In the last 3 posts (here, here, and here) of this series, we’ve developed a basic but fundamental understanding of the dynamics of human cognition, and of some of the basic boundary conditions which determine mass human psychology. In the most recent post, we learned that the most fundamental cognitive dissonance is defined when the mind is used to negate the mind – when you believe in ideas which are based on believing that the mind is evil, or that it doesn’t actually exist, or that it isn’t important or valuable, etc. Now we’ll see in the following essay that this fundamental dissonance of mind-negation is at the very heart of climate alarm.
(I’ll note that this issue of mind-negation is not something really practiced by modern Christians; the torture of the Inquisition had been reversed, in the end, by Protestantism, which is regular people reading the bible and (re) interpreting it in a (mostly) life-affirming and mind-affirming context. The Christianity of today is nothing like what it was at the height of the Catholic Church…who’s height is actually defined at the same time period as it was at its most brutal and mind-negating in public policy. Protestantism transformed Christianity and for the most part I have every respect and likeness for the life-affirming interpretations of Protestant Biblicism in so far as they exist. What is important for me is that life is valued, that mind is valued, and that “the good” is valued, and you will see that those are the basis of the criticisms I had for those negatory aspects of Abrahamism in my last post. But with Gnostic Illuminism, you can go much further in the positive affirmation of mind and life via the rationalization, based on ontological mathematics and the integration of all philosophy, which it educates you about. Protestantism will still always be limited, in that as good as you are and as good as that god is said to be, you are still a subject to a master, and the threat of Hell or even “bad Karma” still exists. You can do away with all that by affirming that YOU have the capacity for rational moral choice. In so far as Gnostic Illuminism insists (and correctly, in the end) that the Abrahamic religions are irrational and even evil, I do not judge such of practicing Abrahamists unless they actually do something outwardly irrational and evil that affects other people, as you would judge of any person. This world is a very confusing place and it barely makes any sense at all; that Protestants are (mostly) life-affirming and more-or-less freedom-loving at the core is a value.)
On the mind and Changing Climate
The climate has always changed; every single living species on the planet plays a role in changing the environment and the climate and always has; every single species that has ever existed is extinct, or is about to go extinct in geologic terms; the universe and evolution created human minds; only the human mind has a non-random potential to escape extinction. Other species might randomly and accidentally escape extinction for long periods, but none of them will escape extinction when the Sun expires, and 99.999% of existing species won’t even make it that far. The universe, evolution, produced the conscious & willfully creative mind, and only that mind has the potential to escape extinction, to represent an immortal species. It is inevitable that evolution would eventually produce such a species. We have been invested with something by nature, by evolution, and by the universe. We have been invested with the ability to consciously and willfully shape the universe around us to augment our probability of survival. The only evolutionary advantage of having a conscious and willful mind is the very ability to change the environment around it to improve its ability to survive. This is the only evolutionary use in having a mind. Any other conscious species does the same. When it comes to real self-awareness and conscious creativity, such a mind will explore outer space and through our minds the universe learns of its own nature, and the mind its own nature.
We have been divested of fur, of claws, of stamina, of strength, of fangs, etc., and no combination of those things is as powerful as the willful mind which the universe has come to invest in us. The purpose of the mind is to exist, and to exist in the context of the powers which it has been given by that which created it, by definition. That context is the ability to understand and then to change and modify the environment. The conscious mind is the only thing that matters in this universe, because the universe will forget every-single-other species without mind as they inevitably go extinct. Extinction is the norm and guarantee for everything…except for conscious human minds changing the environment.
This greenieism and climate change alarmism and this whole philosophy of guilt over a naturally changing environment are a direct-frontal attack on the human mind, and therefore on human existence itself. It is no less than that. What does the mind do? The mind does what every single other species engages in: the biomigration of atoms, the altering of the outside environment, the modification of the climate, the transformation of inert lithospheric components into biospheric resources. This is what every living thing does, and it only appears “balanced” because geologic time is so long and human lives so short. There didn’t used to be an oxygen atmosphere; what did that? There didn’t used to be iron ore deposits; what did that? There is no mythical “balance” in nature, because species have constantly went and are going extinct, and the lithospheric and biospheric systems have constantly been modified and changed. The human mind wields this power of change as a willful and conscious and purposeful act, for augmenting the probability of its survival, in real time, and quickly. This is a moral good. It is an inevitable good of consciousness. And there is zero evidence that the global climate is changing in a historically unprecedented way – not that that would automatically be something “bad” in any case.
Greenieism is extinction. Any species that was a “greenie” in the past is extinct, and is guaranteed to go extinct. No living thing can survive without modifying the environment around it; this always permanently changes the system, and there has never been any equilibrium because the system has always been changing and species have always been going extinct.
The greenies aren’t attacking humans with bullets, knives, and wars (well, many of them are, actually), they are attacking humans at a much more fundamental and lethal level: they are attacking the single thing that our minds are actually good for, the single thing our minds are meant for, they are attacking the single thing the mind evolved for: the ability to willfully, actively, quickly, and radically, modify the environment to augment its survival. These things manifest in the universe as bridges, canals, vehicles, airplanes, high-productivity-density agriculture and animal husbandry, roadways, ships, fire, etc. etc., and carbon dioxide is the basis of all of those, and is the basis of life itself. All of these are augmented in the healthy mind by mathematics, philosophy, science, engineering, education, art, etc. The climate alarmists are instead trying to negate the human mind. Why don’t they realize that even a cursory understanding of their beloved “Gaia” theory would have to indicate that “mother Earth” created human beings on purpose, in order to help replenish the stock of CO2 in the atmosphere which had almost disappeared which would have caused the mass and final extinction? They don’t want to believe in anything good because their true goal is that they want to murder humans, as we will see below; that is what drives them.
