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« Do You Believe in Magic? | Main | Update and a Good Link »

March 20, 2012


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Yay gardening!

Since ur in the Pacific Northwest I recommend the following book for before and after collapse...

Steven Earl Salmony

Now, if only we can get focused upon the real challenges of our time. Scientists like George Mobus, Sir John Sulston and the Royal Society’s People and the Planet Working Group have good work to do that is best accomplished by being uncompromisingly honest in the reporting of their research as well as by being unambiguously objective and forthcoming in reporting their findings with regard to the research of others. When honesty and effectiveness are viewed in opposition to one another, honesty must prevail over effectiveness in science. Finding a balance between them is not sufficient. Sacrificing honesty in order to maintain professional effectiveness is inadequate.

With regard to the science of human population dynamics, intellectual honesty appears not to have prevailed over professional effectiveness. That convenient rationalizations in support of effectiveness have been deployed by too many experts who have refused to be fully honest and open about such a vital matter of concern, seem somehow not right. Science is not compatible either with less than the ‘whole truth’, according the lights and best available empirical data we possess, or with the collective avoidance by professionals of research regarding what could be real. Science is an expression of truth, is it not? There can be no room for compromise between honesty and effectiveness where science is concerned.
It appears that we have a lot work to do… Endless growth of the immense ‘artificial reality’ will end either as a function of intelligent human thought, the best available science and morally courageous action or else the colossal artificial reality (aka economic colossus, aka global political economy) will somehow expand until it implodes because an endlessly growing, gigantic global economy in a finite world like the one we inhabit cannot be sustained much longer on a planet of the size, composition and frangible ecology of Earth. To put this situation in another way, if we keep up our reckless overconsuming, relentless overproducing and unbridled overpopulation activities, then a point in human history will be reached when some unimaginable sort of cataclysm can be expected to occur. Allow me to deploy words from A. Schweitzer. We need a new ethics based upon “reverence for life”. To revere an ethical system based upon idea that ‘greed is good’, the idea we see governing and dominating so much human activity on our watch, needs to be appropriately criminalized rather than ubiquitously legitimized, socially sanctioned and made lawful.
If faith in the goodness of science is ever lost, then I fear the future of children everywhere, life as we know it, and Earth as a fit place for habitation by coming generations, that we think we are preserving and protecting in our time, could be ruined utterly. Somehow the honesty of science must come to prevail over professional effectiveness and the pernicious silence of too many of ‘the brightest and the best’ on one hand and the specious, intellectually dishonest, deceitful, cascading, ideologically-driven chatter of clever ‘talking heads’, overly educated sycophants or other minions in the mainstream media who selfishly serve the primary interests of self dealing masters of the universe among us on the other.
There is nothing ever insignificant to be gained from science and nothing trivial about truth. This is especially so with regard to science that indicates: human population numbers are a function of food availability (not, definitely not, the other way around) and human population dynamics is essentially similar to the population dynamics of other species. From my perspective, the science tells us something vital about ourselves, our distinctly human creatureliness and our ‘placement’ as the top ranking creature among the living beings on Earth. For all the miraculous and occasionally unique attributes of the human species, the research shows us that the human species is not, definitely not, most adequately or accurately placed “a little lower than angels” in the order of living things. Although such an attractively elevated and self-aggrandizing position for the human species sets human beings apart from other species, this view appears to be a widely shared, consensually validated and culturally-prescribed illusion. Rather human beings are assuredly situated within all that is living on Earth. Homo sapiens is an organism that is an integral part of the natural world, not apart from it. We see science once again ‘cutting’ from under us ‘the pedestal’ upon which we believe stand as we oversee, steward and dominate life on Earth.


@Steven, I appreciate your passion. What I present below is an attempt to deduce a logical conclusion from the dilemma faced by the human ape species, not a prescription based on ideology or institutional bias.

