Sabine Hossenfelder on Free Will

Sabine Hossenfelder today explained why we have no free will and why we shouldn’t worry about it.

She’s right but she missed an important piece of the story.

A quick summary of her essay is that our brain is a computer made of particles governed by the laws of physics that inputs our current state and calculates a decision for what we will do next. Because we don’t know the result of the calculation before it completes, we interpret this as free will, when in fact a computer has no free will.

What’s the main app in our computer? Hossenfelder says it’s to “optimize our well-being”.

Most students of human overshoot would refine Hossenfelder’s description of our main app as the Maximum Power Principle (MPP), which creates our dominant behaviors like status seeking and desiring sex/children.

Varki’s MORT theory adds an important real-time interrupt handler which terminates any calculation that produces an unpleasant result, especially those results that conflict with what the MPP app wants to do.

How else can you explain that elections never even whisper about the elephants in the room like overshoot, resource depletion, ecosystem collapse, debt bubbles, etc.

Not even a whisper. It’s amazing.

These deterministic laws of nature apply to you and your brain because you are made of particles, and what happens with you is a consequence of what happens with those particles. A lot of people seem to think this is a philosophical position. They call it “materialism” or “reductionism” and think that giving it a name that ends on –ism is an excuse to not believe it. Well, of course you can insist to just not believe reductionism is correct. But this is denying scientific evidence. We do not guess, we know that brains are made of particles. And we do not guess, we know, that we can derive from the laws for the constituents what the whole object does. If you make a claim to the contrary, you are contradicting well-established science. I can’t prevent you from denying scientific evidence, but I can tell you that this way you will never understand how the universe really works.

The reason this idea of free will turns out to be incompatible with the laws of nature is that it never made sense in the first place. You see, that thing you call “free will” should in some sense allow you to choose what you want. But then it’s either determined by what you want, in which case it’s not free, or it’s not determined, in which case it’s not a will.

Now, some have tried to define free will by the “ability to have done otherwise”. But that’s just empty words. If you did one thing, there is no evidence you could have done something else because, well, you didn’t. Really there is always only your fantasy of having done otherwise.

If it causes you cognitive dissonance to acknowledge you believe in something that doesn’t exist, I suggest that you think of your life as a story which has not yet been told. You are equipped with a thinking apparatus that you use to collect information and act on what you have learned from this. The result of that thinking is determined, but you still have to do the thinking. That’s your task. That’s why you are here. I am curious to see what will come out of your thinking, and you should be curious about it too.

Why am I telling you this? Because I think that people who do not understand that free will is an illusion underestimate how much their decisions are influenced by the information they are exposed to. After watching this video, I hope, some of you will realize that to make the best of your thinking apparatus, you need to understand how it works, and pay more attention to cognitive biases and logical fallacies.

187 thoughts on “Sabine Hossenfelder on Free Will”

  1. “Why am I telling you this?” Her only internally-consistent answer must be “because I must, because I have no freedom to do otherwise. And you will either pay attention, or not, because you cannot do otherwise, but I do not have the freedom not to exhort you to watch me.”

    What a waste of time and energy!

    (As it turns out, either I am free not to watch, or not-watching is my unavoidable destiny.)

    If I have no free will, then I am destined to support a system of criminal justice which operates as if criminals had the freedom to make better choices, and will punish them for making bad choices.


    1. “If I have no free will, then I am destined to support a system of criminal justice which operates as if criminals had the freedom to make better choices, and will punish them for making bad choices.”

      That’s actually a fallacy. Most people don’t believe rocks have free will but they will build walls to imprison them if there is a risk of a landslide.
      And justice is not a moral organ of society – it’s just sold that way. Justice is a feedback mechanism to preserve the functioning of the human ecosystem. That’s why it doesn’t matter if the reasons presented are belief in god, morality or “the people”. The effect is the same.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Everyone has to add some hopium at the end. “The world order is changing. The world will need oil more than ever because of its unparalleled productivity. Oil was responsible for the singular economic growth after World War II. It is the only thing that can prevent slow growth from becoming negative growth in that new world order.”

      If the Australians stopped shipping coal to China and the U.S. stopped buying their products then China would shrivel-up and certainly not be a “hegemon”. We already have degrowth. There may be some tech growth at the fringe of the petri dish but the core infrastructure is rotting faster and wages are drying up faster than any “growth” can replace. And if we use our remaining stocks of fossil fuels to attempt renewable transition it will leave us even deeper in the hole. But what the hell, we were born of optimism and denial and working together they guarantee maximal energy flux through the technological system.


  2. We are all, firstly, culture bound. But what is it that allows for breaking these cultural boundaries? How can societies, and cultures within, change from feudal accords to lordless communalism? How did we change from Keynesianism to neoliberalism? How can we change from neoliberalism to something more suited to survival of more than just the human species? Or are we destined to remain within the social/cultural scope of individualistic narcisism and perpetual competitiveness? Are the remnants of altruism really just part of the “competitive nature” of human survival?
    Totally agreed that real issues are not part of our so-called democratic “choices”, but that whole debate is embraced in the totality of all our coalesced systems – family, education, work, community, leadership, media (subsumed as it is also within ideological fixations that, in Canada for certain, goes for all political parties [media is part of the body politic] and their “growth” fantasies), etc.. Even those who think they have escaped the “system” are still part of it unless they leave, whether alone or with others, to live lives bereft of the ‘advantages’ of whichever civilization they start within.


    1. Quote: “How can we change from neoliberalism to something more suited to survival of more than just the human species?”.

      Your question implies that it is possible for humans to survive on “just” their own – this makes the basis for your question somewhat specious. Experiments, involving a small number of humans living for multiple months in truly isolated environments, attempting self sufficiency through natural recycling of all wastes (including CO2 from breathing) have proven it is apparently impossible without the wider inputs from Earth’s far greater eco-system.

      If humans survive, then it is because we have not tipped the balance of the teeter-totter too far. And our survival will only continue until some other factor wipes us out. It is “denial” to think (believe) anything else. Not that you have said this, but the idea that we can leave this planet to go and destroy some other, is abject nonsense – our very frail bodies cannot withstand the acceleration / deceleration required to travel any meaningful distance, even with stasis. Thousands of years of harsh radiation traversing the void of space will not do good things.

      Putting our brains into fully synthetic vehicles might do the trick. But this then poses the question – could we still consider ourselves humans?


  3. The simple answer is most of the people don’t want to hear the truth.

    Last time a major politician looked the people in the eye and told the truth his opponent thrashed him in the next election – the people have spoken & they said ‘Fuck you Jimmy!’

    1980: Reagan beats Carter in landslide

    “The former Hollywood actor and Republican governor of California Ronald Reagan is to be the next president of the United States.

    He has defeated Democrat Jimmy Carter in the US presidential elections by a huge majority.

    At the age of 69, Mr Reagan will be America’s oldest president. His running mate, former head of the CIA George Bush, will be his vice-president.

    The Republicans took state after state in the east, south and mid-west, with results from their stronghold in the west still to come. So far Mr Reagan’s electoral vote tally stands at 238 while Mr Carter’s is just 35.”


  4. ‘Humans weren’t always here. We could disappear’: meet the collapsologists

    Deep in the French countryside, pockets of anti-capitalists and environmentalists are preparing for the end of civilisation – or even humanity itself

    “For the authors of the Jean Jaurès study, the political scientist Jérôme Fourquet and the pollster Jean-Philippe Dubrulle, collapsology is driven at least in part by economic factors. The least apocalyptically minded country they polled, Germany, also has (or had, pre-Covid-19) the strongest economy, while the countries where the movement has the largest following – Italy and France – are those where economic performance has been poorest of late, and social and political tensions run high.

    They deliberately left their statement vague as to the causes of the coming collapse, because people in different countries think differently about these. In Britain and Germany, the emphasis is on the climate crisis, as seen in the emergence of Extinction Rebellion in the UK. But in France, where they overlap to some extent with the gilets jaunes movement, collapsologists also consider society to be sick. The idea is that rampant consumerism, ever-accelerating technological advances and the dominance of neoliberalism are leading French people to perdition.

    It is probably for this reason, say Fourquet and Dubrulle, that France stands apart from the other countries they surveyed in one important way: whereas in general the movement is strongest in the under-35 age group, “in our country, all generations, the 65-and-overs included, share the same sombre diagnosis”.

    The movement also cuts across political boundaries, embracing everyone from the far right to the far left. One of the most outspoken collapsologists is Yves Cochet, a politician with Europe Ecology – France’s green party – and a former environment minister in Lionel Jospin’s leftwing government of the early 00s. He has retreated to a farmhouse in Britanny and reputedly has not seen the inside of a plane since 2009. But there are also French “survivalists” who – at least until about a decade ago – shared the drawbridge mentality of the Americans stocking up on peanut butter and ammo.”

    Some of these malcontent freaks sound like my kind of people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ya gotta admit, it looks like fun. Vastly more fun than, for example, contemplating the question of free will, or energy depletion.


  5. I think that a lot of rational- materialist are in denial about the nature of science. It seems to me that most of the rational-materialist thinks that science leads you to the truth (an accurate understanding of reality). It does not do that at all. What the scientific process does is to look for and find useful, measurable concepts and situations to help us describe and manipulate the world around us.

    For example, science was able to make accurate predictions on the movements of the planets, not by accurately describing all the details of each and every planet in the solar system, but by pretending that each planet was a point mass and plugging that vast distortion of reality into a simple equation and getting really good results.

    Bumper Sticker summation – Science is Useful not True

    So when Sabine Hossenfelder said that your brain is a computer. That is just not true. Your brain has a so much more in common with your intestines than any common understanding of the word computer. Now that does not mean that using the metaphor of computation is not useful in understanding so of the behavior of parts of your brain, it sure is.


      1. I would say the reason is that our fossil fuel powered civilization has structured its economic system to only be only stable when it is growing. The financial expectations / goals for just about every government, bank, and corporation is for growth in income. And we have reached the point where economic growth in general is not possible. That is due to the increasing energy cost of energy, ecosystem degradation and climate change.

        And any real recognition of our shared predicament threatens all of the whole economic system and all of the powerful people in it.


        1. Thanks. That may explain the behavior of the mainstream parties. But attempting to force growth with debt when growth is not possible will cause more harm than allowing the system to deflate naturally. So why aren’t there any parties anywhere offering de-growth for harm reduction? There’s no debate, no discussion, not even a whisper from anyone. The silence is ubiquitous in all counties and all cultures. MPP and denial of anything that threatens it must be genetic.


          1. “So why aren’t there any parties anywhere offering de-growth for harm reduction?”

            I am not sure how this relates to the issue of free will but the answer is simple: de-growth is not an ESS (evolutionarily stable strategy).
            It’s basically the same reason that you cannot stop population growth by voluntary celibacy – the people that do the “wrong” thing persist and take over the whole population.

            I remember you mentioned Nick Lane. I think his idea that bacteria was never able to become too complex is another example of the same forces – small and fast multiplying bacteria will always win over big and complex. The only way the eucaryotes managed to grow big was by carving their own niches – first internally (mitochondria) and then externally. We were never able to displace bacteria from their world. That is why only bacteria (or former bacteria) do photosynthesis or digest cellulose.


            1. Thanks. ESS makes sense. But if a species has sufficient intelligence to understand that forcing growth will cause it more harm, then there needs to be a selective means of switching off that intelligence. Varki’s MORT theory provides a plausible mechanism.

              I believe you may have a misunderstanding about the transition to complex life that occurred as a singularity about 2 billion years after the origin of life. Bacteria evolved extreme biochemical complexity but were constrained in morphological complexity by available energy per gene. With an improbable endosymbiosis that created the eukaryotic cell this energy per gene barrier was overcome by increasing the energy producing membrane area with multiple mitochondria.


              1. I think my bacteria example was not the best. I remember Nick’s thesis but there are people that focus more on the speed of reproduction. Since the speed goes down with the number of DNA bases, over time simplicity wins.

                But I digress, back to the subject at hand…


          2. There are whispers. Your blog, surplus energy economics, the old archdruid report, the resilience blog, the limits to growth books, any serious course in ecology. I hear that there is a small degrowth movement in Europe.

