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The Climate Crisis: Interview with Social Psychologist Kelly Fielding

Kelly Fielding is a social and environmental psychologist and Professor in the School of Communication and Arts at The University of Queensland, Australia. Her research has included a focus on trying to understand climate change beliefs and identifying ways to address climate change skepticism and inaction. The interview took place 7 July, 2021.

AA: What are your thoughts and feelings about the climate crisis?

KF: I feel a lot of despair. Part of me thinks I’m not supposed to feel that, because I have PhD students working in this area, for example I’ve got a PhD student working on eco-anxiety. Probably like most people who work in this space and really care about this issue, I experience a range of feelings. Those range from, yes we will make it happen to wanting to throw up my hands in the air. A lot of the research on emotions and climate change has focused on the role of hope and the role of fear, and anger and despair and frustration. I feel all of these things in relation to climate change. You know, one of my PhD students did a meta-analysis of all the recent media articles on eco-anxiety. It was interesting that the media articles mainly focus on children and young people. I think that’s because, as an adult, you’re probably better at compartmentalizing. You say to yourself, there is a scary thing over here, climate change, but meanwhile I need to get on with these other things.

AA: You have done much to characterize the underlying attitudes, vested interests and ideologies that relate to skepticism about human-caused climate change. Is that work complete, or is there more to understand? 

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

COVID and the Noble Lie

COVID and the Noble Lie

“Unethical”… “dystopian”… “totalitarian”…

These are the words of the British government’s primary scientific advisory bunch — the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviour, by title.

These scientific advisors presently droop their heads in shame. For these are the very words they employ to describe their own conduct.

They concede: Last March their wicked counsel encouraged government officials to wildly inflate the true viral threat.

Only a pitiless torturing of facts — argued these men and women of science — could terrify the public into locking themselves in, locking themselves up, locking themselves down.

The London Telegraph:

In March [2020] the Government was very worried about compliance and they thought people wouldn’t want to be locked down. There were discussions about fear being needed to encourage compliance, and decisions were made about how to ramp up the fear.

Fear came ladling out by the ton.

Millions and millions would perish in agonies scarcely describable, they howled. The hospitals would overflow into the streets, they screeched.

Only the near-cessation of all public life could cage the menace.

The halfway men, the men counseling a measured response… were drummed out of court.

“Using Fear Smacks of Totalitarianism”

Group psychologist Gavin Morgan, confessing his atrocities:

Clearly, using fear as a means of control is not ethical. Using fear smacks of totalitarianism. It’s not an ethical stance for any modern government. By nature I am an optimistic person, but all this has given me a more pessimistic view of people.

A pity, it is, that this fellow is not a Daily Reckoning reader.

We would have squeezed the optimism from him long ago… and pumped in an implacable pessimism.

It would have spared him an awful letting-down, a massacre of his innocent delusions.

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

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…

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Ponzis Go Boom!!!

For the past few years, I have been critical of the Ponzi Sector. To me, these are businesses that sell a dollar for 80 cents and hope to make it up in volume. Just because Amazon (AMZN – USA) ran at a loss early on, doesn’t mean that all businesses will inflect at scale. In fact, many of the Ponzi Sector companies seem to have declining economics at scale—largely the result of intense competition with other Ponzi companies who also have negligible costs of capital.

I recently wrote about how interest rates are on the rise. If capital will have a cost to it, I suspect that the funding shuts off to the Ponzi Sector—buying unprofitable revenue growth becomes less attractive if you have other options. Besides, when you can no longer use presumed negative interest rates in your DCF, these businesses have no value. I believe the top is now finally in for the Ponzi Sector and a multi-year sector rotation is starting. However, interest rates are only a small piece of the puzzle.

