50 Reasons Why The Human Race Is Too Stupid To Survive

By James Wallace Harris, Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Do not read this if you are depressed or are easily depressed. I’m not kidding. I hope I’m proven wrong. I really do.

I write this on the day I turn 63 while thinking about the future. Usually, I’m extremely positive about the future, probably because I love science fiction. However, if I wrote a science fiction novel today I’m afraid it would be a pessimistic apocalyptic novel. Normally I hate being cynical, but I thought for this essay I’d let it all hang out. I’ve spent my whole life assuming we were getting smarter and we’d become a rational species before we made ourselves extinct. I now think I’m wrong. We’re going to cross the finish line before we can get our shit together. Up until a century ago, the world was safe because there wasn’t enough of us, and the Earth’s carrying capacity could absorb our endless acts of stupidity.  My bet is those saving graces will run out in the next one or two hundred years. We won’t go extinct, but our global civilization will be stillborn and collapse. The once mighty homo sapiens will end up being subsistence farmers and fishing folk, and the industrial civilization will fade into distant myths. So it goes.

tundra

I doubt many people will read this essay, and I beg anyone with a depressive nature not to read these cases I present to make my point because they are truly depressing. Since I am not a true cynic, I hope I am proven wrong. These essays are just random articles I’ve run across recently, in no particular order, but taken as a whole paint a very bleak picture for the human race.  And it’s so sad because most people are good, and many people are smart, and we should be much better than our collective self.

I think there will be a number of reasons for our downfall, and they roughly fall into these categories:

  • Pollution.  The byproducts of billions of human lives are overwhelming the ecosystem. Rising CO2 levels is just one of many indicators that we are self-destructing.
  • Scarcity. We’re using everything up.
  • Theocracy. If it wasn’t for Islamic fundamentalism the globe would be mostly quiet regarding wars. But the more we work to stop worldwide terrorism it’s pretty obvious that’s there is an unresolvable conflict between democracy and theocracy. Even in America, there is an upwelling for theocracy. I believe such movements are causing civil wars around the globe, and we’re seeing the emergence of World War III. Theocracy is the evil our Founding Fathers feared when they created the Constitution.
  • Inequality. Social order breaks down when there is too much inequality, and inequality is on a sharp increase.
  • Corruption. Wealth and plutocracy protect the few against the many and this undermines order.
  • Crime. As the population density increases, resources dwindle, inequality grows, humans attack each other.
  • Extinction. We are currently in another mass extinction event. There have been several in the history of Earth. Humans are the cause of this one.
  • Hate. As our problems grow with more and more fellow humans sharing the planet, we lash out at each other.
  • Tyranny. As long as billions are oppressed by political and social injustice then we haven’t developed a practical political system to support humans on Earth.
  • Misogyny.  Hatred of women is so deep rooted in all the cultures of the world that for many, including women, it’s hard to see. As we approach the world’s first global civilization freedom for women is on the rise. Sadly, this freedom will be the first to go when things fall apart.
  • Prejudice. For all the enlightenment we’ve achieved in the last fifty years over race and sexual orientation there are strong indications that many people are still ignorant of the scopes of their prejudices.
  • Xenophobia. Many among us can’t get over their tribal instincts.
  • Disease. Drug-resistant diseases are on the rise, and the global spread of dangerous diseases because of transportation and warming climates indicate the revenge of mother nature is near.
  • Denial.  There are too many reality deniers among us. Up to now, we’ve been able to deny the gloom and doom of the population bomb, our inherent stupidity, and greed, because the Earth could absorb our mistakes. We deluded ourselves into believing we could always beat the system. Well, the bill is coming due, and we can’t pay the check.

These are some of our main Achilles heels that will bring about our downfall. People used to think God would save us, many still do. More recently, we thought we could save ourselves, especially with science and technology.  I use to think that. I wish I still did.  Most people live with their heads in the sand, cramming their minds with sports statistics, shopping for new cars, planning a wedding, buying Christmas presents, and ignoring all the dying canaries falling from the sky. If you think I’m wrong read just a fraction of the articles I list below. I firmly believe we know enough to solve our problems, I just doubt we have the collective will to work together to get the job done.

  1. Falling apart: America’s neglected infrastructure” – 60 Minutes. It’s not that we can’t fix these problems, we’re just too cheap and short-sighted to do so.
  2. A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA” – Rolling Stone. Some men don’t have a clue to how evil they are to women. If this is the best and the brightest, at what is supposed to be an institution of higher learning, then I rest my case. [This article has been proven false, but the whole story behind that is another reason for depression.]
  3. Depleting the water” – 60 Minutes.  Jared Diamond wrote a huge book about past collapsing civilizations. Even when older civilizations saw the end coming they didn’t change course. Neither are we.
  4. Dismembering History: The Shady Online Trade in Ancient Texts” – The Daily Beast. Greed and self-interest know no bounds.
  5. Stop Trying to Save the World” – The New Republic. No matter how hard we try to do good we seem to fail. Do-gooders just can’t outwit stupidity and bad guys.
  6. Iran Nuke Deal: A Matter of War or Peace” – The Daily Beast. It’s not the war on terror, but the war of theocracy v. democracy. Three great religions claim to have the same God. Do their animosities end when they die and go to heaven, or does God segregate paradise by faith?
  7. The ‘Caliphate’s’ Colonies: Islamic State’s Gradual Expansion into North Africa” – Der Spiegel. Didn’t believe my point in #6? Try this one, and wonder if WWIII hasn’t already started.
  8. Hell is Other People” – GQ (British). This is what happens when civilization collapses. That seems to be happening a lot lately. This is what humans are really like when there’s no big government to rule them. Yeah, that’s a fuck you to my Tea Party friends.
  9. Extreme Wealth Is Bad for Everyone – Especially the Wealthy” – The New Republic. Everyone should read Thomas Piketty.
  10. The Unbelievable Skepticism of the Amazing Randi” – The New York Times. With all the money we spend on education, with all the discoveries of science, why do so many people still embrace bullshit ideas?
  11. Inside the Vigilante Fight Against Boko Haram” – The New York Times. Without big government guys with guns rule. Is this what the NRA means when it says “An armed society is a polite society?”
  12. In Brazilian city, homeless face ‘extermination’” – Aljazeera America. As our population grows, and we compete for less and less, we seem to lose our higher natures.
  13. Groundwater declines across U.S. South over past decade” – Climate.gov. New NASA satellites can measure ground water, and we’re using it up so fast that ground is sinking all around the world.
  14. The Horror Before the Beheadings” – The New York Times. From another front of WWIII.
  15. Poor teeth” – aeon. Is this how a great nation takes care of its citizens? As long as the “I’ve got mine, fuck you” attitude prevails in America, we’re heading downhill.
  16. ”Hurt That Bitch”: What Undercover Investigators Saw Inside a Factory Farm.” – Mother Jones. What if the survival of our species depends on how kind we are to animals? A certain percentage of humans are evil to other humans – is that the same folks who are evil to animals? Or do we have two problem groups to deal with?
  17. The Ebola Wars” – The New Yorker. Ebola can be easily contained if you have a big government. Science can destroy Ebola if we have a big government that supports science.  You know the next line I would write.
  18. The Future Of The Culture Wars Is Here, And It’s Gamergate” – Deadspin. Some men just don’t have a clue about women. Their minds have never evolved out of the Neolithic, yet they are a product of the 21st-century education and culture. When civilization starts circling the drain, I advise women to kill all the men and take up cloning for reproduction.
  19. Where the Tea Party Rules” – The Rolling Stone. America is coming undone, and it’s not because people are bad. Most Americans are good, salt of the Earth folk who do the best they can. But things keep falling apart. We can’t go back, and we can’t work together to go forward.
  20. My Terrifying Night With Afghanistan’s Only Female Warlord” – New Republic.  The real Katniss Everdeen who fights the dystopian world order called democracy. If you had the choice between dystopia and chaos, which would you pick? The decisions we have to make are very complicated.
  21. George Clooney, South Sudan and How the World’s Newest Nation Imploded” – Newsweek. Report from another front in WWIII. This war is not going to come to an armistice.
  22. Louisiana Has a Wild Plan to Save Itself from Global Warming” – New Republic. We could solve the global warming problem, it’s why we don’t that’s the real problem with our species. Climate change is another world war, one we’re ignoring. You can’t win if you don’t fight.
  23. A Hundred Women” – The New Yorker. One measure of how civilization is succeeding is to study how women are being treated around the world.
  24. Inside the New York Fed: Secret Recordings and a Culture Clash” – Pro Publica. As long as we have a plutocracy we’re not going to solve many of our problems because money always trumps common good.
  25. The Fight of Their Lives” – The New Yorker. Strangely, many Kurds are Sunni, just like ISIL/ISIS, yet they want to destroy each other. Not all Islamic people are the same. The ones we call terrorists do not believe in borders. They are a threat to everyone that does not believe exactly like they do. Their brand of Islam is now spreading across the world. How do you have a global civilization that requires a choice between independent democratic nation states versus a borderless theocratic world rule?
  26. Self-Segregation: Why It’s So Hard for Whites to Understand Ferguson” – The Atlantic. Why does skin color divide us so? The color of our skin is about as important as the color of our shirts. What drives this senseless hatred?
  27. Was Moses a Founding Father?”  – The Atlantic. How different is this from the Taliban or ISIS?
  28. The Case for Reparations” – The Atlantic.  They say Christianity teaches compassion. Does this sound like a nation of Christians?
  29. Zero Percent Water” – Medium.  Like CO2, H20 is one strong indicator of our future.
  30. Meet the College Women Who Are Starting a Revolution Against Campus Sexual Assault” – New York.  How can this problem exist if these are our daughters – and sons?
  31. Young Carlos” – New York. Conservatives won’t do anything about climate change, but also hate new folks moving in. Being a climate change denier means learning to live with the side-effects of the thing you refuse to see. Maybe you’ll change your mind when all those people from out west moves east to find water. People move to America now because there’s less population, more equality, more opportunity. The I’ve got mine, fuck you philosophy fails us ultimately because if we have it good and everyone else doesn’t, they are going to come check us out. Think global, act locally.
  32. China, the Climate and the Fate of the Planet” – Rolling Stone. How can we say “Don’t be like us.”
  33. Nuclear Tourism” – National Geographic.  Is Chernobyl the portrait of Earth without people?
  34. The Afghan Girls Who Live as Boys” – The Atlantic. The title says it all.
  35. Will Misogyny Bring Down the Atheist Movement?” – BuzzFeed. Even the sons of the Enlightenment treat women badly.
  36. Zoonotic Diseases” – National Geographic. The complexity of the biosphere is astounding. But our ignorance and cruelty are more astounding.
  37. Hell in the Hot Zone” – Vanity Fair. Ebola is not the scariest thing about the outbreak, it’s us.
  38. Son, Men Don’t Get Raped” – GQ.  The lack of empathy in some humans compared to the compassion in others illustrates how far we have to go to change and save ourselves. You decide if we can make it.
  39. Dignity” – The New Yorker. Another report from the front on inequality.
  40. The Forsaken: A Rising Number of Homeless Gay Teens Are Being Cast Out by Religious Families” – Rolling Stone. I should have put “Intolerance” on the list above. If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem. It’s a shame that religion is often not the solution.
  41. Why not kill them all?” – London Review of Books. What if America was like this? It will be like big government breaks down.
  42. How Libya Blew Billions and Its Best Chance at Democracy” – Businessweek. Sometimes an evil dictator is better than chaos. It’s hard to start a democracy.
  43. Putin Dreams of Empire” – New Yorker. Why is it still about alpha males?
  44. The Race to Stop Africa’s Elephant Poachers” – Smithsonian. If humans lack empathy for other humans, why expect them to feel for animals?
  45. The Social Laboratory” – Foreign Policy. Will it require Big Brother to bring about law and order?
  46. Gambling with Civilization” – The New York Review of Books. By denying reality to preserve their self-interests, aren’t Republicans gambling with our future?
  47. Two degrees” – Vox. CO2 is how we set the global thermostat.  Changing it two degrees will have untold consequences. It’s not nice to mess with Mother Nature.
  48. A Convenient Excuse” – The Phoenix.  Addicts are great a rationalizing another fix.
  49. Climate Change and the End of Australia” – Rolling Stone.  It’s one thing to deny what might happen, it’s a whole other thing to deny what’s right in front of us.
  50. The Battle Over Climate Science” – Popular Science.  Don’t kill the messenger.  The real reason why we won’t survive is too many of us are reality deniers. We rationalize, we put off, we shirk, we ignore, we pretend, we lie, we escape in fantasies.