            I think that MORT (mind over reality theory) has some basic issues, mainly due to the fact that our mind does not have access to reality. It only has access to sensory channels that evolved to provide us with a limited, distorted view of reality that helps us survive and reproduce. (MODEST -mind over distorted environmental sensing theory)
            But i do agree that the ability of our minds to deny the primacy of our sensory input likely has a strong genetic component. And that is critical for humans to something as basic as making plans for the future. (a plan like how can we get a rabbit to eat.) or tell a story.

            This ability to deny the primacy of your (distorted) sensory inputs has a bunch of advantages and some obvious disadvantages.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. I don’t see any whispers in any of the media that the normal 99.99% consumes.

              I don’t think it’s about distorting the inputs. It’s about terminating the calculation. Try explaining energy depletion to a neighbor that trusts you. He’ll understand what you say but will then draw impossible conclusions.


              1. I can only say that this topic has been on and off in the German speaking media and political landscape. Ressourcenknappheit, Nachhaltigkeit and nachhaltiges Wachstum are the key notions in this debate. The Green Party in Germany – in government 1998 – 2005 started the Energiewende, the double exit from nuclear and fossil energy. Since 2005 the energy consumption has decoupled from the economic growth. So there is movement. I think that landscape and natural resources – in most parts of the U.S. for example – are so abundant that people cannot imagine that their behaviour has any influence on the environment. A national approach however, which would emphasise the responsibility of the society as a whole would need to marshal private resources – be it in form of building regulations, emission restrictions or plainly money. And that traditionally does not fly in the U.S.


                1. I respect Germany. They elected a leader with a PhD in Quantum Chemistry, unlike the idiots the rest of us elect, and Germany seems to be one of the only countries in the world with good intentions making an honest effort to meet their climate change commitments. I do not think their policies have or will work unless per capita consumption and/or the population decreases, but at least they are trying.

                  Are population reduction policies debated in German politics?


                  1. The population reduction is inevitable in Germany: For years the fertility rate of women has been well below 1.7% (see chart – where 2.1% is needed to keep the population at the same level. The only drivers of population growth are the increase in average lifespan and immigration. Although Germany is making strides, the chancellor you praise has adopted the electorally effective strategy to only budge when it is almost too late to act, but when everyone agrees that something has to be done. This makes her also a very effective broker on international level, but it is detrimental for Germany’s longterm development. An example are the climate change commitments you mentioned, which would, without Covid-19 effect, have been broken in 2020. The double exit from nuclear and fossil fuel would need a completely different impetus with regards to research and national effort ( Germany is currently under fire for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, but would direly need to replace most lignite, hard coal and oil with cleaner gas. Good research results for a biomass strategy are lying fallow. The heavily fluctuating power demand due to the high percentage of renewables would need break through energy storage solutions and energy consumption solutions (cue: smart appliance/smart home). The quick decision to make up for the lack of continuous effort and strategy was recently to create incentives for electric cars and also the car industry called for “support” to catch up with Tesla. However, it turns out that with the current energy mix electric cars would emit even more carbon dioxide than conventional cars ( So, while the general direction is correct, it could be done much more focussed and effectively. But committing to a strategy would also mean to expose surface for attack and that is what Angela Merkel tries to avoid.


                    1. Thank you for explaining what is going on in Germany.

                      Canada’s population would also fall slowly if it were not for immigration. I think this slow decline is not fast enough given the coming impacts of climate change and diesel depletion on food production. We need policies to rapidly reduce the population so that we can avoid unnecessary suffering.

                      None of the Canadian political parties, including the Greens, advocate for rapid population reduction. I was wondering if German politics is more enlightened?


    1. That’s a decent illustration of the exponential function, but grasping the concept really won’t change peoples core, short termism behaviour. I bet Bezos, Gates & Buffet understood the exponential function when they were teeny boppers & have found it useful in their insatiable quest for wealth, power & dominance.

      The Impossible Hugeness of Deep Time

      “Humans have a hard time with really big numbers, especially when it comes to DEEP TIME. The history of the Earth took a lot longer than you think, trust me. But I’m here to help you put it in perspective. With some string.”

      I’d like to see one called -‘The Impossible Hugeness of The Physics of Climate Change’. Make it mandatory viewing in elementary schools except change the title to – ‘Why A Future of Horrors Awaits You’

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a very good video on time. He glossed over the last thread 10,000 years ago when denial of reality evolved with an extended theory of mind to create God and a human caused extinction event. Maybe we should blame God because he showed up at the same time we started causing trouble.

        You’re right about climate change being a much bigger deal than most acknowledge. Good thing solar panels can undo burning a gazillion tons of carbon.


  6. A nice non-partisan view of America from Canadian ByronBishop…

    I live in rural Canada and I do not have television, so my information on the American presidential election comes from newspapers and some online blogs. But what impresses me the most in this cycle is what good theatre it is!

    It is my view that the choice for American voters is simply this: which collection of billionaires will run the country? The Democrats or Republicans? At root, their policies are not very different; their principal goal is to maintain and extend their privilege, and to continue to develop the legal and fiscal framework that supports their activities. This framework consists of, among other things, the following policies, and most crucially, broad public acceptance of the righteousness of these policies:

    • To maintain very low taxes on income and capital gains, favourable treatment of dividend and interest income, and no inheritance tax

    • In the financial manipulation field, improve public and regulatory acceptance of the attitude usefully articulated by JH Kuntsler as “nothing matters and anything goes”. This allows (among many other things) private equity firms to buy up useful and productive enterprises, strip out all the assets in fees and special dividends and through the sale of high-yield (and chancy) bonds, and to then release the debt-ridden hulk back into the marketplace to sink (mostly) or swim (rarely). Also supports share buybacks, collateralised debt instruments, relocation of factories to low-wage states and countries.

    • Keep the American military actively working around the world, preferably using expensive armaments. Where possible avoid stationing troops in warzones as casualties provoke bad publicity. Promote demand for novel and very expensive war materiel. (Smart bombs and drones sell to government on a cost-plus basis.)

    • Support the National Rifle Association, which is in fact an association of arms manufacturers and merchants with a noisy public relations arm consisting of private members defending their Second Amendment rights. Until forty years ago the Second Amendment right was the right to join a well-regulated militia, but now it is the right to have many expensive weapons in your house.

    • Everyone must recognise that public healthcare is un-American. It is a moral issue: if you cannot afford healthcare you do not deserve it. Some of the highest paid executive teams in the US are in the healthcare field, while executive teams in Canadian and European countries are mostly paid on a civil service scale. Shareholders in American healthcare companies become very rich. Were healthcare to become nationalised like in Canada and most European nations, most of the private profit would be lost

    • Large corporations must be permitted to manipulate share prices through buybacks and curious business practices (Boeing, the airlines), but must then be protected by bailouts if their business falters.

    • The financialisation of the economy must be regulated as lightly as possible so that fees can continue to flow.

    • Regulatory capture must be celebrated (under a different name). The two-way flow of personnel from regulated industries to regulatory government departments ensures that little impedes business development.

    • To ensure that the courts at all levels are staffed with conservative, business-friendly judges.

    • To ensure that environmental protection regulations do not unduly interfere with business operations

    I do not for a moment think that the billionaires and multi-millionaires conspire to run the American system. They are not a cabal; they do not meet. Rather, theirs is an emergent system: many individuals working towards their own goals will thus help others pursuing their own goals. It is like a flock of shorebirds wheeling and swooping in perfect unison; they are not directed, but they are simply responding to the actions of their neighbouring birds.

    The billionaires achieve this through owning mainstream media companies, funding think tanks and policy research institutes, and supporting lobbyist groups and public relations shills. And they have been astonished , I am sure, to discover how cheaply they can buy the support of members of Congress. Chump-change donations to campaign funding pays off in spades. Lobbyists have language ready to drop in to any bill, to achieve corporate aims. That’s how emergency support of American workers became bailouts for cruise companies, who are based offshore and pay few American taxes.

    And then members of Congress have to be made part of the investing class. For example, a fabulous oil & gas play is spun off into a Special Purpose Vehicle whose success is assured, and select politicians are invited to invest in it. If they cannot afford to purchase shares a private loan is arranged and documented and subsequently repaid, all above board. The company is spectacularly successful and the “investors” score big-time and repay any loans. Didn’t George W Bush succeed in an investment in professional sports in Texas, in a similar way? And by the way, how did Senate Majority Leader McConnell amass a self-declared net worth of $10 million after a lifetime of working as a civil servant at $200k per year?

    All of the rest is theatre. In this election cycle the hot-button issues are access to abortion (again), racism and social justice (again), overseas wars, China as an economic threat, Russia! Russia! Russia!, voting systems and practices, and the age and personalities of the presidential candidates. All theatre. The billionaires don’t care about any of these things, as almost none of these things personally affect them. Safe and discreet abortion is always available somewhere in the world where private jets fly. Billionaires do not ever see people of different colour or status or class unless they choose to, and then only in circumstances they control. Russia and China are opportunities, not threats. And the presidential candidates can be influenced very cheaply. A Nevada casino magnate had the American embassy moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for only $25 million in campaign donations to a notoriously cheap candidate.

    The one thing that most amazes me is how the billionaires can continue to convince people to vote against their own best interests, whether economic interest, social interest or even national interest. At one time they used “race” quite openly, appealing to feelings of racial superiority or to fears of being electorally overwhelmed by “those people”, whether black or brown or oriental or poor. When openly racist campaigning became no longer acceptable, some genius concluded that “abortion” would make an excellent substitute, as it can combine all of the race and class issues and can bring in all of the family values baggage as well. Few other issues can motivate such a wide cross-section of the American public, and it can motivate people on either side of the issue. With so much focus on abortion who has time to worry about the domination of government by corporate interests?

    Many commentators focus on the gross inequality of incomes and wealth in the USA, and a recent report by the Rand Corporation brings this in to clear focus. They analysed the growth in incomes across the entire working population of the USA for the period from the end of World War II to the present, and they found that up until 1975 or so the increase in general prosperity in the nation was shared equally across all income groups. Starting in the mid-1970’s however, most of the increase in prosperity was arrogated by the top income earners, so that the rich got richer and no-one else shared in the good times. The astonishing figure that the Rand researchers came up with was that the top 1% has actually taken all of the $50 trillion dollars in new wealth from everyone else in the 45 year period to 2020. There is a reason why so many people feel that the American Dream has passed them by – it’s because it actually has.

    The usual remedy for this sort of gross inequality of power and wealth in society is revolution. The French Revolution comes to mind, but also the Russian Revolution. I wonder what was the root cause of the great social and political upheavals in Europe in 1848? (I can’t remember.) A less frequent remedy is the rise of a genuine populist movement, one that can actually re-distribute power (and thus wealth and opportunity). As Gwnne Dyer usefully says: populism is not an ideology, it is a technique. In America, I suspect that a true populist leader could only arise at the state level, and then from outside the two main parties.

    If the current polarisation in American politics continues, the states may become the primary protector of social values (progressive or conservative) and the regulations that flow from them (access to abortion, gun rights and restrictions, access to health care, role of religion in public life, etc), and it may be that a true populist, charismatic leader can emerge and accrue the political power and authenticity to restrict the ability of the elites to organise state society. And that might spread, state by state. We outsiders can only hope that our fellow citizens in the USA can get their sh!t together at some point. Watching civil unrest unfold is no fun – I have cousins in America.


    1. My American cousin commited suicide, along with an increasing number of her fellow “citizens”. Really good analysis, and so much of it applies in Canada, where there is NO inheritance tax.



    September 2020 global surface air temperature was the highest September temperature on record, according to a Copernicus news release.

    Arctic sea ice was at record low extent for the time of year again.

    Very high temperatures are visible over the Arctic Ocean, while the Arctic as a whole shows an anomaly of 5.5°C compared to 1979-2000.

    These high temperatures leave little or no opportunity for sea ice to build up thickness over the next few months, meaning there will be little or no buffer to consume incoming heat, as temperatures start to rise again early next year.

    Without such a buffer, a rapid temperature rise of the Arctic Ocean can be expected to take place, threatening to destabilize methane contained in sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.


    1. Sapolsky has a great mind filled with useful data and insights about human behavior, and yet I do not recall him ever discussing the issue that matters: human overshoot and our denial of it.

      I searched his book Behave and he did not once mention “climate change”, nor “overshoot”, nor “over population”, nor “resource depletion”.

      He’s not yet on my list of polymaths in denial because I’ve never heard him deny these issues, but I’m also not sure he’s aware of them, which is almost as bad for someone as smart as he is.

      Has anyone heard Sapolsky talk about human overshoot?


