On Jordan Peterson


I recently started paying attention to Jordan Peterson.

This Canadian professor of psychology has built a huge international following, and his YouTube videos have millions of views.

Peterson is filling a hole in our culture about the importance of individuals taking personal responsibility for living an ethical life, and how this is the only path to a fulfilling life, and a healthy society, despite the reality that life is filled with malevolence and suffering.

Although Peterson is highly intelligent and well read, he appears unaware of overshoot and its many imminent threats.

Peterson also appears unaware of Varki’s MORT theory, which I suspect he would find interesting because Peterson is a dot connector and seeker of deep truth.

Nevertheless, Peterson offers fresh, inspiring, and wise advice useful for people, and especially young people, trying to navigate the coming storms.

I am reading Peterson’s new book, “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos“, and may have more to say when done.

I so wish wise intellectual leaders like Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins, Nick Lane, and Noam Chomsky were overshoot aware. Their intellect and influence could then be applied to the issues that matter.

The fact that most of the smartest people in the world are not overshoot aware, despite obvious elephants in the room, provides strong support in favor of Varki’s MORT theory.

This recent interview with Peterson is an excellent introduction to his work.


Catch-22: On New Year’s Resolutions


Question:  How serious is climate change and other aspects of human overshoot?
Answer:  Far worse than most can imagine. Your grandchildren and maybe your children are at risk. The evidence is obvious and everywhere, if you care to look.

Question:  What should we do?
Answer:  There is no “solution” to our predicament. But we can and should take action to reduce future suffering. Any effective response must include population reduction and reduced per capita consumption.

Question:  How many of earth’s 7,600,000,000 people have a New Year’s resolution to reduce their lifestyle and promote a one child policy?
Answer:  Almost zero. Most want a larger lifestyle.

Question:  How is this possible?
Answer:  The MORT theory explains that humans evolved to deny reality.

Question:  That’s profoundly important. How come almost no one discusses denial of reality?
Answer:  The behavior prevents us from acknowledging the behavior.

Question: I’m skeptical about the MORT theory.  What first principles support it?

Life is chemical replicators competing for finite resources to maximize replication.

Therefore all life obeys the Maximum Power Principle (MPP).

Therefore all life will go into overshoot if it evolves the means or discovers a windfall resource like fossil energy.

Any intelligence capable of understanding and mitigating its own overshoot would conflict with the MPP.

Therefore intelligence cannot (initially?) exist without denial of overshoot.

MORT is one mechanism evolution discovered to resolve this Catch-22.

Question:  Is it possible that everyone is acting rationally because they know someone else will consume whatever they give up?
Answer:  No. If this was true we would see elections where the Green Party says “We are in overshoot and need to put on the brakes, impose austerity and conservation fairly on everyone, and prepare a soft landing zone.”, and the Business As Usual Party says “We agree we are in overshoot but the best strategy is to maximize growth so we are the last country standing”.  The reality we observe is no debate, no discussion, and no mention of the word overshoot in elections, or anywhere else that matters.

Question:  If you’re right, what are the implications?
Answer:  Intelligence is probably rare and fleeting in the universe.

Question:  I understand. I must be a mutant.  What should I do?
Answer:  Savor every day you are alive and able to understand what you observe, and try to increase public awareness of our inherited denial of reality.

Seal Bay park, December 30, 2017.

An Elevator Pitch for MORT


Having studied Varki’s Mind Over Reality Transition (MORT) theory, and connected many unexplained dots, it is obvious to me that MORT has a high probability of someday being proven to be true.

Most people when introduced to the theory either aggressively ignore or reject it, without offering a more plausible alternative explanation for the observed data.

I speculate the theory has not gained traction due to some combination of:

  • the theory predicts most people will resist embracing the theory;
  • one author of the idea is dead and the other author has a different day job;
  • the profundity and discomfort of the theory’s implications.

I believe any hope of mitigating our overshoot predicament will require many people to understand MORT.

I’ve thus been searching for the perfect elevator pitch to persuade a skeptic to open her mind to the idea. This is my latest attempt:

  1. Intelligence can only emerge via natural selection.
  2. Thus, intelligence will not initially survive if it conflicts with the gene’s objective.
  3. Thus, intelligence can only initially exist in a state of denial.
  4. Thus, intelligence will often result in a state of overshoot.
  5. Thus, intelligence will be rare and usually short-lived in the universe.
  6. It is difficult but not impossible for intelligence to override inherited denial.
  7. Given our rare place in the universe, and our ability to understand it, we should try to save it.
  8. Breaking through denial and embracing reality is our best hope.