Happy Birthday to me. Tomorrow is another day. I’ll go back to being positive.

[I wrote an update to this essay for my 64th Birthday.]

[The only book I’ve read since writing this that has given me hope is Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari. 3/10/17]

157 thoughts on “50 Reasons Why The Human Race Is Too Stupid To Survive”

  1. First, happy birthday Jim. I do hope you can find comfort in the fact that you’re still here, that many of us enjoy reading your insights, and appreciate that you share your wisdom with us. 🙂

    This post has struck a chord with me because I was considering writing something very similar this week (have been for quite some time actually). The problem is that the more one thinks about human behavior and progress (past, present and possible futures), our failings as a species become readily apparent. In the grand scheme of things, we are insignificant and deeply flawed beings. Much of what you have written has become clear to me as well over the past couple of years and I expect my cynicism will only deepen as I grow older. The world has always been a scary place but the seemingly self-destructive nature of the human race seems to be accelerating with each passing day as does our collective ignorance. I think it may be more worthwhile to just focus on making the most of the time we have left because I don’t think things will improve nor do I think we can be saved from ourselves as you have discussed above. This is all the more tragic because we have the capacity to be so much more. Depressing indeed.

    1. Maybe the world is always the same, always at the brink of self-destruction, but always muddling through. Maybe we become more cynical about our prospects as we get older – the Mark Twain effect, as I like to call it. Twain was his most cynical as he got old. I hope I don’t become as bitter as Twain does, but then his beloved wife and two daughters died before he did, and that’s a lot to take.

      The Earth will go on without us. So will the universe. There are always beginnings, middles and ends. I just thought the human race would have a much longer middle. And humanity will go on. It’s just going to be a lot different than what I wished for growing up. It’s amazing how life doesn’t repeat itself in the history of evolution on Earth.

      A lot of people fear artificial intelligence, but I wonder if intelligent machines won’t be our replacements, and they will remember us like we remember the dinosaurs.

      1. ohh buy the way this is an excellent article,,,im glad to know others think as i ,,most people barely have enough thought to open there eyes in the morning,,like george carlin has said people are f ‘n stupid,,,

      2. You speak of man as they are,yet you are arrogant as well. You tale of “do-gooders “as mistakes, yet you lie on caring. If you miss my point,then you are human, and I will have justice to humanity. I am 10 and have my fathers computer,and I preach as though I am not of said age.My name is a joke for it is Roman and I care for the planet Earth and if it means destroying part of huma ity to save the planet,then I am human,so be it.Yet I agree. They are an arrogent bunch aren’t they.Thank you James but, there has always been perpetrators and heists,and thats why hope is key.

      1. Roman Thomas. Yeah you sound like you’re ten (10). There’s a reason why there are only elders in politics and not inexperienced children.

        Think about what you said, so self-righteously, I quote:

        “and I care for the planet Earth and if it means destroying part of humanity to save the planet, then I am human, so be it.”

        This here, has many names. In politics, one can refer to Fascism. For Biology, Eugenics. And you’re being “human” excuses you of making the decision of who lives and dies? This here is the basis of Atheistic thought. Moral relativism in its light.

        I assure you child, you will be met with resistance. Best of luck with your studies.

      2. I didn’t see Roman Thomas’ ? post. Neuronal firings in part of my brain agree with him. That part would be happy to see some sort of pestilence wipe out six billion people and then die out itself.

        To me the planet was in optimal balance in the fifties, with between two and three billion humans, when the Congo was the Congo, oceans swarmed with fish, and Las Vegas shined as a diamond in the desert.

        In other DNA, an ironic survival mechanism condemns overpopulation awareness by use of epithets.

      3. I didn’t seem Roman Thomas either, but I wonder if the writer was thinking of you.

        I think planet Earth would be much better off if the human population was below 1 billion. Although I don’t want 6 billion people wiped out. I think we need to manage our population. But then I don’t think that will happen either. You and I both know we’ll just run things into the ground and civilization will collapse on its own.

    2. I expect this comment to get a lot of hate from xenophobes out there.

      If the world went vegan it would make solving food scarcity orders of magnitude easier.

      Most of the ecological destruction on the planet is related to animal agriculture.

      I highly recommend Cowspiracy on Netflix for the environmental perspective and Earthlings on YouTube for the ethical.

      Have a nice day!

      1. I’m am working to be vegan. I’ve been vegetarian since 1969. I’m almost there. I too believe it would help the world and the health of people if people chose to eat a plant-based diet.

  2. Well, I read it. Depressing indeed. I feel this way often, and especially the past couple of days. However, looking at history is somewhat helpful in seeing the ebb and flow of stupidity. Problem is, there are so many more of us now. God help us! Or maybe we should begin helping ourselves.

    1. I think the only help we’ll get is from ourselves. And I believe there are millions of people out there trying to save the world, and I salute their efforts. Right now, most of the people in Lifeboat Earth are scrambling to eat up all the rations and rocking the boat. We need to settle down, take stock of things, and work together. Don’t think that will happen, but we can hope, and for those who pray, they should.

      1. We’re in the Anthropoicene Epoch. Sixth Wave of Mass Extinction. Homosapiens, collectively won’t be much longer of this Earth, and don’t deserve to. This is the price we’ll pay for the abject cruelty and exploitation we’ve relentlessly and systematically perpetrated on every other species on the planet, in their own ecosystems and habitats, and in our manmade constructs to enslave them.