Conventional wisdom says that the internet bubble blew up due to increasing interest rates. This may partly be true, but bubbles are irrational—rates shouldn’t matter—it is the psychology that matters. I believe two primary forces were at play that finally broke the internet bubble; equity supply and taxes. Look at a deal calendar from the second half of 1999. The number of speculative IPOs went exponential. Most IPOs unlock and allow restricted shareholders to sell roughly 180 days from the IPO. Is it any surprise that things got wobbly in March of 2020 and then collapsed in the months after that? Line up the un-lock window with the IPOs. It was a crescendo of supply—even excluding stock option exercises and secondary offerings…

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

adventures in capitalism, ponzi, interest rates, bubble, financial markets, psychology, speculation,

Americans Didn’t Vote Against Trump, They Voted Against More Media Psychological Abuse

Americans Didn’t Vote Against Trump, They Voted Against More Media Psychological Abuse

The word “coup” is being thrown about in American liberal media today, not because US liberals suddenly became uncomfortable with the fact that their nation constantly stages coups and topples governments around the world as a matter of routine policy, but because they are all talking about (you guessed it) Donald Trump.

To be clear, none of the high-powered influencers who have been promoting the use of this word actually believe there is any possibility that Donald Trump will somehow remain in office after January of next year when he loses his legal appeals against the official results of the election, which would be the thing that a coup is. There is no means or institutional support through which the sitting president could accomplish such a thing. This is not a coup, it’s a glorified temper tantrum. Trump will leave office at the appointed time.

The establishment narrative managers are not terrifying their audiences with this word because they believe there is any danger of a coup actually happening. They are doing it because it’s their last chance to use Trump to psychologically abuse their audiences for clicks.

Last year the Pacific Standard published a report on “Trump Anxiety Disorder” or “Trump Hypersensitive Unexplained Disorder,” which it describes as follows:

As the possibility of a Hillary Clinton victory began to slip away—and the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency became more and more certain—the contours of the new age of American anxiety began to take shape. In a 2017 column, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank described this phenomenon as “Trump Hypertensive Unexplained Disorder”: Overeating…

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

The Economic Superorganism: Excerpt

For the last 200 years, increasing global energy consumption has translated to increasing global GHG emissions. While this might not be the case in the future, how do we consider the conflict between our instincts to react to immediate circumstances (i.e., consume more energy now, grow the economy now) and the political will to choose a different path based upon a future goal (i.e., limit human-caused climate change)? As Daniel Dennett asks in Freedom Evolves:

Where does the oomph come from to overrule our own instincts? Tradition would say it comes from some psychic force called willpower, but this just names the phenomenon and postpones explanation. How is “willpower” implemented in our brains?64—Daniel Dennett (2003)

Psychologists and economists use the term discount rate to describe how people make decisions, within our brains, when there are multiple options that present benefits at different points in time. Do I want one dollar now or two dollars ten years from now? Largely driven by natural selection and perhaps some idea similar to the maximum power principle, humans tend to have “steep” discount rates indicating that we tend to select rewards that come sooner rather than later.

Dennett uses the story of Ulysses and the Sirens in Homer’s The Odyssey to demonstrate the link between willpower and the idea of the discount rate. The goddess Circe warns Ulysses that during his journey home, he will sail past the Island of the Sirens. The Sirens appear to have exquisite beauty and a sweet song that lures sailors to their shores. But on approach, the sailboats crash on the rocks, and the sailors remain on the island, unwilling to leave as they listen to the song of the Sirens until they wither and die.

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

The Psychology of Systemic Consensus

We are all too familiar with established views rejecting change. It has nothing to do with the facts. Officialdom’s mind is often firmly closed to all reason on the big issues. To appreciate why we must understand the crowd psychology behind the systemic consensus. It is the distant engine that drives the generator that provides the electricity that drives us into repetitive disasters despite prior evidence they are avoidable, and even fuels the madness of political correctness.

Forget the argument, look at the psychology

A human prejudice which is little examined is why establishments frequently stick to conviction while denying reasonable debate. Anyone who addresses the unreason of the establishment risks their motives being personally vilified and attacked. There are many fields of government where this is demonstrably true.

Leadership is too often based on prevailing beliefs, with minds firmly closed to any evidence they might be wrong. Even Galileo was forced by the Inquisition in 1633 to recant his scientific evidence that the earth revolved around the sun – a thoroughly reasonable and logical though novel proposition to the independent mind. But it wasn’t until 1992 that the religious establishment at the Vatican forgave him for being right.