Has anyone got a better elevator pitch?


Dam Denial

Site C Dam Contruction aerial.

The Site C dam in my province of British Columbia has been approved and our leaders who approved it are not even aware of the issues they should have weighed in the decision.

The effect of this decision will be to keep our planet destroying population and lifestyles going for a little longer, as other non-renewable energy resources deplete.

I do not know if the dam will be good or bad for climate change, but I suspect bad given the CO2 that will be released building it, and its short (20-30 year) operating life due to the need for diesel to maintain it and the grid.

No consideration was given to the correct policies of population reduction, austerity, and conservation.

Denial is amazing!

On Onions, Gods, and Mars


The majority of citizens are fully in denial of everything that matters.

Their leaders, who are also in denial of everything, except what they need to do to get re-elected, recently passed tax cuts.

David Stockman, a smart guy only partially in denial, here explains that the tax cuts are actually a dangerous and unsustainable debt increase.

Now we need another person, with less denial, to explain that the debt increase is actually a predictable outcome of falling per capita net energy.

And then we need another person, with even less denial, to explain that falling per capita net energy is actually a symptom of human overshoot.

And then we need another person, with very little denial, to explain the severity of human overshoot and how our actions and inactions are actually making the future much much worse than it needs to be.

And then we need another person, with no denial, to explain the need for immediate and aggressive population reduction, austerity, and conservation policies.

And then finally, we need the majority of citizens to agree.

What do we get instead?

The religious among us get many gods that promise eternal paradise in the afterlife if they reject all the other false gods and breed like rabbits.

And the secular among us get Elon Musk promising salvation and eternal economic growth with solar panels and electric cars, or if all else fails, an escape to Mars.


By David Stockman: Spend, Cut And Borrow—-How The GOP Is Heading For Fiscal Calamity, Part 1

Our larger point is that the GOP tax bill will put the Federal deficit in the $1 trillion plus category beginning in FY 2019, as we shall demonstrate in Part 2. And it will remain in that zone through the middle of the next decade waiting for two more giant, red-ink spewing shoes to drop.

To wit, the new Fiscal Cliff being structured into the GOP tax bill will arrive in 2025, while the next recession is virtually certain to arrive considerably before that date. It would be the height of folly, in fact, to otherwise bet on the prospect that the US economy will go upwards of 200 months without a recession and the resulting plunge in Federal receipts.

Stated differently, in the name of imaginary growth—which will not happen from the $1.8 trillion of business cuts as we will also elaborate in Part 2—the GOP is driving straight toward a fiscal calamity.

You would think they might sense that already—since it appears the best they can agree to on Friday’s CR expiration and threatened government shutdown is a only a two-week extension.

And perhaps they have also noted that November clocked in as month #101 in the current expansion, making it the third longest in US history and not far behind the 118 month expansion of the 1990s under far more beneficent circumstances.

We mention this because as of November 30, the net Federal debt was up by $880 billion from just one year ago!

That’s right. At what the Fed alleges to be “full employment” and what we believe to be a business cycle that is exceedingly weak and long-in-the-tooth, the Federal government’s fiscal posture has deteriorated so badly that borrowing is already approaching the $1 trillion annual level.

Yet now the GOP is on the cusp of opening up a new torrent of red ink for tax cuts, defense spending and much else.

It’s a fiscal calamity in the making by any other name.

A New International Journalism Standard: Certified 100% Denial-Free™



Thanks to the millions of people that visit this site every day, awareness of Varki’s revolutionary Mind Over Reality Transition (MORT) theory is exploding.

Many citizens in every country are now aware that most sources of journalism are deeply in denial and incapable of accurately reporting on the reality of world affairs and the human predicament.

Thanks to this growing demand for reality based journalism, we have launched a new international certification standard for journalism: Certified 100% Denial-Free™

Only those organizations that agree to follow our rigorous certification guidelines, and which permit us to conduct regular compliance audits on their employees and publications, may use our trademarked designation Certified 100% Denial-Free™.