    1. wow its good to hear from some thinking beings,,,humans will be just another failed species,,,,another tick of nature gone bad,,,will we ever get it rite,,,,,,,,dont think so its the nature of things

  3. Thank you for you article its a timely and entirely legitimate piece, we only have a couple of years maximum, a nuclear war can only be avoided by our intervention, and in Australia it won’t happen…I am disgusted with humanity. We murder people domestically and over seas and its all for profit, or to protect profits and we allow it. I have been using this article for 3 years, people get the implications and don’t care about anyone but themselves , and they have to be right about everything….its stupid and childish its bewildering http://www.whatistobedonevl.com/417155784

  4. James,

    I tend to be a pragmatic pessimist. The fundamentally animal nature of humans drives them to do things that the ‘civilized’ forebrain finds distasteful. And yet, some of us are capable of feats of great compassion and ingenuity (though I tend to think that those remarkable individuals are really just permitting the dead weight to stay afloat). It seems to me that it would be a terrible-but-imminent shame if our species failed to make it to heat death, and the part of my mind that hates both drudgery and boredom is attracted to the problem of how to ensure that what is best in our civilization survives to inform possible future civilizations as well as bear witness to the end of the universe.

    Could we perhaps bifurcate the species? Might we not endeavour to build a cultural ark somewhere here in the solar system as a hedge against the bad behaviour of the cognitively deficient supermajority?

    Additionally, do you ever wonder what might happen in a world with abundant very-low-carbon energy supplies?

    1. There is always the possibility that renewable energy systems could make big changes. I saw a story this morning about how wind energy in Texas was selling for negative amounts at a certain time of day when demand was low and production was greater than the grid needed. We are seeing more stories about the success of wind and solar power around the world. That could turn into a paradigm shift.

      I think we’re already seeing a “bifurcated” species with liberals and conservatives. I think their differences are more than opinions, and each represent genetic differences, although subtle, that cause them to see reality differently.

      I’d like to see us colonize the Moon and Mars, but I’m not sure if it will happen. Have you read Aurora, Kim Stanley Robinson’s new SF novel? I think it points to the way in which the dreams of the final frontier might not work out.

      1. I love KSR’s work, and thought that Aurora put forward a hypothesis that definitely merits testing. I tend not to subscribe the extraordinarily optimistic view of non-terrestrial colonisation described in the Martian series, but I regard the notion of life on one world being fundamentally incapable of adaptation to conditions on another world with some skepticism.

        Do you think that the differences between the brains of conservatives and liberals are primarily epigenetic, or do you think those differences are ‘hard-coded’? Might there be a genetic predisposition toward moderation?

      2. Dean, I have no scientific evidence that our political polarization is genetic, but it’s an interesting hunch. I’m not a religious person, but I don’t think it’s because I made a rational decision to avoid religion. I think I don’t have the genetic makeup to be a religious person. I’ve always felt my religious friends had an innate disposition to be religious. My mother tried awful hard to train me to be religious, but I think I inherited my fathers indifference. Proving this is epigenetic or genetic would be impossible at this time. Ditto for politics. And I would hypothesize that the genes for religion tend to also make people conservative.

        I’ve been reading a lot about transgender children. Back in the 1960s when a new wave of feminists began appearing, some of them asserted the male and female gender identity came from culture, and not genetics. This sounded logical at the time. We wanted to believe society was forcing girls to play with Barbies rather than believe it was hard coded. But reading about transgender kids make me wonder if gender identity isn’t hardwired. We’ve already concluded that sexual identity is hardwired, so why not gender identity. And if those are true, why not political and religious identity? It might be subtle, but it might be true. I’m sure a geneticist would freak out over such idle speculation.

        Will conservatives and liberals one day split off into separate species that can no longer mate with each other? Something like the Eloi and Morlocks in The Time Machine? That would be interesting, but how long would it take? Probably religion and politics if they are genetic traits are no more significant than orange and gray tabby cats.

  5. Thanks for this article. Thanks for someone thinking like me. Oddly enough, I am not bothered to go if that is what the future holds. All my life I only wanted to help others. Now all I can see is that we have passed our use-by date, and the sooner we are gone, the better off the planet will be.

    1. I wish the human race would grow up, get its shit together, take responsibility, and do something great with the planet. Something radically transformational might come along to help us change, but I doubt it.

  6. I always thought the answer is to have one person rule the world, preferably me since I believe that if I had all the power I could make this world a little better, then again I would probably just end up as another tyrant, Great article though I am disgusted at what we have become especially after what just happened in France and Lebanon, Is this the beginnings of the end of our world? Why are we making the same mistakes that our ancestors made? I guess the only thing we can do is keep grinding everyday.

  7. I’m not alone when I think this. People tend to hate me when they barley even know me. I’m 14 and I have been called allot of irrational things. I feel that Hate and misunderstandings WILL be the downfall of the human race. Not everyone but some people in the world just hate people for no real reason. Then we are always too quick to jump to conclusions. People have called me racist and sexist when haven’t even exhibited any racist are sexist behavior. I just really wish that we could improve to be smarter. I think if humans were to stop fighting and hating other people for little to no reason that we could advance in technology and wisdom in general. And that people could worship their God in peace without being hated on.
    (I’m sorry, it’s just the way I think. Please don’t hate.)

  8. Don’t worry about the problems of this earth my friend. Our knowledge is a blessing and a curse. Ultimately the earth is going to discard us and maybe, after billions of years life might start again. Humans are not perfect. Even if we by some chance attain a perfect system, our imperfections will tip that balance. So don’t worry…just know that everything is happening the way it is meant to happen.

    1. Bobsky, have you read The World Without Us by Alan Weisman? I find great comfort in it. I also find comfort in AI. Maybe if we can’t make ourselves smart enough, then we could at least create machines that are smarter than us.

      1. Sir…I shudder at the creation of AI smarter than us. What would be the point if the human species itself does not survive? AI cannot replace human intelligence and creativity-in the rare cases when we have such. People today would hate the idea of AI dictating their lives, or at least I would. Your article is well written, by the way.

      2. I understand, Jordan. Most people fear AI. But humans can’t be the crown of creation forever. Everything in existence gets replaced sooner or later.

  9. 32 years old and I’m at the same level. But one should wonder if humans are this kind of species should humans that are able to save the species – WANT to save this species.
    The more my head gets into science the more I realise humans aren’t even a blimp in the universe. Is doesn’t really matter if the species, and for what it’s worth the earth or even our solar system survives. In the scope of the universe we, and the planet have the size of a bacteria. So putting things in perspective; who or what will miss us?
    Should the planet survive it’s better of without us. Live would florish.

    In the end there is no meaning to our lives. And in that sense I envy the fools. Since they enjoy the days that were given to them without the worries of how to save mankind, nature and so on. They don’t care about other human beings and therefor they don’t deserve saving or surviving.

    Slaves to money and corporations.

    I even dare to go one step beyond yours; humans have overcome natural selection, and with this decreased the chance of survival. There are simply to many.

    To many stuffing their mouths full of MacDonalds and waisting the 70 points of IQ they received with dumb television and following celebrities. What’s the use of keeping them alive? In an animal world they wouldn’t…

    1. I’m struggling to write a counter-essay to this one, 50 Reasons for Hope. It’s hard, but if we do search, there are signs for hope. I think there are people out there with the intelligence and know how to solve our problems. In other words, solutions do exist. The challenge is convincing the majority that we need to work on our problems. Too many people want to pretend our problems don’t exist and focus on their immediate wants and desires. If humanity wants to survive then we have escape our personal fantasies and face up to reality.

  10. i think the biggest problem is education. The leaders we have in the world today are just greedy bastards who want more for themselves and none for everyone else. the education we have does not create people who are capable of logical or critical thinking. its either that, or more than 99% of humans are really just that fucking stupid…..

    1. Yeah, but how do we get a better education system? I think the K-12 system works for some, but not all, or even most. I’m hoping self-study online courses will help some people. But we really should make an effort to offer a variety of education systems suitable for different personality types. I wish each academic discipline would offer a rating system, like the chess ratings, and then require people to have specific ratings in the various subject areas to equal a high school degree, college degree, master’s or doctorate. Then let people find whatever learning method they prefer. So homeschooling might work for some, or self-study other, or group study, or classroom study, etc. Separate grading from education. Then jobs could require things like a 2250 on the International Math Scale, or 1475 from the American Accounting Society, etc.

      1. Yes, but that may be a mere extension of our current hierarchical system. If too many people seek a degree as a factor of guaranteed success, will said degree be worth anything?

  11. Maybe I’m playing devil’s advocate in what I’m about to say, but I’m going to say it anyway because it’s something that often comes into my mind these days, and I’ve not seen it anywhere else.
    What if rather than doing something bad or wrong, we humans are simply doing the only thing we can do; or to put it another way, exactly what we we’ve evolved to do? Humans are the only (living) species to my knowledge that seems to be unable to live in harmony with its (our) environment (or at least it seems this way, if we think our purpose in the ecosystem is the same as that of other animals). Our special abilities (compared with other creatures) have allowed us to grow like a virus, defeating every predator that challenges us, and to find ways to extend our lives and our numbers enormously, and we’ve done this even though we are perfectly capable of understanding that this is not sustainable, and that by doing so we are destroying everything (including ourselves).
    What if human beings are actually agents of decay, rather than growth? What if our purpose in the ecosystem is to destroy as much of the rest of it as we possibly can?
    Looked at this way, we’d have to admit we’re doing a damned good job so far…

    1. That’s an interesting take on things Automaton. And you might be right. Maybe our purpose is to use up the planet while evolving machine intelligence. Suns live and die to produce elements for making life. Maybe the purpose of biological life is to create machine life.