  8. You may never defy the laws of thermodynamics. Those that exist and persist are the ones that garner the most energy and convert it into self without being turned into waste heat themselves. So, do you have free will? It seems to me that anything that is influenced by pleasure and pain/fear and has an evolved neural architecture, predisposing them to act in certain ways, can never truly have free will. Even though rapacious billionaires have no free will and cannot be held accountable for their crimes of greed, putting a few of them on trial at the Hague and then hanging them would instill fear in those that might try and follow in their footsteps. Since we can’t count on rationality and free will, some blunt force conditioning may work wonders.


    1. I do not focus my anger at the billionaires because they are doing what the MPP directs, and what our laws permit. If we had wise governments they would pass taxation and other laws that prevented such socially destabilizing wealth gaps.

      On the other hand, today with money printing being the only thing preventing us from collapsing, perhaps we need billionaires to vacuum up the printed money because if it ever got into the hands of normal citizens we would have runaway inflation which might be worse than a crazy wide wealth gap.


      1. Who do you think controls the politicians if not the corporations & oligarch overlords?

        Right here in BC – Site C & LNG. Free corporate blow job, no condom & full swallow. Thanks BC cock suckers taxpayers.

        The politicians can line up against the firing wall next to the billionaires.

        They could be screaming & burning alive & I wouldn’t waste my piss on any of them.

        If the younger generation ever clues the fuck in that they are being strung along & no one gives a shit about them & they get organized then we’ll really some ‘no free will’ ……mob style.


        1. The maximum allowed campaign contribution in a BC provincial election is $1,253.

          I think in BC we get roughly what the majority of voters want. I disagree with the voters, but that’s a different issue.

          Site C was a piss-off given that the NDP promised to cancel it and then reneged, but I think it was more about losing sunk costs rather than influence from billionaires. I’m not well informed on this issue and may be wrong.

          Not closing the fish farms is another piss-off. But that was more about loss of jobs in small communities than billionaire influence (I think).


          1. I work on a fish farm. If you want to know what it’s like to work on a fish farm just imagine doing a really shit job and then imagine that while your doing this really shit job your throwing up. Then imagine that on top of doing this really shit job and feeling sick some fucker is throwing a bucket of water over your head. You’ve now imagined what it’s like to work on a fish farm.
            It’s not possible to farm salmon without diesel. At some point, probably not to far into the future, a large chunk of the population in the Huon valley, myself included, are going to lose their primary source of income. Then things will start to get very interesting.
            The frustrating and sad thing is that nearly all employees in the industry and the public at large genuinely believe that farmed fish is sustainable and environmentally friendly.
            My bet is that with the coming economic collapse fish farms the world over will go under (pardon the pun) because most of the population will be to poor to buy expensive salmon. Hopefully we will still have orcas on the other side.


            1. I’m sorry about your crap job.

              The fish farms here in BC have harmed the wild salmon stocks with parasites. They feed the farmed fish other fish that are over-harvested from other areas of the world. The whole thing depends on diesel for the boats and trucks, and kerosene to fly the fish to restaurants around the world. As you say, completely unsustainable. Our orcas are starving.


              1. I was only joking. It’s actually not that bad. Except when it’s raining and if you get seasick like I do. It’s a beautiful part of the world to live and work. It would just be nice if my job was actually” sustainable” but there again what jobs are sustainable in this day and age.


      2. “If we had wise governments they would pass taxation and other laws that prevented such socially destabilizing wealth gaps.” Really? And the billionaires would go along, I suppose, instead of orchestrating a coup? Of course, it will never come to that, since we musn’t blame them for doing what the MEP directs.


        1. A wise government would understand that emergency QE and ZIRP are required because of thermodynamic limits to growth, and that a BAU side effect would be a widening wealth gap and social unrest, therefore before implementing QE/ZIRP they would implement policies to prevent the wealth gap from widening, and of course explain what they’re doing and why. Our idiots in charge do not understand what’s going on and have unintentionally lit a fuse on social unrest.


  9. Never let a good crisis go to waste.

    IMF Seizes on Pandemic to Pave Way for Privatization in 81 Countries

    76 of the 91 loans the IMF has negotiated since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic come attached with demands for deep cuts to public services and policies that benefit corporations over people.

    “The principal cheerleader for neoliberal austerity measures across the globe for decades, the IMF has recently (quietly) begun admitting that these policies have not worked and generally make problems like poverty, uneven development, and inequality even worse. Furthermore, they have also failed even to bring the promised economic growth that was meant to counteract these negative effects. In 2016, it described its own policies as “oversold” and earlier summed up its experiments in Latin America as “all pain, no gain.” Thus, its own reports explicitly state its policies do not work.”

    No austerity for the rich. Just more tax breaks & bailout money, even when not needed. All of it approved/made law by politicians.

    Fuck em all.


    1. Good blog. New to me. Thanks.

      With climate change, the world is just pretending. Multi level denial.

      Outright deniers (almost exclusively white-boy conservatives) continue their obstinate & infantile contrarianism.

      Some politicians are pretending & promising to address climate change, but it’s just the latest mandatory campaign promise, shoe-horned in between education, jobs_____ & healthcare.

      Some are pretending to believe it.

      Some are pretending all can be fixed with green growth.

      Some are playing the avoidance card – ignore & maybe it’ll go away.

      Some are playing the scapegoat & morality card – it’s 100 EVIL corporations what done it. Their 7 billion customers are never mentioned.

      Some are awaiting a grand human ‘awakening’ (whatever the fuck that is).

      Some few realist malcontents have wrote the humans off as a tragic cosmic joke & are only hanging around long enough to get my rocks off a few more times before I’m permanently erased from existence.


  10. Antonio Turiel analyzes the latest annual report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

    • the forecast horizon has been reduced from 25 years to 10 years suggesting it’s become impossible to pretend business as usual can continue for more than 10 years
    • much detail has been removed, probably for the same reason
    • the elephant in the room, peak oil, is not mentioned
    • peak demand, which occurred in advanced economies in 2005, is mentioned once, and not coincidentally aligns with the peak of conventional oil production
    • peak other things, strangely, is mentioned 56 times

    Turiel concludes that oil production may fall by 40% in 5 years if governments do not nationalize the oil industry.

    The report reinforces my belief that we’ll continue to deny peak oil long after we’re planting potatoes in our back yard to survive.


    1. 40% in 5 years! I find it hard to get my head around the enormity of such an outcome and I consider myself a hardened doomer. Your average Joe has no chance of seeing reality.


    2. Not to be a cynic, but good luck with that potato planting. We in the coastal mountains of Oregon had such a crappy May/June – October season (too much rain when not needed, not enough when needed and no sun/heat when needed) that I put more potato starts in the ground than I harvested in potatoes in the fall. Isn’t gardening great in a changed climate (sarcasm)?


  11. I have been thinking about why denial is so strong around the idea of ecological overshoot.
    If you look around, it doesn’t seem that are all that horrible now. And people have been talking about the limits to growth for about ~50 years. And you can even do some statistical analysis on human welfare and get the sense that things have been getting better for most people over that time. So i think a lot of people are denying ecological overshoot because the crisis point has not hit yet. It is just a theoretical problem for them.

    Now i do think that Tim Morgan -Surplus Energy Economics model is correct that the pandemic has brought the crisis point forward in time a little bit.

    We are leaving The Age of Abundance and have just begun The Time of Troubles. Economic growth in general is over and the cascading crises have started. Denial is at it’s strongest right now but this decade should shatter that denial for a substantial portion of people.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Rob
        I am certain that will happen as well.
        I think we may see something similar to the 5 stages of grief
        then finally acceptance.

        I think different countries will end up acting very different.
        If your county has a big FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) sector, your country is going to have a hard time moving past the denial -anger – bargaining stages. The FIRE sector is sector of the economy that needs general economic growth for its basic business model to work. And if this sector is large and powerful in your country your county not going to change until they loose power. (bad new for the US and UK)


  12. Thank goodness Canada’s population is growing fast thanks to immigration.

    This week Real Vision’s Roger Hirst talks to John Stackhouse from RBC about the longer-term investment prospects for Canada, where a number of structural tailwinds are lining up that could see its growth story leave other developed markets trailing in its wake. The population growth potential is on a par with some of the most energetic demographic trends within emerging markets, whilst the country’s vast size and resource base would be supportive of a rapid rise in its inhabitants.


          1. I just listened to Scott Walker singing “It’s Raining Today” and realized I can’t remember the last time we’ve had precipitation! I’m new to the community so I’m in deep, blissful denial…plus it’s past 4:20.

            I also would like to provide clarification to my denial post found on reddit. The “citation” (Corps FEIS, Attachment B, Page 17) referenced by Denver Water is a dead end. In fact, one never moves beyond square one as it does not provide direct link nor the title and date of the report approved by the Army Corps of Engineers for this project.



    The amount of secured and unsecured debts, such as loans and bonds, listed in bankruptcy filings in the third quarter by US oil and gas companies, at $34 billion, pushed the total oil-and-gas bankruptcy debt for 2020 to $89 billion, according to data compiled by law firm Haynes and Boone. And this nine-month total already surpassed the full-year total of oil-bust year 2016.

    The total number of oil-and-gas bankruptcies so far this year, at 88 filings, remains a lot lower than the 141 filings in 2016. Back then, scores of small companies were shaken out. Now the bigger ones with multi-billion-dollar debts are letting go as the crisis is working up the ladder.


  14. You know it’s bad when the topic you’re interested in requires a disclaimer. From r/collapse:

    “Overindulging in this sub may be detrimental to your mental health. Anxiety and depression are common reactions when studying collapse. Please remain conscious of your mental health and effects this may have on you. If you are considering suicide, please call a hotline…”


    1. LOL !

      I would add to that disclaimer, “Please be advised that if you continue to deny reality, the longer term risk to your health will be worse. We all need to grow up and act like adults.”


  15. The Arctic is in a death spiral. How much longer will it exist?

    The region is unravelling faster than anyone could once have predicted. But there may still be time to act

    “At the end of July, 40% of the 4,000-year-old Milne Ice Shelf, located on the north-western edge of Ellesmere Island, calved into the sea. Canada’s last fully intact ice shelf was no more.

    On the other side of the island, the most northerly in Canada, the St Patrick’s Bay ice caps completely disappeared.

    Two weeks later, scientists concluded that the Greenland Ice Sheet may have already passed the point of no return. Annual snowfall is no longer enough to replenish the snow and ice loss during summer melting of the territory’s 234 glaciers. Last year, the ice sheet lost a record amount of ice, equivalent to 1 million metric tons every minute.

    The Arctic is unravelling. And it’s happening faster than anyone could have imagined just a few decades ago. Northern Siberia and the Canadian Arctic are now warming three times faster than the rest of the world. In the past decade, Arctic temperatures have increased by nearly 1C. If greenhouse gas emissions stay on the same trajectory, we can expect the north to have warmed by 4C year-round by the middle of the century.”

    “But there may still be time to act ” — Sure thang if one believes the 1st world haves will under any circumstances voluntarily give up their goodies & fund a few trillion dollars worth of carbon sequestration & negative emissions technology schemes & the rest of the world stops fucking.. Oh and the US war machine must be rolled back 95% since it is the biggest institutional polluter (and biggest institutional employer) on the planet – a mega-tumour within the megacancer & rarely spoken of. American scientist job protection rule #1 – thou shall not mention the national war machine/cancer.

    The U.S. military emits more greenhouse gases than Sweden and Denmark

    The war machine needs fuel, perhaps so much as to make protecting oil redundant.

    A new study shows how the United States’ Military is the largest institutional emitter of greenhouse gasses in the world.
    These emissions come from both combat and non-combat operations.
    The use of some of the fossil fuels the military burns to protect the supply of oil creates an interesting paradox.

    “Since 2001, when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 attacks, the military has emitted 1,212 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses. This includes 400 million tons of directly war-related emissions in the war zones of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria. In 2017, the last year for which data is available, the Department of Defense (DOD) emitted 58.4 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent. This is more than the total emitted by the nations of Sweden or Denmark and is a substantial amount that significantly contributes to climate change.”

