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Fantasies, Myths, and Fairy Tales

Fantasies, Myths, and Fairy Tales

Advertisement from the mid-20th century

I have often used this expression (the title) to describe many things people tend to think of as solutions for one thing or another that either are not solutions or are unrealistic at best in terms of actually solving something. For anyone just joining these articles, this post will help get you started so as to be able to comprehend what this article is about.

As I have expressed before, my deep passion is to help explain where we are (as a species), how we got here, why we are in this mess, and what can and/or cannot be done to “solve” these predicaments. My very first post explained the difference between problems with answers or solutions and predicaments (or dilemmas) with outcomes. In it, we discovered that predicaments don’t have solutions, and that every solution proffered for a predicament winds up causing new problems and/or predicaments or comes with unacceptable costs or just simply doesn’t solve anything.

The reason these explanations are necessary is because a very large portion of society is completely ignorant to these facts and tends to buy into industry hype, marketing, advertising, and propaganda. Why does this happen? Because culturally, this is what society has been doing for the last several centuries AT LEAST. In order to sell an item or service, the seller needs to market and advertise the product or service. Making it attractive to the purchaser and making the purchaser feel good about buying it is key to getting the target audience to bring demand for said product or service. Whether the product or service is actually necessary or does more than make the purchaser feel good is often irrelevant in the grand scheme of things…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Fear is the New Smart


Auguste Renoir The umbrellas 1881-6
The Washington Post said recently: “The anti-vaccine movement is comparable to domestic terrorism, and must be treated that way”, while the Guardian had this:

“When it comes to shifting attitudes to vaccines, it is crucial to distinguish between public information campaigns that seek to educate the public and those that seek to persuade them,” said Philipp Schmid, a behavioural scientist researching vaccine scepticism at the University of Erfurt. “[..] if you don’t proactively tackle the problem at all, you end up playing catch-up with the anti-vaxxers. In a way, governments have to work on a parallel vaccine rollout – immunising the public against science denial.”

But WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said: “it’s very important for people to understand that at the moment, all we know about the vaccines is that they will very effectively reduce your risk of severe disease. We haven’t seen any evidence yet indicating whether or not they stop transmission.” And Dr. David Martin claimed: It’s Gene Therapy, Not a Vaccine. One might add: It’s not science, it’s a sales job.

Now, I don’t know exactly who the WaPo refers to when they say “the anti-vaccine movement”, or that German guy with “the anti-vaxxers”, but it appears there is a widespread movement going on to promote mRNA vaccines, both by governments and by the press. And we’re not supposed to ask questions. Well, I’m sorry, but I make a living asking questions. And I think asking questions is not just everybody’s right, it’s an obligation. So don’t come at me with “domestic terrorism” or “anti-vaxxers”, a term that has nothing to do with the topic to begin with. Asking questions is not the same as being against something.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

un-Denial Manifesto: Energy and Denial

un-Denial Manifesto: Energy and Denial

Winners and Losers

Six years ago this essay launched and defined un-Denial.com. I’m featuring it on the home page to celebrate 500 posts.

This is the story of the two most important things that enabled the success and possible demise of humans: energy and denial.

Simple single cell (prokaryotic) life emerges as a gradual and predictable transition from geochemistry to biochemistry, in the presence of rock, water, CO2, and energy, all of which are found within alkaline hydrothermal vents on geologically active planets, of which there are 40 billion in our galaxy alone, and probably a similar number in each of the other 100 billion galaxies.

Simple life like bacteria and archaea is therefore probably common throughout the universe. Strong evidence for this is that prokaryotes appeared 4 billion years ago, as soon as the earth cooled down enough to support life, and never once winked out despite many calamities throughout geologic history.

LUCA (the Last Universal Common Ancestor), and all life that followed, is chemiosmotic meaning that it powers itself with an unintuitive mechanism that pumps protons across a membrane. This strange proton pump makes sense in the light of its hydrothermal vent origins. For a sense of the scale of life’s energy, consider that the human body pumps a staggering 10**21 protons per second of life.