I don’t personally believe in any religion using such terms, but the only appellation which fits what this greenie movement represents is “Satanic”; it is no better than the ultimate evil, in contradiction to the very basis of existence and mind itself. Going to wind/solar represents a direct assault in the power of the human mind, in the ability of the mind and the human species to live beyond the limitations set by the inert lithosphere. It is a decrease in the energy flux density controlled by the species, and 7 billion of us could not survive with this type of power. It is as simple as that: wind and solar cannot support 7 billion people and it cannot support high technology. It is very simply and very directly, genocidal. It’s a complete farce, a complete trick: using modern technology to go backwards. And then once you go backwards, once you lose the high energy flux density technology and lose the population, then you go backwards even more, because there will be nothing to support and repair the wind and solar technology. Wind and solar technology can only be produced from nuclear and “fossil-fuel” power. It is an evolutionary dead end, just what the greenies want for humanity as a whole. They negate the mind, they negate evolution, they hate what evolution produces, they hate all living things in fact because all living things radically modify the environment, even the lowliest bacterium. They must hate their own existence. They are a pestilence unto themselves, and they hate themselves for it, along with everyone else.
High-density-energy production is the most fundamental manifestation of the mind that augments its probability for survival, its power of survival, and its well-being. There is no more obvious direct attack on the human mind, on evolution and the teleology of the universe itself, than the greenie push towards low-density-energy production and usage. The greenies want us to live at the biological standard of the lithosphere, which is no standard at all!: the wind, the random wind, and the random sunshine getting through the clouds. The only thing the mind is good for is for allowing its host to live beyond such limitations of the lithosphere and the biosphere: to live in the noosphere. The noosphere ultimately does the exact same things as the lithosphere and biosphere – the biogenic migration of atoms, and the modification of the environment – it just does it a lot more efficiently, and with intent…the willful intent to survive. And this is what climate change alarmism is attacking. The idea that we shouldn’t change the environment, is the idea that we shouldn’t use, and thus have, a mind.
Other examples of cognitive dissonance in climate alarm:
- Greenhouse gases radiate and therefore shed energy and can cool, while non-GHG’s don’t radiate and therefore can’t shed energy and can’t cool. Impeccable logic. However, GHG’s are said to trap energy and cause heating while non-GHG’s are said to not trap energy. The beliefs are completely opposite of reality!
- The GHE is said to provide the warmth to sustain the planet and all life, but if you provoke the GHE (with the products of the human mind, i.e. modern energy usage, etc.) then the GHE will destroy the planet and be very scary and will punish you. This is very similar to the traditional Abrahamic god.
- The element carbon is vilified and said to be evil pollution, but carbon is the basis element which creates DNA and therefore all life.
- Carbon dioxide is vilified and said to be evil pollution (is it coincidental that carbon dioxide is also a direct metric to gauge standard of living?), but CO2 is the basis of the biosphere and is green plant food, and more CO2 means that plants and therefore all life will benefit, just like inside a greenhouse.
Bringing it back to the dialectic, the mind-negation of climate change is the analogy to the mind-negation of Abrahamism. If mind-negation is the anti-thesis then the thesis is the natural and inevitable drive to use the mind. We still see the fundamental cognitive dissonance of using the mind to hold ideas which negate the mind. According to the Gnostic history of the last few thousand years, the synthesis was achieved when a person became self-aware and self-affirming enough to reject the mind-negating aspects of Abrahamism, that they transformed their slavery into self-mastery and thus became eligible to “win” the quest of the Holy Grail. It was in breaking through this manufactured idea that you were selling your immortal soul to Satan. Read Faust by Goethe. The path to god-hood (Gnosis) was reserved to those who set no limitations of themselves, without fear. This new religion is being set up the exact same way.
The difference with the type of mind-negation as seen in Abrahamism vs. that of climate alarmism is that climate alarmism is much more destructive and actively nihilistic. In Abrahamism, at least the general consensus was that you should value life, freedom, free-will, self and communal development, and for the last few hundred years even the products of science, technology and energy, have been highly valued and promoted under religion. Climate alarm goes far beyond the quaint mind-negation of Abrahamism and takes everything of value away from human life. What do we see? Depopulate! Deindustrialize! Don’t take hot baths! Don’t flush the toilet! Don’t drive! Don’t fly! Don’t go hunting! Don’t go fishing! Don’t have camp fires! Don’t think independently! Don’t be unique! Don’t be a denier (where a denier is defined as someone who actually cogitates independently and uniquely)! Don’t breathe too much! Don’t heat your house! Don’t cool your house! Don’t do ANYTHING at all. Don’t do anything at all or else the greenhouse God will punish humanity and the Earth! Don’t you feel guilty for that? Feel guilty! Your sin is CO2! You’re going to explode the planet!
Greenie Environmentalism is the Negation of Mind
So let’s make this very clear: Greenie environmentalists are negators of the mind. In other words, they’re idiots, complete and utter idiots. They know nothing of the way the actual real world works and has worked and what it has done in the past, and what it currently takes to keep them alive. I know lots of them and I live around them and they’re brain dead. All you have to do is talk to them to see that they’re brain dead. They don’t have high quality thoughts, and they don’t engage in high quality mentation. They do not believe that there is such a thing as high quality mentation vs. low quality mentation and distinguishing it, because in their nihilism they believe that value is a meaningless illusion and everything is equal in meaninglessness…even though they use the valuable products of the mind everyday and even though such is a “value” they choose to have. They all use iPods, iPhones, and watch “Jack-Ass fail” youtube videos at lunch time (these are called “fail” videos because they’re recordings of people falling off of bicycles, skateboards, shopping carts and the like, and hurting themselves, and they laugh at this stuff like rabid hyenas especially when a man is seen to be getting “sacked”). This is your average liberal greenie environmentalist. It is not high-quality mentation. It is Idiocracy, The Movie.
Put another way, greenie environmentalism is the extinction of the mind and therefore of humanity. Just look at the types of things that real, unabashed greenie environmentalists say, openly, in public:
- “If I were reincarnated I would wish to be returned to earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels.” Prince Phillip, head of the ‘World Wildlife Fund’
- “Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental.” David Foreman, founder ‘Earth First’
- “To feed a starving child is to exacerbate the world population problem.” – Lamont Cole, environmentalist and author
- “I suspect that eradicating smallpox was wrong. It played an important part in balancing ecosystems.” John Davis, environmental author and leader
- “My own doubts came when DDT was introduced. In Guyana, within two years, it had almost eliminated malaria. So my chief quarrel with DDT, in hindsight, is that it has greatly added to the population problem.” Alexander King, speaking for the ‘Club of Rome’
- “Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, is not as important as a wild and healthy planet…Some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.” David Graber, biologist, ‘National Park Service’
- “You think Hiroshima was bad, let me tell you, mister, Hiroshima wasn’t bad enough!” Faye Dunaway, speaking as ‘The Voice of the Planet’, WTBS series.