    1. Donald Trump is not the cause of our stupidity, but he is a product of it. The way I see there are two forces at play. One, are the people that want to solve our problems. We have the know how and technology, it’s a matter of will. The other force, are people who want to ignore the problems, either hoping the problems will go away, or they’ll die before things get bad enough to effect them. Trump is campaigning for the second. We can’t go backwards. Whatever way America was great 50 or 100 years ago can’t be recreated today. To solve our problems requires moving forward, not backwards.

      It gives me hope that our problems are solvable. It depresses me that we choose not to. The current election is all about self-interests. As long as our primary drive is self-interest we’re doomed.

  12. Just came across this post. Humans for the most part are ignorant to most things (including myself), cause war and suffering for self-interest, and have and still do commit horrible acts against humanity everyday. While it is true that the human species is in fact lacking in many areas that are critical to our survival, it is also true that the world is becoming a generally safer/smarter place. Death rates have gone down dramatically in the past few hundred years, birthrates have started to steadily decline and are predicted to level out, and the earth is estimated to have about 4,500 years of resources left at our current rate of consumption (rate of consumption is estimated to decrease as technology advances). Technology will advance exponentially, and if given enough time it is my personal belief that humans might even become completely self-sustaining and independent of this planet. The hard part is trying to get people to focus on empathy, love, and understanding for each other. Without these traits it is my personal belief that the human species will not survive and instead be clouded by self-interest and apathy. I believe that we can do it but that it will take constant and active work, and that it will literally take hundreds of millions of people coming together in order to change the world and snuff out ignorance, corruption, greed, etc. My advice to anyone reading my post is to try to be kinder to people, be more understanding of others and their situations, and try to love instead of hate. I honestly believe that these are the building blocks of progress, and just because the task might seem daunting it doesn’t mean that we can’t at least try to make a positive change in both ourselves and the world. There is a movement brewing of people that are fighting against complacency, against greed, and against hatred and ignorance. I personally try to get myself and others involved in local politics and advocate for reform and regulation of unjust and crooked legislature. But it will take millions of people to come together and start a change, and the change of our nation and the world will have to be based off of love and respect instead of war and revolution.

  13. Hi there

    I concur with you on your essay – it’s difficult for me to interact with humans nowadays because of their selfish ways etc. I’ve got myself a farm and have set up an animal sanctuary. My way of trying to wake up the human race is to get them real to how bad we are treating our farm animals – it’s getting worse and worse as we get further into intensive farming. We were much more civilised in our treatment of farm animals centuries ago. What frustrates me mostly is how humans concern themselves over petty issues in their lives as if they are the be all and end all, and yet are happy to have farm animals suffer terribly so that they can feed their faces with protein they don’t need. I’ve done many workshops and there are people out there who are waking up, but it’s a slow process. People aren’t happy, and you can tell when you go into the city, but they aren’t doing anything about changing that – well not quickly. Admittedly I’ve always been quite out there – but if I can do this – others can. I’m single, I’m a woman, I’m in my 50th year and I’ve bought a farm and look after 40 animals (give them a wonderful life), and look after the land and nature, all on a meagre wage from 2 days work a week. I love my life – but very few would do this because they are so attached to their comforts. There is so little compassion out there – people care when they hear about something happening to a toddler because it reminds them of their toddler, but they don’t care about things they can’t relate to – suffering experienced by animals for instance – suffering that is ultimately the responsibility of the humans that buy the food – we can’t abdicate responsibility.

    I hope that people can become less selfish and put more back – in fact put a lot back because they have to make up for all they’ve taken in the past over and above what should have been taken i.e. un-sustainable practises. But I do find humans not only selfish but stupid. They are so absorbed in the small shit, they can’t stand back and look at the painting that is created. They can’t see that what they are doing isn’t sustainable and that it’s all down to us as individuals. If we make sure our balance sheet is in the black and then give a bit more, we would all be in a much better state as a human race. It’s like people think someone or something will save them, well it’s really down to us to safe us and we do that one human at a time. Start from “me” and work outwards. Live an ethical, conscious life and that will then emanate outwards. It’s so simple really – I can’t understand why people can’t see this. Religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism have much in them that pertains to this gentle lifestyle – which is so satisfying when it’s encompassed into your life. I’m not saying be religious and don’t question – but we don’t have to reinvent the wheel – there has been so many enlightened beings in our human race which have left much material to read in their wakes.

    So I’m not sure what will happen to the human race – god knows why I should care – I have no offspring – most of these selfish humans have kids and grandkids – so why is it they don’t care and I do – go figure! But I do care, and I probably care more for the animals and plant life than for the proliferation of the human race. I think there are people out there who are good ambassadors for the human race and by that I mean they live sustainably and act as custodians of the animals and plants on this planet – but we need more of these people. If the shit hits the proverbial fan then hopefully some of these people will survive, if they don’t well lets hope that the animals survive. I think the PLANET which everyone worries about – will be fine – it’s ironic when people say “SAVE THE PLANET”, do they mean “SAVE THE PLANET FROM HUMANS!” because you can bet your bottom dollar – the planet will be fine – it’s the survival of humans that is at risk here – but I guess it’s a bit too close to the truth to say “SAVE THE HUMANS!” and we as humans have got very good at hiding our heads in the sand to contend with such a close the bone statement as this!

    Life in your little pocket – somewhere in nature if possible, surround yourself with good people, and enjoy your life – ignore the news and all that crap and if the human race is coming to an end – lets enjoy it here while we can – anyway for most of us here today, the world might become more difficult to live in but I think we will die before the human race goes extinct – so if we do our bit and try and influence others, but also enjoy our time here whilst we have it.

    1. The other day I read something basic that’s very telling. The guy said people fall into two kinds, those who think about themselves, and those who think about everyone. I think everyone should include the animals. I’ve been a vegetarian since the 1960s. We need to design an economy that is sustainable, and that means making room for everyone.

      Great comment. I used to dream of owning a farm.

  14. Big typo that you need to correct because it destroys the meaning of the sentence completely:
    “Dismembering History: The Shady Online Trade in Ancient Tests” – The Daily Beast. Greed and self interest know no bounds.

    TESTS. It should be TEXTS. I almost ignored that link completely because “tests” made no sense.

  15. James, you have certainly put a lot of energy into addressing the overpopulation issue. I am assuming that you have children, otherwise you could have summed it up easily like I did. I bought into “The Population Bomb” warning in the sixties. Of course deniers have forsaken the idea since civilization didn’t crash quite as fast as Ehrlich and others projected. But I got it and didn’t have any kids. In the sixties I also attended a rally in Berkeley where Ken Kesey spoke. In reference to the war, another aspect of stupidity, he said the only thing one can do is take one last look, turn the back, and say f—k it. That’s the answer if one isn’t saddled with the guilt of having whelped progeny into the abject horror to come – and let’s not miss the fact that about 2 billion people are already suffering the effects – hardly fewer people than existed when I was born.

    People who suggest that other people are starting to think about the problem, or whatever, are in the same denial as the really stupid people who don’t see any problem – about 99 out of 100, at least, I would guess, from having talked with people.

    Just for the hell of it I calculated the effect of me personally having “done my part.” By not having children over three hypothetical generations I will have polluted and used up resources 1/16th as much as a person having two kids, with his children following suit, and 1/22nd as much as a bloke with three.

    My goal in all of this, though, is Diogenesian: I walk around with my little lantern looking for an honest man; i.e., anyone who acknowledges that civilization as we want it is cooked. That’s all I require, since the problem can’t be solved. So far I have found only a couple. I don’t count any people who cite the problem but hedge it with a statement ringing in some kind of hope. There is none – unless one is banking on some minute probability akin to winning Powerball.

    And I will add in closing that not having kids is similar to winning Powerball. I pretended I was financing my children and instead invested the money it would have required. Now I am wealthy and enjoy pretty much the same luxuries I would have after a Powerball win. You don’t need $500 million to be as happy as possible, just a couple, really. I wish I could preach this to high school kids before they fall over the Salingerian cliff and have children. But, as I said, they can’t get it. There is no hope.

    1. Earl, my wife and I didn’t have kids either – or grand kids, or great grand kids… Have you read Countdown by Alan Weisman? It’s a modern version of The Population Bomb. Weisman also wrote the beautiful A World Without Us. Weisman goes around the world in Countdown to chronicle the efforts to curb population. Some people are learning. Some nations have even done something, but those that have, have learned the slowing population growth impacts economic growth. You can’t win for losing.

      No, there is no hope. We’d need a black swan to save us. Oh, have you read The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb? Weisman claims The Green Revolution only delayed the inevitable, so a black swan might not help.

      1. James, thank you for the reply. I read a while back that Shinzo Abe was commissioning an economic model for sustainability in a declining population, but saw nothing in follow-up. A core tenet was that most of the people, even the retired elderly, would contribute in ways they could. I’m sure models could be developed, but where there is lacking appreciation, the will trails off. People are just not smart enough to understand that while increasing populations fueled economic growth or sustainability up to this point, the strategy is not viable going forward.