    I’ve never heard the likes of American climate scientist & media darling Mike Mann dis the war machine, but for years he’s accused Guy McPherson & Doomers of killing the plebs hope thus leading to inaction. Fuck off. Mann is a careerist asshole, but far from the only American scientist to remain mute on the national death machine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I moved full time to this community I joined the naturalists club and we went on weekly hikes with experts who explained the flora and fauna. On one of the hikes I expressed concern about the seriousness of climate change and complained about the local air force base burning carbon for no useful purpose. I was told to hush because some people on the hike had family members in the military. I quit the club shortly thereafter.


      1. What do you do when your meth lab neighbour has a proven track record of hostile expansionism & the big shit will soon hit?

        Sweden to increase military spending by 40% as tension with Russia grows

        60% min for Canada & streamline immigration for the Taliban, Iraqis, Iranians, Cubans, Vietnamese and anyone else who hates them (most of Latin America) & has kicked their ass & sent them home or remains unbowed in spite of being out gunned & out spent ten thousand to one.

        The empire is near broke, so the strategy, since we could never beat them, would be to demonstrate that every inch will cost big time in blood & treasure, thus leading to an end to hostilities & favourable terms for us. It’s the pragmatic version & it assumes they would be the same because they have no other choice. If they approached it as stupidly as all their military engagements since the end of WW2 then it’ll be another clusterfuck with only losers.

        A Record of Unparalleled Failure

        Don’t Walk Away from War
        It’s Not the American Way

        So here are five straightforward lessons — none acceptable in what passes for discussion and debate in this country — that could be drawn from that last half century of every kind of American warfare:

        No matter how you define American-style war or its goals, it doesn’t work. Ever.
        No matter how you pose the problems of our world, it doesn’t solve them. Never.
        No matter how often you cite the use of military force to “stabilize” or “protect” or “liberate” countries or regions, it is a destabilizing force.
        No matter how regularly you praise the American way of war and its “warriors,” the U.S. military is incapable of winning its wars.
        No matter how often American presidents claim that the U.S. military is “the finest fighting force in history,” the evidence is in: it isn’t.

        And here’s a bonus lesson: if as a polity we were to take these five no-brainers to heart and stop fighting endless wars, which drain us of national treasure, we would also have a long-term solution to the Veterans Administration health-care crisis. It’s not the sort of thing said in our world, but the VA is in a crisis of financing and caregiving that, in the present context, cannot be solved, no matter whom you hire or fire. The only long-term solution would be to stop fighting losing wars that the American people will pay for decades into the future, as the cost in broken bodies and broken lives is translated into medical care and dumped on the VA.


  16. Norman Pagett explains the reality of energy…

    It is only possible to ‘fund’ a new energy source with an ‘old’ energy source.

    eg: The complexity and volume of the oil industry since the 1860s would not have been possible without the volume production of the coal industry which in turn allowed the production of cheap iron in vast quantities.

    Extracted oil only took on ‘value’ when it was shipped into factories and cities and burned.

    Burned oil was paid for with cash that was itself supported by the function of oil consumption.

    There was and is nothing else.

    The more oil burned, the more oil Rockefeller (et al) extracted-transported-sold—and burned again. And we all eagerly joined in the great burning.


    Because without the burning process cash could not exist in the necessary amounts to support the manufacture of our machines and everything they produced. We all wanted higher and higher wages, so we could buy and burn more and more oil.

    This is why our economic system has stalled. Oil burning has drastically slowed, and seems likely to stop because we can no longer afford it.

    There can never be an ‘inexpensive’ energy source because of the complexities involved in getting access to it. Oil has been our ‘one trick’. It not only gave us access to energy, it gave us access to more and more of it.

    The ‘windbags’ in the alternative energy brigade simply cannot grasp that.

    I of course think it’s not about “grasping”. Most alt energy advocates are plenty smart enough. It’s about not denying unpleasant realities.


    1. I read Norman Pagett’s book End of More. There’s probably nothing in there that you don’t already know but a good read nevertheless.
      I just discovered Australia has a Sustainable Australia party. It even has a population policy.
      Unfortunately it’s population policy isn’t actually sustainable! Looks like I still won’t be voting.
      Very few people understand how low Australia’s carrying capacity actually is. Most of the country is dessert and our soils are ancient, thin and devoid of nutrients. Once we lose our ability to apply industrial fertilizer Australia’s grain production is going to totally collapse. Add climate change on top of that and the outcome becomes catastrophic.
      A large portion of Australia’s fruit and vegetables are produced in the lower Murray darling basin. This can only happen because we have fossil fuels to pump huge quantities of water from the river to the dessert above. It simply won’t be possible to pump those volumes of water once we’ve depleted all the coal. Add a hotter drier climate to the mix and you have the makings of a total wipe out.
      I used to live and work in the region. Those communities are members of the living dead. They are totally screwed but just don’t know it.
      In my first year of university we had to do an essay on how many people Australia could support sustainably. If only I knew then what I know now. It’s my view that there are people being born today that will witness widespread starvation and mass death through violence and disease in this country. Without fossil fuels we will not be able to support 26 million people let alone the 35 to 50 million people we’re projected to have. I personally doubt we could even support 5 million. There was approximately 800 000 aborigines here at colonization and the country was full.
      We now have agriculture and can temporarily sustain more than that but there really isn’t such a thing as “sustainable agriculture”. Agriculture by it’s very nature is essentially a mining operation and even if you try to complete the nutrient loop by shitting in the paddock some nutrients are always lost through leeching and erosion until the soil eventually becomes depleted.
      The only thing that will spare us starvation or mass death through violence and/or disease in this country is an aggressive population reduction policy.
      The Sustainable Australia party is in denial.


    2. There’s a plethora of unpleasantness (is that a word? I don’t care) to be found when we start trying to recycle useless Tesla batteries, or solar panels that failed to produce enough energy during their entire life-cycle to justify their creation (in China, where they dump the toxins into the oceans). When is the last time you ever heard of a fish that was dying of co2 poisoning?


  17. Lots of angst in the air about social media companies censoring information they do not like.

    I signed into Twitter yesterday for the first time in over a year to have a look around. I was not impressed. It’s all bullshit partisan politics, even from the intelligent people I follow.

    No one is talking about the issues that matter, like overshoot harm reduction.


        1. Like it matters which puppet is in the white house. It only matters for the uber wealthy & their elite VS elite competition game. Fake team left or fake team right .1%ers. It gives them extra preferential treatment for 4 years. Both teams are in fact just one team ‘the status quo team’. Between 10%-20% of Americans benefit/get ahead under this corrupt regime. The other 80-90% are fucked & will remain so, but it’ll get worse as long as the system stands. The corruption of the US system was/is many decades & legislative changes (eg:Citizens United) in the making. That was the plan all along. Making the POTUS an impotent media figurehead (they allow a few POTUS pet projects to go with his legacy library) was also part of the plan all along. The game is rigged – your vote counts for fuck all.

          How are the ‘deplorables’ doing after 4 years of big daddy Trump? Are their lives great again? No. Their rates of alcoholism, fentanylism & ODing, clinical mental health conditions, suicide, obesity, poverty & un & underemployment have only got worse AND so have the libtards – way worse. A total failure on every count.

          ‘Yabut this time will be different-N-stuff.! Trump has secret plans. You’ll see.’

          Tell yourself.

          People are so fucking dumb it’s beyond belief. All hysterical over stupid culture war junk while TPTB continue to pick their pockets & laugh at how easy dividing & ruling is. The plebs are fighting a manufactured cultural war while the elite have been fighting a class war – it’s a fucking slaughter. Broken humans all over the place.

          I thought Nicole Foss is endtimes hiding in New Zealand? Why should she care then? Same as the rest of the Trump-Biden chimps – it’s an emotional victory. Last time I checked emotional victories don’t pay the mortgage, car payment, insurance premiums, put food on the table or pay for the offspring’s ‘Higher Ed’ tuition & books (all legalized rackets).

          I’m certain Trump will remain POTUS & fulfil his historic role as the man who leads the US empire & nation to it’s true manifest destiny at the bottom of the cliff.


          1. What fascinates me is how unintelligent the partisan discussions are. There’s no value in endlessly discussing someone’s flawed or sick or corrupt character. What’s interesting and worth discussing is why do so many citizens vote for that person, and what changes does the opposition need to make to do better? That line of inquiry might lead to some discussion of the underlying issues that matter. Or not thanks to denial.


          2. you’re contradictory and stupid, all in one little (overtly wordy) opinion. Trump is an outsider, and the issues you site as being an inescapable, manifest destiny for the US are ALL related to the cronyism of politicians and their coziness to lobbyists. Trump owes lobbyists fuck-all and you missed that completely.


  18. The medio-dorsal thalamic nucleus may be the key to human “denial”. It seems that it is a gateway between the thalamus, where all sensory information first arrives, and the cortex and seems to be a key component of “fear extinction”.

    From what I gather it works best if the fear extincting stimulus is reinforced regularly like going to church every week. If you have a fear of death go to church. But if you get palpatations from climate change and cancerous growth, enter the Church of Trump at each opportunity to MAGA the fear go away.


    1. Thanks!

      Varki speculated that one method evolution could have used to implement denial of unpleasant realities in a short period of time, as happened with behaviorally modern humans about 100,000 years ago, was to tweak the fear suppression module that mammals use when they are forced to fight. He suggested as a means of testing MORT that researchers look for a relevant change in the genome in that time frame.


      1. “And, using a monkey model, it has been shown that over-activation of the ventral anterior and medio-dorsal nuclei of the thalamus provokes the compulsive-like behaviors and the neuro vegetative manifestations usually associated with the feeling of anxiety in obsessive–compulsive disorder.” From this overview of the thalamus:

        I suppose that in these obsessive-compulsive disorders, like cleaning, hand washing etc. there is something wrong with the fear extinction. Apparently there is a fear extinction ability even in the mouse, but for humans it likely became much amplified and connected to the prefrontal cortex to take care of complex thoughts especially logically consistent thoughts associated with language like “I’m going to die some day.” Some beliefs and rituals would certainly provide an alternative and relieving pathway if one were stuck on the “I’m going to die” circuits.


        1. MORT postulates that it was the emergence of an extended theory of mind, which gave us a brain uniquely capable of taking over the planet, but also understanding our own mortality, that required fear suppression (aka denial of death) for the extended theory of mind to fix in our gene pool.

          Denial of death was the driver. Denial of everything else unpleasant was a side effect. It would have been too complicated for evolution to quickly tweak the fear suppression module to specifically deny only death, much easier to deny everything unpleasant.

          Religions are our cultural mechanism for reinforcing our genetic denial of death. But there are also many other good reasons that religions have been ubiquitous and unique to behaviorally modern humans.


      1. Mind in a technological/communication modelling sense is very powerful, but with that comes some drawbacks of perception and logic that must be dealt with. Here is a video regarding fear extinction in the amygdala which is also wired to the thalamus (I think the thalamus is wired to everything).

        It may be that our belief in God and the religious ritual has evolved to establish a circuit that extincts various fears i.e. “God is on my side.” “I’m going to say a few prayers.” As things deteriorate we will not address the matter rationally, we will believe in “Making America Great Again” or the “New Green Deal” as many have believed in heaven to address the fear of death. Just like a germophobe with a cleaning ritual, we must repeat the ritual again and again to “extinct” the fear. Although without repeated ritual the fear is likely to once again get the best of us.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I’ve heard that said a great many times in my life, but not once has anyone said how they
            know there are no atheists in foxholes. Did I miss the peer reviewed studies on that?

            How about – Christians in foxholes never turn the other cheek.


  19. Steve Keen, one of the only economists on the planet with a clue, was interviewed today. Keen thinks only a private debt jubilee can prevent an economic crisis. No mention of following up the debt jubilee with rapid population reduction policies, but says everyone should invest in solar panels and nuclear power.



    I’ve read Carmen Reinhart’s book. She does have a good understanding of the history of debt. It’s relationship to energy, not so much.

    World Bank Chief Economist Carmen Reinhart said the coronavirus pandemic is turning into a major economic crisis and warned of the possibility of a financial crisis emerging.

    China is owed almost 60% of the money that the world’s poorest nations would be due to repay this year, according to World Bank data. It has made many loans to developing countries with terms that aren’t transparent and at higher interest rates than the nations can afford, the bank’s president said in August.

    h/t Panopticon


    1. So the Washington Concensus, which has decimated the Global South and much of Eastern Europe, is now becoming the Beijing Concensus, with much the same results I am willing to bet!!!



    I feel like I’m watching a slow motion train wreck. It’s reality denial in full view for no one to see.

