. I was the best man at his wedding. But he was, if anything, an even worse husband than I was,and his bride soon left him, as did mine. I went back for another try, and got lucky. He never did.

Thirty years ago he moved to a dying town in Central Texas, went to work for his father, who owned a jewelry store and a profitable jewelry repair business, and bought a run down house, where he lived alone, pursued his many hobbies, and slowly drank himself into ruin.

He had to give up his craft. A rattlesnake bite ruined his ever steady right hand. It was an avoidable accident that happened when he, probably under the influence, was handling a pygmy rattler owned by a friend. He loved snakes, and kept a big Western Diamondback for a pet (if you can call such an animal a pet) for more than 20 years, until she finally died of old age.

He drunk called me once out of the blue and asked me, in his alcohol induced honesty, why I didn't stay in closer touch. I told him I was just busy trying to raise my kids, which was true, but it wasn't the real reason. I just went a different way. I buckled down to thirteen years of school. He dropped out of college after a year. He was always a talented artist, drawn to beadwork and Native American arts and crafts. He, like his father, was a great hunter, and an amateur gunsmith. He built flintlock rifles from kits and used them. He got into rendezvous and re-enactments. He liked to take off and spend a week in Terilingua for the Chili Cook-Off, an event I always wanted to attend, but never seemed to find time for in my busy schedule.

He showed up one year in the late 90's for a fishing trip we had planned down in Aransas Bay. He spent some time with my famiiy then, and maybe we got together once or twice after that. I'm not really sure.

I really meant to spend more time with him. But I didn't. Life got in the way.

The last time I remember seeing him was at his Uncle Chester's funeral. Chester was the best woodsman of all our fathers and uncles. He fed his family off the largesse of Mud Creek. His kids, older than we were by some ten years, had built a cabin on the creek where we went fishing dozens of times with our Dads over the years.. Not on their land, actually, this cabin. I never knew who owned that land back in our day.  I went to Chester's house after the funeral, and he was there.  I asked  him to walk down the mile or two of ruts to the creek, but he wasn't into it. By that time the land had passed into the hands of a local millionaire who had torn the old cabin down and put in RV hook-ups.

I really wanted to walk down there anyway, because I knew it would be my last chance, but it didn't happen.


So…I got the call today. He took his own life over the weekend.

My brother called to tell me, right as I was finishing up my work day. He didn't know any details. There was a note, which he left for his sister. I have no idea as to his state of mind, but like most old alcoholics, he was probably fighting depression. Alcohol does that to people. I expect he shot himself. Once decided, for him of the iron will and supreme stubbornness, he would have done it quickly and efficiently.

I feel like shit right now. Guilty, mostly, for being a terrible brother and friend. Sadness, that it had to end that way for him. Sadness for his few remaining family and friends.

I feel that we will surely be together again. We have known each other over many lifetimes. So long, my brother. May you rest in peace, and in time….be reborn.

Suicides are virtually always considered "tragedies" by the people whose lives they touch, and bigger tragedies the younger you are when the person decides it is time to go to the Great Beyond.  But are they really always tragedies?

In another case of Death that has touched a Diner this year, a close friend of one of the younger Diners Roamer also crossed the Great Divide a couple of months ago while he was visiting with me.  In this case not willingly though, he fought tooth and nail to the bitter end against a Cancer which had left him paralyzed.  He had a wife and young child, and he obviously felt life was worth living no matter how bad things got for him.  This is clearly a tragedy on many levels.

Over on Guy McPherson's blog Nature Bats Last, Suicide is a fairly regular topic for discussion, while I participated over there the topic came up in almost every thread.  Guy even has a suicide information article up with a link from the Homepage of NBL.

Contemplating Suicide? Please Read This

MartinTue, Jul 8, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are contemplating suicide, please re-consider. And then click here for awareness, prevention, and support on the topic of suicide.

I’m not advocating for or against suicide. I’m non-judgmental about the issue, although I agree with Archbishop Desmond Tutu that every human has a right to make the decision to end his or her own life. It can be a thoughtful decision, as illustrated by Martin Manley.

In that note, Guy includes a link to the Blog of Martin Manley,  who pulled the plug last year, on his 60th Birthday.  Yahoo took the blog down, but it appears to have been republished elsewhere by friends and/or sympathizers.  He detailed in that blog the reasons for his choice, which basically came down to the fact he saw his mental capacities diminishing on the way to Senile Dementia, aka Alzheimer's.  Not a life threatening problem in the short term if you have people to take care of you, but the quality of life for an Alzheimer's victim is not too great, and it's not too great either for the loved ones who have to watch as the decay progresses and take care of this person.  If/When they need full time medical care, the costs can be enormous as well.  To spare himself the agony of watching himself decay and spare his family the same agony, he bought the ticket to the Great Beyond of his own volition.  To me, that is not a tragedy, it was an informed decision he made for himself.  The tragedy came before, which was his realization he was succumbing to Senile Dementia.

The reason they discuss suicide so often on NBL is because over there, the general belief is that the entire Human Race if not all life forms on Earth are bound for a Near Term Extinction, coming as soon as 2030 in recent estimates by Guy.  This is pretty depressing if you believe it to be the case, and similar to not wanting to watch yourself decay to Senile Dementia, it's none to pleasant to contemplate watching life on Earth spin down to nothingness.  Believe in this strongly enough, you might choose the suicide option.  Is that a valid option in this case?  That's a tougher question than your own personal problems and health issues.

Before we can examine that question, first we have to look at more common reasons for suicide, and whether they are Valid or Not Valid?

1- Terminal Disease

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51XiK591jdL._SY355_.jpgWell, first off Life is a Terminal Disease.  Every living thing dies, it's not perpetual.  Just a timeline issue here.

Terminal Diseases can be defined though, say as something that has a 90% or better chance of killing you inside of say 2 years or less.  In this case, it depends mostly on whether this process will involve a lot of pain and expense over that 2 year period.  If it is likely to do that, suicide becomes a valid option.  In fact in this case it has even been made legal in a few states to be assisted in your trip to the Great Beyond by folks in the Medical Industry.  Oregon recently approved this form of suicide.  You can thank Dr. Death, Jack Kevorkian for this becoming more "accepted" by the culture at large over time.

No other reason for suicide gets the LEGAL stamp of approval though, anywhere.  However, there are many reasons which in fact are more common than the terminal disease reason.

2- Depression

This is probably the Number 1 Proximal Cause for suicide.  Whenever you read about a suicide, Depression gets cited as a possible cause, often with something to back it up like the person was taking meds for this, had an alcohol addiction etc.  What rarely gets discussed is exactly WHY this person was depressed enough to take his own life?  Sometimes it is a biochemical problem, but there are many exogenous reasons that can cause a person to become depressed that themselves have valid reasons.  Marital and relationship problems are common here.  Loneliness and LACK of relationships can be a problem.  The Shrinks can sometimes medicate the depressed individual sufficiently he doesn't manifest depression symptoms, but that doesn't mean the issue causing the depression went away.

Depression is a form of emotional anguish or pain, and it is no less real than physical pain.  It can make life unbearable.  Just like meds for physical pain, anti-depressants have side effects and they are addicting.  With protracted use over time, their effectiveness can diminish, and again if the depression has its root cause in something else going on in the life of the sufferer, that root cause remains.

3- Physical Pain

Resultant from many possible causes due to illness like Cancer, Car Accidents or just deterioration due to  the Aging process, ongoing daily pain can become so unbearable that life is no longer worth living.  It is one thing to have pain that even if very strong is short lived, it is another thing entirely to have pain that never goes away.

Like the above example of anti-depressants for emotional pain, the meds that depress physical pain have many side effects, especially if you have to load up on heavy doses to relieve the pain.  If you have other addictions, the amounts grow exponentially larger.   The fellow I shared the hospital room with after my operation was in this category.

http://i467.photobucket.com/albums/rr36/altreel/Top%20Ten/HST%20Quotes/hunterthompsongun.jpgA few years ago, one of my favorite writers and role model for the Gonzo stylization I often use, Hunter S. Thompson blew his brains out with one of his many Guns.  Hunter was a real Gun Freak, not that common amongst left political leaning people.  In the aftermath of that suicide, it did come out that Hunter had been in pain for a long time, a likely result of his long time heavy use of alcohol and a whole pharmacy full of illicit and pharmaceutical drugs.  Probably in his later years not even an IV pump of Morphine could touch his pain.  Hunter burned his candle brightly, and then he burned it out.  It was his choice and his time to go.  That is not a tragedy.  It was a path he took early in his life and he never swayed from it, even though living that way is quite likely to shorten how long your personal timeline walking the earth will be.

4- Financial Problems

https://armstrongeconomics.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/jumper.jpg?w=584You could file this as a sub category of Depression, since when you get into financial difficulty, it is certainly depressing and taking meds does not cure your financial problems.  However, because this is a fairly common reason for suicide, I'm giving it a separate category.

Where this one really hits is in the category of people who have lived comfortable and financially secure lives, but then for one reason or another "lose it all" fairly rapidly.  The classic example are the Bankster Jumpers from the era of the Great Depression.  Not limited to that time period though, in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008, there were numerous Bankster suicides of one sort or another.  One of the most well publicized was that of René-Thierry Magon de La Villehuchet, heir to a fortune that went back to the French Revolution.  René lost it all in the Bernie Madoff fiasco.

Magon served as the chairman and CEO of Crédit Lyonnais Securities USA. He also contributed to the founding of Apollo Management, financial management firm established by financier Leon Black.

http://www.fashion-writings.com/img/yv/rene-thierry-magon-de-la-villehuchet-wife/rene_thierry_magon_de_la_villehuchet_hedge_fund.jpgLater, he founded Access International Advisors, a research analyst investment agency that specialized in managing hedged and structured investment portfolios that involve commercial physical and biological research.[1][2] It had connections to wealthy and powerful aristocrats from Europe. Magon de La Villehuchet's family had done business with many of these aristocrats and their ancestors for almost 300 years.[3] Its funds enlisted intermediaries with links to the cream of Europe's high society to garner clients. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) do not believe Magon de La Villehuchet was involved personally in the US$50 billion fraudulent financial Ponzi scheme which Madoff was arrested for masterminding, on 11 December. Bloomberg News reported on 2 January 2009 that the AIA funds had increased aggregate exposure to Madoff from 30% to 75% of a total US$3 billion assets in 2008, for a US$2.25 billion exposure. It also identified Philippe Junot, former husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco, and Prince Michael of Yugoslavia as partner and investor-relations executive, respectively, in the firm; and Liliane Bettencourt, the world's wealthiest woman, the 86-year-old daughter of L’Oréal founder Eugène Schueller, as an early investor.[4]

According to The New York Times, René-Thierry's older brother Bertrand said that Thierry was connected to Madoff by Thierry's partner in AIA, Patrick Littaye, another French banker, and that Thierry had not known Madoff personally. “He had a true concept of capitalism,” Bertrand Magon de La Villehuchet, 74, said of his brother, quoted in the Times. “He felt responsible and he felt guilty. Today, in the financial world, there is no responsibility; no one wants to shoulder the blame.”[5] Bloomberg reported that Bernard had invested 20% of his assets in an AIA/Madoff fund. It also reported that René-Thierry founded Access in 1994 with Littaye. The two had met at Paribas in 1970.[4] In February 2009, Littaye denied having heard of whistleblower Harry Markopolos' accusations against Madoff in the years before the scandal broke, and said Madoff was "of course" exempted from the usual handwriting analysis (graphology) which was among the due diligence efforts AIA made with its outside fund managers.[6]

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/a9/49/5d/a9495dceeea96543d97c8d5be22a6c56.jpgOf course, most people aren't in that stratospheric territory of having so much to lose to begin with, it's much more common for the formerly middle class guy with the good middle manager job in his 40s or 50s who gets laid off, can't find a new job at anywhere near the old pay rate, has his McMansion foreclosed on and the best he can do is find a job at Min Wage as a Greeter at Walmart if he is lucky.  This is relatively speaking just about as huge a fall as René took, and the consequences are similar.  It is simply too much too deal with, particularly at that stage of your life.  You really can't start over at that point, and the prospect of living out the rest of your days in poverty is not the least bit appealing.  The suicide option becomes the valid choice for many who find themselves in this situation.

There are of course as many possible reasons for suicide as there are people if you want to get very specific, but in the end whatever it was just made life no longer worth living for the person who decided to pull the plug.  Is that not your right?  It's your life after all, you are the one encased in the meat package, nobody else.  However many people consider this morally indefensible, and in fact some Christians consider suicide to be a Mortal Sin.  They argue about this some.  Some figure you can't make it into Heaven if you buy your ticket this way, others are more lenient on it.

There are seven suicides in the Bible,[citation needed] most notably in Matthew 27:5, the suicide of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus, and that of Saul (1 Samuel 31:4). In Acts of the Apostles 16:28 Paul prevents the attempted suicide of a jailor. Jonah (Book of Jonah 4:8), Elijah (1 Kings 19:4) and Job (Book of Job 6:9) express suicidal feelings.

Some Christians state that one cannot repent from suicide since one is not capable of praying and asking for forgiveness after death. However, this can also be seen as that when one commits suicide they are repenting because when dead one cannot choose to sin again, ultimately making suicide one sin that can only be committed once.

One thing we do know from this though is that suicide has been around as a choice since at least Biblical times, and it probably goes back a good deal further than that for Homo Sap.  It also appears to be fairly unique to Homo Sap, at least in the way we go about it. Do other animals commit suicide?

Animal suicide is a hugely controversial issue in the world of animal research and psychology, because although there are numerous documented instances of animals seemingly intentionally ending their own lives, no one is exactly sure whether these cases can technically be classified as suicide.

http://s3-ak.buzzfeed.com/static/enhanced/terminal01/2011/8/12/12/enhanced-buzz-1962-1313166491-6.jpgFirst things first, because we’re sticklers for factual information, we feel like we have to point out that the most famous “suicidal” animal of all, lemmings, do not actually throw themselves off of cliffs when they migrate. As we’ve already mentioned before, no one is exactly sure where the myth originated from, but we can thank Disney for making it “common knowledge” when they used a turntable to throw dozens of them into a river and then filmed the results for an Academy Award winning documentary called “White Wilderness”. Why did they intentionally kill the lemmings in this way? Because it was thought at the time that lemmings did this, and the filmmakers needed a video of it. You can read the truth about the situation concerning the lemmings here.

Moving on, there are numerous cases from history of animals seemingly killing themselves for no explainable reason. Perhaps the most famous is the curious case of Overtoun Bridge. In a nutshell, since the 1960s dozens (or hundreds depending on which source you consult) of dogs have leapt off of the bridge to their doom for no discernible reason.

While the exact number of dogs who’ve plummeted to their deaths isn’t known, the phenomenon has been widely covered and written about for years. It wasn’t until an animal behavioral specialist, David Sands, investigated the bridge that the mystery was finally solved. Sands discovered that the end of the bridge most favoured by dogs seeking to end it all just so happened to be above a known nesting ground for mink. Sands also discovered that the majority of known dogs that had made the leap were long snouted breeds known for their extraordinary sense of smell.

Putting these two facts together, Sands was able to conclude that the dogs weren’t committing suicide at all, rather they were excited by the smell of a small furry creature and tragically leapt over the safety wall (which is above the sight-line of most dogs) not realising they were standing on a bridge.

In yet another apparent dog suicide attempt often used as an example that dogs are capable of the level of abstract thinking necessary to be able to contemplate ending it all, we have the incredible story reported in the Illustrated London News in 1845 about a Newfoundland dog that supposedly repeatedly threw itself into the water and refused to move until it drowned. The dog was rescued several times throughout this, but  every time it was rescued, it would return to the water and (apparently) attempt to drown itself by not moving. As amazing as that story is, how accurate it is and the events surrounding the apparent suicide have been lost to history. If this one dog was capable of it, one would think there would be numerous other irrefutable dog suicide attempt stories like it.  The closest we have today is the phenomenon of dogs that will sometimes refuse to eat after losing their masters, which does in rare cases continue to the death of the dog.  But the question still remains in these cases- is the dog refusing to eat so that it will die, or is it just refusing to eat because it’s sad and has no appetite, as can happen with humans, but in the dog’s case not realizing the potential consequences?

In an article about the strange world of supposed animal suicide, LiveScence contributor Katharine Gammon summed the key point up nicely, For an act to be classified as a suicide, the agent must know that what it is doing will end its life.”

Of course, it is nearly impossible to ever tell if any non-human animal knows its actions will result in its own death and performs the actions towards that end.  That said, there are several types of insects who willingly allow themselves to be killed, or even in a few cases, do the deed themselves.

For instance, it has been noted that certain species of ant possess the ability to explode themselves at will when threatened (often emitting some sticky or poisonous substance in the process), earning them the apt nickname of “exploding ants“. However, even if the ants realise what will happen in terms of their own existence when they perform this selfless act, most would not classify this as suicide any more than a soldier leaping onto a grenade to save surrounding soldiers would be considered to have committed suicide; the ant sacrifices itself for the greater good because as a species, it’s evolved to put the needs of the many before the needs of the individual.

The Forelius pusillus ant also has worker ants that will sacrifice themselves for the good of the colony, but this time in a slightly different manner than the exploding ants.  Every night, the nest of a colony needs sealed off in such a way that the nest will be undetectable from the outside, in order to protect it from predators.  As such, sick ants or ones who are older will (apparently) volunteer to perform the task of staying outside the nest at night.  Once all the rest of the ants are inside, the sacrificial ants will seal up and hide the entrance and usually will end up dying from being left outside.  Even when researchers have collected these sacrificial ants and taken care of them, they usually die soon anyway, which is why it is thought that generally older or sick ants are chosen or volunteer for this task.

Likewise, honey bees will willingly explode their own penises and subsequently die, just for a chance to pass on their genes. They will also willingly remove themselves from a hive if they know they’re infected with a disease that could potentially hurt other bees.

Japanese honey bees, when defending against the Giant Asian Hornet, will intentionally group together and ball the invader.  Once they’ve surrounded the hornet, they will decouple their wings internally and then beat their muscles vigorously, similar to how honey bees heat their hives despite being cold blooded. In this case, the heat at the center, combined with high carbon dioxide levels in the ball, becomes intense enough to kill the hornet- the bees only real defense against it.  Unfortunately, bees near the hornet in the ball may also die as a result, but do so (apparently) willingly for the good of the hive. Again, some would classify this as suicide, but others would classify it as a form of altruistic behaviour typical of a hive orientated species. Indeed, whether to classify an animal’s action as suicide is almost as contentious as the issue of whether animals possess the cognitive function to understand it as a concept. Do the bees at the center of the heat ball understand their actions may result in their death or do they simply do it as the introduction of the invader triggers certain innate actions built into their brains, without any real conscious or abstract thought happening at all?

In short, though we’re aware of numerous cases in which animals have seemingly intentionally taken their own lives, we simply don’t know whether the animals understood the ramifications of their actions, or were just reacting to environmental triggers without much thought going into it.

In all probability, suicide is an artifact of sentience and the ability to reflect on your own life.  This is a relative thing and differs between people depending on their prior experience through life.  Poor people don't commit suicide just because they are poor usually.  It's only when things become utterly hopeless and their survival is in question that they commit suicide, as has been the case for 10s if not 100s of thousands of subsistence Indian farmers over the last decade.

In 2012, the National Crime Records Bureau of India reported 13,754 farmer suicides.[1] The highest number of farmer suicides were recorded in 2004 when 18,241 farmers committed suicide.[2] The farmers suicide rate in India has ranged between 1.4 to 1.8 per 100,000 total population, over a 10-year period through 2005.[3]

India is an agrarian country with around 60% of its people depending directly or indirectly upon agriculture. Farmer suicides account for 11.2% of all suicides in India.[1] Activists and scholars have offered a number of conflicting reasons for farmer suicides, such as monsoon failure, high debt burdens, genetically modified crops, government policies, public mental health, personal issues and family problems.[4][5][6] There are also accusation of states fudging the data on farmer suicides.[7]

However, you don't have to drop into total poverty to become suicidal on an economic level, just a significant enough drop in your standard of living is enough to do it, if you start off rich or even just middle class.  Even more distressing is if you start off poor, climb out of poverty but then are threatened with having to RETURN to the poverty from whence you came.  That is a terrifying prospect for the social climber who got out of poverty to begin with.

http://www.bramun.com/uploads/1/2/3/1/12314222/219300602.jpg?531Similarly, those born with mental disabilities usually aren't suicidal, they never knew anything different, and besides that their ability to self-reflect is impaired.  However, for the person such as Martin Manley who had good mental faculties but saw them fading away, contemplating the future as an impaired individual was intolerable.  It was not a life he thought would be worth living.