        I apologize for accusing you of having kids. I should have known from the fact that you’re not in denial. My wife and I just celebrated our 50th Anniversary. We give all of our love to each other. Every person with kids I know has stated or implied that he or she loves her children most. You and I can be grateful for this lagniappe, as well as for free time. How many people with children would ever have the time to learn what “lagniappe” means?

        So thank you for the recommendations, but I am done wasting valuable time I have left reading about this world’s biggest atrocity when nothing can be done about it. Reading about the mechanism of denial, though, helped me get off of preaching. Neural connections are not there to receive the message. It’s like trying to turn a lamp on umpteen times with its cord cut. As I mentioned, the only thing about the subject that interests me now is very occasionally finding an honest man (or woman) vis-à-vis the deluded multitudes, so that I don’t feel so marginalized. Without knowing people like you exist, I would devolve into total misanthropy and cynicism; my little lantern found you. And thank God for fine wine.

  16. All true, but collapse has happened before and just like rabbit populations that overeat the vegetation and have a mass die off, there are always a few left that start things off again. Maybe if who we are is much bigger than our physical/material existence then in the bigger scheme of things its not that important. Just have fun, have respect for all other living things. make the best of your own life and help others where you can. Finally the bigger picture view allows us to be amused and not take life too seriously.

    1. All true, and all true. My biggest issue is loneliness in that everybody but a handful of people on earth is in total denial about the ravaged state of the planet resulting from overpopulation, and the hopelessness for most of civilization; yes, there will be pockets that survive. And I only get glimpses of that sentient handful on the Internet; there’s nobody locally that I know who sees a problem. I feel as though I am living amongst a different subspecies.

      1. That’s how I feel too Earl. Why is such an obvious problem so universally ignored? Solutions to all our problems are known, we just collectively refuse to get down to business and apply them. We are not rationale creatures, but rationalizing beings. Everyone is a genius at justifying their immediate urges.

      2. I took this from a website quoting George Marshall, Executive Director Climate Outreach Information Network Oxford, UK. It addresses climate change, but the same psychology can be applied to the denial of all the consequences of overpopulation. (I edited some bad grammar in the statement.)

        “Failure of the ‘risk thermostat.’ Our response is strongest to threats that are: Visible with historical precedent Immediate; with simple causality caused by another ‘tribe’; and have direct personal impacts. Climate change is: Invisible; unprecedented; drawn out with complex causality; caused by all of us; and has unpredictable and indirect personal impacts.”

        Thus denial of overpopulation is automatic for common people, I suppose, who do not have strong science backgrounds, which would have exposed them to evidence-based logic to supersede personal experience from which to form conclusions. And the average IQ in the world is somewhere in the 90s (70s and 80s in some highly populated regions), whereas many “thinking people” surpass this common level by 30 points and more. And the very problem, birthing children, also takes up the time a person might otherwise extend toward education, which might introduce him or her to the nature and gravity of the issue. Many people haven’t even learned which side of the road one should walk on. I think it’s futile to expect common people to think critically or do anything different. So avoiding having children (for those who can check themselves in time), and ignoring the future of Planet Earth, as effectively as possible, and just enjoying what one can, is probably the best cocktail for intelligent and educated individuals who are also saddled with existential sentience.

      3. I agree Earl, more people need to choose not to have children. That only happens with greater education and economic opportunity. The trouble is countries around the world that have negative population growth also have negative economic growth. The U.S. population would be in decline if not for immigration. We need to fix capitalism so it’s not tied to continual population growth. Robert Reich has some ideas in his book, Saving Capitalism. Bernie Sanders had many good ideas, but he wasn’t popular enough. Did you read Countdown by Alan Weisman? He went all over the world investigating population growth, and the few places he found that were doing something have been undermined by other factors.

        See my latest post about climate change and human migration. All countries that survive climate change better than other countries will attract climate change refuges, which will increase their populations. It’s doubtful we’ll control population growth any time soon, unless it’s through the old methods brought about by the four horsemen, and we don’t want to wish them on anyone.

  17. This article is the pinnacle of what a regressive is. The stupid people think like this. You can’t dress up feminist propaganda with global warming and expect to still be respected. There is too much wrong with this list to mention briefly so I’ll put it this way. The stupid in this world are stupid because they think the way James here does. One can only hope he hasn’t got a large following. We don’t need cultural Marxists.

    1. Brendan, you are proof that people see the same reality and make vastly different assumptions. I’m amused that you think because I’m a feminist and worry about climate change that implies I’m a Marxist. Only moldy academics worry about Marxist theory anymore, not even the communists. We know Marxism doesn’t work, and we’re learning that free market Capitalism won’t work either. Everyone seems to be working on a variation of socialized capitalism. Read Saving Capitalism by Robert Reich.

  18. Thanks, James. I’ll pick up “Countdown,” for the academic interest in it. But I think anyone who thinks there’s a chance that a world with average humanoid IQs measuring not that far north of Gibbons can come to grasp a need to stop having babies is in as much denial as they are.

    Shinzo Abe was supposedly working on an economic model for Japan that didn’t include expanding population, but I haven’t heard anything more about it. I know there could be models, but because people would never comply, there’s probably no compelling reason to spend much time developing them.

    My wife says the only purpose of mankind is to have babies, and I pretty much agree with that. But the planet has evolved past the point where that is still a good practice for survival, so poo-tee-weet.

    1. Earl, I believe you are even more cynical about the future than I am. I think our species is very good at adapting. Of course we might destroy the entire ecosystem in the process. The percentage of the population that is liberal and educated is growing, so there’s always a chance we’ll reach a critical mass of intelligence and save ourselves before its too late. I’d put that chance at 20%.

      1. James, when someone’s in denial, there is nothing another person can say to bring him out of it. You’re an intelligent man, and I know you’ve seen the scientific evidence regarding the state of the seas, water tables, number of people who have already lost any semblance of “civilization” (two billion), and the estimated number of people the planet can sustain in perpetuity (two billion). You’ve also seen how many politicians have mentioned the problem of overpopulation (zero, to my score). When I graph trend lines, the probability of some kind of chimeric turnaround looks to be less than 1%. How, for example, are you going to get rid of six billion people?

        I don’t know if the term “cynical” squarely applies to a man simply looking at overwhelming scientific evidence and calmly making an intelligent and rational conclusion from it. And I see aspects of the planet that are more beautiful today than ever before. Women, for one example, at least in developed countries – Japan is probably the best example. They were wonderful when I was a young man, but dental hygiene was not at the advanced state that it is today, where many women now have zero cavities and perfectly healthy mouths to go with the perfect rest of them, which did exist when I was young. I know that is an eccentric thing to say, but I just wanted to acknowledge that not everything is a downer in our declining civilization. Wine is better, too. Just like when a balloon explodes from a pin prick, most of the air molecules go rushing out, but still there are some moving in.

        I guess I’ll have to take my little lantern and look elsewhere for the world’s second honest man.

  19. Maybe YOU’re not as smart as you think, you do realize that death is not the end do you ? And we live in a multiverse, do you even understand what that means ? That every possible reality exist :P, so why worry. There are multiple realities where the earth is destroyed, as there are many that we survive. ETC ETC

  20. Mr. Harris,
    I do believe you are wrong. Now before you ignore me, hear me out. The human race is not stupid. Far from it. We are ridiculously intelligent, our brain is capable of so so many things. Regret, curiosity, wanderlust. Those are all things that other creatures show no signs of feeling. It’s a remarkable thing, really, our inherent self-awareness. A blessing and a curse, as some would say. If we were so stupid, would we have gotten so far? Yes, it is our ability to think for ourselves that is our worst fault. We are selfish and our self-preservation instinct still prevails after all this time. We would, in the back of our mind, rather protect and prolong our one self. I’ll get back to this in just a moment. This ties in with our self-awareness. We, as a population, are immensely aware of ourselves and others around us. We are aware of our existence in such a way that reinforces our natural fear of death. The self-preservation, like I mentioned before. A pessimist might say that it’s a vicious cycle. We are scared of death, so we learn, search, and find. We try and avoid death. We become increasingly more aware of this over time and that reinstates the fear. You could say, the only reason we’ve gotten this far is because we’re scared. But the human race is brilliant! We are finding new ways to survive and push through. The human race does not go out without a fight. In November of 1918, the deadliest month in recorded human history, and a few of the following months, 50 million people died. Five percent of the human population was wiped out. And by what? A virus. A microbe! H1N1. The flu. The same flu that’s around today. Why’d it kill so many people? Why’d we keep on working to find a cure when there was no hope in sight? When we had to make coughing and sneezing illegal? I don’t know. People are known to give up. That is true, but we do not give up without a fight. We kept on fighting through the deadliest war in history, then a sickness with a death toll of almost five times that of the war. We kept on fighting through the next war, the next epidemic. We’re coming across an environmental issue right now. We’ve done this before. We’re fixing the Thames River. That river was so nasty people actually DIED. Not from drinking it, even! And sea life is returning to the water!
    In summary, good sir, we’re probably going to do just fine. The division and alienation of people who are different than oneself are dropping. We’re in the midst of a social revolution. We’re in the midst of a medical revolution. We find our problems. We fix them. Out of fear of death, love of life, it’s all the same. There are bad people, yes, there’s always been bad people but they don’t ruin the good in the world. Chin up, Mr. Harris, we’ve got a long way to go, but we’re making good progress.