Aware citizens may confidently trust content when they see the Certified 100% Denial-Free™ designation.

Aware citizens also know that any content lacking the Certified 100% Denial-Free™ designation should be viewed with suspicion and assumed to deny reality.

Dozens of influential organizations have enrolled in our program and are working hard to achieve certification. We can expect many more organizations to enroll as momentum grows and consumers vote with their wallets.

Please be patient because certification takes time given the rigor and difficulty of compliance, which often involves terminating many executives and employees that have denial genetics too strong to override with re-training.

You are encouraged to pressure your favorite journalism sources to seek or accelerate certification.

We are offering certification as a non-profit public service. Enrollment is free and the only cost is reimbursement for actual certification and auditing expenses.

On Winning the Game


Gail Tverberg in her latest essay uses an airplane video game as a nice analogy for the world economy and concludes that there is no way to win the game.

Gail’s implicit definition of “win” is to maintain or improve our standard of living. I agree with Gail there is no possibility of winning this game and our standard of living will fall dramatically in the not too distant future.

Where we might disagree is that I think we should use a different definition of “win”. We are in a severe state of overshoot. Nothing can be done to avoid a permanent economic contraction. Given this reality we should redefine “win” as achieving the best possible outcome for a plane that is running low on fuel.

Criteria for “best possible outcome” should include:

  • Population reduction policies.
  • Austerity and conservation policies designed to manage our descent in a civil and humane manner, rather than resisting the inevitable with debt and money printing that will cause a much worse uncontrolled crash.
  • Taxation policies to ensure the wealth gap does not widen to a level that causes dangerous social unrest or revolution.
  • Programs to use what surplus wealth remains to protect ecosystems and to build infrastructure needed at our destination.
  • Policies to prevent wasting surplus wealth on things that will have no value at our destination.
  • Educating citizens on what is happening to avoid despots, false blame, and war.

How to implement this new definition of “win” is of course the big question.

It is discouraging that even the Green Party is unable to whisper the word overshoot, let alone offer appropriate overshoot policies.

As always, I return to the core issue:

Reality denial enabled the powerful brain that is central to our success;


Reality denial threatens our existence by preventing us from acknowledging and acting on our overshoot predicament.

It is encouraging that by understanding other genetic traits, like our susceptibility to nicotine addiction, and our brain’s inability safely drive while texting, we have made some progress via government policy to reduce these threats.

The first step to redefining “win” must be to increase awareness of Varki’s Mind Over Reality Transition (MORT) theory.

With awareness, a portion of the population might be able to override their genetic tendency to deny reality, and to influence elections to redefine “win”.


Here are a few excerpts from Gail Tverberg’s essay however it’s worth your time to read in entirety.

By Gail Tverberg: A Video Game Analogy to Our Energy Predicament


The way the world economy is manipulated by world leaders is a little like a giant video game. The object of the game is to keep the world economy growing, without too many adverse consequences to particular members of the world economy. We represent this need for growth of the world economy as being similar to making a jet airplane fly at ever-higher altitudes.

What Happens As Coffin Corner Limits Are Reached in the Economic World?

What do world leaders do, as the world economy hits limits? One temptation is for the world leaders in Figure 1 to take their foot off the throttle that is operated by low interest rates and more debt, because they don’t seem to be providing very much benefit anymore. The leaders fear that if more debt is added at low interest rates, it risks creating “asset bubbles” that are easily disturbed if any little bump to the economy occurs. If a big bubble pops, there is a significant risk that the economy could fall down to a much lower level. This is like stalling the jet at high altitude.

World leaders can also use approaches that create situations more like “making the wings come off” the economy. These approaches involve favoring one group over another. For example, a government can give big tax breaks to businesses, but raise taxes on individual citizens. Businesses will ultimately be harmed by this approach, because they depend on individual citizens for their sales. The result is like tearing the wings off the airplane.

Another approach that would tear the wings off the economy involves actions by a different group of world leaders than those shown in Figure 1, namely the leaders from OPEC and Russia. These leaders have different video game screens and different game controllers. They can manipulate the world economy by reducing the supply of oil they provide. With this approach, they hope to increase the price of oil, and thus obtain a larger share of the world’s goods and services through higher tax revenue.

