Denial seems to come in layers.
It is common to break through one layer of denial to see a portion of reality but to then have another layer of denial block an even more important aspect of reality.
- Many environmental activists fly to long distance conferences where they condemn fossil energy companies, promote green growth, and ignore population reduction.
- Most bankers understand all aspects of wealth except what creates it.
- Most climate scientists believe we can switch to renewable energy without harming the economy despite abundant physics to the contrary.
- All climate models that predict a livable planet assume carbon capture despite zero evidence that we can scale or afford this technology.
- Many vegans want to avoid killing despite the fact that all life depends on the death of other life.
- Many vegetarians think grains are sustainable.
- Many people try to be green by recycling and buying a hybrid car.
- Enlightened governments try to address climate change by spending money on the problem without realizing CO2 emitted is proportional to money spent.
- Many citizens in collapsing societies have large families and assume corrupt politicians are the cause of their problems.
- The new enlightened Pope has not yet buried any of the Vatican’s wealth.
- Many atheists are spiritual.
- Most religions think other religions are wacky.
Since I claim to understand what is actually going on an obvious question to ask myself is what am I in denial about?
A friend thinks I am in denial about what motivates me. I think I am seeking truth. She thinks I am seeking status. I hope she is not right.
My best guess is that I may be in denial on two points.
First, I may be wrong to believe that we have any ability to influence the outcome.
Life is governed by the laws of physics and evolution. We seem to be doing what the universe and our genes “want” which is to replicate and degrade the energy gradient as quickly as possible.
I like to think we have free will but we may be just along for the ride.
Second, my chance of surviving the upcoming bottleneck might be improved if I was in a state of denial and accumulating wealth as quickly as possible despite the negative effect of this on the planet.
It makes me happier and more functional to think we can influence the outcome and that I am helping.
My feelings are illustrative of why denial evolved in the first place.
Denial increases our reproductive fitness by enabling an optimistic high intelligence that can out-compete other life for finite resources, while ignoring unpleasant things it is capable of understanding that might otherwise cause depression and reduced reproductive fitness.
Perhaps I am in denial about other things. Or perhaps because I can speculate on my own denial I am in fact not in denial at all and am a rare mutant without the denial gene. Many events in my life suggest there may be some truth to this speculation.
Readers are encouraged to speculate and to comment on their own experiences.