    1. Like the old Timex commercial, we take a beating and keep on ticking. I don’t think the human race will come to an end anytime soon. Like you say, we have tremendous survival skills. I worry about all the other species that aren’t surviving because of us. If we end up with just us and the cockroaches, have we really survived?

      Things are getting better. The trouble is there’s too many of us, and our numbers are growing, and we don’t share well with the rest of the life forms on this planet.

  21. You really took your time on this and it shows. I think about all of this almost every single day and it is really painful. I am majoring in environmental science to join the people that are trying to save the earth but I am still years away from a degree and I’m scared by then it will be too late. You wrote this two years ago and since then things have gotten so much worse. Sometimes I truly feel it would be better if we just got wiped out.

    1. I think we have the knowledge and technology to solve all our problems. It’s a matter of us collectively getting to work. There’s always a chance this will happen. And there’s always a chance of a black swan. No use packing it in until it happens. Besides, there will be all kinds of fascinating events that will happen before civilization collapses.

  22. Evolve into someone that is amused by the good and the bad (yes bad not evil) of the human race. Somehow I think that I am not alone. We are all here on a media site, “well what’s new” If the down fall of the human race is the cause of anything at all, it would have to be “The human race has only one really effective weapon, and this is laughter” (Mark Twain)
    It is a coping strategy that we put in place becoming wiser practicing an idealistic endeavour like humility, empathy, sympathy and patience.
    The sunset was wonderful, but the fact that another inhumane act was done upon another under that wonderful sunset is more media driven.
    So we go forward in ignorance within a limited ability to create an illusion of unconditional love and it seems to work or is it more so media driven information overload reinforcing bliss in ignorance that in turn feeds arrogance.
    INVENT AN UNBIASED SANDBOX FOR ALL OF OUR BIASED MIND SETS THROUGHOUT ALL SITUATIONS IN LIFE. Then the human race might have a chance to be humane. Where life exists there is always hope of change.

    1. I’m not sure I believe in evil either, since I don’t believe in the divine.

      And I know what you mean by the media. As long as I don’t watch the news, life seems wonderful.

      I like to think our problem is everyone models reality different. If we had more consensus with our modeling, we might succeed.

      1. “And I know what you mean by the media. As long as I don’t watch the news, life seems wonderful.” ‘Seems’ is the key word here.
        I’ll be the first to admit my distrust and dislike of the media, but we need to know the troubles in our world. We need to know them so that we know how to help solve them. I see that as incumbent upon us as a human family. Overly passive people do much harm by their lack of compassion towards the cries of help from others. And when social decay is bad enough to begin affecting them, they might just give in to it with relative ease but the problem is that they never tried to help. They were too self-absorbed, too selfish; part of the problem by turning a blind eye to the world. When someone is lying on the street, it is obvious isn’t it that our duty is to assist them?

      2. The depressing thing about our problems is we know what to do, we just don’t do it. We are paralyzed by political polarization. Our species is smart enough, and has all the technology we need to solve our problems, yet we refuse to act by working together.

  23. Well, whenever you take all the evidence ‘against’ something, on the surface your argument will seem compelling. You may look then to Sci Fi not as predictive, albeit deliberate exaggeration, but as an impossible leap of the imagination to arrive at a stable enough world to give us the stability required for a leap to there. And when we begin scoring the good side of the tally on how things have indeed improved for the human race, we find plenty of evidence but the waters are not familiar. We’re too used to being pessimistic, a result of the fear inherit in living in social systems where life and liberty are not guarantees.
    But you are not entitled to list all of these things and then crawl back in your corner. If you are capable of identifying problems, you are capable of ‘doing something’ about them. Your task is not to analyze doom, but to fix what’s wrong. It’s a responsibility we all share but few accept. Obviously, you can’t work on everything you’ve listed here- so I would advise you to get to work on the problems you feel are gravest or that you are the most passionate about.
    One last thing: you did not specifically list nuclear war as a category in itself but I think by far that is the greatest to humanity. It is also acute and the most volatile in terms of being unable to predict it or stop it if it begins. So I think a lot of us need to be working on disarmament. It’s not like we’re an ant hive getting good orderly direction from the queen here folks. We have to think as individuals and influence others individually. It’s a lot of work but it is definitely worth it. I look at the potential of homo sapiens with a resounding affirmative response. You should too.
    Yes, we really can.

    1. Philip I agree with you that we must all do something and stop hiding. I’m working on a new essay about 100 save-the-world books to read. Most of us feel powerless to help solve the world’s problems, but at minimum I think we should at least be aware of them.

      I desire to run away comes when I’m worn down.

      1. Hi James. I’m sure we all have battle fatigue. I too keep chipping away at what seems like volcanic mountain of problems that could blow at any time. It’s unnerving, unsettling. It can be depressing and sometimes you can feel like giving up.

        But I think that is indicative to rest, recuperate, and recharge. While our duty is to our fellows, we also owe good spiritual and mental health to ourselves.

        Thanks for the exchange. It’s encouraging. I’m looking forward to that list.

  24. Survival of the richest– the new prophecy amongst humans. Love is only a material phenomenon to many, a social ticket to the so called heaven of materialism and bullying. If we cannot be genuine at any point in our interaction then mother earth will also reciprocate not with love but with difficulty in survival conditions. We are creators of our own problems and destructors of own self. Yes humans are stupid 🙂 They prove it countless times. But who is to blame- Choices or circumstances ? I guess choices more.

    1. Interesting Raveena. I agree. We have made a long series of bad choices. But could we have made different ones? There is a new book out called, Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are? I have to ask if we’re smart enough to know ourselves.

      1. Are we smart enough to know ourselves? The answer of “no” is contained in the question, because it asks the wrong question. Smart is a function of the 5% of our brain’s functioning in the cerebral cortex. Most of who we are resides in the 95% that remains unconscious to that thinking 5%. We can get a sense of unconscious motivation by reading Carl Jung, from the past, and neuroscientists of the present. Otherwise we walk around as blind schmucks thinking we are the captains of our behavior when in reality our unconscious minds are calling most of the shots. When we know that we can learn to recognize the triggers of untoward actions and stop ourselves from going there.

      2. Interesting angle. I’m a big fan of the unconscious mind too – especially the book, Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. I take a different tack than you because I believe our unconscious minds are already smarter than our conscious minds. But that’s not saying much because other than a brilliance for selfishness, neither mind has the aptitude for cooperation.

  25. So I got into an argument with my muslim classmates online we have a group, one of my friend post a note about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Dajjal (Antichrist) and I was infuriated that they would make a smear campaign by making fitna (sedition, civil strife) without realizing that they can’t even know that, with their logic that my friends already knew that their God only knows when the “Dajjal al-masih” appears, wow beliefs that seeks to amaze me with their BS assertion, and not making BS claims about the two….not only that I actually asked a good question about their islamic community (ummah) and their sect(mazhab) sunni,shia,Ibadi,sufi, and ahmadiyya if their religion is for all humanity why are they separated and attack each other because they have different teachings, all of my classmates are sunnis I’m the only atheist. On top of that, my muslim friends insult me because I showed them this ( https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5344/30243232573_770616603e_o.jpg ) and went full out calling it a kafir ideology because they saw apes becoming humans because they don’t believe in evolution, when it’s clearly about Donald Trump wining and we fucked it up….seriously my friends are so hypocritical they’re way worst than iblis (devils).

    P.S I live in Malaysia

  26. depressed: that really wasn’t so bad. great read in fact. truthfully, I’ve heeded your warning but in truth this is actually very gentle natured and tame compared to what people actually say to me both on the internet and in real life yet fundamentally the truth.

  27. depressed: that really wasn’t so bad. great read in fact. truthfully, I’ve heeded your warning but in truth this is actually very gentle natured and tame compared to what people actually say to me both on the internet and in real life yet fundamentally the truth.

  28. Especially the ones on the Road that like to speed and tailgate all the time which they really Do have very Severe Mental Issues unfortunately. And what makes it very sad is that Most of them are Women today that do it. Get a life already since You do need Help very badly.

  29. Don’t you worry. There are lots of people in the Western world refusing to have children now and in the future. Then, we just have to fill our population rosters with foreigners (that are indeed having children), and destroy Western civilisation and identity as it has been the dream of some sinister people all along.

    Just consider it -when you’re living a good enough life, and you’re somewhat rich and have property to protect, you are maybe too busy to have children. For poor people, on the other hand, children is a great part of all they have. That’s why the poor were called “proletarians” -from the Latin for “offspring”. They always had many children, since some of them were bound to die and not reach adulthood.

    Anyway, if anyone doesn’t hold faith in Mankind, he/she might as well get the fuck out, and stop consuming our precious resources. We’re trying to build some serious-business world here, don’t interrupt us. Besides, we have to see yet if it’s doable or not, but technology can significantly improve life support on this Earth and even grant our survival. So far, there has been a significant amount of progress in many countries from the 19th century onwards that’s made people live longer and better. If we continue the trend, we probably could save all (or most). And do you know what’s the driving force behind such progress? Right -the dreaded capitalism that people are all to eager to bash.