This brings us back round to the issue of people who are observing collapse, and who have come to believe the future is hopeless.  If you empathize with the people you currently observe already suffering from the effects of collapse, such as the Syrian refugees, this can be a cause of such emotional pain in yourself that suicide becomes an option you contemplate.  For others, its not so much the people they empathize with, it is the rest of the biosphere, all the plants and animals they witness dying around them, of which there are increasingly more stories every day.

“Countless” dead birds reported in Pacific off US coast, nothing will eat the bodies — “There are no seals present” — Expert: “The fish are not there… all of them are starving” — Animals “acting weird, sick and weak, too weak to fly, too weak to run”

So in the end, for the Sentient Homo Sap, what this question begins with is the QUALITY of your life at present, and your perceptions of what that life will be like in the future.  If you're not happy with your life now and have good reason to suspect it's only going to get worse in the future, then suicide starts to become a valid option for you.

http://www.housingforseniors.com/pics/userpics/Image/woman_with_dog2.jpgAnother issue is one of having a purpose to your life, a reason to keep living.  In the case of Roamer's friend the young cancer victim, his wife and child gave him a purpose.  So even though his quality of life was poor, he wanted to stay alive for them.  With many older folks who are either childless or their children have grown and drifted away in our fractured society, they can lose this purpose.  You will see many older folks with pets, dogs or cats usually.  The dependence of the pet on them is a purpose for them to keep going.

I myself have many reasons to ponder on this question these days, as regular Diners know I injured my neck a year ago and the quality of my life has steadily deteriorated.  I now have trouble walking, doing common daily tasks and I have pain all the time.  3 weeks after the operation to repair it, there has been no sign of improvement, in fact some things are worse.  I now have to lie down much more often to relieve the pain.  At this point it looks unlikely that things will improve moving ahead.  The best I probably can hope for is things don't get too much worse too fast.

The issue here again is how far you fall from one state to another, and how fast it occurs.  For myself I went from this:

RE Backflips in Nice, France

RE-age-28-backflip

to this

RE Takes a Selfie after the Neck Job

Bed-Superstar

I could still do backflips into my 40s.  No pictures of me from those years, I had become a loner and in those days people didn't carry around phones to take selfies.  Nowadays, just to get myself from the desk & laptop to the bathroom & toilet is a chore.  The quality of life has diminished considerably.  I was also like the Picture of Dorian Gray for years, from 20 to 40 my appearance barely changed at all.  Even up to the last few years, when I looked in the mirror to shave I saw the young man I once was, not the old cripple I have become.  Now when I look in the mirror to get my neck brace on, I see the stark and unmistakeable truth, that I already have one foot in the grave.

I also face financial problems moving ahead, unless and until there is resolution in my favor with Workman's Compensation and SSDI.  I am fortunate to have savings that has carried me through thusfar, if I was already broke on top of all the other problems, suicide would definitely be an option I would consider.

In one respect I am fortunate in that I still do have a purpose for living, that is my writing here on the Diner and my discussions with the other Bloggers & Diners who are concerned with the topics of the ongoing Collapse of Industrial Civilization.  This is something I can still do, and it occupies my day.  I often get emails from readers who tell me how much my writing means to them.  This gives meaning to my life and a reason for struggling through the pain and the disability.  If I did not have such a purpose, again soldiering onward with the physical problems would seem kind of pointless.

Suicide itself isn't necessarily tragic, sometimes it is simply the best Final Personal Solution to finishing a life that has deteriorated to such a point you don't get any joy from pursuing it.  What more often is tragic are the circumstance that led up to this, be they an Accident, Cancer or Alzheimers, financial problems, marital problems, school bullying, drug and alcohol addictions, being a victim of child abuse or just being born with a biochemical imbalance in your brain that brings on the feelings of depression organically.

Out in the world at large, because collapse has already moved through several countries, Greece and Spain in the West particularly, for the farmers in India and so forth, suicide rates are rocketing upward in all these places.  As the graph above shows, even here in the FSoA, suicide rates are on the rise, and collapse hasn't even hit here yet with the force it has in Greece and Spain.  As situations become increasingly more hopeless for more people, this is an inevitable outcome of collapse.  Again for those people already, the suicide is not the tragedy, the tragedy came before that as they experience the loss of the life they once knew, and see no possibility for a better life in the future.  This will be the case for many more people as time goes by.  As the farms in California and the midwest dry up, many more people here will lose their homes and their livelihoods.  Eventually, if it has not already, a suicide of someone you know will occur.  When it does, think about why it was this person's choice, and if the reasons were valid, then be greatful that this person still had that Final Personal Solution to fall back on.  No pain anymore.

Rest in Peace.

A mental break…

gc2smOff the keyboard of Gypsy Mama

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Published on The Butterchurn on September 3, 2015

Butterchurn-2

Discuss this article at the Psychology Table inside the Diner

The Release of the Narcissistic Mother, Dyshidrotic Eczema, Aspbergers Syndrome and other tales of the Deep, Dark and Hollow

I’m sorry for being away so long.

Yes, I’ve been away.

I have awakened from a depression.  A depression is something that no one else can help you with.  You can become medicated, sure…but I chose not to.  I made it.  I survived.  There were moments where I wanted to die.  I wished someone would run me off the road.  I hated myself.

I cut my own bangs on a whim the other day.  I always wanted to do that.  I cut them “Betty Page” style.  Betty Page looks a lot like Morticia Addams.  More about that later.

bangs 2015

Bettie-Page-3853

My husband HATES it.

Your hair can (and should) be used as a canvas to show others who you are.  I didn’t cut my bangs because I hated myself, I just wanted something different.  Something to “wake me up.”  Something to force me to take better care of myself, because I wasn’t doing a very good job.

This is why “current hair fashion” and I never did get along very well. I adore a specific era of hair, but I don’t give a shit what is in style for 2015. I never really gave a shit what was in style my whole life, actually… and I like saying Shit every now and then. Shit! 🙂

I have always tried to be “me” I lost that part of myself for awhile. I became consumed with fear about what others thought about me. Now that part of me is back.

Does this mean I had some sort of mental break in my past? Yeah. Probably so. My Father did put the barrel of a 30-06 in his mouth and pull the trigger just before I graduated college.

I have JUST dealt with this, in my adulthood…11 years later.  I’ll tell this dramatic, backwoods, real life story to you as time goes on.

My husband is an amazing man. He’s really hard to be married to sometimes, because he can be brutally honest. He was just trying to heal me, but I didn’t see it at the time.  I thought he hated me and was just tolerating my presence.  I didn’t believe that he really loved me.  I didn’t think anyone loved me.  I have been programmed, you see, to believe that no one cares about me.  All thanks to the programming that my mother downloaded into me.  It is sort of not her fault, though.  I’m convinced, after talking to her older sister, that their Mother, or Father, perhaps both, had treated them this way their whole life.
“Fuck You!  FUCK YOU, Bitch!  I’m TIRED of the way you treat me!”  – loving words from my Mother, two years ago.

Yeah, that’s just an exert from the story that has been my life during this depression.  My Father (literally) blew his head off in our family’s detached garage.  I watched the hazmat crew clean him up through my parent’s bedroom window.  They told me not to, but I did.  I have seen the contents of the inside of my father’s entire head stuck to buckets and our family bicycles.  I watched two guys in white suits and face masks put him into trash bags.

He wanted to be cremated.  11 years later, he was still sitting on the shelf in my Mother’s living room.  HER living room.  I was sick of waiting.  We were supposed to scatter his ashes off of the Green River bridge.  But no one was talking about that.  In fact, no one EVER talked about it.  All that my Mother ever really said to me about the fact that her husband (whom I doubt she really loved— she just got “KNOCKED UP”(her words–that’s how I’m here) had blown his head off was that his entire head was gone and that there was a piece of his scalp with long grey hair attached to it sitting on the shoulder of his corpse.  This is how she found him.

Granted…yeah, I am glad I didn’t find him.  I know she is still in some state of grief, shock… but no one is helping her.  I tried, but she wouldn’t listen.  We weren’t supposed to talk about our FEELINGS.  She was tired of me trying to get her to deal with it.  To FORCE her to deal with it.  To talk about it.  No one ever really talked to me about it…checked in on me, asked me how I was dealing with it.  No one.

I was tired of waiting for her to be a good mother and talk to her daughters about it.  It is a Horrible situation, eh?

I did take drastic measures, however, to bring the fact that he was still in the urn and that no one was dealing with it into (literally) my own hands.  My family and I drove to my childhood home, took the key, opened up the house, picked up the yellow urn with a Robin sitting on a branch, walked out of the house, locked it, and buckled it up in a seatbelt in my car’s back seat.  I took it home.  Without permission.  Without saying anything.

As soon as we were home, I called my sister’s cell phone.  She didn’t answer, so I left a message.  She began furiously texting me.  I told her that this was not a conversation to be had via text, and that we needed to talk over the phone.  She replied, “Fine then, Don’t talk to me.”  (She was 22 yrs. old @ the time)  Now, she’s a Mother.

My sister said (through texts) that it was disrespectful of me to take the urn without asking our “Mama” for it.  I felt that I didn’t need to ask permission.  Those were the ashes of my Father.  I didn’t view “him” as a possession.

Next I called my Mother’s cell phone.  She was at work, so she didn’t answer.  Yes, I did plan to go to the house to take the urn while she wasn’t there.  DUH.  A vein might have popped in her head and she could have dropped dead over that.  Seriously, she has some major Anger/Anxiety issues.  (More horrible issues which she also programmed into me, and I have been trying to rid myself of).

Being a Mother, if you’re a good Mother, makes  you take a look at yourself.  I don’t mean in the mirror… I mean REALLY take a look at yourself.  Watching how you react to things.  Taking note when you get angry and asking yourself, “Why?  Why Did I react that way?”  Being HONEST with yourself.  To NOT be defensive about your REAL issues. TO DEAL WITH THEM AND FIX THEM.

I took the urn, because I wanted to deal with my Father’s Suicide.  I NEEDED to deal with it.  It had been too long.  I needed to move on.  I needed to let it go, before I could really live.

This is what I’ve been doing over the past two years.  I feel I have healed.  I mean REALLY healed myself this time…but then again, my Father did Have Bi-Polar Disorder.  I could be on one of my Happy benders.  My husband has called me crazy, but that’s okay, because I’ve called myself that.  I have been crazy.  I don’t want to be crazy.  I don’t take pride in being crazy.  I have been purging a HELL of a lot of CRAZY out of this mind of mine over the past two years, and it has been a boat ride through the swamp without a paddle.  I have worked HARD on my mind, and it needed it.
Damn.  What a ride I’ve been on.

Anyhow, to continue my story, I called my Mother’s Cell phone after I had brought my Father’s ashes into our house.  I intentionally called her when I knew she was working, so that I wouldn’t have to listen to whatever her reaction was.  I let her keep that anger to herself.  I predicted she’d be angry, and BOY OH BOY was I ever right about that.

“Hey.  I’m just calling to let you know that I have Daddy’s ashes.  Don’t worry, don’t freak out, I’m taking good care of them.  I just wanted to let you know where they were and that I have them.”

No, I did not scatter the ashes without my family.  Not all of them 😉

What I did do, before my Mother arrived, was to take a portion of the ashes that I felt was my right as his daughter.  I didn’t need permission to take them.  I still feel that way.  I’m not sorry that I took them.

In fact, it appeared as if someone had already had the same idea.  The lid had been popped off.  It had once been glued on.  The ashes were inside the little yellow ceramic urn (an urn that belonged to my Dad’s Mother).  They were not quite as I expected them to appear, however.  They were inside a thick mil plastic bag.  They had been stapled shut with some industrial stapler.  Yet, someone had poked a hole in the top of the bag, next to the staple.  GASP!  Someone had ALREADY “disturbed” the ashes.  Heal yeah.  (spelling intended), It didn’t have to be me.

SOMEONE had already poked around in the ashes.  Someone had made a silver dollar sized hole in the bag of ashes.  But it wasn’t me.  I felt even more justified in my next action:  I took some of the ashes (by shaking the urn).  I put them in an old metal coffee tin that I’d found at a thrift store.  Someone offered to buy that tin from me, long ago, when I was selling all kinds of things online.  I couldn’t take less than $10 for it, and no one wanted to pay that, so I had kept it.

My husband, who is a HUGE Big Lebowski fan, found it quite hilarious that I had chosen a coffee can.  I seriously did not connect my actions with the movie, but it may have been programmed into me to put ashes into a coffee container after seeing/hearing “The Big Lebowski” over and over during one of his repetitive aspie (and endearing term) benders.

walterwithfolgerscanofdonnysashes
Aaron, my husband, likes to listen to things that he likes over…and over…and OVER…AND OVER again.  It gets to me sometimes, because one of my biggest pet peeves in life is repetition. I can’t stand it, mostly.  An example of some really great musical artists that he has played over and over are:  U2, Pearl Jam, Rebelution, and most currently Heartless Bastards.

Aaron, we’re about 99.9 percent certain, has Aspberger’s Syndrome.  He has not been formally diagnosed by a team of doctors, but he did befriend a doctor online who claimed that if he were his patient, he would say that he was on the high functioning end of the “disorder.”  He may not be “formally” diagnosed, but as his wife, I can say with CERTAINTY that he DOES have it.  There’s no question in my mind.  This is something that I’ll have to study more, so that I can be a better wife.  I’m working on understanding it daily.

Here is a quick description of Aspbergers, from someone with Aspbergers:

Asperger’s can not be cured, it is a genetic condition that can be worked on and mitigated, but can not be cured. Each person has it differently and reacts to the world differently, but here are some basics.

Asperger’s syndrome is, in it’s most basic form, Autism. Autism is broken into two types, Kanner’s and Asperger’s, with the break at the 70 IQ level. If your IQ is 70 or below you have Kanner’s Autism, if your IQ is 71 or above, you have Asperger’s autism. (it is a little more complicated than that in it’s break up, but for a beginner this is good)

The easiest way to describe Asperger’s syndrome to someone who has never heard of it is to describe it as a Social Autism. The person who has Asperger’s grew up not learning the social cues around him/her. The person does not, usually, understand subtle social cues that the normal person takes for granted. Things such as sarcasm, and body language that change the meaning of a statement, are not understood by the asperger person, and taken literally.

Asperger syndrome is also called “the little professor syndrome”

The Asperger type is usually very literal in what is stated, and what is understood. The normal person usually sees the asperger person as being emotion-less, though this is not true. Emotions are just kept very deep inside and not brought to the surface. The aspie also does not know what to do with another person who is experiencing emotions, and needs to be told what to do in these instances. Phrases like “I need you to hold me now” are very helpful” in a relationship, for the normal (NT) person to say to the aspie.

Aspies tend to like routines. Change is very difficult, and they will be slow to accept it.

Aspies will appear to lack empathy. As stated above, this is not due to lack of empathy, but a lack of knowledge of how to show it.

Aspies tend to have more of a formal use of words than the NT wold or have a formal style of speaking that is advanced for his or her age. For example, the aspie may use the word “beckon” instead of “call” or the word “return” instead of “come back.”

ASPIES TEND TO AVOID EYE CONTACT. This is not due to lying or being self conscious. The eyes are very difficult to look at, and cause mental anguish and pain in many aspies. They are unable to think of what they want to say, and look another in the eyes at the same time.

Aspies may have unusual facial expressions or body postures. They may be more formal in the way they stand, or just look out of place. Their facial features may not express the emotions that they are experiencing. They may not frown when they are sad, smile when happy, etc…

Many Aspies are pre-occupied with one or a few subjects of interest and learn everything there is to know about those subjects to the exclusion of all others. They may not want to discuss anything other than those subjects with anyone. When brought into a conversation, they will immediately take the conversation to their chosen subject of interest, and then talk about it non-stop. They will not notice that nobody else wants to discuss that subject.

Aspies tend to have heightened sensitivity and become overstimulated by loud noises, lights, or strong tastes or textures. They may only eat certain things, or order foods certain ways. They may not be able to work in rooms with florescent lighting due to the buzz or the flicker, even when nobody else notices. Many different things, for many different people.

 
Source(s): Aspie x 42 years.
 
Note:  Aaron does not completely fit into the mold of the above description.  More about that later, though.
Here’s another helpful link about Aspbergers:  https://prezi.com/po6hyevbwc9n/asperger-syndrome/
 
My Mother claimed that my husband had “messed up my mind”– but what she didn’t take the time to understand about me and the man I love is that he does have some behaviors that are difficult to deal with, because of Aspbergers.  I do not say this to make him feel bad, or to belittle him.  It’s just the truth.  Being the wife of someone with Aspbergers can be very difficult…especially when you have bottled up issues that you haven’t dealt with.  They will SEE those issues and they cannot help but make you aware of them.  They will have no empathy for you once you realize that they’re right, however.  You’re on your own.  I recommend, in retrospect, that you do not do it on your own.  Remember, I was programmed to believe that no one cared about me.  Therefore, I wouldn’t talk to any of my friends about what I was going through.  I had no one to listen to me about my struggles.  No Mother, No Father.  No one was checking in on me, on a regular basis just to ask “How are you?  How are things going? How are you feeling?” and to really mean it.  I do have friends.  I have collected a nice little set of strong women as my friends in my mid-thirties.  All of these friends, except for one, is a mother.  They have husbands and children and a family of their own that they are trying their best to figure out.  I didn’t want to burden them with my Mommy issues.  I had no Mother to check on me.  She thought it was my job, as her daughter, to check in on HER.  What my Mother has failed to see, after almost 60 years of life, is that she is my elder.  She is supposed to help to guide me.  She is my “Mother” but she is not a Mother.  She does not actually seem to care about what is happening in my life.  She is only concerned with herself.  She is the victim.  No one cares about her.  No one asks her about how she’s feeling.  She doesn’t have a Mother either.  Her mother, however, is dead.
 
Sure, I see that I’ve said the same things about myself that I’ve said about my Mother.  That’s part of the “crazy” problem we’ve got going on here, you see?  Am I crazy?  A book that I read once I had the thought that my Mother could be a Narcissist (Aaron had diagnosed her as such) was entitled, “ Youre Not CrazyIt’s Your Mother!: Understanding and Healing for Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers
 
The author, Danu Morrigan says that as the daughter of a Narcissistic Mother, you’ll most certainly ask yourself, “Am I the crazy one?”  She says that if you are able to ask yourself this, then you can’t be a full blown Narcissist….BUT you CAN have Narcissistic tendencies.

 

http://www.healingselfesteem.com/

http://www.adultchildofalcoholiclifecoach.com/

*Not all of what this lady says in the above video applies directly to my Mother.  My Mother is the “Ignoring” Narcissist.  But the “I don’t want to talk about that” portion of the conversation DID strongly apply to my situation.  She could call and complain about her miserable life and all of the negative things going on in her life for hours.  One time, during a cell phone “conversation” I timed how long she talked without a response from me.  The entire 20 minutes, she was complaining.  I connect with the video that I’ve shared here because I DID tell my Mother, “I am a WOMAN. ” She also bought me many things so that I could “Owe her.”  Classic Narcissist.  The whole, “Adult Children of Alcoholics” plug of her’s at the end?  Yeah, my Dad was an alcoholic too.

Great.  Yeah, that’s right.  One more issue.  One more level of crazy.  Remember, my Mother claimed that my husband had “messed up my mind.”

My mind seems to have plenty to choose from in its array of crazy .