- “Childbearing [should be] a punishable crime against society.” David Brower, founder ‘Friends of the Earth’.
- “[B]ad times, you may say, are exceptional, and can be dealt with by exceptional methods. This has been more or less true during the honeymoon period of industrialism, but it will not remain true unless the increase of population can be enormously diminished. At present the population of the world is increasing at about 58,000 per diem. War, so far, has had no very great effect on this increase, which continued through each of the world wars… War…has hitherto been disappointing in this respect…but perhaps bacteriological war may prove more effective. If a Black Death could spread throughout the world once in every generation, survivors could procreate freely without making the world too full… The state of affairs might be somewhat unpleasant, but what of it? Really high-minded people are indifferent to happiness, especially other people’s.” Lord Bertrand Russell, ‘The Impact of Science on Society’
- “…a motivation must be found to bring the divided nations together to face an outside enemy, either a real one or else one invented for the purpose. New enemies therefore have to be identified. New strategies imagined, new weapons devised. The common enemy of humanity is man. In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. … The real enemy then, is humanity itself. …democracy is no longer well suited for the tasks ahead. The complexity and the technical nature of many of today’s problems do not always allow elected representatives to make competent decisions at the right time” Club of Rome, ‘The First Global Revolution’
- “We’ve got to ride this global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing…” Timothy Wirth, president of the ‘UN Foundation’
- “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” Maurice Strong, founder of the ‘UN Environment Programme’
- “We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the US. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are.” Michael Oppenheimer, ‘Environmental Defense Fund’
- “Global Sustainability requires the deliberate quest of poverty, reduced resource consumption and set levels of mortality control.” Professor Maurice King
- “Complex technology of any sort is an assault on human dignity. It would be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy…” Amory Lovins, ‘Rocky Mountain Institute’
- “The prospect of cheap fusion energy is the worst thing that could happen to the planet.” Jeremy Rifkin, ‘Greenhouse Crisis Foundation’
- “The big threat to the planet is people: there are too many, doing too well economically…” Sir James Lovelock, BBC Interview
- “My…main goals would be to reduce human population to about 100 million worldwide, [&] destroy the industrial infrastructure…” Dave Foreman, co-founder of ‘Earth First!’
- “Human beings, as a species, have no more value than slugs.” John Davis, editor of ‘Earth First! Journal’
- “I don’t claim to have any special interest in natural history, but as a boy I was made aware of the annual fluctuations in the number of game animals and the need to adjust the cull to the size of the surplus population.” Prince Philip, preface of ‘Down to Earth’
- “The extinction of the human species may not only be inevitable but a good thing.” Christopher Manes, ‘Earth First!’
- “Christianity is our foe. If animal rights is to succeed, we must destroy the Judeo-Christian Religious tradition.” Peter Singer, founder of ‘Animal Rights’
Have you ever encountered such evil at the basis of such a large fad? This goes far beyond Nazism. On that last point above, that’s why I want Abrahamists to understand what’s happening. Even though I wrote all that critical stuff about Abrahamism, I want you to understand that this is how the “powers that be” think that you think. But an even bigger point is in understanding that this is exactly why typical atheist liberals are so taken in by climate alarmism: they do still have the same archetypal and dialectical belief patterns of cognitive dissonance. They are taken in by climate alarm because climate alarm allows them to satisfy all of the cognitive dissonance requirements that the Abrahamic religions already fulfill for religious people (that is why alarmism doesn’t work on religious people!). It gives them a new religion but because they’re so nihilistic and because their quality of mentation is so low, yet the fools believe themselves to be wise, they are incapable of understanding simple things such as ice-ages and interglacials, warm periods and cold periods, that the Sun heats the Earth and cosmic rays affect the clouds, that history is longer than since you turned 15, that large financial interests exist that don’t have your interest in mind, that carbon dioxide is plant food, etc etc etc. They are completely taken in by the “fear-porn” of climate alarm and it really is not fundamentally different than the threats of hell and torture of traditional Abrahamism; it’s the same religion just updated to a 3rd Millennium standard of vocabulary. I’ll go with the life-affirming Abrahamists long before I go along with the humanity-denying fear and idiocy of climate alarm. If there’s an environmental problem there’s only one way to solve it: with scientific technological energy development to higher levels of energy flux density power production, adaptation and mitigation, and improvement of land usage with canals and water ways, and high density transport systems, etc. Alarmist environmentalists want to get rid of the human mind instead.
Ah, now THAT is a perfect connection!
The old testament god of wrath and floods who created you and asks only that you don’t piss him off=The greenhouse effect that keeps the planet livable, but will drown you in a permanent flood if you piss it off!
[Reply: Took me a while to get there, ha.]
Amen brother! You have hit the core.
The next step is discovering how we can negate a negation.
Historically, the Inquisition was not as bad as it is made out to be. Court systems were in effect and many were released due to lack of evidence. The same thing with witch trials. The Catholic Church may have had some corrupt Popes and corruption, but overall Christianity nurtured and encouraged scientific thinking, as it did not conflict with the Bible. St. Augustine, a devout Christian, warned against the group-think and rabid theism as you mention here, a thing he said that was unfortunate of Christians. The difference is that genuine Christianity does not approve of the nastiness as Greenies do, but instead encourages open mindedness. Of course, interpretation leads to different outcomes. But Christianity was not nor is as nearly as violent as Islam. The history of science shows this; most of the world’s greatest scientists were Christians.
You make excellent points on the logical fallacies of Greenies, though your history on religion is a little shabby. Christianity never prevented human reason or free-thinking; I have no idea where that came from or which sources (likely atheist). It sounded like you were referring to Islam more than anything else. The Greeks, pinnacles of reason, had polytheism, yet they are not attacked. There is no true conflict between science and religion, but there IS conflict between ideologies. Science is science and religion is religion; the two should not be intertwined, such as putting blind faith in science. Religion already knows it deals with myths; science should not.