    Other alternatives to capitalism haven’t fared so well. Economy is important. Private property is important. Comfort is important. Living for other things apart from reproduction, eating and working is important. I laugh badly everytime I see a demagogic statement saying that, “we’re destroying our own planet, and when we’re done, we won’t be able to eat our money”. That’s missing the point completely.

    If I had to say anything, I’d say that Mankind is doing just fine; there are lots of problems but we still have a chance to overcome them. We have to be aware and make an effort though. Without hope for the future, we might as well put a bullet through our head, don’t we?

    It’s still not unfathomable that the world reverts back to the Iron Age. But, if we resign and let things decay, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. The future is, and always have been, in our hands.

    1. I didn’t have any children because I was convinced at an early age that polite civilization (as we in the best part of the developed world have had it for the last few years) will be overrun by the thirsty and hungry, due to overpopulation sucking the water tables irreplaceably dry. I did my part. By not having children I calculated that over three generations my wife and I will pollute and use up resources 1/16th as much as a couple having two kids, with their progeny following suit, and 1/22nd as much as a couple having three.

      I have an education in the sciences, as well as in economics, and I see zero hope for mankind to prevent comfortable civilization from spiraling into oblivion. People who declare that technology will do something about the mess might be insensitive to the billion wretched people who are already barely surviving without enough potable water, and the 2-1/2 billion people living without sanitation – more people than existed on the planet when I was born. There will of course still be pockets of humans alive around the world after the apocalypse. I don’t need to put a bullet in my head because I will very likely be comfortable until I die naturally, which is not that far away, thank gods, whatever they may be.

  30. I actually want to be obducted by aliens. Get me off of this fu@&$?! Planet. I live my life with one true friend and my family. I don’t need nor do I want anyone else in my life. I witness human stupidity every day and it’s very irritating. I want to smash someone in the face every day for being stupid. It’s not getting better. People are not learning. People cut corners and like to find the quick easy way through life. I like fighting for the hard road. A little bit of pain let’s me know I’m still alive. The saying “It’s so hard to find good help” is exactly what it says because good help is so far gone these days. Well, I’m going to shut up. Merry Christmas everyone!

      1. James, this is a personal question. So only if you care to comment. Do you have a type of OC personality disorder? Citing 50 causes for something doesn’t make sense, scientifically. And I believe people sense this intuitively, even if they don’t have a scientific background, and they will tend to avoid the discussion. I have my own brand of personality disorder, so I am wont to jumping in.

        If one could conduct a multivariate regression analysis of the independent variables associated with the destruction of comfortable civilization as an outcome, something like three to five variables would be all s/he would need to identify the relevant culprits.
        Psychologist Daniel Goleman, author of “Emotional Intelligence,” and Alun Anderson, former Editor-in-Chief and Publishing Director, “New Scientist,” came up with the same number one (“R-Squared”) independent variable predicting the problem: that threat detection in human evolution stopped (with societal protection) at the point that recognized only immediate threats, such as a growl in the bushes, or a snake in the path. Incremental, insidious changes don’t register neurologically. So, if a person isn’t a scientist who understands evidence-based analysis, s/he won’t see a problem with water running out, or what have you, until it runs out.

        It is too late to save the planet, anyway. William Calvin, theoretical neurobiologist; Emeritus Professor, U. of WA., School of Medicine, and author of “Global Fever: How to Treat Climate Change,” calculated that if every proposed climate initiative were enacted, the coming problems cited would be delayed only nineteen years. The problem is too many people, and we are already five billion over the sustainable limit. Killing them is not an option.

      2. The 50 number was just a random number I picked. I read many articles like these every week. I was able to easily find 50 that made my point. If I had the persistence, I could find 100, or even 1,001 reasons. Like you well know, the evidence is overwhelming.

        I tend to believe there’s little chance of changing things, but I also think we should at least try. Just giving up seems rather weak. Homo sapiens have been doing the same thing for 200,000 years, so why assume we’ll change? I find better odds that we’ll produce our replacements, rather than evolve into them.

      3. Who’s we? I did something about it, as I mentioned before, by not having kids, but billions of others are having two, five; and, in Pakistan, as many as 50. I can easily extrapolate that nothing is going to be done about the issues, other than cleaning up some pollution here and there, while it exacerbates in other areas. China just came off its one baby policy, and people over there can’t even breath the air. Trump doesn’t believe there is any problem at all, and appointed a bloke to run the EPA with his opinion. There was more talk on the Internet about it five years ago than today, by my perception. I’ve probably talked to 200 people about the problems, and not one thought about it for more than a minute or two, when I was talking about it. If you feel better by believing it makes sense to try, God bless you, not that there is one, of course. I think the smartest approach is to be authentic to one’s self and admit that nothing can be done, and then enjoy what he can while there are still nice golf courses, fine wine, and pretty women.

      4. We didn’t have children. Most of my friends didn’t have children. But that’s not enough. We might handle the population growth if we all became vegans – but that’s doubtful, and it would only help for a short while. We’d all have to live like monks to get control of the garbage we produce – but that won’t happen either. We could get back to 350ppm CO2 if we recreated industrial society to be hyper-efficient – and that could happen, but our past momentum is against us. More than likely, we’ll see the eroding of nature and civilization as we get older, and after we die, things will get worse even faster for the generations after us. Our species will wring every last resource out of the planet. If we don’t develop self-aware AI before then, complex societies around the world will collapse, and what we’re seeing in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Yemen, etc. will spread across the world. When things do break down, future civilizations will have a tough time recreating an advanced civilization because we’ve used up all the easily available resources.

        I’m currently reading Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance, and it’s a weathervane. It shows that some people can overcome the problems we face, but they are outliers.

        But you seem annoyed by my last vestiges of hope. You give humanity zero chance. I’m never that certain. You and I could be wrong. A black swan might swoop down and surprise us. Our evolution is part of a long line of anti-entropic events. Luck has been with us for 13.78 billion years, maybe longer, because we don’t know how many universes preceded this one. All we have to do to succeed is spin off one more level of complexity. That doesn’t mean we succeed and survive, we just need to survive long enough to produce the next stage of evolutionary development. That will be AI. AI could be the black swan that invalidates all our pessimism.

      5. Thanks for the dialogue, James. Now I’m sorry for my gratuitous OC remark.

        I see the whole thing biologically, and consider that the passing of civilization as we now know it is simply biological succession, as we know it. The only horror to me is that human beings can feel horrible pain, consciously, and that other human beings are eager to inflict it in horrible ways.

        My rumination is aesthetic, stemming from the fifties and early sixties, when oceans had just about as many fish as always and Africa still had its wonderful jungle and animals intact. Looking back, I think things were in good ecological balance, then, and life was fun.

        But, as I said, I don’t think things are all bad. I have a wonderful relationship with my wife of fifty years; golf courses are in better shape than ever; French wine is better than ever; and I think girls, especially Tokyo kawaii pop idols, are cute as hell. And I won’t live to see Armageddon.

        This is stupid, James, but I just thought of something I will do for your Christmas present. I’ll bet you don’t pay any attention to Tokyo idols, so I am going to link a video. You won’t appreciate it, probably, because I have shared similar videos with many Americans, who saw zero in them, similar to the 200 who didn’t agree about the state of the planet. What is contrary to the death spiral is the girls’ vibrant love and enthusiasm. Here they are singing about running at their school track out of love they feel for their fans. They shout out, “I love you” near the end. They all took a pledge of celibacy and even no dating as long as they are idols, so that every boy or man fan is as close to them as any other boy or man in the universe. A very cool concept, I thought. (It’s the 4:44 min video.)

      6. I realized after linking the video that I had sent you something similar before. As I said, it will seem stupid, or, more accurately eccentric. But these girls truly represent a bright spot to me that defies and transcends the crap. I try to share my joy in them; but, as I said, it hasn’t taken with anybody I know, yet. So I guess I apologize for mucking up the thread with the obtuse theme.

      7. That’s cool. I love seeing into various pop subcultures. It’s fascinating what we become fascinated with. When I was growing up, we most shared the same TV shows, movies, and pop music. Since then, everyone has gone into a million different directions. Everyone one of my friends has very different favorite things. I guess that’s how we cope with reality.

      8. Thanks for your gracious acceptance, James. I’m glad you didn’t find posting the video to be crazy. My idols are indeed a coping mechanism for me.

      9. Don’t you think it ironic Covert that your idols are children? You and your wife chose not to have children, but you find pleasure in admiring these girls. If we didn’t have overpopulation, wouldn’t you have loved to have had kids?

      10. James, you are going to make me admit that in addition to being respectful of the planet, I was also from an early age mercenary, and jealous of my time on earth. Kids rob one of money and free time. I do get along fine with kids, though, and they like me.
        The idols, who are teenagers and in their early 20’s, are a special combined breed of song and dance talent, athleticism, grace, dedication, drive, pulchritude and sex appeal. Thousands of girls try out for each rarified opening in the troupe I linked, as the women reaching their mid-twenties are expected to “graduate.” New recruits have to demonstrate specified categories of specialness. I appreciate the girls more like I might winning thoroughbred fillies, than as cute children. But cute they also delightfully are, and cuteness (kawaii) in just about everything is highly prized in Tokyo.

        I’m sure you like kids, or you wouldn’t ask me that question. And it is obvious that you are kind hearted.