It is not inconceivable that the inescapable logic of the science of population dynamics and thermodynamics requires us to conclude that (1) there are many times too many human apes on the planet and there is no possible way to sustain more than a fraction of the current population indefinitely; and (2) the ongoing concentration of wealth and income and techno-scientific "knowledge is power" to an infinitesimally small percentage of the "greedy", "sociopathic" human ape population is quite likely the result of the process of Nature selecting an evolutionarily (to date) fitter sub-group population for reproduction.

If so, "democracy", nation-state/empire, "free-market capitalism", "elections", and the social-welfare state are irrelevant to the long-run trajectory of human ape evolution and arguably represent a prohibitive cost to this process. This process is encouraging a further concentration of wealth, income, and techno-scientific knowledge, power, control, and the imperative to apply the associated methods to reduce dramatically the human ape population and thus reduce the overall costs to the evolutionary process of the species (and increase the gains per capita to the techno-scientific remnant).

The overwhelming majority of the human ape population is simply incapable of understanding the increasingly sophisticated, complex, techno-scientific advances underway. Jobs, "markets", "money", income, "education", and "gov't" are elements that have become too costly and irrelevant to the overall evolutionary process as it accelerates before us.

However, the vast majority of us have no access to the gains from this process nor institutional protections from the forces resulting from the evolutionary imperatives. We will not be needed as in the past 40-80+ years as subsistence mass consumers in a world of dwindling resources per capita and a concentration of same to the techno-scientific, rentier-oligarchic elite.

In the context of population overshoot on a planetary scale and the risks to the species from same, why should the techno-scientific, rentier elites care about the well-being and survival of the bottom 90-99% of the rest of the human ape population? What evolutionary benefit is derived by the top 0.1-1% from focusing finite resources on sustaining the bottom 90-99%? It does not follow scientific logic and the imperative of self-selecting evolutionary fitness to squander finite resources on a competitive population that ultimately is evolutionarily unfit.

And how does one rationalize this seemingly ruthless conclusion? The inescapable "honesty" of the logic of the science of population dynamics and thermodynamics forces us to conclude that the overwhelming majority of us are not required for the successful evolution of the species. There is no human moral basis for Nature's process of evolution. The logic of the process is perfectly adequate and sufficient.

Moreover, we are becoming a prohibitive cost to the process, encouraging and facilitating the further concentration of wealth, income, and techno-scientific "knowledge is power" to the fittest among us.

If one perceives our situation from the perspective of the metaphor of "Spaceship Earth", we cannot escape the inevitability of having to jettison a large share of the ship's passengers so that a fitter minority sub-group can be sustained indefinitely on the evolutionary journey ahead.

Never before has the human ape species been faced with such a dilemma on a planetary scale. While the majority of us are unprepared to consider the implications of the situation and thus are repulsed by the thought of it, this is not so for those who closely examine the factors, directly face the implications, and thus are prepared to act in response.

It is in this context that I do not have "hope" or "optimism" in the sense we desire as it pertains to the vast majority of the members of the human ape species. However, one can without reservation conclude that, short of an asteroid impact or massive X-class flare, an evolutionarily fitter sub-group of the species will survive, reproduce, adapt, and continue to evolve; and they will probably possess a predominant personality type characteristic of the "greedy", "sociopathic", "nerdy", "warrior" types we are conditioned to dismiss, disparage, or loathe.

Anywhere But Here Is Better

George, nice enthusiasm. It's worth taking a break from reality every so often. It certainly does for me.

Bruce, holy smokes! You've just given the sociopathic ruling class a manifesto for neo-eugenics! Don't tell 'em until after I stock up with baked beans and complete my bunker.

Aboc Zed



A beauty of analysis in as clear language as possible - as you always manage to do.


I like you are putting "greedy", "sociopathic", "nerdy" and "warrior" in the quotes because when smoke and ruble clears all the negative connotations and accusatory flavor of those words will do not apply to the surviving subset of Homo species.

I am glad you make this distinction of current meanings of the language lagging behind the reality.

The reality that is not understood by most.

People like to blame others for their misfortunes but we cannot blame ourselves for being born - we do not chose it - we just "happen".

Once your analysis percollates to the top the they will "add" the natural process a little bit with making having children by members of the lower caste against the law - now "market" takes care of that by starving drone/burden overpopulation to death but "market" is incredibly inefficient and will eventually be replaced by direct intervention of the enlightened members of the homo species.

I trust you yourself is not going to have any more children knowing what you know - so am I.

We will not feel bad that we brought someone to this world to die.

But those who do not understand will still have kids and only the smarterst, the fastest thinkers and most unburdened by "morality" will survive - the natural selection at work

In the end of it all, when humans finally learn and see that "having rights to procreate and do what one pleases" does not make any sense the human population on the planet Earth will be small, sustainable, happy with every child planned, conceived and educated to be productive member of society and the wastefulness of competition (pecking order) out of institutionalized ignorance will be something known to scholars of the past - it will not be part of human condition

some may say utopia - i say _pure science_


@AZ, thanks. Your follow-up commentary further clarifies quite well what I was attempting to communicate.

@Anywhere, I empathize. But what if the observable results of the process of human ape evolution to date indicates that the survival of the species will require, or self-select for, what you call "neo-eugenics"? Nature has been engaging in "eugenics" for billions of years on the planet, testing, experimenting, selecting, and discarding countless times over, one of the highly successful results of which is the human ape species. This inference does not require any belief in the self-superiority of one sub-group, race, caste, or religion over the other; it is an inescapable fact of Nature of which the human ape species is an inextricable part.

That one particular sub-group of the human ape species has more successfully self-selected to accumulate much more "wealth", income, techno-scientific knowledge, and institutional power demonstrates at a minimum that there were favorably unique historical, geographical, climatological, and self-selecting genetic factors that permitted this sub-group to survive, reproduce, and exploit ecological resources and other human beings to achieve their relatively superior status.

Aboc Zed

Additional to Bruce comment @Anywhere

it is important to understand that "superiority" that self-selected sub-group of species may attribute to themselves and justify themselves "deserving" survival at the expense of the extinction of 99% is only a "belief" that is not supported by science

the whole point of science is the accumulation of knowledge by our species about Nature and using it to secure our continuos survival relative to other species

homo sapiens is indeed the most recent and most advanced product of evolution but it is not the "final result"

because the "finality" can only kick in with sustainability but as long as homo species engage in competition there cannot be finality because there always be overpopulation relative to available (uncorrupted resources)

if you take the whole of Nature and express in in DNA of all living organisms (viruses, bacteria, plants, animals and homo ) you will see that the totality of DNA mass is relatively constant from the moment organic life has emurged and evolution began.

One way to look at what is hapenning with homo species is increase of complex DNA that is organized in such a way that it can understand itself (homo big brains) AT THE EXPENSE of less complex DNA (plants, mother animals). The total still the same, but the ration is changing - the biodivercity is going out of the window.

In a grand scheme of things the human population is a range of that ration of Hcomplex (human) DNA to non-human of various complexity (viruses and bacteria to plants and animals)

The sustainability can be achieved at different points in that range of that ratio but it can only be "managed" by homo when the science takes over human condition.

For as long as homo does not understand it Nature is using the proven mechanism of natural selection to drive the ration to the lowest limit

So "eugenics" or control of our own evolutionary process is inevitable and a natural process - it can be argued that it has bin "built-in" right from the outset and that is the emergence of life on the planet

Anywhere But Here Is Better

Thanks @Bruce @AZ
My point is that eugenics as enacted by a self-appointed group of "superior" beings is not an act of Nature as you intimate. It is instead a subjective process, where those who have amassed sufficient power through fear and intimidation decide it is up to them (not Science or Nature) who should reproduce and who should be extinguished.

I quipped about Bruce giving such people a pretext for eugenics, by hijacking your calm and rational thesis. But my point was serious.

Take a look at a group photo of Hitler and his inner circle for example. While espousing the cult of the Aryan super race, and pursuing active eugenics in the ghettoes and concentration camps, few of this group actually exhibited Aryan characteristics themselves! Hitler himself should have been among the first to be exterminated on the Aryan criteria. He even apparently saved a Jewish man’s life in World War One, contrary to his later official policy.

So while I do not disagree that an active selection process is and always has been underway, we have got to be careful we don't give super-rich corporate megalomaniacs and psychopaths carte blanche to set up termination clinics by taking what you and others are declaring and using it as scientific justification for "forced selection".

Aboc Zed


Your example of Hitler, Stalin and other dictators is misplaced in the sense that those peole acted on their beliefs not grounded in science.

They were as ignorant as leaders of today and the general public of today.

Our point is the one that the works of nature and the deeds of "higher race" are insdistinguishable from position of belief-free science.

Science that does not care who is dying and who is surviving.

Don't forget that from the viewpoint of someone who has no chance to survive the actions of those who will survive will always appear as "evil". Nobody ever dies volantarily. And if they do they are mentally ill. This is how nature works: once you are born you want to live as long as possible but when only so many can survive most will die.

The "smartest" in evolutionary terms exibit the characteristics of "drive", "ambition", "wanting to go all the way to the top" - that is how survival works.

But this way it worked to date to produce homo sapience who is now on top of the food chain and continues expand at the expense of other life forms.

What happpens within homo sapiens as species is not important from the standpoint of survival of our species as ortganism whole.

This observation superceeds any considerations of so called "morality" "good and bad".

For now this science has not entered the top of pecking order structure and the leaders operate on the basis of the same ignorance as the lessers under them.

But "Peak Everything" and "Kill everybody" will drive this lesson home and after a generation or two of dying and extreme mental stress cause by witnessing the dying on the grand scale "morality" being an intellectual constract will simply evaporate and 100 or so years from now the conversation about "good" or "bad" will not take the mental energy of the brightest minds of our species. The qwquestion qwqill be "How do we survive? What do we need to reconstitute our whole body of mankind to achieve sustainability?"

All the science we need to do that already is discovered. The political will is not present and will not be present for a while simply because nobody wants to touch stincky substance first. Everybody wants to retire comfortably. But at some point in time the option of retirement and quit life will not be available even for the top of the pyramid because they will have to be busying themselves killing off the lessers.

After a while they will get tired of it and begin listen to the men of wisdom around them and in doing so will become wise themselves.

That is how science will percolate to the very top.

And once that happen (whatever the population then and whatever state of the impoverished planet then) the sustainability will be posibble.

At the moment the next act in the show is suffering and die-off for the bottom and losing any remnants of morality and beliefs for the top.

Brutal but that is how natural selection operates and the proces of evolution manifests itself.

Anywhere But Here Is Better

AZ, I can only agree with you. I think you misunderstand my point. I accept the way that natural selection will play out, but I don't accept we should give those maniacs who are "ungrounded in science" a pretext for meddling with selection according to artificial criteria that they build by selectively pillaging from your writings, and those of Bruce etc.

Nature will take its course, no doubt. But I'd rather have ambitious scientists than ambitious tyrants surviving by harnessing the ideas being espoused in this blog.

A further thought. Is the human ape worthy of survival anyway? If we remove ourselves from the fray for a moment and cooly examine our virus-like behaviour on the surface of this planet (maim-but-not-kill-the-host), shouldn't we simply accept that Nature would be better served via our wholesale elimination?

Aboc Zed


I am glad we are in agreement about Nature.

But I don't understand your warning against giving ideas to "tyrants".

Our words are always just words.

People will always read in them whatever they think we said. Then they act upon their understanding. When we observe their actions we have an input in our own information processing machine and then we make our own judgement of how our message came across.

Most of the time we find ourselves in the situation when we conclude that the message sent and the message received is completely diferent.

How do we know?

Because the actions that follow are not the actions we expected.

Now the questin is this: do people understood our message and act differently to confuse us in order to do this "one-up-manship" thing or they genuinely did not understand what we were saying?

We may have another exchange to test our initial conclusion but if the action we expect do not materialize we stop communicating.

As to Nature being beter off without us my take is:
we _ARE_ Nature.

We go on living because that is the nature of life we cannot will ourselves to death. This applies to an individual and this applies to the species. Contemplating the question you pose will only cause you unnecesary mental discomfort that may or may not lead to incapacitation relative to other individuals who do not ponder your question.

Anywhere But Here Is Better

Thanks AZ

You're right, of course. Words are just words. I'd just like to add that I'm aware that over recent centuries, great thinkers have written things that have been hijacked and warped by dictators. For example, one can read Marx and then wince at what Stalin did to his own people, in "the name of the people". Mao went truly haywire trying to wipe out anyone in China with a reasoning brain.

The other side of the coin is the vested interests attempting to squash science when it conflicts with their hold on power, e.g. the treatment of Copernicus and Galileo. A modern-day example is the oil & gas cartel constantly trying to undermine scientists warning about climate change.

Anyway, we know that what is coming will come regardless. I have a feeling that I am for the selection scrapheap in any case. Whether this happens naturally or via a tyrant's "scientifically justifed" culling programme, time will tell.

On this happy note, arrivederci and bonne journée.

Nick Dahlheim

Great discussion. Can I leave you with at least some wisdom---I love the deep scientific discussion that occurs in the comments section of this blog. But Goethe understood the most fundamental truth we can ever know about human perception and its relation to the development of true wisdom.

"All the wisest of every age are in full agreement: it is foolish to wait for fools to be cured of their folly! The proper thing to do is to make fools of the fools!" ~Goethe 'Kophtisches Lied'

Aboc Zed


Thanks for the quote.

What do you think Goethe meant by 'make fools of the fools' and what kind of action that would be now, some 200 years since Goethe's times?

I always wonder what those thinkers really meant by those words when they uttered them.

Wouldn't it be great if we could time travel and ask Goethe himself?! :)

Nick Dahlheim

Aboc, I'm going to get my Goethe (alas, I cannot read Classical High German!) and some of my other books and go into that more deeply. Goethe's Faust and Sorrows of Young Werther--where I think he speaks most clearly of the type of man which dominates our bourgeoise age---cuts a shallow figure incapable of the kind of wisdom we will need to survive as a species. George's work, as well as some other work I have written, have given me some ideas.


Hey guys, I have a thought on that quote, if I may (would still be interested in hearing what they have to say -- I don't know anything about Goethe).

In my studies on humour, attraction, and leadership, that quote actually made a lot of sense. When you attack a target (such as an ignorant leader) with humour, it robs them of their power while making you look more powerful and SAFE. People won't follow incompetence if they recognize it, but of course the trick is getting past their programming. So you bring out the charisma, the confidence, the dominant body language, and appeal to their basic instincts.

Our prime minister's been hawking free trade everywhere because capitalism. By equating this to a pimp who goes around prostituting our country, you can drive home the point of how violating this is in a way that makes sense to everyone. [In a seductive, menacing, and humorous voice with a wry smile] "So Japan, you want some of this, eh?" "Don't worry Thailand, there's plenty to go around." "China wants me...bad." Audience should giggle at this point. They should get, or at least intuit, that free trade makes the country (and them) more vulnerable for whatever reasons you wish to outline. This works because you are communicating with (genuine) feelings, not just words, and feelings are always more effective.

They key is to follow up and demonstrate how you are better than the fool. "I will protect you." "I will be a leader for you." And with regards to jobs/resources/whatever in a way that is in THEIR best interests. Speak directly to the (individual in the) audience and make them feel safe with you. Make a 'fool of the fool', and you can make the sheep follow you. (And have your pick, LOL).

People will follow a strong, alpha leader, and that's what I think the quote is about. Humour is a very important characteristic of such a leader. I think that any leader who follows Goethe's advice would be a force to be reckoned with indeed.

(Also, HI! I have enjoyed reading all of your insightful conversations and blog posts over the past few weeks)

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