Yes, the Bible doesn’t have mathematical equations or science texts, but you have to realize that at that time people were just beginning to grasp those things. The Bible encourages people to study the natural world, to get closer to God. I’m not religious, but it is worth mentioning that it was good for something. Modern science and society was built around Christianity; that is why the West made such an impact. Universities spawned in Europe because of Christianity, because yes, they did value reason. However, I hate the Young Earth creationists as much as anyone and even they don’t follow their own Holy Text; interpretation changes everything. It changes with the people.
I’ll admit I was disappointed in your other comments about Christianity; they were a little ignorant and made some baseless claims that would fall apart in the face of evidence. But this one is much closer to the point and I appreciate that. I think everyone, theists and atheists alike, do not like diatribes of ignorant people. Savonarola and his Bonfire of the Vanities make a great example at how people, religious or not, can turn the public against all reason.
In terms of science, the level of corruption is staggering and I can see why the public no longer believes them. As a matter of fact, during the so-called “Dark Ages”, science bloomed and progressed at an incredibly fast rate, much faster than today, especially since they had so little to work with!
Nonetheless, I greatly admire your work. Lubos Motl has made a post saying that the GHG doesn’t contradict any laws of physics, and for a physicist to engage in such “skeptic bashing” is definitely dogmatic. Physics has also been affected by bad science. Love of theory has taken over, and that is worse than any mainstream religion, because science deals with the what and how, while religion deals with why.
Every man has a religion; it’s just human nature. However, true religion should deal with questions and open debate, not the close mindedness of Leftists and Greenies. Remember: governments and religions are the reflection of the people. If the people are corrupt, the institutions are corrupt.
[Reply: Christianity burned people at the stake, alive. They skinned people alive and determined that you could skin a human from head to hips and keep them alive for more interrogation, more than that amount of skinning and they would die. Christianity invented The Wheel, The Iron Maiden, the Judas Cradle, The Boots, Hanging and the Strappado, the Heretics Fork, the Rack, Flesh Rippers, Breast Rippers, the Iron Chair, the Skull Crusher, the Thumb Screw, Water Torture, etc etc. And you want to dismiss this? As if this wasn’t anti-science and anti-reason? As if Giodarno Bruno didn’t get murdered for doing science? As if Galileo wasn’t threatened with death for doing science? Wrong. Christianity has always been anti-science and still is today, just look at Creationism. As if Creationism isn’t a product of Christian biblical thinking! How do you know they’re wrong? Every Protestant has their own interpretation of the bible and they ALL CONFLICT with each other. They would ALL be going to hell by traditional standards. The truth is that Christianity is dead as a philosophy and is why every person gets to interpret it however they want. Modern day Muslims are indeed deranged and they believe in the same god as the Jews and Christians.
As I said there is a difference between modern day Christians and the Christians of a few hundred years ago; if the Christian faith was as it was a few hundred years ago, almost all Christians today would meet the Inquisition.
To think that Christianity has some sort of legitimacy, particularly a single person’s interpretation of it, over all the other religions of the world, and particularly over rationality, is simply wrong.
There were LOTS of people at the supposed time of Christ that knew lots about math. The Greeks knew ALL about math and they would have been entirely receptive to it. The Greeks were indeed the pinnacle of reason at the time and Christianity doesn’t really include any of their work. Their polytheism was entirely healthy and was nothing like the evil of Judeo-Christian-Islamic monotheism.
Abrahamism doesn’t tell you that you can become God, therefore it is refuted as a religion, and identified as an evil system of control. QED. Any religion that doesn’t have your potential for god-hood at its core is wrong; any religion that says obedience is necessary is wrong.
Religion does not deal with why. It deals with creating mythos stories to make people feel good about not having any answers. Rationality, science, and objective philosophy deals with why. And it makes you responsible to be the judge of your life.]
Shooter, I recall that Islam actually nurtured science and mathematics for quite a while, where do you suppose the word “algebra” came from?
As for the last bit about every man having a religion, that is untrue, I do not have any faith of any sort, I do not have nihilistic antifaiths, I do not have negative belief types like atheist or agnostic views, on the question of “does [insert deity here] exist” I can only respond ‘mu’.
Religion is not so bad if you forget about all the bad bits. At least according to Shooter. Actually what his claim means is not that there is some good in the worst of us, it is that there is some evil in the best of us. To be saved, you must follow his religion. Especially, you must believe without objective evidence or burn in hell forever. The greatest sin? Its knowing that it is all a pile of BS and saying it in public.
What proof does he have of the validity of his belief? It is nothing but some random phrases in the multiply transliterated reported ravings of psychotic bronze age shepherds. A text that has been cherry picked and rewritten many times by tired, frighten, old men who are terrified of loosing power over the huddled, oppressed, illiterate, impoverished, sick, and dieing masses. You guessed it: It’s The Bible!
This is all such a horrific crime against humankind that it never can be forgiven. There is no amount of “good works” than can overcome the moral deficit. This is why they prattle on about being “saved” by a mythical human sacrifice of a mythical son of a mythical god. They are so grateful for being able to imagine they have been “forgiven” that they become pushers of the same old same old and believe they win Brownie points from their God for doing it. Apparently, they believe if they win enough Brownie points they get a free pass to heaven’s amusement park or some such.
The only real difference between Christianity and Islam is that Christianity has been somewhat domesticated and stripped of many of its worst aspects by 2000 years of being hammered almost do death. Islam has been around a little more than a 1000 years and is still a rabid and vicious animal with no redeeming values worthy of note. It needs some really serious hammering before it will become even partially domesticated. Fortunately, the older parent religion of Christianity and Islam has been hammered for far longer and has become totally domesticated. They keep their religion to them selves and focus on being productive members of society. If only its two bastard offspring religions could learn the same lesson….
Joe, this is the clearest and best post of yours by far. It explains in clear logic why the political greenie is just a continuation of the evil of the collectivist and has all of the same characteristics of the most evil manifestations of religious zealotry.
Permanently kept in my reading list.
[Reply: Cheers! :)]
Thought provoking. As a Bible believing Chrisitian (perhaps a little less domesticated than Lionel would like) I found some of your theses challenging to my belief systems. My only comment though is that there is a supernatural element to my faith and I know I have a personal relationship with an unseen, omipresent, omniscient, omipotent Being – God himself.
