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« Happy Autumnal Equinox | Main | Knowers/Thinkers »

October 05, 2013


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We evolved on this planet, the earth made us. If we are too defective as a species and cause too much destruction, the earth will eventually repair the damage in some way, probably by removing us via an extinction event. I believe that existence is always moving towards more consciousness, more intelligence, so if we refuse to realize our potential along those lines, we are in conflict and we will eventually perish.

Ken Barrows

Imagine if an argument involving a scientific issue prohibited references to religion, jobs, ideology, or profits. It's easy if you try...


@George - Despite possible grumpiness about what science should or should not deal with in an analysis, I think science working in a vacuum is problematic - and gives rise to catastrophes such as the Manhattan Project and its aftermath. The conclusion that the outcome of the human problems you discuss are "baked into the cake" means pure abstract science has seen its day.

I for one am heartened that, within your systems scientific arguments, you recognize the relevance of human non-sapience in our current plight. Scientists who pooh-pooh society in favor of rarefied lab work may bring along fantastic leaps in technology, but a lack of interest in where so-called progress/growth is taking us adds to the speed we are circling the drain.


I often think that the only form of government that might work for humans in their current state of evolution is that of benevolent despot. :-) Unfortunately, the benevolent part never lasts, so this too is lost.

Perhaps the only form of governance truly suitable to the current form of humans would be the one that existed during our formative evolution, that is, communal/tribal. Maybe these forms will eventually resurface when the inevitable population decline occurs. The problem is that there sure looks to be a lot of angst between here and there.

As you say, it is what it is...

Matt Holbert

"But now that it is too late to seriously do anything meaningful about it, the freaky weather patterns that are taking over have got more of them believing."

This is consistent with intuitives and sensors as described by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Sensors have to actually see something in order to believe it. Adam @ Chris Martenson's site conducted an MBTI poll recently. The response indicated that over 50% were either INTJ or INTP. (IN is Introverted Intuitives) Very few readers were ES (Extroverted Sensors.) The result is stunning in that only about 2% of the population or so are INTJs or INTPs. It would be interesting to know the MBTI of Question Everything readers. I'm an INTJ...

The topic of this post is congruent with the work of William Ophuls. His latest two books, "Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail" and "Sane Polity: A Pattern Language", are concise (69 and 105 pages respectively). "Immoderate Greatness" is highly recommended by Jeremy Grantham -- one of the few investors who realizes that there are limits to growth...

Amazon links: and


All economies are created and manipulated like a computer program. If you dont believe we are living in a matrix please watch the following on Youtube-- silent weapons for quiet wars- full read by brolance. An eye opener

Robin Datta

Homo callidus paucisapiens headed for a bottleneck? What if the bottle is capped?

Besides, democracy can work fine on limited sapience, as in two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner.

Paul Chefurka

INFP here. I would put money on the probability that most people who grok the Global Clusterfuck are INs of one sort or another.

I also note a recent OECD study that shows American young people are at the bottom of the heap when it comes to numeracy. Cause, effect or feedback loop?


starting to slide off-topic, but it's relevant and adds to what Paul said:

U.S. adults score below average on worldwide test – ‘If you want to avoid having an underclass — a large group of people who are basically unemployable — the educational system is absolutely key’


It's long been known that America's school kids haven't measured well compared with international peers. Now, there's a new twist: Adults don't either.

In math, reading and problem-solving using technology — all skills considered critical for global competitiveness and economic strength — American adults scored below the international average on a global test, according to results released Tuesday.


The tough part is to do two tricks at once. The government needs to process information, but it also needs to keep the interests of the governors aligned with the interests of the general public. A model based on hierarchical cybernetics might be better at processing information, but probably worse from an oppressing-the-serfs standpoint.

Reverse Engineer

While I generally agree with you that our Leaders lack Sapience and are basically a bunch of Clowns and Jokers, it's not really true we "get the government we deserve" or that this functions as a "democracy".

As Mayer Rothschild wrote, "Give me the Keys to the Bank, and I care not who governs". The real power resides in the creation of money, held in private hands from the beginning right after the end of the Revolutionary War.

In any event, even if they WERE Sapient, they could not do anything to fix the problem they have, and this is why they are so confused and run around blaming each other. Einstein, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa rolled into one couldn't solve this problem.

Anyhow, I view this as an Emergent Property of Systems rather than a lack of Sapience. The result was likely inevitable from the moment we took up agriculture.


George Mobus


Thanks for the MBTI insight and the links.


It's hard for me to get behind Guy's insistence that these reinforcing feedback loops are all there is and therefore spell the ultimate doom. I grant it looks really bad right now. But nature simply doesn't work they way he suggests except in a runaway nuclear reaction (even explosions and nuclear reactions eventually run out of fuel). In all natural systems we find an early "growth" stage dominated by positive feedback loops. But the effects raised by those loops triggers and begins to amplify the impacts of countering (balancing in Donella Meadow's terminology) negative feedback loops. It isn't necessarily the case that the positive loops are irreversible as it is that the balancing loops begin to dominate and throttle back the effects of the positive loops.

I admit that right now we don't see where these negative feedbacks are going to come from. I also admit that humans and most life of the planet face bottlenecks, if not outright extinctions, but I just don't think Guy's insistence that its game over for all of like (or even necessarily humans) is sufficiently proven. I'll put my faith in the principles that seem to guide all natural systems.

@Paul & @Tom,

Is it any wonder we have this government given the sorry state of ignorance and non-thinking that Americans have sunk to?


Which is why I don't think the current species of humans will ever be able to achieve a sustainable working governance system. The governors need to be mentally and sentimentally aligned with the governed to begin with. We really don't have many people that fit that bill.


I mean governance in a much broader sense than just government. That would include those who have influence over who gets into government as well as how that government functions by virtue of their MONEY! I.e, the bankers and brokers - the rent takers.

Perhaps the lack of sufficient sapience IS the emergent phenomenon and all else follows.


Reverse Engineer

"That would include those who have influence over who gets into government as well as how that government functions by virtue of their MONEY! I.e, the bankers and brokers - the rent takers."-GM

Except you titled the post with "Democracy" and we don't have one. We have a Plutocracy.

In any event, in this case what I mean by an Emergent Property of Systems is that Homo Jerkus is even STUPIDER collectively than individually. Herd behavior takes hold and inertia develops. When the herd moves in a given direction, even if the individual was Sapient and wanted to change direction, he could not do so. You can't run against traffic in a Stampede.


Brian Bundy

Hello George,

Off topic, but I wonder if you have given any thought to the issue of nuclear waste in storage. My biggest worry in the coming bottle neck is that we won't have the foresight to handle our waste until it is too late and the resources to do so are gone. Leave aside the risk of nuclear weapons and just look at the 400+ reactors around the world. How do we as a species or for that mater life as we know it survive the resulting melt down. The half life of some of these materials is several thousand times longer than all of human recorded history. I see production of such prolific waste without any disposal plan as the greatest lack of sapience ever demonstrated, and probably our final undoing. My hope is that someone else has given this more thought than I and can prove me wrong.


You assume that choices humans make are right and wrong. No all are.
You are most likely a progressive lib and also lack depth of understanding if you do not understand why the so-called Tea Party is doing what it is doing.
Are there no consequences to the mis-management in D.C.? etc etc

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