The transition to, and existence of, complex multicellular life, like plants and animals, is much less predictable and certain. All of the complex life on earth has a common eukaryote ancestor, and it appears this ancestor emerged only once on Earth about 2 billion years ago. This is a vital but rarely acknowledged singularity in biology.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Time for a new Witch Hunt? The pandemic could change more things than you would have expected.

Time for a new Witch Hunt? The pandemic could change more things than you would have expected.


A detail of Benvenuto Cellini’s “Perseus and Medusa,” a statuary group created in 1554 and presently in Florence, Italy. It is considered a work of art, but it is also remarkable for the detailed depiction of an extremely violent act: the beheading of Medusa, shown as a young woman in the group. It is rarely noted that this piece was created in the midst of the rise of a wave of violence against women in Europe, exterminated as witches. Clearly, Cellini’s scene is influenced by this trend, even though witches were normally burned at the stake rather than beheaded. (but that had a tradition, too!) 

Which historical period saw the largest number of witch hunts? If you answered “the Middle Ages,” you were wrong. Surprised? Don’t we all know that the Middle Ages, were the “Dark Ages,” a time of barbarism and superstition, surely it was at that time that witches were hunted and burned. Who didn’t see the “Burn the Witch” clip by the Monthy Python? It takes place in a typical medievalish setting.But, no. Burning witches is NOT a medieval thing. Look at the data. Trials and executions for witchcraft picked up well after that the Middle Ages were officially over, at some moment around the end of the 15th century.

At the highest moment of this homicidal frenzy, about 2500 people per year were burned in Europe for a total estimated as about 50,000-100,000. Not a very large number in comparison to the population of the time, but a significant number, nevertheless.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Doom or denial: Is there another path?

Doom or denial: Is there another path?

I was recently asked to comment on a dustup between some members of Extinction Rebellion (see Thomas Nicholas, Galen Hall, and Colleen Schmidt, “The Faulty Science, Doomism, and Flawed Conclusions of Deep Adaptation”) and Jem Bendell, founder of Deep Adaptation (see his “Letter to Deep Adaptation Advocate Volunteers about Misrepresentations of the Agenda and Movement”). Since the issues raised in this controversy seem relevant to readers of Resilience.org, I thought it might be worthwhile to accept the invitation and weigh in.

For those not familiar, Jem Bendell’s Deep Adaptation (DA) takes as its starting point the judgment that, because of unfolding human-induced climate impacts, the near-term utter collapse of society is nearly inevitable. Extinction Rebellion (XR) is an activist movement that uses civil disobedience to compel government action to avoid climate tipping points that would lock in trends leading ultimately to ecological and social collapse. In simplistic terms, you could say that Deep Adaptation is about accepting and coping with the reality of climate-driven collapse while Extinction Rebellion is about acting to prevent it.

The nub of the controversy is this: some folks involved in Extinction Rebellion think that Bendell is being too fatalistic, thereby discouraging his followers from taking actions that might still save civilization and global ecosystems. Bendell, in his response, accuses his critics of ignoring evidence and misrepresenting his views.

I don’t propose to plunge into the weeds, adjudicating each point raised in each essay. Instead, I prefer to step back and offer my own interpretation of the evidence, and then discuss the subtext of the dispute.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

State of Denial

State of Denial

Once again investors are made to believe that nothing matters. Only 2 trading days after Friday’s sell off $NDX made new all time history highs. Only 3 days after Friday’s sell-off $SPX made a new all time closing high. Only 4 days after Friday’s sell off $DJIA, $SPX and $NDX make new all time human history highs in premarket. Fours day, four up gaps, all unfilled at the time of this writing. The market of the overnight gap ups.

Why? Because the economic impact of the coronavirus is over or contained? Of course not, it’s far from any of that. Shutdowns persist, warnings of individual companies are mounting i.e. $TSLA, tumbling a day after the technical warning issued,  global economic growth estimates are coming down and with them invariably take downs in earnings estimates.

What do markets do? Make new all time highs, back on the multiple expansion game from 2019 when no slowdown in earnings mattered as the liquidity injections from our central bank overlords overrode everything.

This week the PBOC injected liquidity, the Fed kept flushing repo liquidity into the system, and of course a continued buying of treasure bills.