Paradoxically I am also very pro-science and very anti the global warming dogma of the Greens. The quotes you have brought together are utterly chilling. Humanitarians, savages and Christians alike would be horrified at the lack of respect for human life that those people express.
[Reply: Cheers. I may not share your religion, but I do share the understanding of the concept of “Satanic”. It is clear what those quotes are aligned with.]
I really appreciate your respect for my religious position. I think your analysis of the Roman Catholic/Protestant dichotomy is very astute (if I was to categorise myself so you could understand my world view it is Reformed and Baptistic so very Protestant). You also explained something I hadn’t fully appreciated about Gnosticism. I have never found an issue with reconciling Christianity with my scientific education – evolution is a theory. Just as is Creationism is a theory. And both require faith to believe as no one was present at t=0 to provide an eye witness account.
[Reply: Cheers 🙂 ]
Uh, evolution is a theory in that it is a working explanation of known processes.
Creationism is not a theory, it is a half-assed guess used in an attempt to push ridiculous ideas under the illusion that “there are two sides to everything”.
Though I guess that is sort of true, there are two sides to the question “is it science”, those sides are “yes” and “no”.
Contrary to received Western ideas, the notion of God is does not fulfil a basic human need. There are religions or at least metaphysical structures followed by vast numbers of people, in which a godhead plays no part. The most obvious is Buddhism, even though the Buddha is revered and prayed to. And that is even more true of Taoism and even Confucianism, although the latter is more moralising and authoritarian.
I declare myself an atheist in the sense that I do not envisage a superior intelligent being who created and “presides over the universe. On the other hand I qualify the functioning of the universe and nature as intelligent and that, I marvel upon.
“It” is intelligent and we are part of it. That’s why we should do all in our power to understand it. That includes both scientists and mystics.
“I qualify the functioning of the universe and nature as intelligent”
Do you really mean intelligent or merely intelligible/understandable to an intelligent agent such as man? The universe simply is, it understands nothing as a universal aware being. There are parts of the universe that can understand. Specifically the mind of man. Don’t give me that crap that we cannot understand with the understanding of the universe so it is not ours to question its existence. Evidence? To you have anything beyond the self evident “it is” that it is intelligent — actively aware, understanding what is experienced, and acting with willful purpose based upon that understanding? You don’t. It simply is.
No Lionell, I never intended to give you crap of that sort.
I quite agree with your first point that it understands nothing as a universal aware being. You can in no way hold a dialogue with it.
That embryonic idea was put forward in reaction to our Christian commenter who amongst other things appears to have a blinkered view concerning metaphysical constructs other than his own. It’s an idea that I’ve never taken very far (and never brought up before now) that came from watching a nature film some years ago of an insect that had camouflaged itself as a leaf on a tree; it not only had shape, colour and veins of a particular leaf, it took the camouflage so far as to tremble in the breeze in the exact characteristic fashion of that leaf. Now I have always from the same young age of my adoption of atheism adhered to the basic Darwinian premise of survival of the fittest because it makes sense to me. Even so I can’t for the life of me imagine how such an insect could have evolved in that detail solely on that passive principal of natural selection unless there be some sort of minimal “self-awareness” involved. I would qualify all that as intelligent, limited perhaps but pretty impressive all the same accepting only the adjective but not the noun “an Intelligence” because that would open the flood gate to Intelligent Design which to me is a monstrous aberration.
It was also delayed reaction to Joe’s idea that an Atheist as also necessarily a nihilist, which does not follow at all. I’ll be surprised if you disagree with that last point.
[Reply: A question about evolution and existence in general has always been whether or not it is teleological. Science has a hard time with a question like that, but just because that is so doesn’t mean it isn’t a valid question and doesn’t have a positive answer/possibility. Science is of course very limited. Consider wisdom teeth. Why do we have them? Why don’t we need them anymore? Our faces are actually changing shape and our mouths are becoming smaller, and it is apparently related to diet, and the process began when we start adding grains to our diet and began engaging in settled agriculture. This is an evolutionary change spanning almost 10,000 years now, and it is NOT due to survival of the fittest or due to mutation. Some people are starting to not even have wisdom teeth at all, as in they’ll have lowers but not uppers, etc. In the paleontological record, everyone had a full set of teeth, and they were used. So, we can’t all be having the same “random mutation”, and, having wisdom teeth “go bad” when they erupt is not an advantage, and most people get them removed (requiring a very highly trained mind to do so). So, here we see evolution occurring on a species-wide scale, where the same change is occurring in all members, and has nothing to do with mutation and natural selection. It is an environmentally-caused change; the environment/lifestyle of the species is causing itself to change. There is a lot more to evolution than the Darwinian version. Vernadskian evolution is a much better explanation.
Note that I did not say that atheists are “necessarily nihilist”, and that that is your interpretation of what I said. The most of what I said was that liberal atheists are generally nihilists. If you are the exception to that rule and you value value, then you rank among us as the most willful and valuable of the species 🙂 ]
I’ve been reading too much Lovecraft and Stross… the word “noosphere” brings to mind uncomfortable ideas of weakly godlike AIs bootstrapping themselves to higher levels of intelligence and hunting more processing power until all that is left is an expanding sphere of computational stratum burning across the universe at nearly the speed of light.
On the other hand the idea of the universe having an intelligence, well, what reason would there be for such an intelligence to have values which we would appreciate?
While the idea of it being created whole-cloth by an intelligence doesn’t seem too plausible, there are arguments for it being a simulation: http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2535
Until we address the problem of psychopathy, all philosophizing is just blowing smoke.