    The fiscal year ended in September with the federal deficit reaching $3.1 TN, or 15% of GDP. Outstanding Treasury Securities jumped $2.852 TN during the second quarter to $22.371 TN and were up $4.556 TN, or 25.6%, over the past year. After ending 2007 at about $6.0 TN, outstanding Treasury Securities increased $16.3 TN, or 270%. Treasuries ended June at 115% of GDP. This was up from 69% at the end of 2010 and 44% to conclude the nineties.

    Mr. Quarles was simply stating what markets already knew. “You break it, you own it.” For too long, the Fed has accommodated unbridled Treasury issuance. And especially with the Powell Fed openly calling for additional massive fiscal stimulus, it’s difficult today to see the Treasury market ever operating adequately without resolute Fed support. Call it what it is: The ballooning Treasury market is “too big to fail” – right along with markets for equities and corporate debt. The ETF complex has become “too big to fail” – a fate money market funds and the “repo” market succumbed to years ago. First illuminated as “too big to fail” during the 1998 Russia/LTCM collapse, derivatives markets have become too big for even middling instability.

    March’s financial meltdown confirmed what I already knew. The Fed’s response to the “great financial crisis” has been an abject failure. An even somewhat reasonably sound system would not have required a $3 TN bailout – three times the size of 2008’s QE operation.

    It’s as if policymakers go out of their way not to learn lessons. Mr. Quarles outlines key factors in a crisis that nearly spun out of control. He pinpoints areas of fragility, yet his speech is bereft of prescriptions or solutions. This financial system is what it is. “The system worked,” he said. Three Trillion worked to further inflate history’s greatest Bubble.


  22. Climate scientist, Dr Joelle Gergis expert in Australian and Southern Hemisphere climate variability and change.

    Fire, Flood and Plague – essays about 2020

    The great unravelling: ‘I never thought I’d live to see the horror of planetary collapse’

    As a climate scientist watching the most destructive bushfires in Australian history unfold, I felt the same stomach-turning recognition of witnessing an irreversible loss.

    The relentless heat and drought experienced during our nation’s hottest and driest year on record saw the last of our native forests go up in smoke. We saw terrified animals fleeing with their fur on fire, their bodies turned to ash. Those that survived faced starvation among the charred remains of their obliterated habitats.

    During Australia’s Black Summer, more than 3 billion animals were incinerated or displaced, our beloved bushland burnt to the ground. Our collective places of recharge and contemplation changed in ways that we can barely comprehend. The koala, Australia’s most emblematic species, now faces extinction in New South Wales by as early as 2050.

    Recovering the diversity and complexity of Australia’s unique ecosystems now lies beyond the scale of human lifetimes. What we witnessed was inter-generational damage: a fundamental transformation of our country.

    Then, just as the last of the bushfires went out, recording-breaking ocean temperatures triggered the third mass bleaching event recorded on the Great Barrier Reef since 2016. This time, the southern reef – spared during the 2016 and 2017 events – finally succumbed to extreme heat. The largest living organism on the planet is dying.

    I’ve gained terrifying insight into the true state of the climate crisis and what lies ahead. There is so much heat already baked into the climate system that a certain level of destruction is now inevitable. What concerns me is that we may have already pushed the planetary system past the point of no return.

    Australia’s horror summer is the clearest signal yet that our planet’s climate is rapidly destabilising.

    As a climate scientist at this troubled time in human history, my hope is that the life force of our Earth can hang on.

    Pretty doomy sounding. Clearly she needs a few anti-doomy attitude adjustment sessions with Mike Mann & Co.

    Below is a recent interview with British climate scientist Peter Wadhams, who both Mike Mann & Gavin Shmidt (NASA Goddard) have attacked & mocked -once live on twitter while in the audience during a presentation Wadhams was giving.

    Peter Wadhams presents an up to date information in a slide show about Arctic Sea Ice and greenhouse gas emissions concluding that direct CO2 capture from the atmosphere must be carried out on a massive scale and that other “solutions” even in combination will be insufficient to avert complete climate change catastrophe.


  23. The central bank digital wallet is coming. Short presentation here:

    Could it be that they’re withholding stimulus so that we’ll be absolutely starving to open our digital wallets? Rothschild wins! Prepare for the collapse of the commercial banks and the “ascendancy” of the central banks. Absolute algorithmic control over your existence. It’s what God had in store all the time. The human RNA will be completely controlled for the purposes of the cell and body. If not, your food will be cut off. I will expect that gardening and other self-sufficiency measures, anything that gives you an iota of freedom, will be made illegal and will be detrimental to your social credit score. But you will enter the digital prison for there you will find three meals a day and a place to sleep.


    1. That guy doesn’t understand that BAU is not possible with bitcoin because its supply is finite. In a world constrained by expensive energy we need the ability to create infinite money to extend BAU a little longer.

      I’m not in it, but if you’re in the camp that wants to keep BAU going as long as possible, then we’ll need MMT which means (I think) we need a way to enable transactions between central banks and citizens. There’s no need for the other negative baggage to come along for the ride as you envision. At least in Canada. The US has become such a dysfunctional basketcase that anything is possible.


    2. They’ve wanted/dreamed of total digital currency for over 20 years that I’m aware of & of course they’ve made strides via the consumer chimps ever increasing impatience for delivered the next day dopamine. People walked right into it – don’t blame the overlords 100%. They got y’all to voluntarily do your own banking & be your own grocery store check out clerk under the guise of ‘saving time’ – hows that working out? More free time to e-shop for shit that’ll be in a closet, the garage or landfill in under 2 months.

      Is the drug dealer to blame for the addict? If one is a slave to their desires, who’s to blame?

      Marketing & a culture arranged to produce consumers is part of the story, but it’s not like they had to hold the plebs feet to the fire. Quite the opposite. They can’t get enough. How many educated & numerate people are at max debt because they were unable to curb their spending on junk & ‘experiences’ they do not need?

      ‘Look, it’s shiny & goes beep beep beep. C’mon, you know you want it. Just click the “Purchase” button & we’ll do the rest”

      If we have any freedom or choices at all & I doubt if many do, it’s saying No to nice to haves & want to haves which will make you less a slave to the system & rulers.

      I surprised myself over the last decade with how little I need to live. I never even tried before that.

      Historical examples of some humans (collectively) just saying NO to their oppressors consumer products to weaken them.

      Gandhi’s Salt March in 1930

      “This was the beginning of a country-wide boycott of the salt tax, imposed upon the people of India by the British Empire. The Salt March, also known as the Dandi March or Salt Satyagraha, became a prime example of the power of Gadhi’s satyagraha, passive resistance, which ultimately led to India’s independence 17 years later. ”

      BRITISH TRADE OFF A THIRD WITH INDIA; Report for 1931 Shows Cotton Goods Suffered Most From the Boycott.

      Wireless to THE NEW YORK TIMES. Feb. 11, 1932

      Colonists Respond to Townshend Acts With Boycott-1767

      “The most tangible colonial protest to the Townshend Act was the revival of an agreement not to import British goods, especially luxury products. The Non-importation agreement slowly grew to include merchants in all of the colonies, with the exception of New Hampshire. Within a year importation from Britain dropped almost in half.”

      Women and the American Revolution, 1750–1783

      “Whether it was by producing homemade goods to avoid paying import taxes, writing scathing political satire, or publicly declaring a boycott of British goods, women were more than capable of bringing their considerable social and economic influence to bear in support of the Patriot cause. Their efforts were not always welcome, but they were effective.”

      It’s been done before. The big differences are now the enemies are not other nations so much as oligarchs & transnational corporations headquartered in western nations, paying little to no tax, getting bail outs (needed or not) running leaglized rackets but still relying on the infrastructure, education system for workers, institutions & militaries to project power & protect trade routes & such.

      Another way to look at it is those societies were on their way up & we’re on our way down & gravity’s a bitch.

      The other difference was the Indians & colonials had courage & conviction & an order of magnitude less material goodies than we do. We have fat, selfish, spoiled, dumb down self appointed demi gods whose idea of sacrifice is having to take the bus to work once every 3 years when the SUV breaks down & is in the shop. Ya, boycotting the owners revenue stream ain’t gonna happen with this lot of willing, vapid consumer slaves who are incapable of letting go of anything to save themselves.

      Video analogy.


      1. Ha, hilarious video. Nate Hagens calls his (defunct) blog the Monkey Trap. I thought it was just a myth. I added it to the un-Denial Gallery.

        Very good comment. Kind of a shame for it to be buried. Do you want to add an intro for context and have me promote it as a post? I think you know how to get hold of me.


        1. No thanks Rob. The last one did not seem to be received to well.

          I think this quote sums up why the sacrifice, comprehension & level of unity required to attempt such an endeavour is unlikely to happen with western demi-god humans.

          Another way to look at it is those societies were on their way up & we’re on our way down & gravity’s a bitch.

          I barely care any more. Not, I DON’T FUCKING CARE ANYMORE!!!! More like, Ha ha omg are we ever not sane, absurd cancer monkeys & I’m the second most dumb know nothing human on the dummy know nothing list…………….. Everybody else is tied for first.

          I’m mostly just in the peanut gallery heckling the transient performers & all 8 billion are fair game (except mom) including me. I take plenty of shots, but I don’t consider myself superior to anyone (no really I don’t;). I still do stupid shit all the time. Just another human in a sea of humans.


      1. Kaku makes a good point here, but his “The Future of Humanity “ is still one of the silliest books of the 21st century


        1. I haven’t read any of his books, but I believe you. Kaku is one of the silliest humans of the 21st century & in the running for Most Shameless Self Promoter of The Century award.

          Kaku is far from the only one to make the point. Makes me wonder what would all the non white & Jewish visa geniuses do if there was some kind of far right-N-all white political party with most of the power. If they fear for their families safety & being second class citizens why would they stay? Would you? I don’t think an American far right future is guaranteed, but all the pieces are there.

          Perhaps they’ll turn their denial dial up to 11 & say ‘it can’t happen here’.


  24. Stumbled across this from last May

    If we’re going to play the suspicion, circumstantial evidence & conflict of interest (money-status) cards then we must look at all the cards & players.

    The anti-vaxx agenda of ‘Plandemic’

    The first clip’s interview subject, Judy Mikovits, is a known anti-vaxxer.

    This agenda-based film features contradictory evidence and false claims while being championed as a beacon of truth.

    Said clip features former researcher Judy Mikovits, who has become a minor celebrity on the anti-vaxx circuit. Her interview doubles as a promotion for her latest book, which is based on an ongoing war she’s waging with Dr. Anthony Fauci. Her Twitter feed is filled with anti-Fauci rhetoric alongside glee that Donald Trump is now listening to her. She has explicitly called for the entire leadership of the COVID-19 response team to be fired.

    Mikovits’ story is not unlike Andrew Wakefield’s, the discredited British physician who was paid to invent the vaccine-autism “conspiracy.” In 2011, Mikovits attempted to link a newly discovered retrovirus to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, only to partially retract the paper after the study could not be replicated. The journal, Science, later fully retracted Mikovits’ paper, just as The Lancet had done with Wakefield’s research (which also could not be replicated). In 2017, Mikovits published a book on retroviruses and…autism.

    (Interestingly, in “Plandemic,” Mikovits wants to end the Bayh-Dole Act, which allows federal funding recipients to file patents on inventions they’ve created. She cites a conflict of interest regarding Fauci. There is no mention of Wakefield’s filing a patent for a measles vaccine while he was trying to discredit existing vaccines.)

    There are real conspiracies that need to be addressed, such as this administration’s complete failure to test Americans. But instead of putting our time and energy into, say, voting, we spin our wheels over invented conspiracies that are only furthering fear and confusion.

    Below are seven instances that display how conspiracy theories are baked into “Plandemic.”

    When it comes to conspiracy theories & theorists you don’t get to say ‘follow the money” & ‘I don’t believe in coincidences’ etc & apply it to some people & parties & not others. It’s all or nothing. No cherry picking, apologetics for disgraced scientists or omissions. No double standards. Seems to me there is no shortage of self serving, greedy liars & scammers no matter where I look. IMO, all those shades of grey blow holes in simple black & white narratives.

    What does it matter? What benefit has anyone ever got from conspiracy theories? I don’t get it. What’s the hope behind them anyway? I don’t get it. If one is proven true is the government going to send me a cheque every month? Will Carl Rove & Dick Cheney be forced to publicly apologize for 9/11 & be assigned boocoo community service hours & have to spend Sundays in the stocks in a different town square every week? I don’t get it.


