Reality Blind - Vol. 1

Humans like cultural stories that are simple and easy to communicate, yet our society today has grown into one of enormous complexity fractionated into hundreds or thousands of disparate areas of expertise. We say that the stock market dropped or rose due to this or that factor, but in reality, we have no idea why. We say that an asteroid killed off the dinosaurs, when in reality it was an enormously complex pattern of extinction in a unique context, and this single cause explanation ignores the asteroid impacts of similar size in history which caused no extinctions whatsoever. Humans favor poor and incomplete explanations because really good explanations about states of a complex system tend to be impossible to understand and describe. Poor and incomplete explanations are arguably better than nothing, as long as we realize their limitations; but when we treat them as though they are true, they lead us astray. Why are economies around the world slowing in their growth relative to 30- 40 years ago? Why do we all want higher paying jobs? Why do we primarily believe only what our ingroup believes? Why are we emitting carbon ten million times faster than it was sequestered? When we look around us and see that we are approaching 8 billion humans, appropriating over 30% of our planet’s plant energy productivity from the sun 1 , with domestic mammals now outweighing wild mammals by over 40:1 2 , we w ould benefit from looking at “real” explanations because the “proximate” or surface ones end up not explaining much at all. What we do know is that humans are part of the animal kingdom, sharing an astonishing percentage of our genes with every living thing on Earth. We are the products of ‘what worked’ during thousands of human generations and millions of pre-human generations before that. What drives us, what motivates us, as well as what differentiates us from the rest of the animal kingdom all have real explanations — ones we need to understand and take to heart if we are to navigate the coming bottlenecks facing our civilization and our world. TaaL: The problems with narrative (stories) goes deeper than this. (It’s of course ironic to point this out to you in a narrative, but when in Rome, one lights roman candles, so I’m confined here to using linear additive data with syntax modifications.) It has been noted that human minds are evolutionarily biased and crammed with routines which make no sense these days, but to that we must add the fact that narrative never adequately or “ultimately” describes anything. It is “low bandwidth” and compensates by triggering pre -existing rough associations and metaphors in a single mind. This means human minds are designed to spontaneously create new mental “realities” based on any


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