PONEROLOGY: THE STUDY OF EVIL “In the author’s opinion, Ponerology reveals itself to be a new branch of science born out of historical need and the most recent accomplishments of medicine and psychology. In light of objective naturalistic language, it studies the causal components and processes of the genesis of evil, regardless of the latter’s social scope. We may attempt to analyze these ponerogenic processes which have given rise to human injustice, armed with proper knowledge, particularly in the area of psychopathology. Again and again, as the reader will discover, in such a study, we meet with the effects of pathological factors whose carriers are people characterized by some degree of various psychological deviations or defects.” (Lobaczewski, 42)
With very few exceptions down the ages, discussions in moral philosophy – the study of right conduct – have failed to systematically investigate the origin, nature, and course of evil in a manner free from supernatural imaginings. Evil was often considered something to be endured rather than something that could be understood and eliminated by rational measures. And – as Lobaczewski demonstrates – the origin of evil actually lies outside the boundaries of the conventional worldview within which the earlier moral inquiries and literary explorations were conducted. Evil requires a truly modern and scientific approach to lay bare its secrets. This approach is called “ponerology”, the study of evil, from the Greek “poneros” = evil. ”
“there are arguments for it [the universe] being a simulation”
One can argue that the moon is made of cream cheese but that doesn’t mean the argument has any merit. Nor do arguments that the universe is a simulation. Such an argument presumes something/someone/god existed to write the simulation and that there was something within which to run the simulation. At best, the argument is one loop in an infinite regression and answers no questions about existence either fundamental or trivial. The question remains: who made that something/someone/god and the thing that runs the simulation? It is no different from saying “Its turtles all the way down.”
Why not simply cut to the chase and act on the self evident fact that the universe exists and that it is what it is? Then go about the business of finding out WHAT it is rather than making complicated let’s pretend stories about it. Then use what you find out to benefit your life and the lives of those you care about.
As for why? As I have said in other threads, we are each our own answer to the question: Why? For the answer, each of us is on our own. There is no big answer man out there to give us a reason to exist. We must find it ourselves. Everything else just is.
That’s a good point Judy…very interesting and ripe for insight.
Well, the comment wasn’t completely serious, hence the link to the comic.
The comic does point out that if one were to optimize a universe simulation it would make things easier if it had minimum length and time scales, maximum velocities, and restrictions on how finely one can measure certain properties.
One can ask if we could simulate a universe, and if we could simulate one complex enough to contain another simulation.
In no way is it just a pretend story, it’s a viable question to ask, and understanding can be gained from investigating it.
Exactly what test could you make to distinguish between a real universe and a simulated one if you were part of the simulated one?
If you were part of a simulated one, wouldn’t that test also be simulated making any distinction it found itself simulated?
Like I said, your proposal is the same as it being turtles all the way down. No information about the real universe in which the simulation exists could be discovered within the simulation beyond what was already within the simulation itself. Even that information is simulated. The assumption feeds itself by swallowing its own tail up to its mouth.
A fortune cookie walked into a bar and said to a pretty cookie: “I am only a simulation so I can’t say anything I am not programmed to say.” The pretty cookie said: “I am only a cookie and can’t help you.”
If I could not simulate a universe in this one I could safely conclude that I was in a simulation myself.
A complex enough simulation is for the most part indistinguishable from whatever you may think reality is anyways, so as I mentioned from the comic, the first thing to look at would be signs that the universe is optimized for computation.
Things like holographic universe models and information theory don’t really do much to reject the “we’re in a simulation” hypothesis, and in fact seem to support it.
Though as I pointed out above, it can’t be turtles all the way down, there is a limit to possible computations in this universe which we can work out for various parameters, with the top most limit being due to the finite number of particles with a finite number of states they can assume.
As I recall that limit is still somewhere close to 10^100 states or possibly more, but even if we devoted every bit of matter in this universe to running a simulation, we couldn’t produce a simulation more powerful/complex than our universe, and any simulation ran in that universe would have similar limits.
Assuming we don’t find a way to toss out things like the relationship between area, information, and entropy, we can actually work out how many nested simulations we could produce within this universe, the comic suggested it might be 61, I don’t see any reason to assume it would be much higher or much lower.
So no, I am not saying it is turtles all the way down, I’m saying at most it is tens or maybe a hundred turtles down, though the upper bounds are more difficult to assess.
Note that I’m not talking about a mechanical “we’re all mindless automata” type of simulation. I mean a full sim with a resolution around the planck length, steps around the planck time, beginning from an extremely energetic singularity which was allowed to evolve within certain bounds, set the number of macroscopic dimensions, a general relationship between the forces, load it up and hit the enter key, after around 2×10^62 steps you might check a non-descript little rock whirling around an ordinary little star belonging to one of the many spiral collections of matter and you might find structures with self-referential awareness sitting around discussing whether or not it is possible that they are within a simulation.
And what is the basis of computation? Mathematics…number.
Oh indeed, I’m fairly confident that the universe exists because it is a self-consistent and mathematically possible structure, and the most simple explanation I can find for the odd experience of being smacked into awareness within such a structure is that all mathematically possible structures exist.
All mathematically ‘compossible’ structures might be more accurate.
In other words you can’t propose a test that can actually be done that could distinguish between a simulated universe and a real one. Why then contemplate such a let’s pretend story? The question “How many unicorns can dance in your head?” has just as much meaning – no testable nor demonstrable connection to anything real. What is, is what counts and not your flights of fantasy that are nothing but randomly associated words integrating into nothing but a meaningless untestable word salad.
Ditto for the universe being a complex mathematical composite.
Look man, I put forth a possible way to test the idea: can we simulate a universe within this universe.
Just because we can’t do it now doesn’t mean we can’t consider what would be required and what the possible results of such a test might be.
We can do more coarse-grained simulations, and there is no reason to think we will not be able to perform arbitrarily accurate simulations at some point in the future.
There are aspects of the universe which would actually make sense as computational shortcuts, so it is an interesting proposition to consider.
How is it any more or less worthwhile than “perhaps some entity magicked things into existence, but not a simulated existence, a real bonafide 100% absolute type of existence”, and more to the point, how is what I’m talking about more worthy of scorn when it is actually testable than the skyfather hypothesis?
Rather than coming up with an explanation that makes me feel better about myself or special in some way, I, like many others who have proposed the idea, think there might be merit to the possibility that we are in a simulation which is being ran in another universe, and indeed that universe may be a simulation.
I can say that it is not turtles all the way down just because there are certain limits that come with “computation” and “universe” which preclude infinite regress in that direction.
I am less certain about what bounds there would be the other way, but I imagine at some point universes would no longer resemble anything meaningfully similar to our own at which point one could say that any further extrapolation in that direction is at best a sidestep.
Nonetheless, computers are growing very powerful, and it is a trivial matter for a modern computer to emulate the workings of older less powerful computers, and in some cases you can even emulate laterally or try to “bootstrap” yourself upwards… but that risks letting the magic smoke out, and we don’t want that.