And so markets continue on their path of never pricing in any bad news and continue to disconnect farther and farther from the underlying size of the global economy no matter the ongoing data:

Baltic Dry Index:

But there are no bubbles central bankers tell us. Don’t insult our intelligence I say. Especially since they perfectly well know that policies and words are closely followed by markets and are market impacting:


Lagarde: Traditionally, as central bankers we have been more comfortable speaking to experts and markets than to the general public. Markets closely follow what we do and what we say, and surveys and studies find that we are well understood by them.


Deaf, Dumb and Blind: Who is Better at Conceding They Are Wrong–Conservative or Liberal Extremists?

DEAF, DUMB AND BLIND : WHO IS BETTER AT CONCEDING THEY ARE WRONG – CONSERVATIVE OR LIBERAL EXTREMISTS?

For those readers who wish to confirm their cemented bias or simply don’t read past the first paragraph or two, here is the down and dirty answer to the question posed in the title.

The answer is…neither!

And it gets worse from there. Those who harbor extreme and strident political points of view also maintain similarly strong “opinions” (though nearly all will righteously declare them as ironclad facts) in nearly all facets of their life and are unlikely to change their point of view regardless of the contrary evidence presented. I base my statement upon personal experience andan interesting study recently published which examined this very subject.

Here is the first sentence of the study’s Result and Discussion. “An unjustified certainty in one’s beliefs is a characteristic common to those espousing radical beliefs, and such overconfidence is observed for both political and non-political issues, implying a general cognitive bias in radicals.”

Are you surprised to be told this? Or have you quickly spotted a loop hole in which you may escape from the overall generalization of the statement? The wonderful thing about denial is it’s infinitely customizable and completely flexible; enabling the user to deny anything and everything including the nose on his/her face.

Of course, the only way many can accept uncomfortably too-close-to-home assertions is to declare it doesn’t apply to them, just everyone else.

I shall leave the bickering over the study’s findings to those who have immediately bristled in anger or righteous indignation, and instead ponder why extremist thinking occurs in the first place. And why it appears to be increasing exponentially throughout the social strata.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Essence of Control Is Its Concealment

The Essence of Control Is Its Concealment

For thousands of years “control” of humans, both at the micro individual and macro collective level, was obvious and institutionalized. It was the way the world worked, with pharaohs, chiefs, kings and queens, along with their sycophant and supporting courts, wielding power and control at the top. Arrayed along the bottom were the slaves, serfs and peons of various rank and stature, while scattered about the thin middle were the skilled tradesmen, shopkeepers and professionals such as they were.

It was the most effective social order of all millennium; a control system based upon claimed mutual benefit through the collective sharing of resources and defense, though never fairly or just. With disease, pestilence,hunger and death always lurking around the corner, it just made good sense to gather in groups and subsist as best we could. The pecking order quickly sorted out, with sociopaths and ruthless killers quickly rising to the top.

Of course, things are very different these days…right?

No one likes to think/believe/know they’re being controlled; therefore the tendency is to practice partial/full proactive/reactive denial of any and all evidence of overt and covert control and influence. It’s an ego thing mostly, and those who wish to control understand very well the art of leveraging a person’s ego against him or her “self”.

While at times the blatant and blunt use of force to control is deemed necessary and has distinct and powerful benefits for those who wield the control (and severe detriments for those being controlled) for the most part modern societies are much more productive, compliant and malleable when the illusion of freedom is heavily promoted and widely believed to exist.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Decades of Denial and Stalling Have Created a Climate Crunch

Decades of Denial and Stalling Have Created a Climate Crunch

Firefighters spray water on a 2013 bush fire in Australia

In a 1965 speech to members, American Petroleum Institute president Frank Ikard outlined the findings of a report by then-president Lyndon Johnson’s Science Advisory Committee, based in part on research the institute conducted in the 1950s.

The substance of the report is that there is still time to save the world’s peoples from the catastrophic consequence of pollution, but time is running out,” Ikard said, adding, “One of the most important predictions of the report is that carbon dioxide is being added to the earth’s atmosphere by the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas at such a rate that by the year 2000 the heat balance will be so modified as possibly to cause marked changes in climate beyond local or even national efforts.”