When my husband met me, he knew that I had issues.  He knew that I had not dealt with my Father’s Suicide…at all.  He knew that I was a barrel of monkeys, per-say…that more issues might keep on rolling out of me, holding furry knuckled phalanges together.  He knew, but he didn’t know.  Neither did I.  (the little professor syndrome)  He was a bartender when I met him.  He enjoyed psychoanalyzing people over the bar.  He had a set of regulars who would come in and tell him their problems.  He actually is pretty damn good at helping people solve their issues…but he will PISS YOU OFF, because he’ll be brutally honest.  He is NOT always right, though, in his diagnosis of what your mind may be thinking at the time.  He just uses logic to deduce where your mind might be, and what it might be thinking.  It’s sort of a mind cuss, actually, because he’s mostly right…so even if you think he’s wrong, you’ll have to ask yourself if he’s right.  There were moments where I would be mad at him for being so smart.  There were moments where I just could not convince him that he was wrong, and that his deduction of where my mind was and what I was thinking was wrong.  Aaron has a very hard time reading emotions and feelings.  He just could not understand why I looked so miserable while I was depressed.  He had no empathy for me, either.  Well, almost none.

Because of all of this, I was left thinking, at times, that I was just an overall shit-bag.  He kept telling me that I liked wallowing in my own misery, just like my Mother.  That I didn’t want to be happy.  I kept asking myself if that was true.  If I was just “Acting out a script” that was programmed into me by my Mother.  Was I just acting like her?  As I reflect on it now, I can say that there were times when I was, and times when I wasn’t.  There were times when I was only depressed and not even thinking about her…but then Aaron would say that I was acting like her.

I was overwhelmed with being a Mother to two.  I was overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to be a good mother to them.  I had no strong female role model in my life to mold myself after when it came to being a Mother.  I often envy other Mothers who have an awesome, supportive and loving Mother of their own.  I don’t know what that is like.  I can imagine it, sure, but I have not lived it.  I am mad about that, off and on.  My Mother (I usually refer to her as Sarah these days) is absent from my life because of my choice to keep her out of it.  That’s my fault, sure.  I told her that I never wanted to talk to her again, and I meant it.  She hurt me to my core.  No Mother should do that to her daughter.  Especially without a breath of regret.

Sometimes Aaron says I’m just like her when I mope and complain.  I try not to complain, I really do.  I’m not writing this blog to feel sorry for myself.  I’m just telling my story.  I’m sharing my feelings.

My Mother once said to Aaron, “I’ve had a shitty life.”  Sometimes he brings up that statement when I start complaining about the negative things in my life.  It pisses me off when he does it, but I must say that a much better approach to correcting my focus on the negative might be to say something with more empathy like, “Wendy, please just try to focus on the good.” instead of “Wendy, you sound just like your Mother.”

“When you don’t know what it is you’re fighting, you can’t possibly know how to deal with it.  I wrestled for years with some unknown presence that seemed to affect every aspect of our relationship.  Those years in the dark, left me with feelings of self-doubt, insecurity, and total worthlessness.  I cried many nights, thinking it was something awful about me that caused my husband’s rejection, when in reality, it was AS.”  Source

Aspies.  They’re the smartest, deepest people you’ll ever meet.  When I met Aaron, I was smitten by how completely different he was.  One of the first things he told me on our first date was that women told him he was “too deep.”  My response to him at the time was, “How can you be TOO deep?”   Aaron didn’t give a SHIT about what anyone thought about him(and still doesn’t), and he knew himself better than anyone I had ever met in my life.  He was eons ahead of me when it came to knowing myself, and I knew it.  I didn’t care, though…he was taller than me, he was intriguing, he was weird and dark and handsome and had a U2 tattoo on his chest.  There was no stopping our romance.  From the moment I met Aaron, things continue to happen in my life that are synchronistic about our relationship.  Actually, the night I met Aaron, U2 came on the jukebox at the pool hall/bar where we met.  I can’t recall whether or not I played that song, but chances were good that I had.  I used to pump that machine full of quarters so that it would play songs that I liked so that I could dance and sing and play pool.  When I met Aaron, I was wearing a little red, 100% cotton, ruffled mini skirt.  My “shirt” of choice was a lace, black, spaghetti strapped midriff that was see through on the back and at the waist.  I was out shopping, I suppose 😉 I find it worth mentioning  that the bar in which I met Aaron had a corner room display of Betty Page prints hanging on the wall 😉

I was a virgin when I met Aaron.  Yeah, that’s right.  I was a 22 year old virgin.  This was mostly because my Mother had terrified me about sex.  She made it sound disgusting and degrading.  There was never any “Making love” to be had.  It was all nasty, nasty intercourse.  You were a whore if you had sex. This caused me MANY *almost* relationships of past.  I didn’t understand why I never had a boyfriend before Aaron, either.  I sure do see why now, though.  I was afraid of sex because of my Mother.  This made me VERY sexually awkward.  VERY.

My soulmate found me at just the right time in my life.  I learned how to make love. 🙂

Anyhow, I’m tired of writing for today.  I just started typing out my story this evening.  It came almost out of nowhere, but I’m finding as I write it that it is very therapeutic for me.  I am telling the story of my struggles.  I am writing the story to help myself, and to help others too.  One of the characteristics that I know about myself is that I “like to help.”  Sometimes I can try to help to the point of hurting.  I hope I don’t hurt you, dear reader.  😉

In my next blog, I will continue the story about what happened after my Mother received my voice mail message about the urn.  Her reaction convinced me that she is indeed a Narcissist.

Later, I’ll tell you about my hands.  My oozing, weeping, cracking bleeding hands.  The hands I wielded during my time of turmoil.  If you’d like a little background to that tale, go ahead and read my first blog entry about it at: https://thebutterchurn.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/dyshidrotic-eczema-a-malady-of-concerning-cause-and-effect/

Later, I’ll ramble some more. I’ll share some more about the hurtful words that my own Mother said to me that continue to circulate around in my mind. I’ll talk a bit more about what it is like to be the wife of a husband with Aspbergers. I’ll reminisce about what it has been like to be a Mother who can’t use her hands. I’ll heal some more, through writing.

I’ll heal that hurt, but I won’t deal it back.

betty pageLOL.

On the Nature of Belief: Appendices

Off the keyboard of Geoffrey Chia

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Published on the Doomstead Diner on April 22, 2015

Unnecessary-Complexity-Mind-Map

Discuss this article at the Doom Psychology Table inside the Diner

APPENDICES TO THE ESSAY “ON THE NATURE OF BELIEF

G. Chia, April 2015

APPENDIX 1: THE PROPOSITION OF PREDISPOSITION TO A PARADIGM BASED ON POLITICS, PERSONALITY &/OR PROFESSION (the 6P)

Some dictionaries may define the term “ideology” simply as a system of beliefs. However, it is more useful to define a term according to the manner in which it is used in the real world. Thus, an “ideology” is more accurately defined as a rigid system of beliefs. When we say “Mr X is driven by his ideology” we imply that he holds rigid views which he refuses to change, no matter what the circumstances.

As such, the Scientific Method is not an ideology, because it is not a rigid system of beliefs. It is a rigorous, rational process by which hypotheses are accepted or discarded according to the best evidence, reason and investigation. If we say “Mr X is driven by his scientific enquiry”, we mean that he assesses a situation, then formulates a few hypotheses on the basis of the best evidence and reason available at the time (in medical parlance this is known as making a list of “differential diagnoses”). He then tests each hypothesis for validity and falsifiability and adopts the one which best stands up to scrutiny. His evaluation (or diagnosis) may change later, if better information comes to light. This is exactly how a Physician works.

Pretty much all other belief systems are ideologies with varying degrees of rigidity. Some ideologies are less rigid in that they are willing to adopt selected paradigms from Science and reason-based progressive social policies. For example, some Christian groups and clerics are willing to accept that evolution and global warming are realities and that women deserve equal respect and status to men, notwithstanding their “Adam’s rib” fable (hence women are allowed to be pastors and hold positions of authority in their church). Even the Pope has come to accept the reality of AGW and advocates that humanity must take measures to deal with it http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/27/pope-francis-edict-climate-change-us-rightwing Fundamentalist Christians however remain abjectly insistent on their particular interpretation of their version of their sacred doctrines, as is equally the case for Fundamentalist Muslims or Fundamentalist Jews. They each demand their “divine right” to pursue their (self serving) agendas to the point of murder and death. This is a major reason why the conflicts in the Middle East will never be resolved. Such a mentality brings to mind lyrics from the Dire Straits song “Industrial Disease”:

…I go down to Speaker’s Corner, I’m thunderstruck,
They got free speech, tourists, police in trucks,
Two men say they’re Jesus, one of them must be wrong,

There’s a protest singer singing a protest song

Obviously the amusing irony here is that both men who claim to be Jesus are certainly wrong and the listener laughs in amusement, that to entertain the idea that even one of them may be Jesus is an insane delusion. However, by that same token, rational thinkers know that the superstitious ideologies of all the Abrahamic religions (indeed all religions) are certainly wrong and are just as insanely deluded.

Here is an idea widely prevalent (and widely promoted by the media) in society at present: that political persuasion, personality traits or professional background determine one’s ideology. Let us call it the Proposition of Predisposition to a Paradigm based on Politics, Personality &/or Profession, or for simplicity, the 6P.

Here are some elaborations of the 6P based on:

1. Political views:

The “right wing conservative / left wing liberal” political dichotomy was particularly well satirised by the late Kurt Vonnegut in his classic essay “Cold Turkey” (now nearing the tenth anniversary of publication):

Even crazier than golf, though, is modern American politics, where, thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative…Which one are you in this country? It’s practically a law of life that you have to be one or the other. If you aren’t one or the other, you might as well be a doughnut. If some of you still haven’t decided, I’ll make it easy for you. If you want to take my guns away from me, and you’re all for murdering fetuses, and love it when homosexuals marry each other and want to give them kitchen appliances at their showers, and you’re for the poor, you’re a liberal. If you are against those perversions and for the rich, you’re a conservative. What could be simpler?

In the article by Lissa Johnson, “At All Costs: The Dark Psychology Of Abbott Government Climate Policy” she wrote…”Right Wing Authoritarianism is fearful and cautious, driven by a view of the world as a dangerous place. It seeks safety and stability via conformity to traditional hierarchies in which everyone knows their place…Social Dominance Orientation, in contrast, seeks to win at all costs, via the ‘strong’ in society dominating the ‘weak’…‘Superior’ groups coming out on top is the goal…Put briefly, they are the two faces of authoritarianism: authoritarian obedience and authoritarian dominance…Social Dominance Orientation correlates negatively with empathy, altruism and honesty, and is predicted by high levels of the personality trait ‘tough mindedness’, which involves lack of sympathy and compassion. So strong is the ruthless emotional foundation of Social Dominance that in 2013 it was empirically recognized as not only correlating with the ‘dark triad’ of personality (narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy), but as being a member of the dark personality cluster itself… (Researchers Daniel Jones and Aurelio Figueredo) found that the interrelationship between the three dark triad traits and Social Dominance Orientation was explained by a common ‘Dark Core’. This Dark Core consists of two parts: manipulation (or dishonesty), and callousness (or lack of empathy)…The authors concluded that, like those high in narcissism, Machiavellianism or psychopathy, “Individuals high in Social Dominance have a dark personality”. What distinguishes Social Dominance is that it manifests “at a group level with a politically oppressive style.”…The primary goal of Social Domination is to maximize inequality between social groups in a “superior-inferior” order. This requires a capacity, if not a zeal, to oppress and subordinate other human beings.

2. Personality: Optimists vs Pessimists

This is the view that irrespective of objective facts, the natural optimist tends to select positive information to construct their world view and the pessimist selects negative information. It does appear that most people may be hard wired to have an optimism bias (see explanation in main Belief essay and also: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/jan/01/tali-sharot-the-optimism-bias-extract ). Optimism bias serves several purposes for the individual: it makes them feel better, it gives them hope and motivation to work towards their desired goal and it boosts their popularity within their social group. No one likes a wet blanket to dampen a party. Unfortunately, such “rose coloured glasses” can blind these people to the potential pitfalls and problems they may encounter along the way. The “she’ll be right, mate” Aussie attitude (or the condescending admonition, “cheer up, it’ll probably never happen”) is in fact is a recipe for disaster. Real world observation suggests that a cautiously pessimistic approach is more likely to lead to success or prevent disaster, precisely because problems are actively avoided, or if encountered are anticipated and therefore tackled promptly (compared to the incautious optimists who will flounder about and remain in denial when faced with crises they did not prepare for). According to neuroscientist CJ Bajada, “optimism bias is a well established psychological phenomenon that, despite criticism, has been replicated in many experiments. While it is generally an adaptive phenomenon, it can have disastrous consequences (such as an economic collapse).” http://www.academia.edu/7957545/The_Optimism_Bias_A_cognitive_neuroscience_perspective

Hence what is the best way to approach challenges in an uncertain future? Hope for the best but plan for the worst. Self professed optimism, apart from being an emotive ploy to win popularity in a crowd, can be simply an excuse for inaction by the person who is too darned lazy to make contingency plans.

3. Professional background

“To the man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. The implication here is that a person’s occupation shapes their world view. I can offer some personal perspective regarding this matter, specifically in relation to the prospect of Near Term Human Extinction. I will contrast my views with those of Dr Guy McPherson, a conservation biologist and relentless promoter of the “inevitability” of NTHE. In some of my previous essays, I was significantly influenced by Dr McPherson’s opinion due to his summaries of overwhelming dire information sourced from the peer reviewed scientific literature regarding the exponential worsening of global warming. There is no doubt whatsoever that we are headed for the catastrophic devastation of our planetary biosphere. Nevertheless to “prove” that NTHE is “inevitable”, it is necessary to show beyond any reasonable doubt that there is not a single future scenario where even one small group of human beings can possibly survive in the long term.

For example, the Limits to Growth scientists have conclusively shown beyond any reasonable doubt that the collapse of Industrial Civilisation is guaranteed this century. They have shown there is not a single realistic scenario (using even the most optimistic inputs) where modern industrial society can continue functioning by the end of this century, even without taking into account the guaranteed impending global financial collapse as a result of our Ponzi scheme economics. Even if we were to ignore the LtG projections, the most conservative estimate by climate scientists of a global average temperature rise of 4°C by the end of this century means that climate change alone guarantees that large scale agriculture (and hence cities and civilisation) will collapse. Not only that, the inevitable decline of high net energy sources (Peak Oil) alone also guarantees the collapse of Industrial Civilisation. The impending collapse of global Industrial Civilisation is a certainty beyond any reasonable doubt. But what about NTHE?

After pondering NTHE for two years, I was able to work out a feasible scenario by which at least one population of humans may be able to survive even the worst global warming projections, putting the lie to the “inevitability” of NTHE: http://www.thecanadiandaily.ca/geoffrey-chia-critique-guy-mcphersons-views/ Despite cursory admission that my views had validity, McPherson continues to propagate the overall message of the “inevitability” of NTHE to the public, spurred on by his echochamber of anonymous uberdoomer blogfans. Could our different professional backgrounds possibly account for our different views?

I do not deny the possibility of NTHE, indeed I agree it may be a likely outcome. Nevertheless I am working towards and promoting the idea that survival of a tiny number of humans is possible if adequate preparations are made and I advise sapient people around the world to give it a go. McPherson has not denied the possibility that a tiny handful of humans may survive. Despite this, his overarching message to the public remains that NTHE is guaranteed. He dismisses any other opinion as “hopium” and therefore he promotes hopelessness.

Why the different strategies? I am certainly not a natural optimist, hence that personality trait can be eliminated as an explanation. My success as a medical practitioner stems from my habit of always pessimistically considering the worst case scenarios in my patients, which I then take measures to protect them against, hence minimising their future risk. I am not unfamiliar with death, having experienced, as a junior doctor on call, patients dying in front of me from cardiac arrest who failed to respond to resuscitation. My own death and the death of my species are not beyond my contemplation. On the other hand I have also witnessed remarkable advances in cardiac therapy over the years with dramatic reductions in cardiac mortality and prolongation of good quality life in patients who would have been written off as hopeless cases a decade ago. Perhaps it is the latter which motivates me to strive for the survival of our benighted species, for better or worse.

I suspect that Dr McPherson’s professional experiences have been different. As a conservation biologist, if all that he has witnessed, researched, documented and read about over the past few decades have been relentless mass extinctions (about 50% of all vertebrate species have gone extinct over the past 40 years), then he may well consider the human species to be on the same trajectory and the outcome to be inevitable. The Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson stated that over 99% of all species that have ever existed have gone extinct. The difference for humans is that if we go extinct in the near term, it will be self inflicted.

What purposes do the 6P serve?

  1. The 6P is an easy model for the mainstream media to sell to the general public. It pigeonholes people into categories. It is a form of stereotyping. It is lazy simplistic thinking. Therefore, just like high-fat sugary food, it slides down the gullets of the simpleminded sheeple most readily*, delivered in the form of a 30 second sound byte between “infomercials” (*in contrast to more complex, more truthful ideas, which require greater time and effort to properly deliver, ruminate on and digest).
  2. The 6P is used for targeted advertising by corporations and for identification of “persons of interest” by governments.

This is based on the following premise: surveys have shown that interests in, beliefs in or purchases of “a, b, c, d and e” are associated with personality or political inclination “Z”. You have shown interest in “a, c and e”, therefore you must be a “Z” type person and should also be interested in “b and d”.

You must be aware of the fact that corporations and governments are collecting all your digital metadata and using idiot computer algorithms to profile you. For example, Google trawls through your internet browsing to identify your “pattern” of searches. Their algorithm then makes an assumption about your values and beliefs, pigeonholes you into one particular category of consumers and automatically triggers a suite of advertisements directed towards you. In your subsequent searches you then find commercial options ranked on the top lines or ads displayed on the side of the webpage representing suggested searches or purchases. It does not matter if the algorithm is not 100% accurate regarding your personal situation, a 30% hit rate on those ads among a billion consumers represents a great deal of money to Google and the advertisers.

The database of your searches and purchases by eBay and purchases by PayPal also represent valuable commercial intelligence to advertisers, to be used in the same way.

Facebook in particular is a goldmine of personal information, by which narcissistic individuals and the means to manipulate them can be identified. How many “friends” do you have?

Government collection of your metadata is even more chilling. The previous US government tactic of racial profiling and kidnapping people of “Middle Eastern appearance” and rendering them to prisons for torture without trial resulted in monstrous travesties of justice against innumerable innocent people. It may even have led to the radicalisation of previously moderate law abiding individuals. Nowadays, phonecalls, emails and browsing history of the general population are electronically trawled by dumb programs which flag key words or phrases such as “terrorism”, “bomb making”,”jihad” or the phrase we used in the main essay, “evil corporations”, irrespective of context. “Persons of interest” are then identified, categorised and can later be singled out for “special treatment”. This process “analyses” hundreds of millions of people more than the old blunt instrument of racial profiling, which means that potentially magnitudes more innocent people will be unfairly flagged. The fact of the matter is that any terrorist with half a brain will use untraceable phones and anonymized web browsing to avoid identification. It is the innocent citizens who will end up being targeted and harrassed by the authorities.

  1. Fraudsters such as Fox News (of “WMDs in Iraq” fame) use the 6P as a mental Trojan horse by which they outrageously distort the public perception of reality. Specifically, we refer to the way Fox News claimed to be “fair and balanced” by seeking views about AGW from “both sides”. Typically they would interview a legitimate climate scientist, then seek the opinion of a scientifically illiterate denialist, say, a “freemarket” economics professor with impressive academic titles (but no scientific credentials). Fox News would then conclude that there is considerable doubt regarding AGW: the scientific experts hold to a left wing version of the “truth”, the economic experts hold to a right wing version of the “truth”, so Fox News implies that reality may lie somewhere in between.

It is as though the scientists claim the Earth is round, the economists claim the Earth is flat and Fox News, being “fair and balanced”, concludes that the Earth could be oval.

To reiterate yet again, here is the objective truth: AGW is a fact recognised by ALL the National Academies of Science around the world (including the Royal Society of London). It is not a “left wing politically motivated opinion” as Fox News would like to portray it. AGW deniers are either liars or fools or both. The Earth is round and anyone who claims it is flat or oval is a liar or a fool or both.