I myself run emulations regularly, I keep a captive windows XP that I virtualize for the proctored testing software which doesn’t (currently) play nice with linux, though it does raise the question of how useful software which allows you to view your students desktop is when the entire machine they’re monitoring is itself sitting on a larger desktop they can’t see directly.
I have various game systems which are getting old and aren’t convenient to hook up anyways, but my computer is powerful enough nowadays to not just emulate them, but upgrade them to run with better graphics and higher framerates.
A mind is something which should be possible to emulate within a decade or two conservatively (possibly sooner), from there it should be fairly straightforward to emulate multiple minds, a species, an ecosystem, a biosphere, a solar system.
At that point how could a simulated mind inside of one of our computers, say 100 years from now, be able to tell they were inside of a simulation?
What if they launched a probe on an extreme trajectory to swing past the sun and fly out of the solar system at a few % of c?
If you were running the sim you’d have to expand it or deal with the sim spitting out errors observable to the inhabitants, assuming you were trying to observe “unaltered” behavior you’d have to work fast enough to expand the simulation or at least find some way to hack in a patch so the probe appeared to fly out of the solar system as expected.
Ideally you’d be able to simulate an entire universe, and at that point only extreme measures would be able to allow the simhabitants to tell whether they were “real” or not. Right now we don’t have any way of even testing for boundaries of a more limited simulation, just Voyager and Pioneer, but we could conceivably make observations which would be otherwise unexplainable. It wouldn’t be easy, but it is at least possible to test!
Ultimately though, you can not say with any certainty that you are not inside of a simulation, none of us can, unless you happen to have a “100% unsimulated” tag somewhere on you?
“A technologically mature “posthuman” civilization would have enormous computing power. Based on this empirical fact, the simulation argument shows that at least one of the following propositions is true:
The fraction of human-level civilizations that reach a posthuman stage is very close to zero;
The fraction of posthuman civilizations that are interested in running ancestor-simulations is very close to zero;
The fraction of all people with our kind of experiences that are living in a simulation is very close to one.
If (1) is true, then we will almost certainly go extinct before reaching posthumanity. If (2) is true, then there must be a strong convergence among the courses of advanced civilizations so that virtually none contains any relatively wealthy individuals who desire to run ancestor-simulations and are free to do so. If (3) is true, then we almost certainly live in a simulation. In the dark forest of our current ignorance, it seems sensible to apportion one’s credence roughly evenly between (1), (2), and (3).
Unless we are now living in a simulation, our descendants will almost certainly never run an ancestor-simulation.” ~Nick Bostrom
Ah, found the paper I was looking for, you can edit this in to that post or just tack it on, or just check it out yourself: http://arxiv.org/abs/1210.1847
Max: Look man, I put forth a possible way to test the idea: can we simulate a universe within this universe.
All you have done with your proposal is create a cartoon test similar to the Roadrunner Cartoons testing of gravity. They do it by drawing a rapid sequence of images of the Coyote running off the edge of a cliff and then to keep running on the level until he discovers he is running in thin air over the abyss. At which time he plummets immediately downward to the rocks far below. Such a cartoon has nothing more to do with the behavior of gravity in the real world than your fantasized simulation of a universe has to do with our universe. It may be entertaining and it might illuminate some kind of point but it doesn’t even come close to being an actual test of the original hypothesis.
Your so called simulated universe, even if you could create it, says nothing about the universe in which we exist being a simulation. At most, all you could say from creating such a simulation is that there is something about this universe that makes it possible to SIMULATE some kind of universe within it. I have done that many hundreds to thousands of times in the past 50 plus years. Especially whenever I write a computer program. Many of them have been useful. Some of them even assist with the design and operation of quite technically complex systems. However, all they are is simulations. They are not the things they simulate. They never have been and never will be. There is no way I can pretend that they are and still consider myself mentally competent.
Your fundamental logical fallacy here is an error of construction. A model (which includes simulations) of something is not the thing modeled for if it were, it would not be a model, it would be the thing. Hence, testing by simulation is eliminated. Just as testing the CO2 AGW hypothesis by simulation doesn’t test the actual CO2 impact upon the atmosphere. Any pretense that it does is a fraudulent from the get go. The test must be directly applied to the thing itself. Which in this case the test must be directly applied to THIS Universe.
Now show me a test applied to this universe that shows it is nothing but a simulation and not something real. Then my next request, if you actually do that, run the test and report back on your results. Fantasies, conjectures, cartoons, false perspective drawings/cartoons, or simulations are NOT admissible as tests of the real thing.
But we’re still going to try and we’re still going to think about these things. There is no good reason to NOT try and to NOT think about them, because there is no good reason to NOT think.
Thinking about the totally arbitrary (not connected either positively or negatively to reality) is not thinking. It is only a simulation of thinking and a rather poor one at that. Yes, you feel you are thinking but about what? The thoughts are not based upon reality nor any evidence derived from reality. THAT is a very good reason not to do it unless you are a Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer. However, don’t fool yourself that it has anything to do with reality beyond an accidental coherence that has not yet been discovered. It does not inform about what actually is nor does it inform about what isn’t. It doesn’t even inform about your thoughts because your thoughts don’t refer to anything but themselves. Meaning in this case is a null set.
Now, if by some miracle, you do manage to find objective evidence for and tests of their valid connection to reality for the arbitrary thoughts, then my all means share the evidence and demonstrate the tests. Until then it is only verbal and mental white noise without cognitive content deserving of consideration or respect.
The best and only prospect we have of discovering the nature of reality is to start with reality and to check with reality at every step of the process. Our meanings must refer to real existent things and not to foggy ill defined feelings of intent. Such intents cannot be communicated because they do not point to reality and have no connection with reality. They are only subjective and ephemeral shadows without content or substance.
This is what I mean when I say that you cannot have a sound science without a sound epistemology and cannot have a sound epistemology until you have a sound metaphysics.
Uh, where did I suggest that a simulation of a thing IS the thing?
I said nothing of the sort, sorry if you got that impression.