Many scientists were reaching similar conclusions, based on a body of evidence that had been growing at least since French mathematician Joseph Fourier described the greenhouse effect in 1824. In the 1950s, Russian climatologist Mikhail Budykoexamined how feedback loops amplify human influences on the climate. He published two books, in 1961 and 1962, warning that growing energy use will warm the planet and cause Arctic ice to disappear, creating feedback cycles that would accelerate warming.

The predictions have proven to be accurate, and evidence for human-caused global warming has since become indisputable.

What happened? Over the ensuing decades, the fossil fuel industry didn’t try to resolve what it knew would become a crisis. Instead, it worked to downplay and often deny the reality of climate change and to sow doubt and confusion. Knowingly putting humanity — and countless other species — at risk for the sake of profit is an intergenerational crime against humanity, but it’s unlikely any perpetrators will face justice.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

America’s Debt Dependence Makes It An Easy Economic Target

America’s Debt Dependence Makes It An Easy Economic Target

There is a classic denial tactic that many people use when confronted with negative facts about a subject they have a personal attachment to; I would call it “deferral denial” — or a psychological postponing of reality.

For example, point out the fundamentals on the U.S. economy such as the fact that unemployment is not below 4% as official numbers suggest, but actually closer to 20% when you factor in U-6 measurements including the record 96 million people not counted because they have run out of unemployment benefits. Or point out that true consumer inflation in the U.S. is not around 3% as the Federal Reserve and the Bureau of Labor Statistics claims, but closer to 10% according to the way CPI used to be calculated before the government started rigging the numbers.  For a large part of the public including a lot of economic analysts, there is perhaps a momentary acceptance of the danger, but then an immediate deferral — “Well, maybe things will get worse down the road, 10 or 20 years from now, but it’s not that bad today…”

This is cognitive dissonance at its finest. The economy is in steep decline now, but the mind in denial says “it could be worse,” and this is how you get entire populations caught completely off guard by a financial crash. They could have easily seen the signs, but they desperately wanted to believe that all bad things happen in some illusory future, not today.

There is also another denial tactic I see often in the world of politics and economics, which is what I call “paying it backward.” This is what people do when they have a biased attachment to a person or institution and refuse to see the terrible implications of their actions.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Everything That Dies Does Not Come Back


Charles Sprague Pearce The Arab jeweler c1882

There are a lot of industries in our world that wreak outsized amounts of havoc. Think the biggest global banks and oil companies. Think plastics. But there is one field that is much worse than all others: agro-chemicals. At some point, not that long ago, the largest chemical producers, who until then had kept themselves busy producing Agent Orange, nerve agents and chemicals used in concentration camp showers, got the idea to use their products in food production.

While they had started out with fertilizers etc., they figured making crops fully dependent on their chemicals would be much more lucrative. They bought themselves ever more seeds and started manipulating them. And convinced more and more farmers, or rather food agglomerates, that if there were ‘pests’ that threatened their yields, they should simply kill them, rather than use natural methods to control them.

And in monocultures that actually makes sense. It’s the monoculture itself that doesn’t. What works in nature is (bio)diversity. It’s the zenith of cynicism that the food we need to live is now produced by a culture of death. Because that is what Monsanto et al represent: Their solution to whatever problem farmers may face is to kill it with poison. But that will end up killing the entire ecosystem a farmer operates within, and depends on.

However, the Monsantos of the planet produce much more ‘research’ material than anybody else, and it all says that the demise of ecosystems into which their products are introduced, has nothing to do with these products. And by the time anyone can prove the opposite, it will be too late: the damage will have been done through cross-pollination. Monsanto can then sue anyone who has crops that show traces of its genetically altered proprietary seeds, even if the last thing a farmer wants is to include those traces.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Transition in the Age of Denial