  25. yabut Rob, America is a Christian nation don’tchaknow.

    “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)

    Bay Village Priest says someone called police about a homeless person, but it was a statue of Jesus

    “BAY VILLAGE, Ohio — A priest in Bay Village says someone called police to report a homeless person. Turns out, it was actually a statue of Jesus.”

    “The sculpture was created by Timothy Schmalz and depicts a man wrapped in a blanket and lying on a bench.

    Within 20 minutes of the sculpture being installed at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, police were called, according to Alex Martin, the pastor at St. Barnabas. He tweeted that he spoke with an officer because someone reported a homeless person sleeping on a park bench.

    According to the church’s website, because Bay Village isn’t impacted much by poverty, the statue is meant to remind residents how serious homelessness is in the world.

    The temporary installment will be on display until Dec. 1.

    The Bay Village Police Department issued the following statement regarding the incident.

    The Bay Village Police Department received a call regarding a possible homeless person, laying under a tarp, on a bench by St. Barnabas church.
    The residents of Bay Village are encouraged to contact the Police Department if they see or hear anything unusual. This is an example of the many different calls for service the Bay Village Police Department receives.
    Had there been a person laying on a bench, our officers are trained first responders and would be able to assess the situation and take the appropriate action. Our officers are able to render first aid in a medical emergency or assist with securing emergency shelter.
    Many of our officers are certified in Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), which “creates connections between law enforcement, mental health providers, hospital emergency services and individuals with mental illness and their families.”
    We are pleased with the positive interaction our responding officer had with Fr. Alex Martin, the pastor at St. Barnabas. The City of Bay Village hopes that this will bring attention to homelessness and encourage our community members to help those in need.

    The church is raising money to try and help the homeless. ”

    The quickest way to get rid of the homeless statue would be to put a Covid mask & BLM tee shirt on it. Within 15 minutes a gang of hyper triggered MAGA-tard Proud boys (Brown Shirts) will show up & run it over with their cars & shoot it to shit. Just as effective would be to wrap the statute in a confederate flag & wait 14 mins for the Woke Iconoclast Crew to arrive, stand the statute upright, then knock it over while yelling slogans I don’t understand.


      1. Chris Hedges: The Politics of Cultural Despair More insight on what the “christians” are about south of the 49th. Alberta is full of this stuff too.


    1. If freewill is real then the humans have chosen civilizational collapse & probably extinction, not to mention a many millennia long laundry list of cruelty, killing & enslavement (on going). If I believed that then I’d have no choice but to say the humans deserve to fucking burn & all you parents have condemned your offspring & theirs to unspeakable horrors because you refused to dial down your over privileged lifestyles one iota. All the consumption, pollution & population data unquestionably shows humans did fuck all except MORE. The humans who significantly reduced their impact/consumption & breeding are so few as to be statistically insignificant & doubly so for privileged, mostly white people, in wealthy nations, who just happen to be the only people who have the luxury to argue about such matters while the human world & biosphere continues to unravel at an ever faster rate. There are at least 3.5 billion humans who live on $2.50 per day or less. Apparently, they’re too busy scrounging calories to chime in on the freewill debate. They’re not missing much.

      I don’t believe the humans deserve it although I’m not exactly weeping. Extinction will the be the best thing that could ever happen for them. Ultimate mercy.

      I might consider making a ‘deserve to burn’ exception for the intelligent design ‘community’ over there at the Discovery Institute where the article’s goofy looking author, Michael Egnor, works when he’s not doing brain surgery. How intelligent can Egnor’s designer be if Egnor has to devote such a huge portion of his life surgically correcting his designers fuck ups?


  26. hysicist Sabine Hossenfelder and biologist Jerry Coyne, who deny free will, don’t seem to understand the neuroscience

    Michael Egnor
    October 17, 2020


    Sorry kind of new to all this. I don’t have an opinion on this subject, as it is fairly new to me I was just wondering what you and some of the others who comment on this site think a bought this rebuttal. One of the things I like abought this site is the usually intelligent commentary on the subject matter at hand. It helps me think about things maybe differently and learn new things. So here goes.

    Evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne seems obsessed with denying free will. In a recent post on his blog, Why Evolution Is True, he supported the claim of theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder that we do not have free will:

    If you’ve read this site, you’ll know that my own views are pretty much the same as hers, at least about free will. We don’t have it, and the fundamental indeterminacy of quantum mechanics doesn’t give it to us either.
    Hossenfelder doesn’t pull any punches:
    “This means in a nutshell that the whole story of the universe in every single detail was determined already at the big bang. We are just watching it play out.”…
    Jerry Coyne, “Sabine Hossenfelder says we don’t have free will, but its nonexistence shouldn’t bother us” at Why Evolution Is True

    Both Coyne and Hossenfelder are atheists, materialists, and determinists—a sort of intellectual dark triad—and their beliefs are scientifically and logically uninformed. They use denial of free will to prop up their materialist and determinist irreligion. It is not science; it is an ideological project, without a shred of science or logic to back it up.

    There are three lines of evidence supporting the reality of free will: Neuroscience, physics and philosophy all point to the fact that free will is real. In this post, I’ll discuss the neuroscience. But first, we must start by understanding what free will is. Erroneous definition of free will is at the root of many mistakes inherent in denying it.

    It turns out that free will is rather hard to define rigorously, if taken all by itself. Many have tried. Definitions such as “choice that is uncaused,” “choice that is an inclination that originates wholly within an organism,” and “choice that entails the existence of alternative possibilities” have been proposed. Each is inadequate to the situation.

    The definition of free will really depends on the definition of will. Will is a subset of appetite (an Aristotelian term), which means an inclination to act. There are two kinds of appetite—sensitive appetite and rational appetite. Sensitive appetites are appetites that arise from concrete perceptions and imagination. I perceive a piece of cake, and I imagine how wonderful it would taste, so (if I am impulsive) I eat it.
    Chocolate cake with fresh strawberries

    Rational appetite is inclination to act based on reason, not on perceptions or imagination. Suppose, for example, that I am on a diet. My decision about whether to eat a piece of cake because of its appearance and how I imagine it will taste is fundamentally different from my decision about whether I will break my diet in order to do so. One inclination—my sensitive appetite—is based on concrete perception. The other inclination—to follow my diet—is based on abstract reason.

    Only abstract reason/rational appetite is the will part of free will. Sensitive appetite is not part of the will—it is a passion based wholly on material factors—my brain chemistry, etc. Sensitive appetite is not free—this kind of appetite is indeed dictated by my molecules and neurotransmitters. I can condition it and override it but in itself, it is wholly material and subject to the laws of nature.

    My will—my rational appetite—is an immaterial power of my mind. My will can be influenced by my passions but it is inherently free of material determinism of any kind. For example, my decision whether or not to eat that piece of cake is the result of the struggle between my material passions and my immaterial will—between my sensitive and my rational appetite. Sometimes my passion wins. Sometimes my reason—my will—wins.

    Now that we have a satisfactory definition of will, what do we mean by free will? Philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas gave the best answer: My free will is inclination based on abstract reasoning that arises wholly from me. Nothing other than me determines my will. I determine my will and my will is an immaterial power of my soul. In this specific sense, I have free will.

    Now let’s get to the neuroscience. Neuroscience has a lot to contribute to the debate over free will and all of it supports the reality of free will. There isn’t a shred of neuroscientific evidence that contradicts the reality of free will.

    Two major types of experiments address the question of free will:

    The first is the experiments of Benjamin Libet, a mid- to late 20th century neuroscientist who studied the precise timing of electrical activity in the brain and conscious decisions to do simple tasks such pushing a button. Libet found that we have pre-conscious impulses characterized by spikes in brain waves that precede conscious decisions by about a half-second. But he also found that these pre-conscious impulses (which are not freely generated) are merely temptations. We retain the power to accept or reject them, and acceptance or rejection of these temptations is not accompanied by brain waves. Libet called this state “free won’t”: We are bombarded by temptations that are beyond our immediate control but we have the immaterial freedom to accept or reject them. He noted the congruence between his experimental results and the traditional Jewish and Christian understanding of sin. We are tempted involuntarily but we always have freedom to comply with or reject temptation.

    The second set of experiments is, in my view, even more compelling. They derive from the work of Wilder Penfield, the pioneer in the neurosurgery of epilepsy in the mid-20th century. Penfield performed over a thousand “awake” brain operations on patients with epilepsy. He stimulated their brains and the recorded the effect of stimulation on these awake patients. He found that he was able to stimulate practically any concrete mental phenomenon—movement of limbs, perceptions of light or smell or tactile sensations, emotions, memories—but he was never able to stimulate abstract thought or free will. In his memoir, Mystery of the Mind


    1. People have a hard time “sensing” the influences upon their decisions as the brain has not evolved to provide a report on its own activity. Most influences are subconscious. Decisions can be made but they always come from neurons that have been shaped by evolution and experience. Neural pathways strongly reinforced by dopamine and opioids or fear usually take front stage in the mind in guiding us along the way. I just walked to the kitchen and got some Spicy Hot Doritos without any conscious decision making at all. Writing this comment isn’t a matter of free will either as “I” made no decision to do it. Usually we operate on the automatic setting and if something we did is brought to attention we say, “I decided to do that.”

      In this reinterpretation of the Libet experiment a researcher says, ” They would have been more likely to tap their fingers when their motor system happened to be closer to a threshold for movement initiation.” And the threshold that finally trips is likely to be the one most reinforced through experience, dopamine and previous use. All memories and possibilities are not created equal.


  27. Yes sireeeeee we gots us a whole passel of freedum lovein patriots up here in Canaduh.

    Anti-mask protesters descend on Vancouver for 2nd day of ‘mega freedom rally’

    “Several hundred people gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s north plaza on Sunday for the second day of an anti-mask “mega freedom rally.”

    It came after Vancouver police estimated 1,000 or more people attended a similar rally and march on Saturday.

    Attendees listened to speeches decrying what they called censorship, along with “lockdowns” and mask mandates, and expressed fears a COVID-19 vaccine would be made mandatory.

    Read more: Anti-mask protesters cause disturbance on B.C. ferry ahead of Vancouver ‘freedom rally’

    While masks are required on ferries, transit and some private businesses, B.C. does not have any public mask mandate. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is on record as opposing the idea of a mandatory vaccine.

    British Columbia has also never implemented a “lockdown.”

    While most businesses and services have implemented COVID-19 protocols and mass gatherings have been restricted, even at the height of the pandemic in the March and April, only dine-in restaurants, bars and personal service businesses such as salons were closed by public health order.”

    If you look at the people in the embedded video, then watch similar anti-mask videos from the US, UK, Europe & Australia it’s quite apparent that white trash the world over look & dress the same.


    1. Let nothing stand between a human and the pursuit of happiness. Denial comes in handy in that regard. I wonder how many of these people have STDs since they don’t seem to be concerned with biological threats. I’m still looking for the Techno Viking in that crowd. It should get real interesting between Black Friday (will they stand in line and wear masks) and Xmas when the deprivation of dopamine should blow the roof off, resulting in widespread mask burning. The U.S. may be under martial law at that time which may escalate the insanity.


  28. Nice discussion of the coming digital currencies that will connect central banks with citizens from a smart guy I respect, except of course he does not understand the underlying overshoot that is driving the changes. Might be the only trick left to keep business as usual going a little longer. Bad news for anyone that values privacy or that is running an illegal business. He predicts no cash in 5 years.

    I wonder how long the internet will remain reliable as energy depletes because less energy means less complexity and the internet is pretty complex. Digital currencies won’t work without a bulletproof internet that everyone can afford.

    He’s a big promoter and owner of Bitcoin and thinks it will survive a new international monetary agreement. I’ve got a feeling he’s dreaming (aka denying reality 🙂 ) but I may be wrong.


  29. Interesting factoids from Art Berman. Now if we had the average exploration/extraction cost for the same years we could tell an interesting story.


  30. Just finished rereading Denial.
    A while back a made a comment about Dave Pollard and his crazy idea of radical non duality. As it turns out I think Varki covered this concept in his book although he didn’t use the term radical non duality.