Another personal experience as to why the 6P is flawed:

I too had been a “brain hostage” of the 6P in the past. Specifically, I previously assumed that other atheists would have reached the conclusion that “Man” created “God” (rather than the other way around) in the same way that I did, by means of evidential analysis and rational thinking. I therefore assumed they would also accept the rational consensus, based on decades of irrefutable evidence, of all the academies of Science around the world about the reality and importance of AGW. I was stunned to discover (in my interactions with the Brisbane Atheist group about 10 years ago) this assumption was incorrect and a significant number of them were intransigent AGW denialists and extreme right wing rednecks. They mounted ad hominem attacks against me for my position on AGW and I called them liars or fools or both. Not my finest moment I admit, but a reflection of my deep disappointment in my inability to find sensible thinkers in what I had wrongly assumed to be a forum of rational minds. On one topic (the existence of God or gods), they adopted a rational position; but on another topic (AGW – which they felt threatened their comfortable lifestyles), their self-serving arseholery trumped any rationality. An avalanche of further overwhelming climate data over the past decade have only proven more conclusively the fact that AGW deniers are either liars or fools or both.

I was subsequently motivated to look beyond assumptions which could prove false (eg. that as a rational atheist, I assumed other atheists to be rational) and to try to find a way to achieve an better understanding of the origins and purpose of each and every one of the beliefs of each particular individual, rather than lump people into categories as the 6P does.

CONCLUSION:

We regard the 6P as being of limited utility to help us understand the beliefs of a person. Saying that a person subscribes to right wing views because they are predisposed to believe in right wing views explains nothing. Saying a person is predisposed to right wing views because they have an authoritarian personality has some explanatory value, but still requires the nature and origin of that personality to be further assessed.

The 6P can be misused in this way: Belief in AGW is portrayed by Fox News as a function of “leftie/greenie” political ideology (ignoring that AGW is a scientifically validated fact beyond any shadow of a doubt, which has nothing to do with politics). Fox News followers then feel that their own views denying AGW, which stem from their self serving motivations (and indeed from their nonscience or nonsense based political ideology), can be regarded as equally valid as the “political views” of the “warmists”, thus perpetuating a dysfunctional denialist mindset.

The analytical method we outlined in our main essay on Belief requires firstly to determine whether a particular belief of a particular individual has been scientifically validated beyond any reasonable doubt, or at least whether that belief is considered to be reasonable evidence-based speculation by the scientific community. If the explanation for their belief is that it is a reality based belief, no further explanation for that belief is required. If not reality based, then that particular belief of that particular individual needs to be evaluated according to the nine major functions of belief we outlined (and ancillary factors if applicable – in parts 2 & 3 of the Belief essay, of which the 6P is just a small part). By applying that process to all the individual’s beliefs, we can establish a precise and purposeful explanation of the unique nature of that individual’s belief system. The 6P in isolation however offers limited explanation as to what purposes an individual’s beliefs serve, it is primarily a form of pigeonholing and can be prone to misuse.

GC Appendix 2 follows…

APPENDIX 2: THE MISREPRESENTATION OF “COGITO ER SUM” BY PHILOSOPHERS AND THE FAULTY LOGIC OF PASCAL’S WAGER COMPARED WITH THE GOOD SENSE OF THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE

COGITO ER SUM:

Here is a common misrepresentation of “I think therefore I am”:

The sensory information I receive, my perception of the world, is impossible to absolutely verify. It is impossible to be absolutely certain that my perceptions represent an external objective reality. It is possible such information may in fact be hallucinatory and entirely false. The only thing I can be abolutely certain of is that I am thinking about this issue and therefore I and only I alone definitely exist. Therefore the denial of external objective reality is a reasonable philosophical proposition.

Such a declaration by a pundit (usually male) is the ultimate in egocentric blather, essentially being a dismissal of everyone else around him and an acknowledgement only of himself. Perhaps the best response to such dumb pontification is to kick him in the shins, then say to him that according to his own philosophy, the kick was merely a figment of his own imagination.

It brings to mind this limerick:

There once was a Reverend named Peel,

Who said, “Although pain isn’t real,

When I sit on a pin,

And it punctures my skin,

I dislike what I fancy I feel.

Humans are certainly prone to hallucinations and illusions, however we can overcome these limitations by performing independent observations and measurements by different people using different modalities at different times in different places (and ensuring we are not in a drugged out state when we do so).

Descartes’ thought experiment was intended to argue that only the certainty of existence of the thinking self was indisputable, however it did not necessarily conversely follow that everything else was non-existent. Decartes was a pioneer of the Enlightenment and an advocate of empirical observation, precise measurement and the testing of hypotheses. Therefore he clearly believed in external objective reality. For philosophers to hijack “cogito er sum” and argue that just because something could not be absolutely proven, therefore it could be regarded as unproven and therefore could be considered false, is an absurd stretch. Objective Truth exists but we can never achieve Absolute Truth. This misinterpretation of “cogito er sum” reflects the fact that those who demand Absolutes are absurd thinkers who simply do not understand Reality. This is mirrored in contemporary times in the absurd argument by the AGW deniers, who say that because AGW cannot be proven to the absolute level of their scientifically illiterate satisfaction, therefore AGW does not exist. The best response to them is to kick them in the shins.

PASCAL’S WAGER vs THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE:

The brilliant mathematician Blaise Pascal justified his belief in God as follows, best illustrated in this 2×2 table:

God exists God does not exist
I choose to believe in God and follow the rules of the Church Consequence: a few lifetime inconveniences, rewarded by Eternal paradise (finite disadvantage, infinite benefit) Consequence: a few lifetime inconveniences, with no Eternal reward (finite disadvantage, no benefit)
I choose not to believe in God and live life as I best see fit Consequence: self determination in life, but Eternal damnation (finite benefit, infinite disadvantage) Consequence: self determination in life, with no Eternal consequences (finite benefit, no disadvantage)

Pascal’s Wager bears some superficial resemblence to the Precautionary Principle shown generically below:

Low probability but high impact (major consequences) scenario High probability but low impact (minor consequences) scenario
Precautionary action Consequence: minor inconveniences from taking precautionary actions, mitigation of severe event Consequence: minor inconveniences from taking precautionary actions, mitigation of minor event
No action Consequence: no inconveniences from taking precautionary actions, but if event does occur, outcome will be terrible Consequence: no inconveniences from taking precautionary actions, and even if event does occur, disadvantage will be minor

What is the similarity between the two tables? In both cases, the upper left hand box of the 2×2 table seem to represent taking out insurance, which we all do for our cars, property or for overseas travel, so why not do so? Furthermore the outcome to avoid at all costs is the bottom left hand box of the 2×2 table, the worst case scenario. Hence, why not hedge our bets?

In theory one could express the various benefits and disadvantages of Pascal’s Wager better numerically, if we could establish a probability for the existence of God and could also rate the inconvenience of following Church rules. Even using a small probability of God and an afterlife, say one in a million, and using quality of (earthbound) life or QOL “units” from 0 to 10 (zero being dead and nonexistent, 10 having an optimal self determined full life and 5 representing a halving of your quality of life due to religious rules), what would the numbers look like? The aggregate quality of existence or AQOE will be the quality of your earthbound life combined with either eternal paradise (positive infinity) or eternal damnation (negative infinity)

God (and afterlife) may exist God (and afterlife) do not exist
I choose to believe in God and follow the rules of the Church Earthbound QOL = 5, AQOE taking into account 1/1000000 probability of God = 5 + (1/1000000 x infinity) = POSITIVE INFINITY Earthbound QOL = 5, AQOE = 5 + 0 = 5 (no afterlife)
I choose not to believe in God and live life as I best see fit Earthbound QOL = 10, AQOE taking into account 1/1000000 probability of God = 10 + (1/1000000 x negative infinity) = NEGATIVE INFINITY Earthbound QOL = 10, AQOE = 10 + 0 = 10(no afterlife)

So there it is, a nice neat table with nice neat numbers enabling you to make a nice neat decision. Hence the cold calculating brain tells us it is best to believe in, or go through the motions of believing in God. No matter how you run your calculations, even with a one in a billion or one in a trillion probability of the existence of God, it is still best to believe in God because even the smallest imaginable number multiplied by infinity is still infinity. A convincing logical argument? Actually, it is unmitigated bullshit.

Pascal’s Wager is so deeply flawed it is difficult to know where to begin and we can only scratch the surface of the counterargument in this appendix. No doubt, you will spot many flaws for yourself, however we would like to highlight just a few points. The refutation can be achieved quantitatively, or qualitatively by commonsense argument.

We have assumed, as Pascal and the Church had done, that the probability of the existence of God and the probability of a human afterlife go together. However how do we know the two are not mutually exclusive? That, for example, a creator God may exist but humans do not have an afterlife, just as we assume that God created all other animals but did not give them an afterlife? Furthermore, how do we know that any purported human afterlife goes on for an infinite duration? What is the evidence for that assertion? The only bases for those religious assertions (indeed, the assertion that God exists in the first place) are the human interpretations of “sacred” texts which were written by other humans in antiquity who claimed to have been inspired by God.This mindset is identical to that of Scientologists who intensely believe in Xenu the galactic overlord on the basis of the “sacred” text written by the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.

Nevertheless, let us lump the probability of existence of God and the afterlife together and assume an infinite afterlife, for simplicity. How can you quantitatively judge the probability of the existence of God? You need to look at any evidence suggesting God may exist, against evidence suggesting God may not exist, multiply each by weighted factors determined by you, do some kind of subtraction judgement and come to a percentage likelihood. As stated before, whatever number you arrive at is irrelevant, because any positive number, no matter how small, when multiplied by infinity, becomes infinity. But what if there is NO evidence whatsoever for the existence of God? Without rehashing the same arguments which Richard Dawkins made in his book “The God Delusion”, the evidence for the existence of God or gods is in fact zero, zilch, nada, nothing. There is simply no evidence. What is zero multiplied by infinity? An infinity of zeroes, ie zero.

It was understandable in the time of Pascal, when proper knowledge of the physics based origins of the Universe, of biological evolution and of DNA were lacking, that the appearance of a clockwork universe and the apparent “intelligent design” of organisms seemed to represent convincing evidence for a creator. Knowing what we now know however, we can completely dismiss both arguments (in particular that of I.D.) as utterly bogus (see “Confronting the Wizards of ID, http://archive-au.com/page/2595960/2013-08-10/http://www.dissent.com.au/backissues/issue22.htm ). There is simply NO evidence for the existence of God. All our reality based knowledge points to the fact that the Universe is utterly indifferent to humanity, that the current favourable conditions on this planet for our existence have arisen due to an extremely rare convergence of circumstances in time and place in an ancient and vast Universe. Such a rare convergence was bound to happen sometime, somewhere, in an old enough and big enough Universe.

For qualitative refutation of Pascal’s Wager, we need to consider the following:

Firstly, Pascal’s argument assumed dichotomously that either the Christian God exists or does not exist, a monumentally flawed assumption. The impartial observer will recognise that his view was merely a tiny microscopic smallminded perspective of the broad vista of human religious belief, hamstrung to the extreme by his ethnocentric culture. The fact is that many thousands of different Gods were and are purported to exist by many different groups of people, with many different versions of afterlives (or reincarnations), with many different purported rewards or punishments for following or not following their particular doctrines. It did not and does not make any sense whatsoever to place the probability of existence of the Christian God above the probability of existence of any one of thousands of other Gods (unless one’s brain had been captured by the “might equals right” paradigm outlined in our Belief essay). Hence in order to hedge one’s bets, it would be logically necessary to follow all the practices of all the religions around the world (including making blood sacrifices of your enemies, flaying their corpses and wearing their skins, as was the practice of Mesoamerican Religions) to maximise your chance of eternal reward and minimise your chance of eternal punishment. Due to the fact that many religious practices are mutually contradictory, such a strategy is clearly impossible. The honest observer therefore has to conclude that Pascal’s strategy, properly applied, is completely unworkable. Pascal chose to dismiss non-Christian Gods as pure superstitions, not worthy of any consideration in his Wager. Accordingly, by that very same token, the impartial observer is also justified in dismissing the Christian God as pure superstition not worthy of any consideration in the Precautionary Principle.

Secondly, just for the sake of argument, let us say that the Christian God, Heaven and Hell do indeed exist. Certain clerics who claim to know the mind of God assert that disbelievers are guaranteed to go to Hell, however on what evidential basis do they make such an assertion? Or is that something they just made up, so they could use fear to control the behaviour of others? I personally had a memorable conversation with a Catholic priest while on attachment to a hospice as a junior doctor. I was surprised to hear he believed that ethical non-Christians or Atheists, who did good deeds in the world, were not condemned to Hell and could even end up in Heaven. Indeed multitudes of people around the world in history had never been exposed to Christianity and were completely unaware of the Christian God through no fault of their own. He could not believe a compassionate God would condemn such people to Hell. Was that Catholic priest a heretical deviant who himself was headed for Hell for opposing the doctines of the church, or was he simply a compassionate man who believed in a fair, compassionate God?

Thirdly, let us employ some common sense as to the origins of the threat of an eternity of punishment in Hell. Most parents at one time or another would have invoked the threat to their four year old child that a horrrible Bogey man would kidnap and torture them if the child did not do the bidding of the parent eg “if you don’t stop wiping your snot with your sleeve, the Bogey man will grab you in the night”. Striking fear into the heart of a naive child using an imaginary threat can enforce compliance until they grow up and wise up. In the absence of any evidence of Heaven or Hell throughout the entirety of human (or paleolithic) history, sensible adults will dismiss the threat of Hell as no different from the fabricated threat of the Bogey man. Unfortunately some naive people never grow up nor wise up.

The 2×2 Precautionary Principle table is actually too simplistic for proper decision making and is better replaced by the “Probability-Outcome Graph” I previously formulated:

http://guymcpherson.com/home/doomstea/public_html/guymcpherson.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/WISDOMDecisionMaking.pdf

With regard to Global Warming and the Precautionary Principle: AGW should never have been regarded as a “low probability but high impact” scenario. It was always a “high probability, high impact” scenario and it was always a no brainer that humanity should have worked hard to prevent it. Unfortunately planetary policies had been hijacked by people with no brains, hence nothing substantial has been done. The fact is that AGW is no longer a “future probability”, whether low or high. It is a present certainty. Catastrophic events will become unimaginably more severe in the years to come and desolation of our biosphere is baked into the cake. We have missed the boat.

Attributions: Geoffrey Chia: inflammatory language, Rebecca Willis: critical feedback

April 2015

On Belief

Off the keyboards of Geoffrey Chia & Rebecca Willis

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Published on the Doomstead Diner on April 15, 2015

the thinker

Discuss this article at the Doom Psychology Table inside the Diner

ON THE NATURE OF BELIEF or:

Why do people believe what they believe (or claim to believe) ?

G. Chia & R. Willis April 2015

INTRODUCTION

In our previous essay, Thinking about thinking we described the characteristics of dysfunctional (or unhealthy) and eufunctional (or healthy) thinking. We dispensed with the notion of “normal” thinking, because this term is essentially meaningless and unhelpful. If normal thinking is defined as the mode of thought adopted by the majority of a population, it is possible, indeed common, for “normal” thinking to be utterly dysfunctional and destructive, as shown by the many examples of mass delusions leading to chaos and warfare not only in history, but in our present day. As such, it may actually be a very bad thing to be “normal”, to run with the herd. We previously described the techniques by which the media, corporations and governments systematically exploit the infantile and reptilian aspects of our brains to impose particular views and values on the masses who lack the faculties of critical thinking. It turns out you can actually fool most of the people all of the time. Such social manipulation leads to the perversion of democracy.

Seminal publications such as “Irrationality” by Stuart Sutherland and “Bad Science” by Ben Goldacre have elucidated the mechanisms of flawed thinking and the tactics of pseudoscientific fraud in detail. Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway wrote the landmark book “The Merchants of Doubt” which described the origins of systematic global warming denialism, perpetrated by a few so-called “free” market ideologues funded by billionaire fossil fuel oligarchs. Notwithstanding her outstanding research and scholarship, Oreskes in this podcast interview

https://soundcloud.com/inquiringminds/43-naomi-oreskes-the-collapse-of-western-civilization/sets

could not fully explain why such blatantly fraudulent denial continues to be so readily accepted by large sections of society. She criticises the scientists for not being more forceful in opposition to such deceit.

The “new Atheists” such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris were active some years ago in debunking the nonsensical foundations for supernatural religious myths. They too did not provide a comprehensive explanation as to why many if not most members of society are unwilling or unable to shed the brain virus of religion (apart from stating that innate obedience to authority by children has historical survival value).

In this essay we assess the nature of human beliefs and try to explain the “stickiness” of nonsensical ideas which may have little or nothing to do with reality. The key question is this: what purposes do such false beliefs serve?

Belief refers to the acceptance of, or claimed acceptance of a particular paradigm. In theory, there might be some difference between sincere belief and proclaimed (but insincere) belief, however in practice there is little difference in real world outcomes (see next paragraph). Therefore we will not distinguish between the two for the purposes of this essay. Furthermore as behavioural psychologists assert, it can be difficult if not impossible to determine what is really going on in a person’s mind1. Hence empirical science focuses on measurable actions, deeds and outcomes.

Twenty years ago when most people may not have personally been experiencing the effects of anthropogenic global warming or AGW (apart from seeing photographs of melting glaciers retreating all around the world), it was conceivable that many global warming denialists, unable to comprehend the science, sincerely believed that AGW was not true. Nowadays with exponential changes and extreme weather events occurring all round the world far exceeding the IPCC projections, rendering the fact of AGW indisputable, global warming denialists face a rearguard action. Those who remain intransigent cannot truly believe their position unless they are insane or stupid. Yet they persist in their purported belief that AGW is a hoax. If they are not insane or stupid, we can only conclude that their proclaimed “belief” is insincere and is cynically being used to serve their personal agendas and short term vested interests. Whether a result of stupidity (inability to see the overwhelming evidence for AGW) or mendacity (realising the truth of AGW but refusing to admit it), the outcome is the same, ie opposition to the reduction of GHG emissions, opposition to the adoption of renewable energy initiatives and continuation of business as usual to the point of annihilation.2

A paradigm may be accepted at emotional and/or intellectual levels. Generally, emotion tends to have a much stronger grip over people than intellect. This is because the majority of homo sapiens are not, in fact, sapient, but are driven primarily by their reptile brains. This fact was comprehensively demonstrated by the remarkably effective propaganda campaigns perpetrated by Bernays in the US and Goebbels in Germany, which were described in our previous essay3.

PART 1: THE NINE MAJOR FUNCTIONS OF FALSE BELIEFS

We assert that beliefs should be based on truth. What is truth? It is that paradigm which provides the closest approximation to reality. We know a belief is most likely to be true when it is backed up by evidence and reason, stands up to empirical validation and resists falsifiability. The belief passes the tests of scientific scrutiny, offers the best explanation for the circumstances being investigated and has useful predictive value. We assert that such reality based thinking should be the only valid reason for holding any belief4. All else is speculation or delusion. Unfortunately it appears that reality based thinking may actually be the least common reason for holding beliefs.

Why then do so many supposedly mentally “normal” people subscribe to non-reality based (ie false) beliefs? We assert that many, (probably most) people tend to seek out world views which:

  1. justifiy the pursuit of their self interest
  2. represent the easy option, the path of least resistance, which requires minimal intellectual, social, physical or financial investment or effort on their part. Ideas requiring sacrifice or hard work tend to be rejected.5
  3. cast themselves in a positive light to impress others (especially to gain favourable treatment or special dispensation from others or advantage over others)
  4. cast themselves in a postive light to boost their own egos. They subscribe to self-flattering narratives which elevate their status, which portray themselves as “special” or “exceptional” or “superior to” the rest of humanity and to the rest of creation (ie views which verify their infantile predisposition to believe they are the centre of the universe).
  5. cast others in a negative light to justify the belittlement, ostracism, subjugation, oppression, exploitation and/or murder of “the other”.
  6. cement the bonds of belonging, solidarity and pride within their social group or tribe. This is of important survival value to the individual, because historically, membership to a group or tribe was essential for material sustenance. Expulsion from the group, being left to fend on your own, could lead to death. One useful tool to bond tribal members is that of camaradarie resulting from being part of the same sporting team or fan club. If we regard the Nation as an extended tribe, this can take the form of overt displays of fanatical support for National sports teams or sportsmen. Hence former PM John Howard, despite himself being physically inept and hopelessly uncoordinated, took every opportunity to promote to the public his image as a “cricket tragic”. He even insisted that prospective Australian citizens learned the history of Donald Bradman, no matter that such useless pablum did nothing to educate them about core Australian values such as the Rule of Law, separation of powers, liberal democratic principles and freedom of (responsible) speech.

