Dissent, for the end of the world is nigh!
Daniel Schmachtenberger proves that we're fucked
From a framework of conventional science, Daniel Schmachtenberger argues for an impending apocalypse. For me, the take-home message is that we need to transcend conventional science.
If you’re not familiar with the work of Daniel Schmachtenberger, you have a treat in store. He is a deep and original thinker, working from a broad command of history, science, technology, philosophy, and current affairs. He has a way of abstracting and generalizing about events even as you and I have barely had time to pick ourselves up from the floor. He is a lovable aspy who verbally juggles a thousand deep and esoteric conceptual frameworks even as he speaks without notes. He is so much more articulate in ordinary speech than a mortal human that I have to wonder what he had for breakfast.
In these podcasts, his expression is confident and reassuring as he demonstrates with devastating logic that the world is coming to an end. Technology is exploding on an exponential curve. This is giving enormous power to the individual that can be used for either positive or destructive ends. (For example, computer viruses, swarms of flying mini-robots, engineering of biowarfare agents.) Even a tiny minority of sick humans apt to use this technology for destruction would have the power to terminate our species. Or just a few corporations without psychopathic motives that are simply behaving the way corporations behave could crash the human experiment.
He predicts two possible outcomes: Either someone, somewhere, will use advanced technology to end human civilization; or else we will submit to a global totalitarian government that monitors and controls our every move to such an extent as to make this impossible. He calls these two results attractors, which you’ll understand if you are familiar with mathematical theory of chaos. The first outcome he calls “self-termination”, the second, “authoritarian dystopia”.
What are we to make of DS’s logical proof? And how are we to interpret his supremely confident affect, clearly not terrified, not worried, not even unhappy? Maybe these two questions are related.
When body language speaks louder than words
Where does Schactenberger’s quiet optimism come from? I think it comes from an intuition that transcends the logic from which he speaks so compellingly. He has a deep sense that the Universe is taking care of him, a birthright gift which, tragically, is stolen from many of us during a traumatic childhood or chronic exposure to the toxic propaganda of a sick society. DS is spiritually healthy, raised by caring and enlightened parents, and he shares with us the gift of his health, even as another part of him argues convincingly for an apocalypse.
DS reasons through the methodology of economic game theory. Homo economicus is an individual maximizing his own advantage, oblivious to the harm which he externalizes to others. This is DS’s paradigm, and he never steps out of it. He is not naïve or heartless enough to believe that all human beings behave this way, but he reasons that as long as some humans (and many corporations) act as economic maximizers, they will gather power and prevail over others, even those who would choose (if they could) not to play this game.
What Schmachtenberger has convinced me is that there is no future for the game of selfish “optimization”. We as a species will move ourselves onto a different path. We will not get there because rigorous logical analysis convinces us that humanity is racing toward a dead end. We will get there by following our hearts.
Once each in the two videos, DS steps momentarily outside his framework of scientific logic and game theory. He references Daniel Ellsburg’s book, which describes dozens of occasions on which the world narrowly escaped nuclear holocaust, seemingly by one lucky accident after another. “It almost inspires some sense of supernatural awe that we are still here.” (First video 1:36), but then he moves quickly on as if to that say supernatural awe is a not a place we’re going in this video.
In the second video (1:16) he refers to Fermi’s paradox, which is, “With all the advanced civilizations we expect to be in the universe, why haven’t any visited earth?” But he doesn’t say “Why are there no visitors?”; he speaks instead of “the reason we do not see more aliens”. Is he hedging his bets? Or signaling to us that he is aware of the thousands of UFO reports, acknowledged (better late than never) by the US Navy and NYTimes. He goes right on without taking stock of this potentially colossal loophole in his doomsday logic, but perhaps there is a subliminal effect that causes him to return just a few seconds later to a closely related topic: Maybe some beneficent super-intelligence will rescue us. He pauses to note that this is “strangely a lot like waiting for the return of the Savior or the Mayan prophesy”.
Why we can and should rely on (what is regarded as) the supernatural to guide us out of the morass
I’m going to depart from Schmachtenberger’s narrative at this point and proffer my own resolution—why we have no choice but to rely on something outside our present scientific understanding of how the world works; and why there is empirical support for the proposition that this is not a pipe dream.
If Conan Doyle will excuse me, I will say that Once you have logically eliminated the possibility of survival, whatever remains, no matter how improbable or illogical, must be the way forward for our species.
DS’s analysis is rooted in a paradigm of Scientism that has been the source of humanity’s 3-century excursion out of our ecological niche into an experiment with dominating nature. That paradigm has got to go, and perhaps DS has gifted us with the means of knowing why, written in Scientism’s own language, a reductio ad absurdum.
What are UFOs? Why has there been so much secrecy about the subject for at least the last 75 years? Are there powerful creatures from other parts of the universe watching over us, interested in our future but not wanting to intervene forcibly? Have they actually intervened during the too many moments when nuclear war has been miraculously averted? Or are the pilots of UFOs really our descendants, time traveling from the future to tweak their history in a way that assures the possibility of their existence?
I don’t have any knowledge that would enable me to answer, but I know enough to know that they are important questions to ask.
Who built the Pyramids? (I have written about this before.) I am convinced by Graham Hancock and others that there was a technological civilization that ended abruptly 12,700 years ago in the Younger Dryas event, AKA Noah’s flood. Briefly: the Pyramids, together with the 83-ton Colossus of Ramesses II, 40,000 stone vases in the Cairo Museum, ancient core drill holes, Machu Picchu — all these artifacts and many others are proof that we are not the first technological civilization. Whoever built these things had global connections, a power to move large objects and to shape stone that exceeds our ability today.
But they didn’t use fossil fuels or nuclear power. How do we know? There are no nuclear waste dumps that predate 1930, and the world’s fossil fuel reserves show no signs of having been tapped before the 19th Century. So, how did they do what they did? I think there is indirect evidence that their technology was as powerful as ours, but built on a very different scientific foundation. Perhaps their technology combined mind and tools. Perhaps we can rediscover that ancient science. Perhaps there are people presently on earth who already have this knowledge.
Unacknowledged powers of the mind
Then there is 180 years of psychical research, establishing the reality of powers of the human mind for which there is no place in our familiar reductionistic science. If you don’t already believe this statement, you will enjoy Dean Radin’s books and videos. Or if you are a masochistic nerd like me, you can pore through the references in Etzel Cardeña’s comprehensive review article.
Individual human minds can routinely move tiny things, and occasionally move very big things. Collective minds focused on the same object seem to be far more powerful, out of scale with the numbers of cooperating minds. Extrapolating, we may believe that humanity is creating its own reality. Let’s create a different one
We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.
Preamble to The Earth Charter