Dancers at the End of Time, Part One: The Flight from Reason

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, a school of psychologists known as transactional analysts came up with a narrative approach to neurosis and personality disorders. The very simple version of the story is that they found that people with psychological problems were living out self-defeating scripts:  narratives of which the patients themselves were not conscious, but which exerted a potent gravitational attraction on their interactions with other people. If the patients became conscious of the scripts they were acting out, the spell was broken and they could learn less dysfunctional ways of facing life. Transactional analysis fell out of favor once the pharmaceutical industry got its present stranglehold over the healing professions, but its findings remain telling testimony of the power of narrative to shape values and goals in its own image.

via Dancers at the End of Time, Part One: The Flight from Reason – Ecosophia

US Collapse – the Spectacle of Our Time

The American Empire is failing and flailing. This is the spectacle of our time. The Western mainstream news media are either blind, ignorant or complicit in denying the historic collapse. Such media are indulging reckless fantasies of the US political class to distract from the potential internal implosion. Casting around for scapegoats to “explain” the deep inherent problems, the political class are using Russia and alleged Russian “interference” as a pretext.

World history has reached a foreboding cross-roads due to the collapsing of the American Empire. Can we navigate a safe path forward avoiding catastrophic war that often accompanies the demise of empires?

A lot, it seems, depends on ordinary American people becoming politically organized to challenge their dysfunctional system run by and for the elites. If the American people cannot hold their elites to account and break their corrupt rule, overhauling it with something more equitable and democratic, then the world is in peril of being plunged into total war. We can only but wish our American brothers and sisters solidarity and success.

via US Collapse – the Spectacle of Our Time | Critical Analysis |

The Reality Game

We introduce an evolutionary game with feedback between perception and reality, which we call the reality game. It is a game of chance in which the probabilities for different objective outcomes (e.g., heads or tails in a coin toss) depend on the amount wagered on those outcomes. By varying the `reality map’, which relates the amount wagered to the probability of the outcome, it is possible to move continuously from a purely objective game in which probabilities have no dependence on wagers to a purely subjective game in which probabilities equal the amount wagered. We study self-reinforcing games, in which betting more on an outcome increases its odds, and self-defeating games, in which the opposite is true. This is investigated in and out of equilibrium, with and without rational players, and both numerically and analytically.

via [0902.0100] The Reality Game

The Last Days of Reality

The revelation forces us to confront some unpleasant thoughts about how the world works in 2017, and where things appear to be headed. As problematic as Facebook has become, it represents only one component of a much broader shift into a new human connectivity that is both omnipresent (consider the smartphone) and hypermediated—passing through and massaged by layer upon layer of machinery carefully hidden from view. The upshot is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to determine what in our interactions is simply human and what is machine-generated. It is becoming difficult to know what is real.

via The Last Days of Reality

How Civilization Started 

The world has indeed got richer, but any such shift in morals and values is hard to detect. Money and the value system around its acquisition are fully intact. Greed is still good.

The study of hunter-gatherers, who live for the day and do not accumulate surpluses, shows that humanity can live more or less as Keynes suggests. It’s just that we’re choosing not to. A key to that lost or forsworn ability, Suzman suggests, lies in the ferocious egalitarianism of hunter-gatherers. For example, the most valuable thing a hunter can do is come back with meat. Unlike gathered plants, whose proceeds are “not subject to any strict conventions on sharing,” hunted meat is very carefully distributed according to protocol, and the people who eat the meat that is given to them go to great trouble to be rude about it. This ritual is called “insulting the meat,” and it is designed to make sure the hunter doesn’t get above himself and start thinking that he’s better than anyone else. “When a young man kills much meat,” a Bushman told the anthropologist Richard B. Lee, “he comes to think of himself as a chief or a big man, and he thinks of the rest of us as his servants or inferiors. . . . We can’t accept this.” The insults are designed to “cool his heart and make him gentle.” For these hunter-gatherers, Suzman writes, “the sum of individual self-interest and the jealousy that policed it was a fiercely egalitarian society where profitable exchange, hierarchy, and significant material inequality were not tolerated.

”This egalitarian impulse, Suzman suggests, is central to the hunter-gatherer’s ability to live a life that is, on its own terms, affluent, but without abundance, without excess, and without competitive acquisition. The secret ingredient seems to be the positive harnessing of the general human impulse to envy. As he says, “If this kind of egalitarianism is a precondition for us to embrace a post-labor world, then I suspect it may prove a very hard nut to crack.” There’s a lot that we could learn from the oldest extant branch of humanity, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to put the knowledge into effect. A socially positive use of envy—now, that would be a technology almost as useful as fire.

Source: How Civilization Started | The New Yorker