Tribal solidarity, even if based on imaginary myths (such as the Jews being the “chosen” people of God), has historically been of critical survival value to the group, as the members had to stick together to compete against or defend themselves from other groups.

  1. offer psychological comfort, emotional solace and hope, particularly during difficult times. This is comforting function is exemplified in the famous passage from Psalm 23 of the Bible, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”. Religion in particular can reassure the believer that “everything will be alright” no matter how dire and depressing their actual reality. This mindset can also confer survival value, because even if a situation poses a 99.99% likelhood of death, which a “rational” person may deem hopeless and therefore give up hope and perish, the “irrational” optimist, comforted by their ideology, will seize that 0.01% likelihood of survival. Hence in a mass die-off of a million people with a 99.99% death rate, the 100 or so people who do manage to survive against all the odds may mostly be those with “optimism bias”, who eventually propagate this trait to future generations. This may explain why “optimism bias” may be hard wired into human populations, as our distant ancestors have in fact faced mass die-offs more than once.
  2. confer upon the believer a sense of schadenfreude smugness, a sense of satisfaction that somehow in the long run, their enemies will inevitably face horrible violent retribution in this life or the next.
  3. offer simplistic pseudoexplanations which are easy to grasp (but are wrong). Most people are unable to comprehend complex ideas and therefore gravitate towards infantile scenarios or myths which superficially or intuitively “make sense” to them, but have no evidential or rational basis. For example, their “explanation” for human existence is that a supernatural father figure called God created everything just for us. Beyond this myth, the thoughts of the faithful congregation are then censored, they are not allowed to ask the next logical question, which is “who or what then created God?” because that would be blasphemy.

There is of course a tenth possible reason for holding a false belief, which is organic brain disease. We mentioned unusual conditions such as Capgras syndrome in our previous essay. Schizophrenia is characterised by “thought disorder” and deluded beliefs such as aliens broadcasting messages into one’s brain. Temporal lobe epilepsy can create hallucinations of an intensely religious nature. This essay on belief however focuses on the factors affecting belief in people without organic brain disease, hence here we will only apply the nine major factors described above and ancillary factors mentioned in parts 2 & 3, when analysing the nature of false beliefs.

Unfortunately the inevitable conclusion we must reach if the nine factors are indeed true, is that most human beings are self serving, lazy, boastful, egocentric, xenophobic, tribal, fearful, mean spirited and simple minded. The profusion of brutal human conflicts and Machiavellian behaviour in history can indeed be best explained by these traits. Some pundits such as Steven Pinker have argued that there has been a trajectory of increasing peace, diminishing violence and greater social enlightenment in human societies over the past couple of hundred years (which they expect will continue into the indefinite future). Such pundits invariably write from the perspective of (and within the cocoon of) rich industrial societies, which over the past two hundred years have accumulated immense material wealth derived from our ability to harness fossil fuels. However we would argue that such diminished violence is not due to greater enlightenment nor wisdom in the population, but due to the hugely abundant resources available per capita in rich societies in contemporary times. Unrest, dissatisfaction and violence are quelled when an abundance of resources are available. When per capita resources become scarce (due to increasing populations, climate devastation and diminishing supply of high net energy sources ie Peak Oil) as is happening now in more vulnerable countries, revolution erupts among the deprived who are unable to obtain sufficient food or clean water. Deprivation was the root cause of the “Arab Spring” revolutions of 2011 (extending into 2012, when Syria thoroughly disintegrated), not the pursuit of greater freedom nor human rights nor democracy among those populations. As the rest of the world experiences worsening deprivation, we will see many more such revolutions erupt around the world, with the inevitable imposition of martial law. We witnessed this unfold in Egypt. After Mubarak was deposed, the subsequent democratically elected government was also unable to provide the resources demanded by the population, resulting in ongoing unrest. The only way order could be restored was by a military takeover. The military government will of course be no better at delivering resources to the people than any other government. They merely serve to maintain order by brutally suppressing dissent6.

Using the criteria above we can immediately understand why certain religious and political myths have such a strong hold over the human psyche, despite having no basis in reality. Let us examine the mindset of right wing Christian “patriotic” Americans, such as US Republican Tea Party members or the Republican Neoconservatives, with regard to the nine points above. Their typical beliefs, which are held to a greater or lesser degree among the faithful are:

  1. The “exceptionalism” of the USA, that they are entitled to do anything, anywhere, to anyone in the world (eg invade Iraq), using any fabricated excuses. They make up the rules and everyone else has to comply (or face trade sanctions, a CIA backed coup or invasion). American exceptionalism means that International Law does not apply to the USA or its citizens eg they can kidnap anyone arbitrarily and render them to prisons without trial and subject them to torture. Habeus corpus does not apply to “alien” nationals.
  2. The renewable energy option is just too much hard work and involves too much sacrifice. Much better to deny that global warming or Peak Oil exist, so they can blissfully continue their easy, comfortable fossil fuel based American way of life forever, a lifestyle which is “non-negotiable” (as famously declared by George HW Bush). Hence their favourite catchphrase “drill baby, drill”.
  3. The USA is the “last best hope” for the world, a beacon of freedom, liberty and democracy for a glorious future, which everyone else, everywhere else, will do well to emulate. They conveniently ignore the fact that the USA since World War II has a track record of actually undermining freedom, liberty and democracy around the world. They have a prolific history of corrupting governments to enslave their people to the service of American profits, or of overthrowing democratically elected governments, from Guatemala to Iran to Chile to name a few, then installing murderous despotic puppet leaders who offer sweetheart deals to predatory US corporations.
  4. They (the good Christian Neocons) were created in the image of God who has given them dominion over all creation to do with as they please.
  5. The “other” represent the forces of evil, whether it was Reagan’s view of “the evil empire” of the Soviet Union or Bush’s “crusade” against Saddam Hussein the “terrorist”, (even though Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11 and actually opposed Al Qaeda and it was in fact the US destruction of a functioning Iraq which turned it into a hotbed of terrorism and a breeding ground for ISIS). In preparation for the US invasion of Iraq, grunts in boot camp training were encouraged to denigrate Iraqis as “towel heads” or “sand niggers” to facilitate the indiscriminate oppression or murder of innocent people.
  6. The common views and values of the GOP faithful reinforce their prejudices and serve as social glue between them. “Patriotism” and “Nationalism” are regarded as lofty virtues, just as the Nazis promoted such unquestioning mindless conformity. (We see a similar mindset with Tony Abbott’s “team Australia”). Those who exposed or undermined illegitimate or murderous US government practices, such as Aaron Swartz or Edward Snowden, were labelled as traitors. The vicous pursuit of Swartz and Snowden by the US government illustrates that the Obama administration is, in this respect, no different in practice to the rabid, foaming at the mouth Republicans.
  7. God is on their side and as “good” Christians in the “end times”, they will be magically levitated to paradise in the Rapture and enjoy heavenly bliss forever.
  8. Everyone else in the “end times” will die and suffer excruciatingly in the fires of hell. Unbelievers and non-Christians will get their just desserts in the form of relentless torture for all eternity. Furthermore these good Christians hold the view that Jihadi suicide bombers, who believe they will be rewarded with 72 virgins in Muslim heaven, are utterly deluded.
  9. Global warming is a hoax, it is far to complicated to understand and must therefore be a greenie conspiracy. Evolution is a hoax, it is far to complicated to understand and must therefore be an atheist conspiracy. They cannot imagine a world 4.5 billion years old nor the gradual movement of continents across the face of the planet, however a 6000 year old world with fixed continents is easier to grasp by the simpleminded and therefore must be true.

Australia has its own share of lunatics who hold similar Imperialistic and religious views to varying degrees, from the Rinehart funded racist hack Andrew Bolt, to politicians such as the execrable Cory Bernardi and the anti-science Prime Monster Tony Abbott. It is fair to describe them as self serving, lazy, boastful, egocentric, xenophobic, tribal, fearful, mean spirited and simpleminded. Our most powerful tool to oppose such corrosive, indeed downright evil characters, is the weapon of ridicule. For any talented satirists out there, here is a suggested title for a series of political cartoons: The Madventures of Phoney Rabbit AKA Malice in Plunderland. Abbott is portrayed as a long eared, rodent-like creature (akin to his “conservative” predecessor, the lying rodent war criminal) whose only ideas about national policy are to abuse refugees (including children7) and to seek out money by digging holes in the ground.

We can now understand why such people reject (and are downright hostile toward) world views which:

  1. Reveal that their agendas are self serving with utter disregard for any people outside their circle of insular tribalism.
  2. Require they adopt a difficult path of hard work and sacrifice.
  3. Reveal that they are actually morally deficient or morally bankrupt.
  4. Reveal that they are not particularly special and are in fact inextricably related to that which they have regarded as inferior or repugnant or “separate”. For example, they regard the environment as “separate” from human beings and “separate” from economics, they believe the environment is an infinite resource and a limitless toilet that they can use and abuse forever. Hence they reject the views that we originate from, are part of and are dependent on the environment for our survival, labeling such views as “leftie/greenie” propaganda8.
  5. Reveal that the groups they have previously reviled, “the other”, are in fact just ordinary human beings not too different from themselves. Indeed “the other” may well be morally superior to them in many respects and certainly do not deserve to be exploited and killed.
  6. Require them, for ethical or other honourable reasons, to break away from their traditional social support group or tribe or nation, an emotionally gutwrenching act which they cannot contemplate.
  7. Reveal the reality of the situation is far worse than they ever imagined, with little or no hope for the future. This can lead to disruptive psychological and emotional distress and even despair (eg awareness of the guaranteed self-destruction of industrial civilisation and the possibility of human extinction as a result of climate devastation)
  8. Reveal that not only will there be no future paradise for them but their enemies will not get any particular “comeuppance”. Everyone is in the same boat.
  9. Are too complex for them to understand9

We can now also see why it is difficult if not impossible to pry people away from their religious and political beliefs and why logical argument using irrefutable evidence is generally ineffective. Nothing short of a monumentally traumatic upheaval (eg the arbitrary death of their own child, perhaps from an extreme weather event) which forces them to try to make sense of the situation and to confront their false beliefs, may possibly have any effect. Even despite such an event, many will still go to their graves persisting in their denial of reality, as their mindset is too firmly entrenched. They simply cannot give up the phoney edifice, the false image, that they have constructed of themselves, for themselves.

PART 2: OTHER FACTORS INFLUENCING BELIEFS (or proclaimed beliefs):

  1. The blame game: avoiding or laying blame:

a. Avoiding blame: You will recall the trial of Oscar Pistorius (the bilateral amputee athlete nicknamed “the blade runner”) in 2014 for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. According to neighbours the couple had a loud argument lasting more than an hour late at night, just prior to the shooting. Pistorius pleaded not guilty, his defence in court being that he believed her to be a burglar in the washroom, a burglar who had decided to linger about and partake in bodily ablutions (as desperate criminals are wont to do) before sauntering off with any booty. Quite rightly, the judges dismissed Pistorius’ absurd proclaimed “belief” for the contrived nonsense it was.

b. Laying blame:

To blame others in order to “make sense” of a devastating event (“something bad happened, it must be someone’s fault”) or assuage their own sense of guilt (eg their child being afflicted with autism), or to extort financial compensation. Two examples here:

      1. Blaming the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine for autism:

This scare was manufactured by the fraudster Andrew Wakefield in an anecdotal compilation of twelve cases published by the respected medical journal the Lancet in 199810. The concerns raised were taken seriously by the Medical community. In subsequent years, at least 120 studies were conducted in different countries involving huge numbers of children – the Danish cohort study alone, by Madsen et al, followed up more than half a million children. Multiple meta-analyses of the numerous independent studies were performed by different bodies (eg. the US CDC, UK MRC, NHS and Cochrane collaboration to name a few) and no convincing statistical association between MMR and autism could ever be demonstrated. It was conclusively found that the benefits of the MMR vaccine overwhelmingly exceeded any risks. Yes, the vaccine could have side effects, but catching the infections was many magnitudes worse (particularly in malnourished children in poor countries). Wakefield was investigated and was discovered to have committed scientific fraud for pecuniary gain and was deregistered by the General Medical Council of the UK in 2010. The Lancet itself eventually retracted Wakefield’s paper, denouncing it as a fraudulent submission. The mainstream media on the other hand had no interest in hard data. Sensationalism is what sells the tabloids. They chose scientifically illiterate journalists to continue perpetrating Wakefield’s fraud according to the time honoured tactic of Goebbels (if you repeat a lie often enough, people will come to believe it). As a result, there remains no shortage of people who still “believe” this fabricated lie and think that the medical establishment are involved in a conspiracy to cover up any MMR/autism link (if so, why did the Lancet publish it in the first place?). This has resulted in many children not being vaccinated over the years, loss of herd immunity and the eruption of various viral epidemics. Wakefield, the scurrilous mainstream media and their gullible readers have been responsible for the death and disability of many unvaccinated children. This is an ongoing issue, the most recent measles epidemic occurring among visitors to Disneyland in December 2014. This is but one example of the deceit perpetrated by antivaccination zealots who have mounted scare campaigns against other vaccines such as whooping cough. In 2012, more than 48,000 cases of whooping cough and 20 deaths were reported to the US Centers for Disease Control, the greatest number since 1955. Even though many of these antivaccination nutcases may be wealthy middle class Americans or Australians, their mentality is the same as that of the Islamic fundamentalists or the Taliban who killed polio vaccinators working in Nigeria or Pakistan 11. Hence the one great chance humanity had to eradicate another viral blight (other than smallpox) from the face of the Earth has now been lost due to stubborn and vicious human ignorance. Unfortunately it is the children who suffer the most, at the hands of those who claim to act in their best interests.

      1. Blaming silicone breast implants for rheumatological or autoimmune diseases:

The assertion, over many years, that silicone breast implants caused rheumatological or autoimmune diseases, was conclusively disproven by several studies including those by the Mayo Clinic (NEJM 1994) and a Harvard Nurses study (NEJM 1995). No significant association could be found. Even though many lawsuits against implant manufacturers were subsequently dismissed, courts still sporadically found in favour of litigants despite the absence of scientific evidence eg in late 1998 the Nevada Supreme Court upheld a compensatory damage award of $41 million against Dow Chemical to Charlotte Mahlum for her multiple-sclerosis-like symptoms. In January 1999 a jury in a Washington Federal court awarded $10 million in compensatory damages against Bristol-Myers-Squibb to an attorney who claimed her implants caused scleroderma. Such verdicts show that the Law can indeed be an ass.

It is not our intention to defend any corporations or establishment organisations. It is our intention to promote the use of evidence, reason and fairness as the bases for belief and action, no matter what individuals or groups are in question. This should be equally applicable to our dealings with the “evil” corporations.

  1. The 6 P: The proposition of predisposition to a paradigm based on politics, personality or profession:

This is idea that people seek belief systems which happen to align with their political prejudices (eg right wing conservatives vs left wing, small “l” liberals), their innate personality (eg pessimist vs optimist) or their professional background (reflecting the ingrained mindset and experiences of the profession they were trained in). It is a highly prevalent idea popularised by the mainstream media, but has weak explanatory power and can be misused. It is such a large topic that it requires considerable elaboration in appendix 1 to this article.

PART 3: FACTORS WHICH GENERATE AND PROPAGATE BOGUS PARADIGMS

  1. Childhood indoctrination is probably the most powerful factor. Richard Dawkins himself alluded to the fact that children will uncritically accept the edicts of authority figures, which certainly has survival value when there is legitimate transfer of worthwhile practical knowledge from old to young. However, like many human traits, this process is open to abuse by those in power. Childhood indoctrination with nonsensical ideas can be particularly difficult to shake off and may require many decades of critical re-evaluation by the thinking individual before being shed, if at all. As the Jesuits famously claimed “give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man” 12. They had certainly figured out how to brainwash children.
  2. The “might equals right” paradigm, which is generally framed in this way: God is on my side. I have triumphed over my enemies. That proves God is on my side. Consider groups A to E, which each believe in “different” gods, however thay all adopt the exact same paradigm mentioned above. In battles between the groups, group A eventually triumphs and dominates groups B to E (one group or another is bound to win, eventually). Group A then claims in retrospect they have “proven” god A is the only true god and the other groups also end up subscribing to this view, seeing as how their own gods have abandoned them to defeat (never mind the fact that none of these gods ever existed in the first place). In reality any other group, eg group B, could well have triumphed (depending on all sorts of factors including military intelligence, superior technology, better organisation and most important, sheer luck eg weather which favoured them on the day of battle). Triumphant group B would then claim their god B is the only true one and the others would buy into it. Such a retrospective claim does not however prove the validity of any god nor the existence of any god. It is a post hoc pseudoproof with no basis in reality, however it is a powerful propaganda tool which can be used to persuade the unthinking masses.
  3. Extreme conviction. Strongly held beliefs may sometimes be defended to the death. However just because an individual is willing to die for their belief (eg Christian martyrs in pagan Rome) does not mean that their belief is true. It merely reflects an intractable delusion (which in some cases may be the result of temporal lobe dysfunction or schizophrenia, organic brain abnormalities which are completely impervious to logical persuasion). Matyrdom however tends to be a rather convincing act of commitment, which may therefore serve to recruit naive onlookers as new followers.

PART 4: DENIALISM VS SKEPTICISM, ANALYSING THE ANALYSTS

Global warming denialists insist they should be called skeptics and resent being called denialists. The fact is they are not skeptics and are unworthy of such a title. The only proper, correct and accurate term for them is denialists.

A skeptic is one who debunks nonsensical beliefs (ie. ideas not based on evidence and reason). A true skeptic will therefore debunk the idea that global warming is a hoax rather than promote it.

Even though the skeptic habitually debunks silly ideas, this does not mean the skeptic does not believe in anything. In fact, a true skeptic is also a rationalist, who accepts paradigms based on evidence and reason, while simultaneously allowing for the possibility that such science based paradigms may be need to be modified or even abandoned if better evidence and reason subsequently come to light.

The astounding effectiveness of the Scientific Method which has transformed our modern lives is undeniable proof that Objective Truth exists. All of our modern inventions, innovations and complex systems (eg computer software) originating from scientific discoveries, logic and rationality are predicated on the fact that Objective Truth exists, that outside our tiny little minds there is an external reality which operates on hard mathematical principles and a logical framework. Mathematics is the language of the universe. Only ivory tower philosophers13 and humanities graduates educated to the highest level of stupidity will attempt to deny the fact of Objective Truth14, even as they type out their drivel on their electronic computers.

Absolute Truth however is something we can never achieve. Even in the “hard” science of Physics, truth is highly contextual. For example, Newton’s laws of motion and gravitation, strictly speaking, are not absolutely “true” but are merely extremely accurate in the context of the medium scale (the magnitudes of mass, speed, acceleration etc familiar to our human scale). However Newtonian physics needs to be modified or abandoned in favour of Einstein’s theories of relativity in the situations of extreme mass, relative speeds or acceleration eg when making satellite GPS calculations or in the vicinity of a black hole. Furthermore Newtonian and gravitational considerations vanish at the level of subatomic particles where Quantum mechanics must be adopted. Each of these Physics paradigms, applied in the appropriate context, is objectively true (often to a mindbogglingly high level of mathematical precision), but in a different context the paradigm may have to be modified or even disregarded. None of those Physics paradigms represents Absolute Truth. Indeed, in Quantum mechanics, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle provides mathematical proof that Absolute Truth is absolutely unattainable.

All statements about truth are actually statements about probability, about what we deem to be correct beyond any reasonable doubt. This applies to the context of a rocket scientist who calculates the trajectory of a spacecraft and makes judgements about where it is and where it is headed, which, although highly accurate, are always prone to margins of error. It applies to the context of the climate scientists who collate data from multiple sources and make judgements about the current state of global warming and where we are headed, which are also prone to margins of error, but represent the most reliable information we can possibly achieve. The denialists who demand absolute precision about the present, absolute certainty about the future and “absolute truth” about everything are merely demonstrating that they are utterly ignorant as to how Science and reality work.

Skeptical thinking requires both intellectual flexibility and humility. Humility to admit error when the evidence indicates one is wrong and humility to be able to examine one’s own beliefs. Even the famous quip by Socrates that “the unexamined life is not worth living”, itself requires examination. What was the basis of Socrates’ belief ? Was it founded on some sort of empirical observation, population survey or cohort study? Or did it merely stem from intellectual arrogance: “I am a grey haired philosopher therefore my life is more worthwhile than yours” (reflecting belief functions 4 and 5)?

Using the Socratic method itself, we ourselves should ask Socrates: What is an unexamined life and what is an examined life? Is there a hard boundary between the two categories or a gradual fuzzy transition? At what level of fuzzy transition does a life suddenly become worthwhile? Is navel gazing the only criterion by which we should measure the value of a life?

Consider children with Down’s syndrome, who tend to be good natured, gentle, generous and loving. They have a great capacity to derive joy from simple everyday life and can also generate great joy for others, especially their parents. However they lack the ability to indulge in complicated philosphical musings. Does that mean their lives are not worth living?

Consider philosophers such as Otto Weininger or intellectuals such as Sylvia Plath, who deeply examined their own lives, wallowed in existential angst and eventually committed suicide, the ultimate declaration that their examined lives were not worth living.

We agree that those who can attain a deeper understanding of life, the universe and everything can also gain a higher level of appreciation regarding our existence. The intermittent “eureka” moments enjoyed from achieving profound comprehension of various aspects of Reality while muddling through this journey of life, certainly add greatly to the richness of our life.

Is it however better to be a contented cow, blissfully ignorant as you are being led along the ramp to the slaughterhouse; or a sentient being, fully aware and utterly terrified of your impending demise as you trundle towards the abbatoir? Perhaps it is best to strive to be a sentient being who can sieze control of your own destiny and escape from the abbatoir. This is what we advocate to our readers: get off this fatal path now, before it is too late. It is no longer possible to “save humanity” but you may be able to save yourselves, to survive at least a few decades beyond the general die-off, by establishing an offgrid permaculture community in a high latitude remote location.

PART 5: REASSESSING “CHICKEN AND EGG” ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT BELIEF

Neurophysiological studies have discovered this bizarre, counterintuitive finding: that the electrical trigger in the motor cortex to perform an action precedes the electrical activity in the frontal cortex indicative of our conscious awareness to perform that act. The neurological impulse to, say, pick up an object activates a split second before the awareness we have made such a decision surfaces. Our brain triggers the action first, then we make up reasons as to why we acted later.

Using that as an analogy, let us also consider this possibility: that we instinctively understand what behaviours are required to advance our self interests (at least in the short term), such as seizing the resources of other people. Only after we have commited ourselves to behave in a particular way do we then make up “beliefs” to justify our heinous actions, eg the Neoconartists proclaimed “belief” that Saddam had WMDs in Iraq, evidence be damned. Here is another example: I know my luxurious lifestyle depends on my profligate combustion of fossil fuels, which I therefore choose to continue unabated. Only after I have made that choice, do I then profess my belief that AGW must be a hoax, evidence be damned.

Hence rather than belief giving rise to behaviour (as is generally assumed), we assert that in many cases the decision to pursue a course of self serving behaviour is made first and only subsequently is a purported “belief” then fabricated. This would explain why so many purported beliefs are patently absurd and are unrelated to any real world evidence. Contrived “beliefs” tend to lack any logical consistency, apart from the finding that they benefit the “believer” and are used to justify their despicable behaviour.

CONCLUSION

Before attempting to analyse others, it is important we analyse ourselves. Are our beliefs based on reality and truth (as they should be), or are they contrived and based on or influenced by the self serving elements outlined in our essay?

We contend that our exposition regarding the nature of human belief provides the best explanation as to why supposedly sane people without any known brain damage, such as members of the US Republican Tea Party or Australian “conservative” politicians (and those who voted them in), can subscribe to beliefs which are demonstrably false, irrational and ludicrous.

Never has the phrase “knowledge is power” been so starkly relevant, as when applied to the understanding of the psychological mechanisms which underpin human behaviour. Freud was the first to describe how the reptilian and infantile aspects of our brains tend to dominate over the rational and restrained “superego”. His nephew Edward Bernays applied this knowledge to devastating effect, with astoundingly successful US government and commercial propaganda campaigns which reaped vast wealth for himself.

If you are among the tiny fraction of the human population who are interested in these matters and have managed to read and understand this article up to this point, you will now also have acquired the knowledge by which you can gain power over others. You will now know how to manufacture an ideology which panders to the nine factors which promote adherence to false beliefs. You will grasp the means by which you can indoctrinate gormless people, who constitute the majority of the population, into your ideology. With a little charisma and marketing, you too can be the next L. Ron Hubbard or Sun Myung Moon, reaping vast wealth for yourself.

Or you can try to do some good in the world instead, by teaching others how to think critically, avoid false beliefs and resist bullshit.

Proximate Planetary Problems Caused by: Caused by: UNDERLYING CAUSES of Planetary Problems
– Mass extinctions due to– Ecosystem destruction due to– Global warming and – Pollution – Overharvesting of Nature’s Capital and – Fossil Fuel extraction and combustion – Overconsumption & excessive waste production by– Excessive numbers of homo stupidus – Bad human behaviour due to Dysfunctional thinking (eg delusional “infinite” economic growth on a finite planet) and Bogus beliefs (eg a God given sense of entitlement)

Medical principles specify that true cures for diseases can be only achieved by elimination of the underlying causes of those diseases. True cures for our planetary problems can only be achieved by elimination of the underlying causes of those problems, ie human beings who behave badly. By necessity, this will take the form of either complete human extinction, or the massive dieoff of humanity leaving only a tiny handful of survivors who are able to behave properly, who can exert a light ecofootprint without destroying the very life support systems which sustain us. Such remaining sapient humans can then pass on the qualities of eufunctional thinking and reality based beliefs to future generations. Failure to achieve sapience among surviving humans will inevitably lead to complete human extinction. The Planet will rid itself of parasitic human activities one way or another.

Attributions: Geoffrey Chia: inflammatory language, Rebecca Willis: quality control.

Footnotes:

  1. Functional MRI may change this, however such research is beyond the scope of this essay.
  2. Who tends to benefit from such a position? The fossil fuel industry. Who has funded the multibillion dollar disinformation campaign denying AGW? The fossil fuel industry.
  3. For a society to descend into madness, two elements must coexist together: a self-serving, deceitful ruling class and a gullible, compliant population. If one exists but not the other, then sanity may yet prevail. If lying psychopaths somehow seize power but a sensible population are wise to the absurdity of their propaganda, the psychopaths will be ejected in short order. If the population are naive and gullible but are governed by wise and benevolent leaders, then sane policy promoting social justice and peace can prevail, but may be tenuous. The naive population is always vulnerable to the false promises and charisma of duplicitous psychopaths, who may eventually sieze power. The best scenario is of course that of a sapient population who vote into power wise and benevolent leaders to govern them, but this population must not hesitate to depose and prosecute any leaders who engage in egregious acts of betrayal such as railroading the country into war on the basis of lies. The key to social stability therefore has to be the intensive education of the general population in critical thinking, to encourage them to be active politically and to hold their leaders to the highest standards of ethical behaviour. Unfortunately the so-called modern education system is only geared towards churning out clever idiots, useful cogs in the machinery of industrial society who lack the sense or the motivation to question or oppose obscenities such as the invasion of Iraq or the omnicidal agenda of the fossil fuel corporations. Among the clever idiots, I (GC) must include my own Medical Specialist colleagues, in whom I am deeply, deeply disappointed.

It is abundantly clear that the USA of today has tumbled well down into the abyss of insanity, with not much further to go till it implodes catastrophically. It appears that Australia will inevitably follow suit.

  1. http://guymcpherson.com/home/doomstea/public_html/guymcpherson.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/WISDOMSeekingTruth-by-Chia-for-NBL.pdf
  2. It has been quipped that the favourite response by a bureaucrat to any request is “NO”, because such a negative answer fulfils two functions: it gives him/her a sense of power over others and enables him/her to avoid doing any actual work.
  3. The Pentagon, in collaboration with major US universities, is in the process of militarising the social sciences, to formulate a systematic action plan which they will ruthlessly implement when civil society inevitably breaks down in the USA. They have titled this “The Minerva Initiative”. Their goal is to maintain, through force, the supply chains of fossil fuels and other critical resources as they become scarce, to preserve the creature comforts and security of the controlling establishment, at the expense of everyone else. Dr Nafeez Ahmed, erstwhile Guardian writer, calls it “a defence manifesto for the one percent”.
  4. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-14/malcolm-fraser-attacks-abbott-treatment-human-rights-commission/6098920
  5. Abbott’s latest manifestation of foot-in-mouth disease was seen in his condescending St. Patrick’s day speech to the Irish on 13/3/15 when he declared it was “the one day of the year when it’s good to be green” before waving his green tie at the camera.

http://www.9news.com.au/national/2015/03/13/12/45/pm-abbotts-patronising-st-patricks-day-message-slammed-by-irish-business-leaders The way this fossil fuel flunky parades his ignorant environmental vandalism as badge of pride continues to be truly nauseating and represents an ongoing malevolent threat to humanity.

  1. Incomprehensible complexity by itself is not a reason to reject a paradigm. It all depends on whether the complex paradigm is based on evidence, reason and proof. I (GC) will be the first to admit I am too stupid to understand Einsteinian or Quantum Physics. I find them incomprehensibly complex. Nevertheless I trust and accept their conclusions, not because they have been advocated by professorial authority figures in white coats, but because they have been amply validated in the real world. Functioning electronics, laser devices and GPS systems to name just a few, are irrefutable proof of the truth of those paradigms. There is a vast difference between trust in Science, which is based on real world validation, and faith in Religion, which is based on gullilbility. On the other hand, many of the financial machinations of bankers and their cronies have deliberately been made incomprehensibly complex and opaque, not because they are based on real mathematical laws of the universe, but because they wish to obfuscate and hide the convoluted pathways by which they funnel vast amounts of money into their pockets. They are parasites on the productive endeavours of society. This explains why poor and middle class people, particularly in the USA, have been going backwards economically over the past few decades despite working longer and harder, but the top 0.1% have seen their bank balances skyrocket despite little or no effort on their part (unless one defines “effort” as creating new “financial innovations” such as subprime mortgage schemes camouflaged by collateralised debt obligations and credit default swaps).
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MMR_vaccine_controversy#cite_note
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poliomyelitis_eradication#Opposition_and_aid_worker_killings
  4. https://breakingspells.wordpress.com/2008/01/01/give-me-a-child-until-he-is-seven-and-i-will-give-you-the-man/
  5. I (GC) define an ivory tower philosopher as a scientifically illiterate pundit who attempts to explain life, the universe and everything by navel-gazing within the vacuum of ignorance. Advice to philosophers: unless you can achieve some level of scientific knowledge and literacy, your pontifications are utterly worthless and any similarity of your ideas to objective reality are purely coincidental. On the other hand, scientifically literate philosophers such as Clive Hamilton are of immense value to humanity. We sorely need their thoughts and advice, as is true for scientifically literate investigative journalists.
  6. The misrepresentation of “cogito er sum” by philosophers and the faulty logic of Pascal’s Wager compared with the good sense of the Precautionary Principle are outlined in appendix 2

Appendices 1 and 2 will be published in another post

Psychology & Sociology of Collapse: Interview with Mark Garavan

logopodcastOff the microphones of Mark Garavan, RE & Monsta

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Aired on the Doomstead Diner on August 17, 2014

psychology-illustration-man-depressed-state

Discuss this Interview at the Doom Psychology Table inside the Diner

For those of us trying to understand and deal with the many  manifestations of a Collapsing Industrial Civilization, often it becomes quite overwhelming.  Recently I wrote about these issues in an article, Where Have All the Doomers Gone.On the other side of the line, people who remain unaware of the underlying problems we face also are suffering from depression, with Suicide numbers up across the board in all Industrial countries, and the number of people on pharmaceutical anti-depressants like Prozac also on a steady increase.Shortly after I wrote that article, Mark Garavan from the FEASTA website published an article from the sociological and psychological perspective, so I contacted him through my other friends from FEASTA, Brian Davey and David Korowicz.  The result is this initial Podcast, which I think is one of our best to date (definitely the best in Audio Quality).  We hope to do another one in the near future as well.
I urge everyone who is having feelings of Depression and Anxiety, or who feels like they are becoming “Burned Out” by the collapse dynamic to give this podcast a listen.  It probably won’t make you feel a whole lot better, but at least you will know you are not alone and there are good and valid reasons for why you feel the way you do right now.Below, the original article from Mark, which he sent to me in email since the FEASTA website has been having issues lately.-RE

As the 21st century unfolds it is increasingly clear that we are entering more deeply into times of travail. The symptoms, both personal and social, of systemic stress are all about. At the political level we see the re-emergence of various fundamentalisms, nationalisms, far-right politics and the normalisation of the Orwellian permanent ‘war on terror’ and subsequent justification for constant state surveillance of citizens. Authoritarian government in the East and post-democracy in the West now exist side by side. Politics is contracted to a regime of technocratric management of the global economy. The capitalist economic system lurches into continual instability kept afloat only by measures such as quantitative easing and the imposed socialisation of elite debts. At the social level inequality, insecurity, new forms of apartheid and social exclusion, slavery and trafficking, and vast enforced movements of people in search of economic security further accentuate the instability of the world. Hovering above all of this disorder ecological crisis grows. The term Climate Change may suggest that only the weather is in question but climate is everything – food, water, temperature, nature itself. Half of all vertebrate life-forms have become extinct in the last forty years.

What is all of this doing to us today? These interlocking problems are not just ‘out there’. We are also being affected at a deep personal level. Not only are we now in the age of social and ecological unsustainability we must also acknowledge that we are in the age of psychological unsustainability. We must acknowledge the pain and distress of this. All of this social and natural dis-order is taking a toll on our human well-being. Our emotions are picking up this systemic collapse long before our rational minds can. Symptoms of stress and distress are all about us – the exponential rise of labelled ‘mental illnesses’ (fuelled by pharmaceutical companies), of addiction, of despair.

Many of us are anxious or depressed.

As Feasta has predicted and argued since its foundation, the system itself is disintegrating. That this is happening is a tragedy. There is no comfort in having anticipated what is now occurring. We are now living through this time. It is no surprise that as the system decays we suffer stress and anxiety at a personal level.

It is in this context that Feasta needs to address where it stands today and what it can do at this time. We have produced detailed analyses and proposals over many years. All of these remain serviceable and valuable. But as a small organisation, desperately trying to argue for fundamental change at a systemic level, a high toll is exacted at the human level. Organisations often do not talk enough about this element. Burn-out, inter-personal frustrations, sheer exhaustion can dissipate even the most committed. I know all of these features from personal experience in campaigns. I know what total exhaustion and inability to continue is like. There is so much to do, so much seems to rest on our shoulders, the issues are so urgent, we feel so much responsibility. It can easily become overwhelming.

Often, advocates for change necessarily end up in the role of the critic, of the one in opposition, of the one who points out what is wrong, of the nay-sayer, of the doom-mongerer. We seem to come from a place of negation. We can appear experts in what is wrong, in what we oppose, in what we hate.

At this time of grave and genuine crisis, we desperately need to evoke what we love. We need to restore to our public discourse the capacity to dream of a world of inclusion, economic sufficiency, democratic participation and of psychological wholeness and well-being where care and compassion ground our fragile existence. The widespread alienation characteristic of our failing system may channel itself into anger, hatred and fear unless a project of hope and inspiration can be offered.

The word Feasta can be used ambivalently. Its origins as a title comes from the line Cad a dheanimid feasta gan adhmaid (what will we do in the future without wood). This suggests the future as a place of forboding and warning. But Feasta can also be an assertion of hope – that despite all there is a future. It must be inhabited and constructed. That is up to us.

But we cannot do it all of course. At a minimum all we in Feasta can do is not collude with the contemporary illusions. We can speak with utter honesty about ourselves as struggling human beings, about our collapsing system, about our fears, distresses and vulnerabilities and about our hopes of a world that might be good enough for a holistically sustainable human life. Sustainability must include the social, political, economic and ecological and also the psychological. The new language and praxis of a sustainable politics must include care and well-being – focusing on the welfare of all of us. That needs to start now so we can begin to support ourselves through these times of woe.

An Open Letter Of Warning To Mr. Badge

From the keyboard of BJ Ferguson
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

 Police-Badge
Originally Published on Facebook September 26, 2014
(With this post I hope to introduce BJ Ferguson to Diner readers.  BJ is a writer from western New York, whose of singular voice I stumbled across on Facebook.  BJ often writes about personal challenges, motherhood, and the fabric of daily life, sometimes evoking memories of Erma Bombeck.  And every so often, she’ll publish a rant that will hit the high notes. From time to time, I will repost one of these rants on the Diner Facebook page.  I thought this particular rant worthy of bringing back to the mothership, inasmuch as it deals with the burgeoning armed, militarized police state we so often discuss. as well as the brutality it engenders. So straight, no chaser, here’s BJ Ferguson… Surly1)

An Open Letter Of Warning To Mr. Badge

You there, Mr. Badge. Yes, you….head cocked to one side, eyes narrowed, granite-jawed, and seething with anger….that rarefied air that you and your kind seem to believe you breathe, may fill your lungs with a sense of power that you and your kind seem to believe supersedes all other powers and senses, even human decency, is not as you also might believe, a license to kill. Your hands tucked into your gun-belt, as your ever-twitching fingers tap nervously against the butt of your weapon, too often the very instrument that you use without forethought or regret, should find genetic memory enough within to remember when first they held one, upon your heart, as you vowed to serve and protect, and the other, in salute to the American Flag,  to remind you to uphold the laws of the land….not your chosen belief or your patrolman’s angst. You there, Mr. Badge…you Sir, are everything that’s so horribly wrong with our world, today…..and it’s about time you realized it.

You are the violence and the violation, perpetuated by the unsubstantiated notion that what you do is somehow justified, because of perpetual violence and violation. You have morphed into a freakish version of Bad-Cop-Worse-Cop, predicated upon the juvenile code of stupidity, known as the “THEY-STARTED-IT-DEFENSE”. Nonetheless, understand this fact…treating citizens worse than rabid dogs, Mr. Badge, is STILL not part of your job description. Killing the innocent, provoking confrontations, to justify your on-the-job-angry beat-down of those who have committed no crime other than to exist in your world without your consent, and refusing to accept responsibility for your errors in judgment, as well as performance of duty, are ALL things that are STILL not part of your job description. So, Mr. Badge, I ask you: “Why the Hell are you making those things a part of our reality?” Because you can? Because you believe you have the right? That one almighty RIGHT, that therefore, means we citizens no longer have ANY?

And, for the record, it does not matter that not all of you are the same; it ceased to matter, the day you began believing all citizens ARE the same….in that NONE of us hold any worth. Our lives and the lives of our children mean nothing to you, Mr. Badge, as you barge through our neighborhoods, kicking, beating, shooting, killing, and making clear that our Constitutional Rights have been crushed beneath the tracks of your tanks and the giant wheels of your Urban Assault Vehicles. You, with your Stormtrooper tactics and military training, the tools and mindset of an invading force on foreign soil, have done more harm, wrought more destruction, and ruined more lives than any other plague American Cities have seen in well over a century. Yes, Mr. Badge; I refer to you as a plague, and surely you are….a blight upon the communities you are meant to protect….a vicious outbreak of an insidious disease, that threatens every unsuspecting citizen, of every city, township, and burg, across this nation.

And one thing more….Mr. Badge….you have made a complete mockery of what was once known as justice. A most unforgivable sin, indeed. You have completely lost all credibility, having committed more heinous crimes, to date, than most citizens could ever imagine. In truth, and you know this as well as anyone on earth, should we remove the corrupted protection of your job-title, should you no longer be operating under the bulwark and buffer of “Mr. Badge”, thus reducing you to the status of “ordinary John Q”…..the only debate, regarding your violent acts against the public, would be in whether or not your sentence would be one of life (without parole), or death. I dare say you might do well to ponder that for a moment, as you pummel your next victim, Mr. Badge, for no one can hide forever behind such a tiny shield.

With all your savagery and inhuman behavior, you may believe you are growing more and more powerful and untouchable. You may also believe your mighty Blue Wall as impenetrable as those that stand strong and high around the precinct castle, but again, as so often these days, your assessment of the situation is completely off. What you fail to comprehend, what you continue to ignore, is that human beings do not accept regressive circumstances as a matter of course. They will not allow themselves to be repeatedly beat down by jack-booted, badge-wearing thugs, without an eventual revolution.

If you doubt my words, take a moment to peruse the history books, taking special note of the many times and places where brutality was met with defiance, and unified courage, against a common scourge, allowing human decency to prevail. You will only be able to kill so many innocent men, women, and children, before you bring the entire society crashing down upon you, along with your crumbling Blue Wall….and I do believe the quota has just about been met. You will, soon enough, rue the day you chose to become a hated Public Enemy, rather than an appreciated Public Servant….mark my words. You will reap the bitter fruits of condemnation, as, one by one, every citizen of this land, rises up, to stand in unity….against you.

And THAT, you brutal, disgusting excuse for a human being, will be the story of you, and every single one, exactly like you……Mr. Badge.

 

***

munkee BJ Ferguson  is a writer in western New Yawk with long experience in the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, motherhood, and the domestic arts. Not to mention snow. Self described as “ancient” and “liberal,” this ancient liberal posts several rants per week on Facebook, and has been known to whip up a mean batch of holiday cookies.

Exploring Consciousness

Off the keyboard of George Mobus

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Published on Question Everything on February 17, 2014

inteligencia-sexual

Discuss this article at the Psychology Table inside the Diner

Dangerous Territory?

Perhaps fools do rush in where wise men fear to tread. The territory we call consciousness studies is fraught with dangers, intellectual as well a professional (for a scientist). Philosophers have never felt any danger (sometimes quite the opposite) because their job is to simply raise interesting questions about the phenomenon. They don’t have to explain how it comes about. René Descartes was content to just declare, “Cogito ergo sum,” and call it a done deal.

Nevertheless the subject cannot but intrigue the scientist who contemplates how the brain works. After all, the brain, working, produces mind and minds experience consciousness (at least I, like Descartes, think I do; the rest of you may be zombies for all I really know!)

Having touched on consciousness in my explorations of sapience (Part 1 with links to subsequent parts), and feeling like I have a good working theory of how wisdom comes about from that brain basis, I am thinking this is a natural turn to take. This is the first of a more in-depth exploration of that devilish hard problem of what is consciousness. I guess you could say I’m feeling foolhardy.

The So-called “Hard Problem”

Philosopher David Chalmers introduced the idea that consciousness is the hard problem, or rather, that some fundamental aspects of consciousness are too hard to explain by mechanistic models.

It seems we need our “mysteries.”

According to Chalmers there are “easy problems” associated with consciousness. For example the mere processing of external stimuli, recognizing what they are and where they come from is easy enough to explain from mere brain theory. For Chalmers and many other philosophers of mind the real problem is subjective experience. That is, how do the stimuli evoke subjective experiences such as “redness”, what are called qualia, or “phenomenal experiences”.

This is where we run into significant rhetorical problems. As soon as we say an experience is subjective we are making a claim about our own experience, not a claim about another’s experience. It is impossible to say that Carl experiences redness when looking at an object that I experience as red. At best Carl and I can agree that whenever looking at an object that I experience as red, he reports that he also experiences something he calls redness. We agree that some kind of visual experiences are consistent across objects. We both use the same name for it. And when I tell Carl that the object I just saw (which he did not see) is red, he understands what I mean in terms of his own experience. It is because of this property of consistency across shared experiences that we might readily conclude that redness is not actually a subjective experience only. There is some physical quality about the way a human brain interacts with reflected light waves to see the same basic quality as almost all other human brains. I submit to you that while the issue of qualia may keep philosophers up at night it is not a real problem when considering the nature of and brain mechanisms for producing the phenomenon we call consciousness.

There are, however, significant semantic issues involved in grappling with the idea of consciousness. When I write, “I saw a red object,” what exactly is the I (in both instances in this sentence)? There is a symbolic referent, I or me, that is used linguistically to identify the agency of a biological system. But more than that, and what is for me the truly hard problem, is that there is a locus of experience and thought that feels an identity and ownership of those experiences and thoughts as well as of the body in which it seems to reside. I can talk about “my body” as if it is a thing that does my bidding and is used to interact with the world. The I inside seems to be unique and, in a sense, somewhat isolated from the body. You will recognize this as the ancient mind-body problem so often argued by philosophers.

Famed neurologist and author, Antonio Damasio (2000) tackled this problem head on in his work, The Feeling of What Happens. Rather than ponder what consciousness must be from an armchair, Damasio has been examining the brain, its functions, and their correspondence with reported subjective experiences as well as behaviors. I have found his arguments (paraphrased below) quite convincing as far as they go. They do provide a more solid ground to start from than introspection alone. My own approach is, in a sense, similar to Damasio’s but working from a kind of reverse engineering process. My work on autonomous agents starts by attempting to emulate the brains of vary primitive creatures such as a snail, paying particular attention to the critical role of memory trace encoding in neuronal synapses (Mobus,1994). It is my contention that this is the first problem to be solved before attempting to emulate whole brains. It is absolutely essential to understand the dynamics of this encoding in order to solve certain critical problems in memory trace behaviors that we know affect long-term behaviors in all animals. My immediate goals are to build brains that are progressively closer to mammalian capabilities (not necessarily human, by the way). This will be demonstrated by their capacity to adapt to non-stationary environments and still succeed at a given mission objective.

I think the answer to consciousness lay in the evolution of brains from those primitive versions up through mammals and to humans. I have elected to try to emulate the stages of brain evolution by simulating biological-like neurons and their dynamic interactions in brain-like structures (e.g. the hippocampus and its analogues in reptiles). Essentially I seek to grasp how the brain works by recapitulating its evolution.

Jeff Hawkins (2004), of PalmPilot fame, is also attempting to reverse engineer the brain (especially the human level) but is most interested in the neocortex of mammals and humans to emulate human level (like) intelligence. His approach has been a more top-down one in which he has focused on what he feels (and I agree with him) the role of the cortex is as a memory-based prediction processor that can form invariant representations of things, causal relations, and interaction dynamics in the world that actually allows the possessor to visualize the future based on experiences learned in the past. I feel he is closer to understanding real intelligence than all of the classical artificial intelligence and artificial neural network researchers combined! Real, natural intelligence will never be simulated by a program. It will only be emulated by a program that simulates the necessary details of brains. I think we can do this on a computer, but probably not a brain as complex as the human’s. I will be happy if we can get to something a little more advanced than a lizard, for example a mouse.

I must say I think Hawkins’ approach, while having the advantage of providing a kind of top-down framework for generating hypotheses about intelligence, is going to have difficulty in not having spent time understanding the way in which neurons (all of them) encode synaptic efficacy as the basis for memory traces. Further, we now know that neurons are actively wiring and rewiring as a result of experiences. New synaptic junctions are formed, especially between distant clusters, and the mechanism for doing this involves the dynamic behavior of existing synapses and the epigenetic controls on genes that encode, for example, channel proteins. My adaptrode model provides the basis for this mechanism and this too is one of my goals — to show how distant neural clusters can come to represent causal associations in a developing brain simulation.

The approach of reverse engineering takes the work of neuroscientists like Daniel Alkon (1985), Eric Kandel, and Larry Squires (2008) who showed how synaptic efficacy dynamics worked, and Damasio and others like him who have painted a picture of how the mind works (similar to Hawkins’ framework approach) and attempting to simulate the parts that interact in such a way that the whole thing works just like brains do, but in software and silicon instead of meat. I contend that it is the causal relation encoding dynamic built into synapses that is the key. And that can be simulated reasonably well[1].

In any case Hawkins seems interested in consciousness as an afterthought, a consequence of neurology (see Chapter 7 in his book). He seems focused on the issue of intelligent decision-making and never considers the nature of judgement or wisdom. In the chapter on the topic, consciousness, creativity, and imagination are treated more like epiphenomena of neocortex operations. I, however, am interested in the nature of consciousness from the standpoint of that it is an essential evolutionary consequence of fitness and how it emerges from the workings of the brain. I do not think it is an epiphenomenon — a simple but unnecessary consequence of brain workings (in fairness to Hawkins he may not really think that these “extra” phenomena are truly epiphenomena, but his treatment of them seems cursory and almost dismissive, so that it seems as if he does).

For Hawkins the objective is new technology to be applied to building useful tools; tools that are truly intelligent, meaning they learn from experience and can make good decisions. He sees these applications as specifically not being humanoid robot like, but rather for things like autonomous vehicles that do not have emotions or internal drives as animals (and humans) do. But for me the motivation is quite different. I seek to reverse engineer the brain and demonstrate its functionality in a working autonomous agent as a way to better understand biological brains! I build agents not to develop commercial applications but to understand better the brain itself. Frankly I suspect Hawkins, in excluding the inclusion of limbic functions like emotional content, will run into a barrier in his quest. As Damasio (1994) pointed out in his first book, Descartes’ Error, essentially all of our memory traces are tagged with emotions or feelings derived from the limbic centers and based on the emotional context of the moment in which they are formed (see Chapter 8 — The Somatic-Marker Hypothesis). Damasio has concluded that the whole brain and body &ldwquo;… form an indissociable organism… ” (page 88) that probably cannot have parts isolated and function properly. Hawkins seeks to isolate the neocortex (and perhaps part of the thalamus and hippocampus) for his ‘intelligent tools’. I am skeptical that the learning algorithms he might apply to the neurons (synaptic plasticity) will do what he expects without an underlying motivational response system. But I wish him luck.

As long-term readers well know my ultimate interest is in the nature of wisdom and its effects on intelligence, creativity, and affect (emotions) as a necessary and evolutionarily emergent capacity of our human brains. I think consciousness is for something that is deeply tied to the nature of sapience. Perhaps, as I have speculated, the two phenomena are coextensive, i.e., come from the same brain structures that evolved in humans but are almost absent in lower animals. I suppose you could say that my ultimate goal would be to show how that can emerge (evolve) in brains by building something as proof of concept. As I said earlier, that won’t be possible with the current generation of computers, even the most powerful supper computers or even through massive parallel processing over the Internet. But it should be possible to make advances in that direction that demonstrate the potential of the trajectory.

Believe it or not there are a number of researchers, both in and around the field of artificial intelligence (AI), who are studying Artificial Consciousness (AC). The study of AI has, itself, helped shed light on what we really mean by intelligence even if it has not been very successful in producing the general kind of intelligence we now recognize as the basis for adaptive behavior in autonomous agents like animals. I would claim that my own modest efforts have gone a long way to show an alternative approach that does do so. Those who have considered AC do recognize that if it is possible to produce consciousness (whatever it is) artificially it will certainly include, and start with, the capacity for adaptive autonomy by an intentional agent.

The beginning of this approach is now to consider how an animal is “aware” of its world and its self as it moves about sensing that world and its own body states.

Awareness — Self vs. Non-Self

The nature of consciousness begins with the nature of an agent’s awareness. Even the simplest living organisms keep track of stimuli that originate in themselves versus those that originate in their environments. All animals, certainly, from the lowliest worm to human beings have neural mechanisms that track their own bodily positions and self-stimulation versus stimulations that originate from elsewhere in their environments. In other words they keep track of self versus non-self The need to do so is really pretty simple. Organisms need to react with appropriate behaviors to the impacts of the stimuli coming from other sources. They do not need to react to stimuli from themselves. For example, a nudibranch (marine snail) needs to withdraw its gills if they are touched by other agents (live or not). It does not need to do so if it touches its own gills. So it has neural mechanisms that keep track of its own movements. It knows where every part of its body is relative to all other parts at all times. If it detects a sensation on the surface of its body while noting that its foot, for example, is curled up and is the source of the stimulation (its foot will also feel the touch of the gill), it does not need to react. Any other stimulation not accounted for by its neural tracking of self should be reacted to for safety sake.

The circuit in Figure 1 shows how this is accomplished. The circuit compares sensory inputs from any of its externally focused senses, visual, auditory, or touch. These are compared with proprioceptive sensory information for correlations. In the nudibranch case above it will have a proprioceptive map that indicates where its foot is because it keeps track of how it moved that foot to its current location (nudibranchs are quite capable of such contortions!). It also receives touch sensory data from the gills in the location corresponding to where the foot is. Thus it can determine that no response is needed since it is self-stimulating the gills. Contrariwise, if the foot has not been moved to that location then it will conclude that something not itself has touched its gills and it will retract them immediately.

 

Self-vs-non-self

Figure 1. The distinction between self and non-self is differentiated by whether proprioceptive sensing matches external somatosensory inputs. A. If the proprioceptive input does not indicate that the self has produced the sensory input, then the non-self cluster is activated indicating the need to attend to the stimulus. B.If the proprioceptive input does indicate that the self has moved and this correlates to the sensory inputs then it is recognized as a self action. This kind of circuit is what lets you know that it is you scratching your ear and not someone else trying to be friendly.

 

Awareness is essentially the maintenance of somatosensory maps[2] that keep track of every sensory input that is active at any given moment. These come from the external world and from the internal body. Proprioception, as just described, provides a map of the body’s movable parts so that the animal “knows” at all times where its part are relative to all other parts. It also supplies information about how much force, for example, had to be used to get the part where the motor commands directed it. This is used as feedback to help regulate the motor commands themselves. If little force is still accomplishing the task then more force is not needed. This information can be used to determine the agent’s relations with objects and media in its world. A second internal sensory map is the interoception, or sensing of physiological body states such as blood sugar levels or nitrogenous waste build up in muscles. It includes hunger, hormone-driven effects like sexual urges, and pain reception. Some of these states, such as sexual urges, can be triggered by external sensory stimuli (presence of the opposite sex’s pheromones) but sensed by internal sensors and relayed to the brain as body state information.

Even the most primitive brain maintains these three dynamic mappings that keep it aware of the state and position of the self and the state of the environment around it[3]. In reptiles and below these maps are mostly processed in the nuclei-like structures of the lower and middle brain areas. Many are nonmalleable in the sense that they cannot learn new images or new behaviors. They provide instinctual behaviors. In amphibians and reptiles newer, more flexible, structures appeared. They are more cortical-like in architecture and they are flexible in the sense that they allow for non-instinctual memories (at least in short-term) to be encoded as new images from the environment. Such structures help quadrupedal mobility in more difficult to navigate terrains. They also allow more flexibility in reorganizing instinctual behaviors to achieve a more complex goal. For example mating rituals can be more elaborate and follow slightly different patterns in each instance based on current circumstances. This helps improve mating success and thus seems to have obvious selective advantage.

 

Sensory-maps

Figure 2. There are three sources of sensory input to the central nervous system. The exterioceptive senses are the ones we normally think about as the five senses along with a few others. The proprioceptive system keeps track of body movements and positions of parts relative to each other. The interoceptive system monitors internal body states and keeps a map of activity levels in the relevant subsystems. All maps are integrated into a “global” map of the self and its relation to the things and forces operating in its environment. This is the origin of awareness and can be found in some of the most primitive brains.

 

Yet even more elaborate and flexible mapping processors emerged in the form of the paleocortex[4]. This structure may have evolved in dinosaurs or at least the last common ancestor of dinosaurs and birds, since the latter have similar structures. A cortical structure, as Hawkins and others have elaborated, allows much greater flexibility in making more complex associations between sensory inputs and leading to more complex motor outputs (behaviors). The maps shown above were replicated in these cortical structures but in a much more elaborate form. The paleocortex could process so much more and do so by acting as Hawkins’ memory-prediction system that I have shown to provide anticipatory (preemptive) based actions.

The final stage of evolutionary expansion of brain systems and the gain of unparalleled adaptivity came with the emergence of the neocortex in mammals. In some respects not unlike the paleocortex this ‘new’ cortex provides a much more powerful capacity to encode memory traces and make anticipatory guesses about the near future state of the world. But even more important, the size and complexity of this subsystem allows the brain to manipulate concepts experimentally, to imagine a possible future that can be tested for possibilities before action is committed. For example a preditor such as a lion or wild dog can consider that they have often found food resources at particular water holes. When the game is more scarce, the predator can then experiment with the idea that there might be other water holes some distance away where more game might be found.

You may question my use of the word “idea” here. But I mean it literally. Most of your ideas actually start out in the subconscious processing taking place in various parts of your brain. Only a very few of these ideas make to the light of conscious awareness. Yet we know they are there because psychologists/neuroscientists have devised clever ways to elicit subconscious thinking and visualize it using fMRI and other dynamic imaging methods. Thus, though a predator like a lion might or might not have a conscious thought about ‘trying’ to find a new watering hole, the thought is there none the less. This is evidenced by the actual behavior of such animals that has every appearance of premeditation. For my part I have several reasons to believe that lions and dogs actually do experience such ideas consciously. I also suspect they have an inner language that includes complex concepts in the form of noun-like and verb-like (including tenses) abstractions of the things in their world. Recent work in animal communications indicates that their body languages convey much more of their inner thoughts than we had previously considered. I will have to write about this at a later time. For now please accept that mammals have mental capabilities, made possible by neocortex, that allow them to work with concepts in ways very similar to our own.

From Brain to Mind

The neocortex alone, as simply an expanded version of the paleocortex, would not have resulted in the explosion of complex behaviors that gave mammals tremendous survival advantages. The other concomitant development in brain structure was the development and expansion of the prefrontal cortex, the lobes of cortex just behind the eyebrows. The frontal lobes were always the seat of associating environmental situations with appropriate behavioral programs, planing of muscle contraction sequences, and then sending commands for those sequences at the appropriate timing intervals. The addition of the prefrontal cortex added a new feature, the ability to plan alternative coordination with possible future situations, extending the ability to anticipate and adding considerable flexibility to behaviors (along with increased complexity). With the addition of temporal categories, past, present, and near-future, animals with prefrontal cortex could process the present situation based on past experiences and plan future actions.

Figure 3 shows a complete set of mappings and the information flows from sensory to planning to motor coordination. The new layer of map effectively observes what the sensory integration is producing and uses memory of past experiences to decide what motor actions would be needed. In this sense it is planning for the future by anticipating future outcomes. But in the primitive animals in which this map came into being, the future is just a very few seconds.

The figure includes the feedback through the environment resulting from the animal’s behavior altering its relation to objects in the environment — essentially changing the environment (red arrow) relative to the animals perceptions. The loop is continuous in time. The animal continually senses the environmental configuration of percepts and tracks how they change in the planning map. Those changes then give rise to new motor plans. Not shown in the figure are the internal feedback loops from higher order maps to lower order ones. I’ll have more to say about this aspect in future postings.

 

Behavior-map

Figure 3. Adding motor outputs requires the integration of sensory inputs and the coordination of motor outputs. This requires a higher-level map to plan actions that will need to be done in order to better position the agent in the environment. The sensing, planning, motor output, and feedback as the environment changes relative to the agent’s perceptions is continuous in time.

 

Connecting complex environmental situations and body states with actions to take was a major leap in agency, the ability to flexibly choose alternatives, some of which might be learned through experience. But it was still only a slight improvement in anticipatory behavior in being limited to the immediate future. In many ways this capacity could be limited to amateur game playing; if the opponent moves here I should move there. Considerations for what the opponent might do two minutes from the present, let alone two hours, were not a factor.

As the evolution of more complex environments proceeded [5] selection for more behavioral flexibility became stronger. The behavior planning map expanded to provide more memory capacity for more complex situations encountered. At some point (probably in early mammals, monotremes) a new map emerged above the short-term planning map in Figure 3. In all likelihood this map evolved as many new organs/facilities often do as a duplicated structure (the planning map) that was initially redundant, but later was free to evolve additional capabilities.

That structure is depicted in Figure 4 as an “Observer Model.” sitting atop the action planning map. At this juncture the latter is more a short-term default map wherein actions chosen would hold under ordinary circumstances. But the higher-order map is capable of storing more implicit (and perhaps the beginnings of explicit – episodic) memories than could be accommodated in the lower map. This larger memory also includes longer time scales for memory retention. But more intriguingly the higher-order map is a dynamic map in that it is capable of reconfiguration (generating new wiring schemes between concept objects) and hence, as a modeling “platform”, capable of generating multiple possible scenarios for the future. The time horizon for planning actions, and hence the length of the sequencing, expanded as well. The animals could consider behaviors further into the future than before.

 

Observer-map

Figure 4. At some point of complexity (environment and behavior) a new map appeared as an adjunct to the Action Planning Map. This map introduces longer time scales of “what happened” as well as “what may happen in the future”. This map is probably better called a dynamic model but it takes current status information and constructs refinements to models of how things work. The output from these models affect the current behavior.

 

Note that this new capacity opened up new possibilities for exploring fitness space in mammalian evolution. The larger the spatio-temporal scope of an individual’s experiential memory coupled with mechanisms for experimenting with possible scenarios gave animals a capability to increase their tactical advantages considerably. The carnivores and the primates evolved this capability to maximum effect.

The reason I call this an observer model is that unlike the planning map that directly innervates the motor coordination map, this map takes in what the lower-level maps are doing and constructs what amounts to higher order models of both the self and the environment over long time scales. The sense of “I&rdquo, with continuity across time, is a consequence of this modeling. I am reasonably certain that dogs, cats, other carnivores, cetacean, and primate species have an inner sense of self and identity associated with their life experience memories. It may be true for ungulates too (horse owners would probably agree). Maybe even lagomorphs (rabbits) too! Indeed, as I think of various mammalian species I have watched behave (e.g. squirrels and raccoons) I would guess they all have some sense of I-ness.

There is another sense that results from there being a sense of I. That is the sense of agency and will; the sense that I caused that to happen. This has to be fairly obvious from the fact that the observer is watching the motor outputs (behaviors) that change the environment (relative to the observer) as well as observing the actions of the planning map and what it was in the sensory maps that gave rise to it.

With the emergence of this observer, model constructor, model user, scenario generator we have the emergence of the mind. We have the origin of the sense of self as different from the lower-level functions (maps) because it is. Lots of things could be going on in real-time in the lower level maps. This new higher level map (model) is working in a different time domain. It is collecting experiences and consequences of past behaviors in those circumstances which it uses to build anticipatory models of what should be done in the long-run (well, some long-run). It then provides the action planning map with provisional suggestions as to what sequence of actions it should take if such-and-such a situation comes to fruition. This new map allows the animal to deal with some ambiguity and uncertainty.

The new map is in the prefrontal cortex. Its actual work is to map longer-term and broader scale concepts to all of the regions in the neocortex where the details of lower-level concepts and percepts are actually stored (e.g. parietal and temporal lobes, etc.)

Higher-order Consciousness

The capacity to be aware of the environment and the sense of the body as a basis for short-term behavior planning is what I have called First-order Consciousness. The sense of self is primordial, consisting of a knowledge of proprioceptive senses that distinguish that what is happening is either due to some factor in the environment (awareness) or due to the animal’s own actions. All animals from the most primitive (probably with what we would call nervous systems) to human beings have this fundamental consciousness or they could not act effectively (be fit) in their worlds.

A sense of self that produces also a sense of separateness, the sense of I is what I call Second-order Consciousness. There is an observer in the brain that literally tracks both what is happening in the environment and what the body does in response AND proposes longer time-scale action sequences that should better situate the animal in the future. Fitness is greatly enhanced. The animal possessing this capability is able to adapt to multiple environmental configurations within limits.

What do we see with humans? In my next posting I will tackle the next level phenomenal experience — observing the observing! Humans are conscious that they are conscious. What does it mean?


References

Damasio, Antonio (2000). The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness, Mariner Books.

Damasio, Antonio (1994). Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, HarperCollins Publisher, New York.

Hawkins, Jeff (2004). On Intelligence, St. Martin’s Griffen, New York.

Kandel, Eric & Squires, Larry (2008). Memory: From Mind to Molecules, Roberts and Company Publishers.

Koch, Christof (2004). The Quest for Consciousness: a Neurobiological Approach, Roberts and Co.

Koch, Christof (2012). Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist, The MIT Press, Cambridge MA.

Mobus, George E., (1994). “Toward a theory of learning and representing causal inferences in neural networks”, in Levine, D.S. and Aparicio, M (Eds.), Neural Networks for Knowledge Representation and Inference, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. [Available on-line: http://faculty.washington.edu/gmobus/Adaptrode/causal_representation.html]


Footnotes

[1]. Simulations, however, are not easy. A simulation is always an approximation to the actual system. We can never simulate the lowest level details. For example my Adaptrode does not simulate the molecular interactions that take place in a neuron from synapse to genes. Such a simulation would provide greater accuracy by capturing the sub-dynamics that contribute to the whole phenomenon. But at the cost of needing much more computing power. We always are stuck with a tradeoff between accuracy and computational overhead. What we do is try to analyze the phenomenon and identify what we think is the sufficient level of accuracy producing the desired effects (think of curve fitting approximating a non-linear time series). If there is a need to get the simulation to run in real time, then the constraints on level of detail are much more severe. Using a computer simulation of thousands of synapses with firing frequencies of 200-300 Hz requires a substantial amount of trimming of detail! Time will tell if the Adaptrode equations suffice.

[2] The use of the term ‘map’ may be confusing but the processing ‘modules’ reponsible for handling sensory inputs literally map the array of inputs (think of the retina as a two dimensional array of light sensitive cells) to higher order processing modules. Unlike static roadmaps, however, these neural modules are dynamic maps that track inputs across the sensory field, thus changing where activity is located based on what they are mapping. For example, think of the visual inputs from the retina as the eye moves. The objects in the field of view are moving relative to the map itself. Imagine a lattice made of rubber. An object in the field of view is like a distortion in the lattice, say pushing a finger down on it. As the eye moves and the object remains stationary it is like moving your finger across the lattice so that the distortion affects different regions.

[3]. Here the term environment refers only to the affective environment of the animal; essentially only those forces it can detect and objects it can recognize. For worms and snails this is a pretty limited environment. For humans it is clearly much larger. Nevertheless, there are many aspects of one’s immediate environment that one cannot sense directly yet they can have causal impacts on the individual.

[4]. A cortical structure is a sheet of micro-modular units (cortical columns) that are arrayed in a matrix arrangement. The sheet is divided into regions (and likely sub-regions) that are responsible for processing various representations. The sheet can be imagined as being layed out with regions near one edge (actually the back of the brain in the neocortex) devoted to low-level sensory inputs from all modalities. These are passed to the next regions which extract meaningful conceptual images from the inputs from the “lower” regions. That is, the outputs from the sensory regions are passed to the integration regions. It is also notable that there is a tremendous amount of feedback from the integration regions to the primary sensory regions. The outputs from the integration regions pass further along the sheet to object recognition and that to whole-field (situation) recognition. From there the behavior selection processing is done in the planning or pre-motor regions. Finally motor outputs are processed in regions in the far other edge of the sheet and the outputs are sent back down to the motor control nuclei in the central and lower brain areas for passing to muscles, etc. This is a, perhaps overly, simplified description. I plan on devoting some future writing to elaborate on this subject.

[5]. I say the environment evolved because an environment includes all other relevant species and environments and the various interacting genera coevolve. Sometimes such coevolution involves an “arms race”, as between prey and predator, called the Red Queen race.

Suffering

Off the keyboard of Lucid Dreams

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Friend us on Facebook

Published on Epiphany Now on February 10, 2013

ninja fox

Discuss this article at the Psychology Table inside the Diner

suffering

Sometimes depression is the appropriate response to things. I am an intellectual being, and that space causes suffering. The things I write about below are true, all of them, and they are sad, and I don’t want to be happy about them. If you just want to be happy than don’t read this blog. At least not this entry.
Did you know it’s possible to hear soul atrophy? And why shouldn’t our souls decide to atrophy? What are we, the industrial grade consumers, the bomb chronic radioactive waste generators, the entropic catalytic smoke, the monkey’s whom caught cancer of the mind. What do we need of our souls anyways? We sold them a long time ago on account of delicate tastes in the finer things in life. Like name brand clothing made by brown third world slaves, and air conditioned luxury vehicles. God it’s depressing. I’m depressing myself over here talkin’ about how vile my species is. It’s true that exiting the Matrix means no place left to go. At least not where things are considered normal by societies standards. There’s nothing left but pure unadulterated truth.
I’m free to see the world from a very unique vantage point. Looking from this high peak I can see futility moving across our psychic landscape. That we should pay by selling our very lives to afford ridiculous stick built nonsense overhead…and drywall. That we spend so much time trying to figure out how to come up with this requirement called money, and this while some men just create it out of free flowing electrons and call it “quantitative easing.” What the fuck does that term even mean in reality? That some men get to control the daily realities of a planet full of life? Some men get to be rich while the rest get to be poor. Poor of heart, soul, and spirit, and poor in flesh. Our flesh is even made of less quality than it used to be. We used to be composed of 70% good ole fashioned corn molecules. Now we’re composed of high fructose gentically modified and radioactive Monsanto frankencorn molecules. Along with some 200 other man made chemicals that are floating around in our mothers wombs along with our future progeny.
I can envision a world much different from the one we are in now. A world where integrity, honor, compassion, self worth, and love are central to the political decisions that must be made. Why is it that for one group to prosper another group must get shat all over? Why is it that for us humans to be happy we have to kill everything else healthy about our planet? The answer to both of those questions is that neither have to be true. We can have a world where there is surplus amongst healthy natural systems. We must have that world, but all I see is fear painted on the faces of every automaton, and fear ensures that we continue getting this same cancerous, made from virus, reality.
I see cell phones plastered to the side of every motorist, and when the screens aren’t stuck to the side of the head they’re out front gettin’ texted (sounds dirty doesn’t it). What do we need with all these god damned electronic screens? They aren’t reality, even though we make them so. You can occupy Facebook with art all you want to, it’s still taking your energy and making you narcissistic. Why don’t you go occupy one of your “friends” house? I bet if you did go to your friends house they wouldn’t notice you due to all the electronic idiot panels. They’d likely be to busy liking their friends on Facebook to notice your “in real life” self standing there. Why should they notice you? If they noticed you, they might then be forced to notice something outside the window, something that’s outside where the nature is.
There ain’t shit natural about an idiot panel imagadget (and for the record, I’m no damn gadget). All of this virtual reality makes real reality diminish. The more we give our energy to those screens, the more our souls atrophy. You can hear the sound from outside of the Matrix. Yet due to the interconnectivity of all things, you can also hear your soul being sucked into the mess, and against your will. We’re all drowning alone together, and we’re all miserable, but we keep on insisting we must drown to death on comfort and plausible deniability. We insist that what we are doing is okay when it’s anything but. It’s not alright to continue living the way that we do, our highest good being trash generation for profit, all while serving as slaves to a machine that itself is receiving palliative care by way of digibit printing. It will continue spittin’ those ones and zeros out until either we use all of the fossil energy, or the use of that fossil energy finishes choking all life off of this planet, or we do something about it.
So what are we going to do about it? I refuse to continue with business as usual, and I’ll refuse any response that requires more of it. You want to own the land? How can you own the land? Even in the delusional version of land ownership you still have codes and taxes, both of which require money. Money for you to go get. You don’t get to just print the money either, that’s reserved for your masters, you have to sell yourself by the hour for it. There are those whom just have a lot of it. Those of us whom managed to have the brains to figure out how to get it, or were just connected enough from birth to the source of that magic digibit lever up in DC. The way I see it, those of us whom were born short changed, need to start taking from those whom have always had. Exactly like Robyn Hode.
I don’t know exactly what that looks like yet. It’s just an idea I’ve just started to think about. What is right and wrong in our world anyways? Is the highest good to honor land ownership? Some bankers said this piece of ground is yours (as long as you comply with codes and pay your taxes) and you can do as you wish with it. Then that same banker said that his corporation was a person with the same damn rights. Now that corporate person decides to shit all over his land with chemicals designed to bring death to healthy cells, with radioactivity, with poisonous food, and with “water” that can be lit on fire. What better symbol do you need for how fucked things are when you can light your tap water on fire. I’d laugh my ass off about that if it weren’t for the unfortunate fact that there’s nothing funny about it. The message I receive is that it’s alright to be a corporate person and shit all over the land with death agents, fuck the water up, heat the planet up, kill everything that’s not human (and even kill humans if your an empire) for no reason, and all of that’s just fine with the “law” of the land. This is the same law that I’m supposed to respect? The same law that you are supposed to respect?
Well, these are the laws that make our present world. Yeah, but at least we’ve got ten million food products with high fructose petroleum sugar and we’re not hungry…all 7 billion of us…and counting. I keep looking for an answer to this trash dump we’ve created for ourselves. I’m convinced there’s not one spot on this planet without man made trash. Nature doesn’t make trash. It makes feces, but then it uses that shit to pretty much perpetuate itself, until we came along and came up with the concept of shit, and now our leaders get to shit all over us and everything else. Maybe its all some fucked up God joke where everything shits on everything else until the end. Humans crave suffering like fish crave water.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

https://image.freepik.com/free-icon/musical-notes-symbols_318-29778.jpg

Support the Diner

Search the Diner

Surveys & Podcasts

NEW SURVEY

Renewable Energy

VISIT AND FOLLOW US ON DINER SOUNDCLOUD

" As a daily reader of all of the doomsday blogs, e.g. the Diner, Nature Bats Last, Zerohedge, Scribbler, etc… I must say that I most look forward to your “off the microphone” rants. Your analysis, insights, and conclusions are always logical, well supported, and clearly articulated – a trifecta not frequently achieved."- Joe D

Archives

Global Diners

View Full Diner Stats

Global Population Stats

Enter a Country Name for full Population & Demographic Statistics

Lake Mead Watch

http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/NA-BX686_LakeMe_G_20130816175615.jpg

loading

Inside the Diner

President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing delegates at the official opening of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) High- Level Seg...

 In San Francisco, autonomous crime-fighting robots that are used to patrol parking lots, sports arenas, and tech company campuses a...

'This is a real world analysis of what is actually happening, rather than a projection of what might happen in the future,' says author Richard Black[img]https://static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/styles/article_medium/public/thumbnails/image...

The climate science maverick believes catastrophe is inevitable, carbon offsetting is a joke and ethical living a scam. So what would he do? By Decca Aitkenhead [img]https://i.guim.co.uk/img/static/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2008/02/29/ja...

Neonicotinoids, banned on flowering crops, were found in nearly all rivers tested, increasing concerns over their impact on fish and birds[img]https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/7a2ff94ee7e32a64a3a61279e16e88780284a1b5/0_0_4896_2938/master/4896.jpg...

Recent Facebook Posts

Retweeted Ted Lieu (@tedlieu): Why were millions of fake comments sent to FCC, including half a million from Russian addresses? How do we know..

2 hours ago

What I Saw Inside Roy Moore's Barn Burner

Some superb writing here by Charlie Pierce. What I Saw Inside Roy Moore’s Barn Burner. The message made zero sense. People lapped it up.

2 hours ago

Retweeted John Aravosis (@aravosis): We actually have @realDonaldTrump to thank for tonight’s victory in Alabama. After all, Sessions would..

2 hours ago

State of Fear: How History’s Deadliest Bombing Campaign Created Today’s Crisis in Korea

State of Fear: How History’s Deadliest Bombing Campaign Created Today’s Crisis in Korea

2 hours ago

Retweeted Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes): Remember: a Supreme Court justice had to be denied a hearing for 300 days so the “people can decide” but..

2 hours ago

Diner Twitter feed

Knarf’s Knewz

President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing delegates at t [...]

Neonicotinoids, banned on flowering crops, were fo [...]

Diner Newz Feeds

  • Surly
  • Agelbert
  • Knarf
  • Golden Oxen
  • Frostbite Falls

John Samuel Tieman: Re-enactment[html]A friend inv [...]

Doomstead Diner Daily 12/12[html] [...]

Greetings, Diners.After a hiatus, I am back with t [...]

Doomstead Diner Daily 11/29[html] [...]

BREAKING NEWS: Democrat Doug Jones just defeated R [...]

 December 12, 2017Racism and Trumpism in AlabamaAs [...]

President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing delegates at t [...]

Neonicotinoids, banned on flowering crops, were fo [...]

My understanding is Ethereum is The Blockchain (pu [...]

Thanks Palloy, A topic of much current interest an [...]

QuoteGO is my friend. I can still disagree with hi [...]

Quote from: monsta666 on December 06, 2017, 07:48: [...]

I just wanted GO to know that I agree with the poi [...]

"It will collapse, they just don't know [...]

Quote from: RE on November 30, 2017, 12:49:52 PMSi [...]

Since I just returned from visiting the 500 Acre [...]

http://www.youtube.com/v/RBQ-IoHfimQ [...]

As long as he does not want to be my Fairy Home Co [...]

Alternate Perspectives

  • Two Ice Floes
  • Jumping Jack Flash
  • From Filmers to Farmers

The Psyops of “The Silence Breakers” Meme By Cognitive Dissonance Time magazine just named their wid [...]

Issues, Problems, (Social) Media and the Manipulation Thereof By Cognitive Dissonance   Back when I [...]

Taking a Pass on Gas – Wood Preferred - Part 2 By High Desert Homesteading   Part 1 of this article [...]

The Latest Sign of the Coming Apocalypse By Cognitive Dissonance   On occasion Mrs. Cog accuses me o [...]

Taking a Pass on Gas – Wood Preferred By High Desert Homesteading   We recently bought a 22 year old [...]

Event Update For 2017-12-10http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2017-12-09http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2017-12-08http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2017-12-07http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2017-12-06http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

You know things have taken a turn for the desperate when women have started to drive. Or rather, whe [...]

From Filmers to Farmers is re-launched on the astounding open source blogging platform Ghost! [...]

The blogging scene is admittedly atrocious. Is there really no option for a collapse blogger to turn [...]

Daily Doom Photo

man-watching-tv

Sustainability

  • Peak Surfer
  • SUN
  • Transition Voice

The Climate Bums"The US is only pledging about 20% of its fair share. The EU is pledging about 50% of its fair [...]

Causation"Physical realities are very slow to change. Minds can change instantly."Bapu's Chark [...]

The Diamond Cutter at Apache Pass, Part 4: Permaculture"There is epigenetic asynchrony in this biome." This is the fourth and last installment in [...]

The Diamond Cutter at Apache Pass, Part 3: Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā"The things that are seen are temporal; the things that are unseen are eternal. — Saul of Tarsi [...]

The Diamond Cutter at Apache Pass, Part 2: Passage to India"Blindfolded, he spoke eloquently on the nature of emptiness."This is the second installme [...]

The folks at Windward have been doing great work at living sustainably for many years now.  Part of [...]

 The Daily SUN☼ Building a Better Tomorrow by Sustaining Universal Needs April 3, 2017 Powering Down [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

Americans are good on the "thoughts and prayers" thing. Also not so bad about digging in f [...]

In the echo-sphere of political punditry consensus forms rapidly, gels, and then, in short order…cal [...]

Discussions with figures from Noam Chomsky and Peter Senge to Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama off [...]

Lefty Greenies have some laudable ideas. Why is it then that they don't bother to really build [...]

Democracy and politics would be messy business even if all participants were saints. But America doe [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

It's all about what perspective you have. Pintada believes glowball wurming will do us in, that [...]

Just like page 3 of the Sun in the good old days before the flat-chested brigade closed it down. htt [...]

0. The Tverbergian Collapse is a distinct possibility if something else doesn’t end society first. A [...]

Thanks. I must not lose sight of this. Can't have one without the other. [...]

http://peakoil.com/consumption/the-biggest-bubble-ever-in-three-charts I have no idea what the meani [...]

@dolph - disensus = good. The more the merrier. You are hung up on scale [...]

There's nothing we can do, we are slaves with information. Alright, not quite nothing - we can [...]

Not true. Individually we are subject to death, but the system is not. That's always been the c [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Simplifying the Final Countdown

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

Off the Keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Merry Doomy Christmas

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Collapse Fiction

Useful Links

Technical Journals

Nowadays, most of the Earth’s population lives in urban areas. The replacement of vegetation by buil [...]

Landslides can be triggered by intense or prolonged rainfall. Rain gauge measurements are commonly u [...]

Climate change is a serious threat to the livelihoods of rural communities, particularly in mountain [...]