  31. Last belated thing about this, but never trust a Prankster. I want to take back as best as I can my horse comparison. The girls are magnificent human beings. And as cynical as I am about the human race, I value human beings above other species, at least aesthetically and emotionally. And I love these girls as humans, not simply as animals, which they also are in the wider sense, of course. The beautiful retro-concept of this troupe of performing schoolgirls was born from impromptu girl bands who sang on street corners in the wake of the American WWII bombings to try to cheer up a devastated nation. They function in a similar vein today, but applied toward soothing a more diffused tension.

  32. Hi James,…just wanted to respond to two of your dot points…Scarcity reflects the natural limitations that the environment imposes on life. The issue for our particular species is that, through our technology (the ability to modify our environment) we have overcome scarcity, and therefore have been able to proliferate to the extent we have since the beginning of agriculture and animal husbandry about 10,000 years ago. Of course, the downside of overcoming scarcity, is that we are now in a different race to out ‘tech’ the negative implications for our biosphere. Given that the biosphere is a closed system, the supreme irony here is that our overwhelming success as a species, which is the whole point of survival in the first place, is now working against us.

    The second point is denial, which some leading social anthropologists contend is the innate capability of the brain to focus on the immediate response necessary based on sensory input from the environment. This evolutionary trait is manifested in the ‘fight or flight’ response which has served us well through the early stages of our development and comes to our rescue even to day when stepping off the curb at the wrong moment etc…That said our brain’s have become much more dense complex and sophisticated processors that have manufactured responses, that our reflective awareness interprets as belief systems,…such as religion which becomes an elaborate mental state in which to sift the endless stream of causality in the real world, including the knowledge of our own mortality. The myriad of belief systems we hold, including so called religious beliefs, enable us to function in spite of this knowledge and therefore head off the path of nihilism and despair. So again the supreme irony here is that Denial is a good thing 🙂

    1. Both are excellent points. Denial can be a good thing until it’s a bad thing. I guess we need selective denial. We can deny anything as long as it doesn’t threaten our existence, either individually or collectively.

      The problem with our efficiency at overcoming scarcity comes from not having a natural predator. We’re able to kill everything that comes our way and consume everything we can get our hands on. We’re too successful as a species.

      1. To me it is 100%, not 99.9%, obvious that nothing will or can be done about the destruction of this planet before civilizations experience disasters, leaving only pockets still in existence, looking much different from today.

        However, since we all die, the entire universe disappears for each and every earthling, leaving the issue of Planet Earth taking a merciless beating less significant. Therefore I have adopted the philosophy of what will be will be, and part of that is myself enjoying living as usual on the last residuals of resources. It’s like an irresponsible bloke who eats everything he likes and develops artery plaque. Until it builds to almost totally blocking coronary arteries, he won’t feel it, notwithstanding erectile dysfunction, if he doesn’t exert himself, and just takes it easy. A cat scan of my arteries shows zero plaque, because I am responsible, so I should be able to enjoy life longer than most, squeezing the last drop out of my portion of the lemon. Poo-tee-weet.

      2. Well, Covert, I’m the bloke that ate badly and now have clogged arteries. But I did switch to a plant-based diet to survive longer, so logical living won out eventually.

        I’m still going with the 99.9% because I know black swans can surprise us. For example, some speculate the era of antibiotics is nearing its end. What if that causes a significant drop in average lifespan, and we see a quick decline in population over the next century. Nothing dramatic, but just a thinning of the population. If you combine that with several technological changes, it might be possible for us to maintain a complex civilization and move forward.

      3. Possibly, but China is running out of water fast, and they have nukes, and now there’s a trump card.

      4. Through the fruits of evolution we recoil upon seeing a snake in our path, because at one time if a man weren’t bothered he might be bitten and die before he could reproduce his blasé DNA. But technology stopped natural selection matching threat detection with the times cold, so that today a guy with a mindset to drive a Hummer is just as protected as one preferring a Prius. Watching water tables in China, and elsewhere, get sucked down permanently so many feet a year doesn’t register as a threat. One-and-a-half billion people without any water to drink shouldn’t bother anybody, right? Hopefully for neighbors Russia can pipe some down for a while.

      5. Of course denial is what it is and serves the purpose that evolution has seen seen fit to select for. It’s only our conscious awareness that assigns the value of good or bad or neutral (disinterested). The fact that we assign value at all is a reflective notion of how our brains determine what is worthy of our attention, which of courses arises from events that may have the potential to affect our survival, and/or increase our opportunity for reproduction. All which points to the dilemma outlined in your original post as whether to take an optimistic or pessimistic view of the future. The brain allows for this permissive and casual reflection because there is no immediate response required for survival. In fact, some current research points to our brains acquisition of full theory of mind (conscious awareness) as simply a luxury, extraneous to our base instincts of survival. In other words as individual security increased (fewer threats, including your mention of no natural predators,…bacteria/viruses not with standing) the brain was left to pursue colaborate efforts with other brains on ways and means to secure even further efficiencies in their day to day activities, which we call technology. The cumulative affect of this ongoing success brings us to the present condition

        In summary, the dilemma is of no worry as their is no immediate threat to our existence. Therefore our brain is at rest, and in turn allows for our conscious awareness to muse and reflect. ((Rest assured if someone entered your space right now with a pistol in hand…your brain would leap into action with the full capability of millions of years of evolution to survive this event…there would be no more contemplation of future events at this critical moment)) How the future unfolds (the endless stream of causality in our particular expanding universe) is unknown to our brains. Further depending on whether one believes (…denial at work again) that there is a positive direction for human existence in the future (denial in full bloom) or not (a failure of denial) …the point is denial gives us the very human perspective of hope. The ability, in spite of the knowledge of our own mortality , to continue with our lives, and experience all the possibilities that the the future may bring.

      6. Brian, I accept what you are saying as an explanation for why things are the way they are now. But what if we’re collectively threatened by dangers we don’t directly perceive? Have you read Collapsed by Jared Diamond. Past civilizations have a perfect score of failure. Their citizens for some reason failed to act, waited too late, or maybe never saw it coming.

        I think the current population of the U.S. and even the world feel an underlying anxiety about many dangers. Yes, we are in denial mode most of the time, but at some level, we still sense the threat.

        I feel more anxious about the future than any time in my life. I don’t know if that is because I’m getting older, or things are actually worse.

  33. Hi James,…just wanted to respond to two of your dot points…Scarcity reflects the natural limitations that the environment imposes on life. The issue for our particular species is that, through our technology (the ability to modify our environment) we have overcome scarcity, and therefore have been able to proliferate to the extent we have since the beginning of agriculture and animal husbandry about 10,000 years ago. Of course, the downside of overcoming scarcity, is that we are now in a different race to out ‘tech’ the negative implications for our biosphere. Given that the biosphere is a closed system, the supreme irony here is that our overwhelming success as a species, which is the whole point of survival in the first place, is now working against us.
    The second point is denial, which some leading social anthropologists contend is the innate capability of the brain to focus on the immediate response necessary based on sensory input from the environment. This evolutionary trait is manifested in the ‘fight or flight’ response which has served us well through the early stages of our development and comes to our rescue even to day when stepping off the curb at the wrong moment etc…That said our brain’s have become much more dense complex and sophisticated processors that have manufactured responses, that our reflective awareness interprets as belief systems,…such as religion which becomes an elaborate mental state in which to sift the endless stream of causality in the real world, including the knowledge of our own mortality. The myriad of belief systems we hold, including so called religious beliefs, enable us to function in spite of this knowledge and therefore head off the path of nihilism and despair. So again the supreme irony here is that Denial is a good thing 🙂 🙂

  34. James, you made a distinction between an individual’s imperative to respond, and our historic ‘failure’ to respond collectively, and thus the collapse of civilizations. I’ve read all of Jared Diamond’s work. His thorough and impeccable research is required reading for anyone interested in the historical record and the evidence presented.What is telling on the cover of “Collapse” is the use of the word choose. Individuals and societies don’t choose to do anything. The outcomes are the result of our individual brains acting and behaving in basically the same manner as they always have. Societies have collapsed through out time, some spectacularly, some have just worn away through attrition and neglect. No matter, something always comes along to replace it. That is the nature of competitive advantage. We are still here.

    In the final analysis, I imagine that humans have always felt angst about the future (That darn conscious awareness again!) Denial gives us hope. Our only bulwark against the unknown. To be sure our success has wreaked unprecedented negative impacts on our fellow life forms, not to mention the biosphere. Mind you if we could talk to the few dinosaurs that survived the End Cretaceous event they would probably have a better case than what we have today. At the risk of belaboring the point, we might as well struggle through and enjoy the better moments with friends and family. Do the best we can.I hope the same for my three grown children.

    You and I are about the same age. Relax, the future will take care of itself. Resignation is sometimes good medicine, although Nietzsche might disagree, Hell, what does he know? 🙂

    1. “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.”
      ― Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

      We are the dominant species while every bodies got an opinion and every bodies got an asshole and we should keep them both to our self. Shouldn’t we?
      So I will keep my asshole to myself but my opinion is THIS IS HELL. It’s that simple and hell isn’t going anywhere in a hurry that’s a certainty.
      So keep on turning your back on the truth. