The Great Stillness

“The Great Stillness”

To the north, there is a great stillness…

The glaciers have returned, the ice is no longer melting at a rate exponentially accelerated by human-created industry. They are in a state of great stillness, moving forward at a rate similar to tens of thousands of years past.

The non-human animal species of the north have returned at full number. The salmon runs have returned to full capacity, the stillness of the natural environment has a comforting quiet to it now.

The flowers and other plant foliage have also evolved and returned. Now, in the quiet of the Great Stillness, they have flourished and are nourishing the animals and the planet as they once were.

To the west, to the east, to the south … all starting the long process of healing, all returning to normal stasis … as the Great Stillness continues.

If you could see the Great Stillness, it would be unlike anything you’ve ever seen with your own eyes. Even in the most serene natural settings available in 2015, you couldn’t comprehend the natural beauty of the Great Stillness.

Because everything as we know it now has stopped completely … industry, noise, pollution, construction, technology etc…

We don’t know what that stillness feels like, even in our most still areas on the planet in 2015.

We were given the gifts to hear the stillness, but we had to create noise to drown it out. We stare in awe and wonder out our windows, at the possibility we can “get away” from the very noise we created in the first place.

The paradox of the stillness is we crave it, yet we work really hard (in the name of “progress”) to get away from it.

The Great Stillness is the culmination of a series of balancing events we were too prideful to see coming, because we thought all of “this” was created for “us.”

Here is the rough outline of the events leading up to the beginning of The Great Stillness (there is some overlap of course):

2015 – 2150 The Great Resource Depletion and World War III

Not just peak oil, but peak “everything” … water, silicon, metals, all of it. In a fit of corporate greed, noble altruism, environmentalism, alternate energy, technological upheaval, etc… we completely drain the planet of all resources known to humans.

Even solar panels, harnessing the great power of the Sun require energy and resources to create, and we eventually build our last and cannot build any more. The infrastructure for this new energy begins to critically decay close to 2100. All power systems, decentralized homes, etc… cannot persist.

Any sort of fuel (bio or otherwise) is in short supply, because the resources necessary to create fuel (even with cloning technologies we are barely figuring out) begin to run out, permanently.

These processes also prevented us from launching our “missions to Mars” and explorations of other planets to live on. In short, we were limited to what was here.

The changing climate we failed to address because of corporate, political, and some individual greed and ignorance accelerates this resource depletion at an exponential pace we cannot understand.

While this is happening, World War III breaks out. Billions of people (soldiers and civilians) are killed, left starving … and savage damage to an already damaged planetary ecosystem erupts exponentially. The entire planet is scarred; resources are depleted in the name of endless War.

Mini wars ensue, states and Governments start to break down, many of our animal species go extinct … and the human race enters “survival mode” as a whole.

2100 – 2202 World War IV and The Great Realization

In 2108, the last of war-mongering, tyrannical factions has it’s way … and we enter into World War IV.

With limited resources, and in a world similar in appearance to the movie The Road Warrior (from the 1980’s), the people who are left after the last World War begin to fight over what is left. Some smart ones survive, even through this tragedy.

Alas, because of our carelessness as a species in the 21st century, the human gene pool was invaded by the advanced chemicals and “food stuffs” we started to create in response to crisis.

The Great Realization, a period of time between 2150 and 2202, is a magical time in our 210,000 or so years on this planet Earth.

We finally realized that our technology can only take us so far, and the lessons learned from the 21st century taught us that our planet has finite resources. The same natural systems we tried to separate ourselves from proved too complex to re-engineer.

After all, we also realized we were given brains, consciousness, and eyes so we could see, adapt to, and contemplate our environment. We realized we couldn’t live out of harmony with nature, and ourselves.

We couldn’t, until The Great Realization, even begin to understand ourselves and our connection to each other as a whole. And we mistakenly thought we could fully understand and dominate, even re-engineer the complex natural systems that gave birth to our species.

We finally realized that this planet, the only planet we had to live on, wasn’t created “for us.” We realized that we were part of something special already, but from 1850 – 2150, we chose instead to create our technological noise in the failed attempts to claim this speck of dust in the vast Cosmos as ours.

But for about 50 years, without electrical power, without much technology, we finally lived in such harmony. The 350,000 or so left after all of the Wars, famine, destruction, racism, greed and consumption of previous generations, these remaining survivors lived in peace with each other.

And they didn’t end up living as most people in 2015 thought, like primitive savages.

Instead they lived in what was left of the sparse trees and foliage in the North (between what we call Iceland and Alaska in 2015). They foraged, some tried to hunt and farm, some built little homes by the remains of creeks and rivers. Some even tried to rebuild small fragments of technology’s past.

But with limited drinkable water and almost no mineral resources to access and build the technology to desalinate the already acidified oceans … most of our remaining species died in the 30 years between 2150 – 2180.

The last of our species, and some might say the strongest, died peacefully in 2202, their bodies and genetic pools so ravaged by industry and bio-chemical society of centuries past, they could not reproduce.

Homo-sapiens was no more.

2203 – 4014

The Healing and the beginning of The Great Stillness

The two-thousand year period after Homo-sapiens was the beginning of a great healing for the planet.

Robust bacteria, similar to (and perhaps the same as) the type that began life on this planet, survived our time on this planet. So did a few animal species. Plants, bacteria, animals … all beginning life anew.

But the scars the planet suffered would probably take tens of thousands, to even hundreds of thousands of years to completely heal, the eco-sphere fully repaired and re-evolved with species new and old.

Because you see, in 4014 The Great Stillness has just begun.

Why Intelligent Design Fails…

My short answer, anyhow…

We need to explicate the “intelligent” in intelligent design. Why focus on the intelligence behind the design?

Here’s why … So the ID proponents could put some sort of “entity with intelligence” there. Otherwise intelligence logically wouldn’t be necessary for a natural process of creation that perpetually repeats itself.

There is no “brain” or other mechanism for intelligence necessary for a seed to grow into whatever plant it would produce. Plus, the seed is created by the plant itself to regrow.

There is no intelligence, that is simply a natural process that is recursive (the seed grows the plant which produces the seed which grows the plant etc.).

So, intelligent design fails because of the needed “insertion” of intelligence by its proponents, in processes where intelligence isn’t necessary at all.

In an evolutionary sense, we could not “insert” anything into a creation process, we simply need to explain the process itself and the results of that process.

Going on a Twitter Sabbatical

I will be going on a Twitter sabbatical for awhile.

I have not determined for how long, and it may result in deleting Twitter permanently.

The value of Twitter is becoming questionable at best, and this platform is less and less valuable as time goes on.  The 2016 election process highlighted this lack of value.

EDIT 11/23:  I’m going to change how I use Twitter instead of the deleting / sabbatical approach.  Here’s to getting the value that I can out of this service.

The Infinity of Critical Thinking

I loved the “Cognitive bias cheat sheet” recently posted to Medium by Buster Benson. You should go read that, over and over again.

Maybe even get the poster he organized for the biases he addressed.

It’s a great start to a very deep phenomenon known as critical thinking. It organizes our “thinking kryptonite” (which also acts as our “thinking sunlight” when naturally applied to the correct situation) into more manageable categories.

I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The only critique I will offer is the number of variables that exist inside the semantic description of “critical thinking” (both discovered and undiscovered) being a challenge that we might not solve. The problem these variables are a part of is the attainment of “total knowledge” with the faulty (yet completely amazing) system of human cognition.

My point is we may not be aware of the total number of biases we have within the category of critical thinking. We know a good number of them, but when dealing with a complex (and again, amazing) system like human cognition … we could not claim to know all of them.

So I hope this poster sells 100 million copies, because it’s a great start to further examination of biases … a feature and bug of human cognition.

To me, biases are paradoxical … they allow us to explore our world in a way that makes progress in the blink of a cosmic timescale…

… while at the same time preventing us from exploring that world completely, and to an infinite degree (I’m afraid).

But then again, I suffer from the same biases that Buster presented in such an eloquent way. 🙂

NOTE:  The above portion also posted on Medium.

EDIT:  In response to a good question “What about the scientific method?” (NOT posed as a question on Medium, I rephrased a comment into that question)…

If “scientific method + peer review” were computer code that had no viruses (as an analogy), then I might start agreeing with this statement.

But still, you have biased humans inside this process (especially in peer review) plus the interlocking financial and political pressures and influence outside of this process. These are the “viruses” that help to guide some (not all) of the outcomes of “The Scientific Method.”

So no, it isn’t our best way to account for cognitive biases, because of the interlocked bias you cannot account for.

Does that mean the method isn’t good? No, it does not … for this method has allowed for our greatest human discoveries (in sum total, not just the big ones publicized in the media from cosmology and physics).

But when you think from a probabilistic standpoint, and from a complexity standpoint … the influence of other interlocking systems (grants, politics, biases, etc…) will have a certain percentage of impact on any “method” we might come up with to account for our biases.

So yes, the scientific method is well-developed and can even eliminate some biases, but I don’t think it replaces what Buster put together here.

Making Progress On Climate Policy

So, I had a little “Twitter chat” this morning with the infamous “Fabius Maximus” about the subject of taking sides in “war” on important public policy topics, in this case the topic is climate change (I highly recommend you subscribe to this multi-contributor blog).

The Storify of our chat is embedded below, but I wanted to add a fuller comment here on my blog (because, as I should have known better, Twitter absolutely sucks for complex topic discussion).

In the Storify chat, I attempted to put the Tweets in the order of our conversation.

Please understand it isn’t important that I am “right” and Fabius is “wrong.” (or vice-versa) on this topic of taking sides in a public policy issue like climate change.

What is important is we (as a society) move closer to policies that will benefit all of us.

To begin with…

Binary thinking (e.g. deniers versus alarmists) is not enough.  “Taking sides” in a binary fashion, like the issue of a changing climate represents some sort of “war” between us … is completely wrong on multiple fronts:

  •  It divides us into cultural “factions” and clouds our judgment of each other by adding emotional baggage (sometimes artificial) that automatically attaches itself to a person, depending on which side they are on.
  • A complex issue like climate change isn’t going to magically be “resolved” triumphantly in some politically and media-charged socio-cultural war between two “sides.”  Even if one side were to “win” this “war,” the climate will keep changing with or without our influence.  So, who really “wins”?  Then, what is “lost”?  Over what, differences of opinion that are influenced by money, politics, and petty name-calling?  Let’s grow up people.
  • Binary thinking makes it too easy to use media-charged words that contain pre-determined baggage, like “hot public issue” (see Fabius’ tweet below) instead of “important public issue” as one example.  Emotionally charging what should be a rational search for adaptation to a complex and eternally changing climate (and survival of conditions) is becoming a circus of sorts, with carnival barkers on both sides (so, should there really be sides?).

Complex issues like the climate need to move beyond ideas like a “consensus” to actual testing of the validity of climate models by observation.  Fabius and I agree on the testing part, as you’ll see in our Twitter chat.

If those models fail to predict what is actually happening now, in our climate today, they should be discarded and replaced with models that duplicate what is actually happening in the climate now.  Yes, the climate is chaotic and has tons of variables, and I won’t claim to be a climate scientist … but come on.

Plus, we seem to be over-relying on prediction models instead of charting observations against those models and constantly adjusting course based on those observations.  See where binary (consensus versus skeptical) thinking gets us?

Who cares if there is a consensus (i.e. some group of people are “right”) if that consensus leads us down a path that is not correct 30 years from now?

But I digress…

Why can’t we (obviously including the scientific community in climate science) just collaborate instead of dividing ourselves into some gladiatorial “us versus them” war over who is correct (with all the childish name-calling and stigma to boot)?

Isn’t that what the scientific process is all about?

Why does there have to be “deniers” versus “alarmists” and only “one” correct solution (which there can’t be, because our climate is chaotic and not static)?

In the example Fabius pointed to in his first Tweet, where he pointed out that one “side” might have been pointing to “an early victory” (via a media article at Loyola) … he uses some choice words and “reporting” tactics (he claims he was reporting in this instance):

  • Polish cavalry
  • delusion-ally confident
  • lumps the article together with #climateskeptics as a group (e.g. I’m skeptical, to some degree, but I happened to disagree with the article … yet Fabius would lump me in with the ideology of a climate skeptic like I’m delusional?).

And our Tweet chat continued from there (see below, administrative tweets left out).

But where does this “reporting” (based on observable facts, as Fabius alluded to) get us?

Where does lumping people into categories get us (calling people deniers, alarmists etc…, like it’s some sort of religion)?

How does using media and politically charged language help move anything forward, when the proper course of action is what we should all be striving toward?  (a course of action that, mind you, will likely be multi-layered and not just one simple solution)

But here’s what I think is the most-important part:

Fabius also called my willingness to see collaboration “Utopian” … as though we must “fight” or take sides in order to reach resolution on important topics like our changing climate.

In fact, Fabius was also a bit dismissive, using language like “Unlike kindergarten…” before assuming we must have “coalitions” and take “sides.”

But he also made a valid point that the idea of collaboration might allow collusion among “elites” in our society.

To which I reply (and conclude):

If we live in a society where it’s Utopian to think we might work together (even with differences of opinion) to solve problems that are important to the survival of our species, that is a serious problem that must be solved.

Don’t take me as an alarmist either, because I’m not.  Alarm-ism comes with its own corruption and baggage too … and part of the reason I wrote this.

My understanding of the scientific process is that it demands that ideas (models, hypothesis etc…) get discarded in favor of what is proven to work through experimentation and accurate predictive ability.

We must look past our differences, the money being paid for scientific research (which seems to be corrupting the outcome on both “sides”), blog hits, media bias, politics, etc…

The climate isn’t going to care about consensus (or non-consensus), squabbles, elitism, corruption, or even whether we’re “right” or “wrong”.

Taking “sides” against each other in some media charged (and politically) fabricated “climate war” … with all of the baggage and political / corporate / media corruption heaped on top … that will make NO difference.

The planet Earth (our only planet, by the way) and its climate will continue to hum right along whether or not we’re here.

Since we’re here … we might as well look past our differences and adapt to the changing climate instead of trying to “win” and taking “sides” against each other.

Because all of the media-spectacle, corruption, collusion, “skepticism,” “alarmism,” consensus, denial, bickering, etc… that won’t matter much if we aren’t here.

And if we are still here, because perhaps the climate isn’t changing in some “inconvenient” way … well … then where did all of this “climate war” get us?

Divided, declaring some insignificant “victory” over one-another, and isolated.

What kind of a world is that?