Reality Blind - Vol. 1

time risk from deferring immediate consumption manifests in cultural forms as well, such as entropy risk, risk of destruction, risk of non-survival, risk of limited access or government expropriation, risk of obsolescence, etc. Better to consume today since tomorrow is uncertain! Biologically and culturally, we are heavily skewed towards a focus on the here and now, as is all evolved life. Ever tried making your dog wait to eat its food? The extent to which an individual values the present over the future is referred to in economics terms as a “ discount rate ” . The steeper the discount rate, the more the person is ‘ addicted to the present. ’ Drug users and drinkers, high risk takers, low I.Q. scorers, people who have heavy cognitive workloads, and men (vs. women) are groups that tend to have higher discount rates 64 . The more one is hijacked by modern stimuli, the more ‘ time blind ’ one is to the longer-term realities and challenges of our society and planet. Some decades ago, there were a series of “ marshmallow ” experiments done on the subject of “ delayed gratification ” in children 65 ; the upshot of which was that a child who could sit in a room without immediately eating a marshmallow would earn more marshmallows for his or her future self. Those who could wait – who had formed some sort of empathic relationship with their future self – went on to be more successful in life. That study is open to criticism (poor kids are more skeptical that promises of future reward are reliable) , but its core message did show some competitive advantage in the ability to, in effect, peek through time. TaaL: So, what ’s wrong with time blindness? What’s wrong with using up all resources as fast as possible to maximize immediate brain rewards? Well, mostly the fact that the future is real . The “ you ” reading this now was a hypothetical probabilistic future-dwelling being when you read the previous chapter. And indeed, there ’ s a large difference between having a word for the future, as you do, and having a pragmatic, self-aware ethic which incorporates the 4 th dimension (time). Indeed, this human trait has no inherent limit; at the extreme there are metaphysical traditions which call for complete asceticism (self-denial or self-discipline) until after death, at which point massive reward is guaranteed to ensue. However, it would be an overstatement to call that an ethic, because it ’ s based exclusively on the malleability of one ’ s perception of self-interest. A true 4D ethic – one which incorporates the time


Powered by