Raising the oil price would benefit oil exporters, but would make goods and services more expensive for oil importing countries. Ultimately, this approach would lead to recession in oil importing nations. The result would likely be worse than the 2008-2009 recession–another way to make the wings come off the economy.

[5] The real enemies of continued economic growth are (a) diminishing returns with respect to oil and other energy production, (b) continued population growth, and (c) increasing wage and wealth disparity. 

We seem to be playing a video game where the players don’t understand who the real enemies are.

Diminishing returns with respect to oil and other energy production have to do with the cost of energy extraction rising ever-higher, as more resources are extracted. There are a lot of resources that we can “see,” but that we cannot economically extract, unless prices rise to very high levels.

Continued population growth is a problem because it is really “energy per capita” that matters. Each individual needs food, transportation, and housing. All of these things take energy. Many years ago, when most of the workers were farmers, it was necessary to create ever-smaller farms, as population rose. This clearly would lead to lower food production per farmer, unless some sort of technological breakthrough was taking place at the same time. Today, we have a parallel issue.

Increasing wage disparity tends to be associated with the rising use of technology. When most labor is hand labor, workers truly do “pay each other’s wages.” All wages can be fairly equal. With increased technology, some workers have specialized training; others do not. Some workers are supervisors; others are laborers. Unless the overall output of the economy is rising very rapidly, non-elite workers find themselves increasingly unable to afford the output of the economy. It is this falling “demand” (really affordability) that tends to pull an economy downward.

[8] In fact, since 2014, the selling prices of oil, natural gas, and coal have all fallen below the cost of extraction.

It is popular to think that the reason why oil prices are too low is because of overproduction by the United States or Saudi Arabia. When a person stops to realize that essentially the same situation arises for all three fossil fuels, a person begins to understand that there likely is an affordability issue underlying the low prices for all three fuels. The affordability issue, of course, arises because energy supply is not rising quickly enough because (at over $20 per barrel), it is too expensive to be truly affordable. The “atmosphere is too thin” at today’s high cost of energy extraction.

[11] The whole “game” has been confused by a lot of not-quite-correct pronouncements from academic circles.

A lot of well-meaning people have tried to solve our energy problems, but haven’t gotten the story right.

Economists have gotten the story pretty much 100% wrong. Energy is very important for the economy. Furthermore, energy prices don’t rise endlessly.

Peak Oilers have confused matters by talking about oil, coal and natural gas being determined by the amount of technically recoverable resources in the ground. This might be true if energy prices could rise endlessly, but clearly they cannot. By following the wrong views of economists, Peak Oilers have led world leaders to believe that far more resources are available to be extracted than really is the case.

People who call themselves Biophysical Economists haven’t really gotten the story correct either. The Biophysical Economists realized that there was a need for a measure for diminishing returns. They put together a measure which they called Energy Returned on Energy Invested. The measure, unfortunately, only “sort of” works. It gives a lot of wrong answers. It does not suggest that oil prices above $20 per barrel are a problem. It also does not suggest that substitutes for oil that are priced above $20 per barrel are a problem. It tends to give a lot of “false positives” when it comes to the question of whether renewables can be substituted for fossil fuels. It seems to suggest that a particular ratio is important, when it is really the total quantity of an energy product available at a very low price that is important.

I should not pick on the Biophysical Economists. There are many others with academic credentials who produce metrics that really aren’t very helpful. Energy payback time is not a very helpful metric, especially from the point of view of deciding whether or not to use a particular device. It is not the energy that the economy must pay back; it is the full cost of manufacturing the device that needs to be recovered, including human labor costs and taxes. In some applications, the cost of mitigating intermittency may also need to be considered.

Even the standard Levelized Cost of Energy calculations can give misleading indications, if they are used on intermittent renewables without taking into account the cost of mitigating the intermittency.

With all of these issues, it is not surprising that world leaders have difficulty playing the energy and economy game. In fact, it is hard to see any winning strategy.

One of the issues that makes the game impossible to win is the fact that all sides must win. A solution that cuts out the oil exporters is a problem for an economy dependent on oil. Any solution that cuts out the workers is a problem, partly because businesses need workers as consumers, and partly because governments need workers as taxpayers.

The reason I have not included any discussion of renewables is because at this point in time, we do not have any renewables that are sufficiently inexpensive and sufficiently scalable to represent a solution.