Transition in the Age of Denial

State of Denial: The Economy No Longer Works As It Did in the Past

State of Denial: The Economy No Longer Works As It Did in the Past

There’s no Plan B for a state-corporate form of central-planning capitalism that is no longer functioning.
If there is one reality that is denied or obscured by the Status Quo, it is that the economy no longer works as it did in the past. This is the fundamental economic context of our current slide into political-social disintegration.
The Status Quo narrative is: the policies that worked for the past 70 years are still working today. Boiled down to its Keynesian state-corporate essence, the Status Quo economic narrative is simple:
All we need to do to escape a “soft patch” (recession) is for governments to borrow and spend more money to temporarily boost incomes and demand until the private sector gets back on its feet and starts borrowing and spending more.
To help the private sector, central banks lower interest rates so it’s cheaper to borrow and spend.
As soon as the private-sector borrowing and spending rises, we can raise interest rates and trim state fiscal stimulus (i.e. governments borrowing and spending trillions more than they did before the recession).
But the inconvenient reality is these Keynesian policies no longer work. Fiscal stimulus (governments borrowing and spending trillions more than they did before the recession) has continued for a decade–or in Japan’s case, almost three decades.
The Keynesian gods have failed, but the worshippers of these false idols have no other form of black magic to turn to.
Why is fiscal stimulus now a permanent policy? The answer is uncomfortable: if fiscal stimulus is withdrawn (or even trimmed), the economy immediately goes into a self-reinforcing contraction.
As for near-zero interest rates: after 10 years of supposed “recovery,” central banks are terrified of pushing rates higher by quarter-point baby-steps, for the same reason that fiscal stimulus cannot be withdrawn: raising interest rates to historic norms would immediately send the economy into contraction.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Mass Extinction and Mass Insanity


Caters Extremely rare albino elephant, Kruger National Park in South Africa
Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back …

Springsteen, Atlantic City

“Erwin Schrodinger (1945) has described life as a system in steady-state thermodynamic disequilibrium that maintains its constant distance from equilibrium (death) by feeding on low entropy from its environment – that is, by exchanging high-entropy outputs for low-entropy inputs. The same statement would hold verbatium as a physical description of our economic process. A corollary of this statement is that an organism cannot live in a medium of its own waste products.”
Herman Daly and Kenneth Townsend

What drives our economies is waste. Not need, or even demand. Waste. 2nd law of thermodynamics. It drives our lives, period.

First of all, don’t tell me you’re trying to stop the ongoing extinction of nature and wildlife on this planet, or the destruction of life in general. Don’t even tell me you’re trying. Don’t tell me it’s climate change that we should focus on (that’s just a small part of the story), and you’re driving an electric car and you’re separating your trash or things like that. That would only mean you’re attempting to willfully ignore your share of destruction, because if you do it, so will others, and the planet can’t take anymore of your behavior.

This is the big one. And the only ones amongst us who don’t think so are those who don’t want to. Who think it’s easier to argue that some problems are too big for them to tackle, that they should be left to others to solve. But why should we, why should anyone, worry about elections or even wars, when it becomes obvious we’re fast approaching a time when such things don’t matter much anymore?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why We Are So Bad at Solving Problems

Before you raise your voice, please allow me to say that I do indeed know this starts to feel like a set of Russian dolls, and this is a re-run of a re-run. It’s just, I didn’t start it. Got a mail yesterday from the people at OpEdNews.com asking if I would allow them to repost something I wrote over a year ago. And since I’m notoriously bad at remembering anything I wrote even just 24 hours ago, when I read what they wanted to republish, it was almost like a whole new world opened up for me. And I kind of liked it.

And only then I saw that what they had read, which was published May 2, 2015 as Quote Of The Year. And The Next. And The One After, was actually largely a rerun of a January 1 2013 article. But, you know, when someone tells you “Your essay is excellent. And as one who has been closely attuned to such matters for nearly 50 years I can say with confidence that your theme is fresh and current as any other we should be reading and heeding today. In fact, I think it is timeless.”, A) you feel young, and B) you say: who am I to disagree with that?

So this today went up at OpEdNews.com, and is now once again up at The Automatic Earth as well. Because I do still think it’s relevant and important to acknowledge that “we are going to evolve through crisis, not through proactive change.”, and that we are nowhere near realizing how true that is, and how much that denial, unfortunately, guides our existence. We’re either not even smart monkeys, or we’re that at best. We need a lot more self-reflection than we are getting, or we’re going down. And my bet, much as it pains me, is on door no. 2. From May 5, 2015:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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