    “The underlying concept in religions of Indian origin is that of Māyā, which suggests that we do not actually experience the environment itself but rather a projection of it, generated by us. In other words, what we think is real is actually an illusion. These ways of thinking lead to intense meditative attempts to eliminate that illusion of reality, often resulting in a greatly improved peace of mind. But we now know that reality as revealed by science is in fact the real truth. Thus all these meditative attempts to shut out the world are really deliberate forms of reality denial that make us feel better. From this point of view, the ultimate enlightenment, or nirvana, is nothing more than complete denial of reality.”

    So I think that explains Dave’s reason for subscribing to the idea of radical non duality. It’s just his way of coping with all that he knows about the state of the world and humanity’s predicament.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Rob, un-seeing things is impossible ergo denial & the other cognitive biases & memory rewrites.

        How Your Memory Rewrites the Past

        Your memory is no video camera; it edits the past with present experiences

        “All that editing happens in the brain’s hippocampus, the new study found. The hippocampus, in this function, is the memory’s equivalent of a film editor and special effects team. ”

        10 Ways Your Memory Is Completely Inaccurate

        Why are our memories often so wrong? Our brains are constantly tinkering with them.

        Researchers who have studied memory for decades have learned that our recall really stinks. To prove it, let’s look at 10 ways our memories are most likely false.

        Evolution doesn’t give about the truth.


      2. Yes. It’s funny when I read something for a second time because I realise just how much I don’t take in. (Although that would come as no surprise to my wife🙂.)


    1. You might find, ‘ The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes’
      by Donald D. Hoffman interesting. Rob has it in his reading list. I really dug it.

      Free e-book version

      The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes
      Donald D. Hoffman

      Challenging leading scientific theories that claim that our senses report back objective reality, cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman argues that while we should take our perceptions seriously, we should not take them literally. How can it be possible that the world we see is not objective reality? And how can our senses be useful if they are not communicating the truth? Hoffman grapples with these questions and more over the course of this eye-opening work.

      Ever since Homo sapiens has walked the earth, natural selection has favored perception that hides the truth and guides us toward useful action, shaping our senses to keep us alive and reproducing. We observe a speeding car and do not walk in front of it; we see mold growing on bread and do not eat it. These impressions, though, are not objective reality. Just like a file icon on a desktop screen is a useful symbol rather than a genuine representation of what a computer file looks like, the objects we see every day are merely icons, allowing us to navigate the world safely and with ease.

      The real-world implications for this discovery are huge. From examining why fashion designers create clothes that give the illusion of a more “attractive” body shape to studying how companies use color to elicit specific emotions in consumers, and even dismantling the very notion that spacetime is objective reality,The Case Against Realitydares us to question everything we thought we knew about the world we see.


  31. Please forgive me as I am trying to learn the nuance of this application/website. Let’s see how long it takes this ape to learn this new trick.

    Pages 215-216: “The incredible pace of technology has also created a bemusing new phenomenon. We now see children teaching adults how to use everyday devices. For example, if intelligent, well-educated adults want to know something about new computers or video equipment, most of us just call on one of our kids. It is not uncommon to see a ten-year-old instructing a parent on how to install a new application on his or her hard drive. This sort of thing did not happen much fifty years ago. We accumulated wisdom and talents and passed these on to our offspring. Today, the skills are changing faster than most of us oldsters can keep up with, but the nimble minds of the kids are unfettered by obsolete skill sets and soak up the new technologies like sponges. There was no earlier era in which preteen children were educating adults. The reason is that as cultures advance it is young minds that are capable of absorbing, assimilating, and further developing such advancements. In prior times, advancements occurred at a slow enough pace that this was something only noticed between generations. But now even a couple in their late twenties might find themselves outclassed cognitively in certain areas by their preteen children. It is easy to see that technological change is occurring at a phenomenal pace, and that the rate of change is increasing. However, our biological evolution remains constrained to proceed at a rate that is limited by the rules of genetics. We are still carrying the evolutionary baggage of biological processes that were selected to enhance the fitness of creatures living tens of thousands of years ago. But most of these cultural advances that have brought us forward would not have been possible without our having acquired a full ToM.”


    1. Why do commentators think electronics is everything? It is a narrow subset of skills. I’ll keep asking my niece for electronic help but also think about the skills young people has lost over the years.

      Rapid technological change isn’t anything if it doesn’t increase surplus energy. Cheap energy led to technology; the reverse is unlikely.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ken, I took & graduated a 10 month “Computer Technician” course YAWN! in 1999-2000 after I had sustained too many injuries to continue working as a tradesman.

        I completed a 6 week IT practicum in an office building at the end of the course at which point I said ‘I’ll be fucked if I’m doing this for the next 30-35 years’. Never worked one day in ‘the industry’. Started a one man handyman-renovation business.

        I’ve made money using the skills I learned troubleshooting folks computers & networks in the 2000’s, but have never been an enthusiast. I find it as interesting as watching a second coat of paint dry. I’ve built a bunch of computers, fixed my own & was quite popular for years with the family & friends & their never ending computer & network issues.

        Much of the stuff I learned was obsolete very quickly, but I still remember it, so if anyone needs help with DOS or Windows 3.1 or Windows 95, I’m your guy.

        IMO, losing the internet is the 2nd best thing that can/will happen to the humans.


        1. I cut my teeth on CP/M for which I had source code and studied most of it. Built an S-100 home computer in 1982 before the PC existed and wrote a custom bios. Have loved computers ever since. I’ve got enough spare parts to keep me watching videos and reading books long after supply lines and the internet shuts down.


            1. Thanks.

              Like you I do a lot of computer support for friends and family but sometimes find it a pain. Their systems are often a mess. My system is perfect: very high performance (AMD3700X) with 24TB capacity, 2 lower performance redundant systems, and 3 copies of all data. One system and one data backup are portable for bugout.


  32. One of the reasons I am so fascinated with denial is that the human brain is remarkably, and possibly uniquely, intelligent, and yet we are unable to acknowledge, nor rationally discuss, obvious elephants in our living room, like human overshoot.

    This video provides a nice example of how amazing our brain is.


  33. A simple way to understand what’s happening … and what to do
    By Richard Heinberg

    Very nice primer on energy from Richard Heinberg today. It’s too long to paste here but he explains how with rising fossil energy consumption over the last 100 years we have seen:
    1) economic growth
    2) increased availability and affordability of everything
    3) increased availability and affordability of credit
    4) inequality became more tolerable
    5) increased stability of political systems
    6) increased destruction of nature

    Having burned most of the affordable fossil energy our total energy consumption has now started a long term descent reversing all of the above trends, except:
    1) debt will continue to increase for a while longer because we are trying to extend business as usual by issuing credit that can never be repaid
    2) destruction of nature will continue due to self-reinforcing feedback loops (and pressure from 8 billion increasingly desperate humans)

    Heinberg and I agree on a lot of what should be done except he does not acknowledge our genetic denial of unpleasant realities as a key roadblock that must first be confronted before anything positive will happen.

    Kudos to Heinberg for calling for population reduction policies, although he needs to be more aggressive.

    Because they don’t understand the underlying dynamic described above, policy makers are flailing blindly. Above all, they are trying to do something that’s ultimately impossible—maintain economic growth in perpetuity. Doing anything else is inconceivable to them because failure to maintain growth will result in casualties. What policy makers actually need to do is minimize casualties in the absence of growth. Our best goal would be to adapt to declining energy while laying the groundwork for a sustainable post-fossil-fuel society. Pursuing that alternative goal will require intelligent and courageous action. Mistakes are inevitable. But if we all keep doing what seemed to make sense during the fossil-fuel era, we are likely to see a dismal if not horrific outcome.

    Since the unraveling of the status quo will be driven by reductions in useful energy, it makes sense to give energy a high priority in response planning. We need non-fossil energy sources. However, since these sources will not be able to supply as much energy as fossil fuels, we must deploy them strategically—not with the intent to maintain current patterns of industrial production and consumption, but with the goal of keeping necessities available while the amount of useful energy declines. Forget 5G, the Internet of Things, and self-driving cars. Concentrate on low tech for the most part, and use renewable energy to supply electricity for applications that are especially important. During the last few decades we have digitized all human knowledge; if the grid goes down, we lose civilization altogether. We must choose what knowledge is essential and let the rest go, but that will take a while; in the interim, we need electricity to keep the grid up and running—and solar and wind can provide it.

    Food is also top priority. Provide incentives and education for city kids to move to the country and start small farms. Make land available to them if they will work it sustainably, and do whatever is necessary to enable them to make a decent living. Promote urban gardening. Support local food distribution networks as well as small-scale, energy-efficient local storage and processing facilities.

    Here’s my list of what we should be doing:


    1. “….what we should be doing:”

      But can’t/wont. Have not.

      Why? Like Sabine says…………

      Now, some have tried to define free will by the “ability to have done otherwise”. But that’s just empty words. If you did one thing, there is no evidence you could have done something else because, well, you didn’t. Really there is always only your fantasy of having done otherwise.

      No plan, no matter how spiffy & technically feasible, or logical argument can convince me that the humans are capable of collective change. I’ll need to see it to believe it. Same as God. Only Jesus floating down from the firmament & performing 10 miracles that are so spectacular they would make illusionist David Copperfield blush could convince me of the supernatural.

      I love the audience of glassy eyed sheeple in rapture from their anticipatory dopamine squirts.


      1. It’s not so simple. Let’s assume a reasonably functional country, like say Canada, with a democratically elected government.

        If that government says to its citizens:
        1) Everyone must pay about 50% of their income as tax to operate our country. Most citizens comply, and those that don’t are usually caught and forced to pay an extra penalty.
        2) Germany has attacked our friend and we need our young men to risk their lives by fighting a war on a different continent. Most eligible young men volunteered.
        3) A virus threatens to overrun our healthcare system and we need citizens to stay at home except for essential activities which must be conducted with a mask. Most citizens will comply.

        Now if that government said to its citizens the combined threats of climate change and diesel depletion threaten our food security within 10 years, so we are putting in place incentives to encourage local food production and processing, and to decrease food imports, I think most citizens would support the plan.

        If then after a couple years of further study and communication on the threat, the government said we don’t think there will be enough food to support our population so we are stopping immigration and requiring families to have no more than one child, I think most citizens would comply.

        Of course our government is not going to discuss or act on this threat in this manner.


        I think it’s due to our genetic tendency to deny unpleasant realities, whenever we can get away with it.

        Taxes, war, and viruses are very unpleasant, but they’re in your face and impossible to deny.

        Food shortages 10 years out are easy to deny.

        How do we change this? I don’t know, but I think there is value in discussing and trying to understand our tendency to deny unpleasant realities.


  34. Rob, I have a question. The other day I placed a limb near a praying mantis that was eating a grasshopper thinking that the limb would keep people from disturbing the little guy while he/she ate. Is that an example of ToM?

    BTW after watching that scene (I have it on video), I was nauseous the rest of the day.


    1. Theory of Mind (ToM) has a squishy definition and I’m definitely not an expert. This is how I think of it.

      A brain that has evolved ToM can predict what another brain is thinking. For example, that monkey saw where I hid my banana so I’d better move it. Many species have achieved varying degrees of ToM.

      A brain that has evolved an extended theory of mind (EToM) adds another level of abstraction and understands that the brain of another is predicting what it’s thinking, which means that it understands that it’s similar to the other. For example, my friend was killed by a mammoth on our last hunt, which means I also might die on the next hunt, so I’m gonna stay home and let my wife dig for tubers. Humans are the only species that has evolved an EToM although a few other species like elephants, crows, and dolphins have behaviors indicating they’re getting close. For example, crows and elephants seem to morn their dead companions, but neither has been seen praying for forgiveness or circumcising their young.

      I’ve never been comfortable with Varki’s MORT theory focusing on the unique emergence of EToM. To me, adding another layer of abstraction to thinking is the same as adding more computing horsepower.

      This is what I said to Varki:

      Perhaps because I’m an electrical engineer who specialized in operating system design, rather than a life sciences practitioner, I’ve never been totally comfortable with MORT’s focus on the evolution of an extended theory of mind (EToM).  There are many unique properties of the human brain, in addition to EToM, such as symbolic language and advanced intellectual abilities.

      It feels more accurate to speak about a barrier to evolving a brain with higher computing power. We all know that a more powerful desktop computer can do more advanced things like speech recognition and video editing. Ditto for a biological CPU. A more powerful brain can better understand the thoughts of others AND extrapolate its own mortality AND implement complex speech AND read symbolic text AND calculate quantum mechanics AND fly to the moon AND invent technologies to dominate all other species.