Case in point: http://www.uni-jena.de/en/News/PM130118_Neutronensternsimulation_en.html
This should hold special interest for Joe, being that he’s an astrophysicist, but recently a breakthrough was made in simulating the interior of neutron stars. There were some “cheats” needed to get the right properties, but they managed to get the strong nuclear interactions in a calculable form while also including the typical characteristics of a neutron star regarding mass/gravity/etc.
The outputs fit what we would expect based on our theoretical descriptions of nucleons and what we know about neutron stars, so while it is not a REAL lump of neutron star matter being simulated, it behaves enough like one to provide useful and accurate results.
Now, that is fascinating to me, probably to Joe, perhaps even to you, but what does it matter for my argument you ask?
Suppose you produced another simulation with a simulated mind that was sufficiently aware it can find no way to disprove it’s own existence, a la Descartes, whether or not that mind is real outside of the sim, it would claim to be real within it.
Is there any way this simulated mind could tell that the aforementioned lump of neutron star matter was just a hacked together simulation?
Probably not without some extreme methods on their part.
Similarly, there is no way that you or I can state with certainty that we are not a mind in a sim, which by itself is not particularly interesting, but as I was trying to explain, we can ask a new question: can we simulate minds here?
If so, then at the least we can say that we might not be simulated ourselves: a universe incapable of simulating another universe yet still capable of producing the concept of a self-simulation is most likely a simulation itself.
A universe capable of simulating a universe which has minds that are unable to distinguish they are not in a real universe may still be a simulation running in another universe but it is at least plausible that it might be at the “top of the directory” so to speak.
I myself have provided an example of why you can not outright reject this hypothesis so quickly: I take proctored tests from time to time for school, they are administered with a webcam and software that allows the proctor to view what is running on the computer at the time, at which point they can pause the test, request questionable programs be shut down and so on.
I have been a diehard linux user for a while now, but the testing software does not have a direct linux version as of yet, so rather than trying to hack together a workable wine emulation or whatnot I just grabbed an old image of xp I have, loaded up virtualbox, and created a machine on to which I installed the testing software.
I’ve taken tests in this manner, there is no way for the proctor to tell outside of asking me to take the webcam, adjust the focus enough to see the fine details on the screen, and have me guide the cam around the edge of the screen where there is a bit of a lip visible even when vbox is maximized, though I could hide even that!
So for the mind in this example, there is no way they can distinguish between my simulated xp machine and a real one.
I can go further, I can take vbox, load up a linux image, something light on resources, install vbox in that machine, load the same image again, put in vbox, and then put an xp machine in there.
Even though my computer isn’t bleeding edge, it’s still a dual core with 6 gb of ram and a dedicated video card, but at that point I would begin having to worry about heat issues and frame rates on anything above a little 480×360 resolution window for the bottom machine.
There is no way I could get any version of a virtual machine program that might work with xp to run at this point, while I could do so with a normal xp machine, so if a proctor asked to see me open a vm, they could determine that I was running the testing software at the bottom of a simulation stack.
…see where I’m going with that?
There are actual physical limitations on computation with anything resembling what we would likely call physics, and so even if you dedicated the entire mass of the visible universe to computation, there are only so many layers of simulations you could run before you’d reach a point that while you COULD produce a plausible seeming universe for a simulated mind to reside in, but THEY could not produce a simulation themselves.
We do not seem to be in that universe, so we can rule out the possibility that we are definitely not in an actual universe.
What you seem to be asking for is some sort of positive proof of a hypothesis which is for numerous reasons either not directly testable, or has been phrased (by you) in a manner which precludes any possibility of testing whatsoever.
That’s on you dude, not me.
I’m just saying I can not honestly tell you “we are without a doubt not in a simulated universe”, and I know that you can not either.
WOW! What an intellectually ornate group. This is meant as a compliment. My hectic career (chemist) has made me addicted to executive summaries: Man is the only species on this planet able to imagine, to think abstractly, and to investigate nature with ever more sophisticated intellectual and physical tools. I am in awe of what puny man has dicovered in the last blink of geologic time about all that surrounds us and am certain we will know much more with each passing century. Right now I am wrestling with the malicious AGW deception on Earth, and am very impressed with Joe Postma’s refreshing thinking on the subject. How do I help PSI convince the public that the man-made portion of an essential trace gas in the air can not possibly cause the entire atmosphere to over-heat? I saw a recent estimate that in the last 50 years man has added an amount of CO2 equivalent to less than 1/1,000th of 1% of atmospheric volume. My friends and I are working on it. Please do the same.
That’s a great number to know Peter (atmospheric volume) and it really puts into perspective how blown out of proportion a trace gas is pretended to affect the climate. I don’t know how to convince the public, but I do know that there are very sick and deranged individuals out there, otherwise known as “paid internet shills”, who’s job it is to put the kibosh on any public discussion criticizing the GHE or discussion of all the positive benefits of having more CO2 in the atmosphere. All the science is already known! We have the historical geologic record which proves that there is no correlation between CO2 and temperature, and which proves that there was no overheating when CO2 was 10-times the amount it is today. Full stop, these are facts, and CO2 is green plant food. But what has been created is a fiction, a farce, and everyone believes it. By getting people to believe in a fiction, you can get them to do anything to maintain belief in that fiction, to hide from the cognitive dissonance that was manufactured for them.
Maybe talk to John O’Sullivan of PSI if you have ideas for helping. I’m in need of a mathematician, someone who is expert in partial differential equations and modelling them numerically, in particular regards to heat flow in 1-D space & 1-D time.
As I was laying down earlier for a nap with the woman, something struck me.
A hero of mine was fond of pointing out things in somewhat blunt manners, Robert Anton Wilson was his name, and he noted that usually when people would pray, they would look upwards.
He also noted the similarity between most “skyfather” faiths and the old thunder god deities.
As most people have lived between 60 North and 60 South, anyone looking up at those locations would have been looking towards a region of space that roughly defines a torus around the planet.
This torus apparently has something to do with lightning, so skyfather deities are roughly isomorphic to a static-charged space-donut.
AGW has taken this and added a new trait: HEAT VISION!
Rathar than merely frying us with lightning bolts–from which we can hide and defend our houses–the AGW electric-space-donut deity can ALSO choose to glare hatefully at us and heat the whole planet up! Hah, escape that you silly little monkeys, fear the heat-vision wrath of the new and improved electrical-space-donut skyfather!
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