That was 359 years later and long after it mattered to Galileo. Fortunately, when the establishment view departs from the facts it rarely survives as long. Socialism, economics, climate change and Brexit show the same static opinions insulated from inconvenient contradictions. This is not to say the establishment need be judgemental. Democratic government at its best tries to remain neutral and reflect a balance of opinion. But there are times when it loses sight of firm ground and becomes subverted by the psychology of its own established but unfounded beliefs.

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

Psychologists explain our climate change anxiety

Psychologists explain our climate change anxiety

“You cannot have a healthy society that is scared.”

A member of the United States Coast Guard is seen reflected in the window of a house as he wades through flood waters for a wellness check on citizens who choose to stay in their home in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence on Sunday, Sept 16, 2018 in Lumberton, NC. (Credit: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
A MEMBER OF THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD IS SEEN REFLECTED IN THE WINDOW OF A HOUSE AS HE WADES THROUGH FLOOD WATERS FOR A WELLNESS CHECK ON CITIZENS WHO CHOOSE TO STAY IN THEIR HOME IN THE AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE FLORENCE ON SUNDAY, SEPT 16, 2018 IN LUMBERTON, NC. (CREDIT: JABIN BOTSFORD/THE WASHINGTON POST VIA GETTY IMAGES)

“Climate change is here; it’s happening,” seems to be the overwhelming sentiment after a summer of heatwaves and historic wildfires that now has, with barely a breath in between, slipped into an early fall marked by severe storms and deadly floods.

Hurricane Florence continues to devastate mid-Atlantic states while Typhoon Mangkhut takes a severe toll on China and the Philippines and has, for now, been named the world’s strongest storm this year. But before the wind and water there was the heat and fire.

Severe wildfires broke out around the world this summer, from the U.S. and Canada to Sweden and Greece. The heatwaves in Europe caused a glacier to melt and a river to evaporate, while wildfires in the western U.S. made the air hazardous to breathe.

For many people watching these events unfold, it’s scary to say the least. The fear, anxiety, and trauma is far more severe for those living through it. A recent survey of students in Puerto Rico, for instance, found that more than 7 percent of those polled showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder following Hurricane Maria. More than 8 percent had symptoms of depression — twice as high as children in non-disaster settings, the researchers said.

But despite a growing awareness, the connection between climate change and mental health is only just starting to be explored.

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

The Power Of Delusion

The Power Of Delusion

Way back in the olden thymes, I was going back and forth with a liberal acquaintance about a topic related to his cult’s recent fixation on diversity. I no longer recall the details of the conversation, but at some point he said, “The reason we moved to Arlington was so our child could experience diversity.” He was speaking of Arlington Massachusetts, one of the whitest places on earth. He had moved to honkeyville, but he had somehow convinced himself that it was a rainbow community of racial and ethnic diversity.

Being a polite person, I laughed in his face. There are limits to civility. I doubt he has ever forgiven me for not only laughing at the ridiculous claim, but then proceeding to point out the demographic reality of his new home. Arlington is roughly 85% white and 10% Asian and those Asians will be college professors and professionals. The tiny black and Hispanic population is clustered in one area of town. You can drive around the place all day and never see a brown face that is not riding a lawnmower or leaf blower.

Now, I have no doubt that my former acquaintance and his Progressive hive-mates glorified one another on a regular basis for their embrace of diversity. You can bet they swapped stories about how their kid had a black friend at school or about their supposed friendship with the Muslim coworkers. He actually tried that one on me once. Because it was nothing but virtue signalling, they never faced any push-back. In fact, they got nothing but confirmation from their hive mates, so their delusions were always reinforced.

When people outside the hive wonder how people in the hive can believe the nonsense about diversity and the blank slate, it is important to keep in mind the power of magical thinking.

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

The Hackneyed Imperialist Tool of Demonization

The Hackneyed Imperialist Tool of Demonization

The systematic dehumanization of the leaders of other countries; the routine exaggeration of their military capabilities; the monotonous falsification of the nature and attitudes of other peoples; the reckless application of double standards in comparing the conduct of others with our own, as well as the inability to recognize the common character of many problems of others with our own, and the consequent tendency to see all aspects of the relationship with others in terms of a total and irreconcilable conflict of concerns and purposes. These, I believe, are not signs of the maturity and discernment that can be expected in the diplomacy of a great power…

Although the above description may seem applicable to Washington’s current foreign policy, it is a warning that George Frost Kennan (1904-2005), a long-serving diplomat and American historian, reminds us of the fact that it was Kennan who formulated and advocated a “policy of containment” against alleged Soviet expansionism, but later changed his theory.

Kennan enunciated his “containment policy” in February 1946 in a text that is remembered as the long message (“the Long Telegram”) he sent from Moscow in 1946 against so-called Soviet expansionism at the end of World War II. The text, signed with just one “X”, appeared in the July 1947 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, intended to analyze the structure and psychology of Soviet diplomacy at that time. It was widely disseminated by Washington and brought Kennan a lot of popularity in the academic world.

Shortly after that same year, he was appointed director of policy planning at the State Department and, in 1949, advisor to that department. He returned to Moscow in 1952 as his country’s ambassador and in the following year, he had to return to the United States after being declared persona non grata by the Soviet government.

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

Anxiety, Anguish, Anger: How It Really Feels to Survive a Collapse

Anxiety, Anguish, Anger: How It Really Feels to Survive a Collapse

Hello to all those readers interested in learning from my personal experience of surviving an economic collapse.

I decided to write this article, the first of a series of several similar that will be posted because I am experiencing these days a huge emotional mix. I am not embarrassed in any way for this, I am a normal person, I have feelings and emotions like everyone else, and until not long ago I had a home, a job, and a conventional, peaceful life like perhaps many of you are enjoying right now.

May God keep it that way!

As a former oil worker, one learns to control emotions, because being in this business, a bad decision in the field if there is danger present, could cost one’s life. Or someone else’s. This said, when we made the decision (as a family we discuss all this of course) and, once my salary stopped being useful for three weeks worth of food, we decided that was the inflection point. After 14 years in one of the most profitable industries in the world (except in Venezuela), I was left with nothing in my bank account. The hyperinflation ate away all the little money that was there. The next step, fleeing to a foreign country (yes, I had savings in hard currency) and trying to find some stability was relatively easy, as my sister-in-law and mother-in-law were already here, and they had some space. So I started a small business (mainly private lectures) just to meet the ends, and it became more or less profitable. A phone call every two days to home, to speak with my family, and long, newspaper-like emails, social networks sometimes. (We decided to not disclose my departure because of OPSEC).

Anxiety

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The Fascinating Psychology of Blowoff Tops

The Fascinating Psychology of Blowoff Tops

Central banks have guaranteed a bubble collapse is the only possible output of the system they’ve created.

The psychology of blowoff tops in asset bubbles is fascinating: let’s start with the first requirement of a move qualifying as a blowoff top, which is the vast majority of participants deny the move is a blowoff top.

Exhibit 1: a chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJ-30):

Is there any other description of this parabolic ascent other than “blowoff top” that isn’t absurdly misleading? Can anyone claim this is just a typical Bull market? There is nothing even remotely typical about the record RSI (relative strength index), record Bull-Bear ratio, and so on, especially after a near-record run of 9 years.

The few who do grudgingly acknowledge this parabolic move might be a blowoff top are positive that it has many more months to run. This is the second requirement of qualifying as a blowoff top: the widespread confidence that the Bull advance has years more to run, and if not years, then many months.

In the 1999 dot-com blowoff top, participants believed the Internet would grow at phenomenal rates for years to come, and thus the parabolic move higher was fully rational.

In the housing bubble’s 2006-07 blowoff top, a variety of justifications of soaring valuations and frantic flipping were accepted as self-evident.

In the present blowoff top, the received wisdom holds that global growth is just getting started, and corporate profits will soar in 2018. Therefore current sky-high valuations are not just rational, they clearly have plenty of room to rise much higher.

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

The Normalization Delusion

The Normalization Delusion

LONDON – There is a psychological bias to believe that exceptional events eventually give way to a return to “normal times.” Many economic commentators now focus on prospects for “exit” from nearly a decade of ultra-loose monetary policy, with central banks reducing their balance sheets to “normal” levels and gradually raising interest rates. But we are far from a return to pre-crisis normality.

After years of falling global growth forecasts, 2017 has witnessed a significant uptick, and there is a good case for slight interest-rate increases. But the advanced economies still face too-low inflation and only moderate growth, and recovery will continue to rely on fiscal stimulus, underpinned if necessary by debt monetization.

Since 2007, per capita GDP in the eurozone, Japan, and the United States are up just 0.3%, 4.4%, and 5%, respectively. Part of the slowdown from pre-crisis norms of 1.5-2% annual growth may reflect supply-side factors; productivity growth may face structural headwinds.

But part of the problem is deficient nominal demand. Despite central banks’ massive stimulus efforts, nominal GDP from 2007-16 grew 2.8% per year in the US, 1.5% in the eurozone, and just 0.2% in Japan, making it impossible to achieve moderate growth plus annual inflation in line with 2% targets. US inflation has now undershot the Federal Reserve’s target for five years, and has trended down over the last five months.

Faced with this abnormality, some economists search for one-off factors, such as “free” minutes for US cell phones, that are temporarily depressing US inflation measures. But mobile-phone pricing in the US cannot explain why Japan’s core inflation is stuck around zero. Common long-term factors must explain this global phenomenon.

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

Geopolitical Tensions Are Designed To Distract The Public From Economic Decline

Geopolitical Tensions Are Designed To Distract The Public From Economic Decline

Tracking geopolitical and fiscal developments over the past several years is a bit like watching a slow motion train wreck; you know exactly what the consequences of the events will be, you try to warn people as much as possible, but, ultimately, you cannot reverse the disaster. The disaster has for all intents and purposes already happened. What we are witnessing is the aftermath as a forgone conclusion.

This is why whenever someone asks me as an economic and political analyst “when the collapse is going to happen,” I have to shake my head in bewilderment. The “collapse” is here now. It is done. It is a historical fact. It’s just that not many people have the eyes to see it yet, primarily because they are hyper-focused on all the wrong things.

For many centuries now, elitists in power have understood the value of geopolitical distraction as a tool for controlling the masses. If you examine the underlying motivations behind the majority of wars between nations regardless of the era, you will in most cases discover that the power brokers on both sides tend to be rather friendly with each other. In fact, monarchies and oligarchies are historically notorious for fabricating diplomatic tensions and conflicts in order to force populations back under their control.  That is to say, wars and other man-made conflicts give the citizenry something to react to, instead of hunting down the establishment cabal like they should.

One of the greatest illusions of human progress is the notion that most conflicts happen at random; that there are two sides and that those sides are fighting over ideological differences. In truth, most conflicts have nothing to do with ideological differences between governments and financial oligarchs.

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

The Magic Lantern Show

The Magic Lantern Show

The philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, which we’ve been discussing for the last three weeks, was enormously influential in European intellectual circles from the last quarter of the nineteenth century straight through to the Second World War.  That doesn’t mean that it influenced philosophers; by and large, in fact, the philosophers ignored Schopenhauer completely. His impact landed elsewhere: among composers and dramatists, authors and historians, poets, pop-spirituality teachers—and psychologists.

We could pursue any one of those and end up in the place I want to reach.  The psychologists offer the straightest route there, however, with useful vistas to either side, so that’s the route we’re going to take this week. To the psychologists, two closely linked things mattered about Schopenhauer. The first was that his analysis showed that the thing each of us calls “myself” is a representation rather than a reality, a convenient way of thinking about the loose tangle of competing drives and reactions we’re taught to misinterpret as a single “me” that makes things happen. The second was that his analysis also showed that what lies at the heart of that tangle is not reason, or thinking, or even consciousness, but blind will.

The reason that this was important to them, in turn, was that a rising tide of psychological research in the second half of the nineteenth century made it impossible to take seriously what I’ve called the folk metaphysics of western civilization:  the notion that each of us is a thinking mind perched inside the skull, manipulating the body as though it were a machine, and now and then being jabbed and jolted by the machinery. From Descartes on, as we’ve seen, that way of thinking about the self had come to pervade the western world. The only problem was that it never really worked.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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