      This more general way to think about MORT does not change or invalidate Varki’s thesis because it’s the same mortality awareness barrier, but provides a clearer explanation of what probably happened when we broke through the barrier, or at least it does for this cranky old engineer.

      I think reality denial unlocked nature’s ability to evolve a more powerful CPU, with the first enhancement being an extended theory of mind, and subsequent enhancements being other uniquely human intellectual capabilities.

      Back to your question, I think your kind gesture to the praying mantis was an example of empathy and perhaps a desire to protect another species from further harm from your own species. So I’d call your behavior kindness, empathy and awareness, not theory of mind. However, the awareness piece probably required the intelligence that EToM unlocked.


  35. This video by financial advisors discussing how to profit from policies to hold climate change at 2 degrees is fascinating. Each is fully confident in their views. Not one is correct nor has a clue what is going on. These people run our world.

    Denial is amazing!


    1. Probably a part-time university professor (beard) putting together new curriculum for next semester’s class “Introduction to Life”.


  36. You know you’re in trouble when….

    One group of “experts” is warning of a debt crisis, while another group is warning of a crisis if we don’t create more debt, and a third group who can’t even spell “Bretton Woods” thinks gold is money and debt is lies.

    h/t Robert Firth


  37. Hossenfelder hammers her fellow physicists again…

    I like her because what she’s really doing is unmasking reality denial.

    What ticked me off this time was a comment published in Nature Physics, by CERN Director-General Fabiola Gianotti and Gian Giudice, who is Head of CERN’s Theory Department. It’s called a comment, but what it really is is an advertisement. It’s a sales pitch for their next larger collider for which they need, well, a few dozen billion Euro. We don’t know exactly because they are not telling us how expensive it would be to actually run the thing. When it comes to the question what the new mega collider could do for science, they explain:

    “A good example of a guaranteed result is dark matter. A proton collider operating at energies around 100 TeV [that’s the energy of the planned larger collider] will conclusively probe the existence of weakly interacting dark-matter particles of thermal origin. This will lead either to a sensational discovery or to an experimental exclusion that will profoundly influence both particle physics and astrophysics.”

    Let me unwrap this for you. The claim that dark matter is a guaranteed result, followed by weasel words about weakly interacting and thermal origin, is the physics equivalent of claiming “We will develop a new drug with the guaranteed result of curing cancer” followed by weasel words to explain, well, actually it will cure a type of cancer that exists only theoretically and has never been observed in reality. That’s how “guaranteed” this supposed dark matter result is. They guarantee to rule out some very specific hypotheses for dark matter that we have no reason to think are correct in the first place.

    But look, they refuse to learn from evidence. And someone has to point it out: The evidence clearly says their methods are not working. Their methods have led to thousands of wrong predictions. Scientists should learn from failure. Particle physicists refuse to learn.

    Particle physicists, of course, are entirely ignoring my criticism and instead call me “anti-science”. Let that sink in for a moment. They call me “anti-science” because I say we should think about where to best invest science funding, and if you do a risk-benefit assessment it is clear that building a bigger collider is not currently a good investment. It is both high risk and low benefit. We would be better off if we’d instead invest in the foundations of quantum mechanics and astroparticle physics. They call me “anti-science” because I ask scientists to think. You can’t make up this shit.

    Frankly, the way that particle physicists behave makes me feel embarrassed I ever had anything to do with their field.


    1. A new scientific truth does not generally triumph by persuading its opponents and getting them to admit their errors, but rather by its opponents gradually dying out and giving way to a new generation that is raised on it. –Max Planck

      New science blooms after star researchers die

      “Now a new study co-authored by MIT economist Pierre Azoulay, an expert on the dynamics of scientific research, concludes that Planck was right. In many areas of the life sciences, at least, the deaths of prominent researchers are often followed by a surge in highly cited research by newcomers to those fields.

      Indeed, when star scientists die, their subfields see a subsequent 8.6 percent increase, on average, of articles by researchers who have not previously collaborated with those star scientists. Moreover, those papers published by the newcomers to these fields are much more likely to be influential and highly cited than other pieces of research.

      “The conclusion of this paper is not that stars are bad,” says Azoulay, who has co-authored a new paper detailing the study’s findings. “It’s just that, once safely ensconsed at the top of their fields, maybe they tend to overstay their welcome.”

      Priests and pharisees


  38. Turbulent era sparked leap in human behavior, adaptability 320,000 years ago

    “The first analysis of a new sedimentary drill core representing 1 million years of environmental history in the East African Rift Valley shows that at the same time early humans were abandoning old tools in favor of more sophisticated technology and broadening their trade networks, their landscape was experiencing frequent fluctuations in vegetation and water supply that made resources less reliably available. The findings suggest that instability in their surrounding climate, land and ecosystem was a key driver in the development of new traits and behaviors underpinning human adaptability.”

    “We come from a family tree that’s diverse, but all of those other ways of being human are now extinct. There’s only one of us left, and we may well be the most adaptable species that may have ever existed on the face of the Earth.”

    Most adaptable? I think not. Horeshoe crabs -540 million years, Nautiluses & Jelly fish – 500 million years . They have survived the previous 6 mass extinctions (yes 6) & all the lesser ones. They may yet survive the Megacancer mass extinction (7th). I doubt the humans will.

    A New Mass Extinction Event Has Been Discovered, And It Triggered The Rise of Dinosaurs

    “Huge volcanic eruptions 233 million years ago pumped carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapour into the atmosphere. This series of violent explosions, on what we now know as the west coast of Canada, led to massive global warming.

    Our new research has revealed that this was a planet-changing mass extinction event that killed off many of the dominant tetrapods and heralded the dawn of the dinosaurs.”

    Hothouse extinctions, mass & lesser, appear to be the norm on planet meat grinder. Volcanism or a rapacious, carbon digging & burning ape – the physics & chemistry are the same.


    1. The first paragraph is consistent with what you and others keep telling me whenever I talk about trying to break through our tendency to deny reality: we only change when forced.

      Unfortunately this time when we’re forced to change it’s going to be really severe. If we’d wake the fuck up and stop denying reality there’s some useful things we could be doing with the energy we have left. Like saving some of it for the future. Energy is everything and we take it for granted. Idiots in denial, all of us.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank goodness it’s not too late. We’ve got at least a couple years to re-freeze the Arctic.

      I remember 1o years ago climate scientists I respected saying that if we lose the Arctic it’s game over. Don’t hear that as often these days, or maybe I’ve become numb.


  39. Hey Rob check this interview of Richard manning and see what he says at 51:35.
    He says we are not denying climate change, we are denying death and I am not sure he has read Varki’s book. He probably came to this conclusion on his own which further gives credence to the theory. What are your thoughts?


    1. It’s true that most people deny death, but I don’t think climate change denial is the same thing for most people.

      I suspect there are 2 main groups of people:

      One group is the 95% of the population that doesn’t really understand the science or the severity of the problem. They see bad things happening with the weather, but they also hear on the news that countries have signed an agreement to prevent the temperature from rising more than 2 degrees, and they see neighbors buying solar panels and electric cars, which they’re told by experts are solutions to climate change, so their optimism bias that comes from genetic reality denial leads them to conclude that the climate problem is being addressed, and they put it out of mind.

      The other group is the 5% that does understand the science and the severity of climate change. These people have enough intelligence and education to conclude that we are already screwed regardless of what we do, and that any effective mitigation effort must involve a rapid decrease in population and/or per capita consumption. It is within this group that genetic denial of unpleasant realities is operating in full force. Most of these experts genuinely believe that climate change can be safely constrained, and economic growth can continue, by replacing fossil energy with solar/wind energy and by using machines to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. These beliefs are so absurd, and so contrary to basic high school level science, that there can be no other explanation than genetic realty denial. In this group, maybe it is death that is the main thing being denied.


      1. I agree with you and I suspect that Manning’s last comment is meant for the latter 5% because the other 95% won’t even make it till there.

        That raises another important issue which has to do with whether it is right to pull someone from blissful ignorance and bring them into the doomer group, especially if they are in their 20s. This could push them into depression as they realize that everything they have been told about the world is essentially just a cultural construct detached from reality of physics and thermodynamics. It would cause them to lose a sense of purpose. It seems almost cruel to inflict this on someone. For someone who is in their 60s or 70s it would be a little easier.


        1. How does that work? How do you pull someone from blissful ignorance and bring them into the doomer group?

          If a doomer truly has the power to push 20 somethings into depression, make them believe that everything they have been told about the world is essentially just a cultural construct detached from reality of physics and thermodynamics & cause them to lose a sense of purpose & they used their Jedi doomer powers on the ignorant for the sole purpose of inflicting pain, then I would agree – that would be cruel. Only no such powers exist.

          I’ve heard this red herring before by the anti Guy McPherson/NTHE gang (Mike Mann, Scott Johnson at Ars Technica, C-realm, et al) after doomer Mike Rupert ate his gun. I challenged them all by pointing out that Mike Rupert had suffered from depression & bouts of suicidal ideation for a long time. Rupert made no secret of it publicly (blog & podcast) & a number of his real world friends mentioned it after his death. Moreover Rupert was a former cop in LA, so he saw the worst of humans (eg:tortured & murdered babies) which is why police have higher suicide rates. Cops & ex-cops almost always suicide by gun. None of these ass holes responded back after I pointed these factors out, because none of them gave a fuck about Rupert or the truth. They were just using him for their anti-doomer campaign, which is about their own fears, hang ups, progressive politics & worldview. I was not a big Rupert fan, but I can spot when the living & their agendas are pissing on the dead.

          Progressives love to play the concern (for others) card when it’s just another status-power booster. Same as the religious, only they claim it’s to save your soul instead. Either way if you don’t believe as they believe, bad things will happen.

          Remember kids, stay safe – NEVER TALK TO DOOMERS OR GET IN THEIR CARS

          Doom away Kira. If any 20 somethings off themselves because you shared a link with them to, it ain’t on you (Rob’s fault;). Being born & raised in 21st century America (most toxic culture in history) accounts for most suicide.


          1. “How do you pull someone from blissful ignorance and bring them into the doomer group?”

            Instead of trying to force people to take a more realistic view of the real world, which is likely to be counterproductive at best, we can present them a simple choice, just as Morpheus did for Neo in the film version of the Matrix. They can choose to be shown the greater reality, or if they don’t have the right stuff, they can choose to remain forever in the delusion.

            The Matrix that now enslaves the majority of the population is powered by consumerism, and the relentless propaganda it uses to dumb the people down, to make them politically docile, and to make them unwittingly serve the system of real power, which they do by excessive consumption of its goods and services – even if they don’t need them and won’t actually benefit from consuming them, indeed most doing terrible harm to themselves and their society – as well as carrying as much debt as they can possibly manage – even if it means lifelong insecurity and stress.

            The process of consumerisation of the people is driven by exploitation of vanity, and the more that people are immersed in consumerist propaganda, the more ignorant and docile they become, and the more that empty headed vanity drives all of their decisions and behaviours. They become nothing but consumerist drones.

            So, the option to present to them is whether or not they are willing to see how and why consumerism controls them. If they decide they can handle it, then all they need to do is spend a few hours watching the brilliant BBC documentary series “The Century of the Self” on YouTube.

            There are transcripts of the first two videos here if people prefer to speed read:

            Consumerism is a subtle form of fascism designed to control the behaviour of the so called the masses, the non-elites whose only function is to serve the system of power, consume its goods and services, carry its debts, fight its wars, and look the other way when it commits atrocities against people and the planet.

            Consumer-fascism even has the same roots as the nationalist fascism that arose in Germany and Italy and elsewhere, as people with the right stuff will find out when they watch the videos.

            Just because people can free themselves from the Consumerist Matrix by understanding how the propaganda misleads and controls them, as well as knowing why this was done to them in the first place, doesn’t mean they will necessarily become so called doomers.

            There are solutions to the complex web of crises bearing down on industrialised human civilisation and the natural world that makes it possible, so there are many who will instead become constructive collaborators on all sorts of sustainability groups and projects around the world.

            Just because you are free from one delusion doesn’t mean you have to fall into another one. A pragmatic view of the real world and an understanding of the empirical systems solutions available are enough to maintain psychological equilibrium, so no pessimism or optimism is necessary.


  40. I can imagine that the writer was predetermined to make the claim about determinism, or might have even this once exercised free will. The absolute made a single exception to make an absolute point.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s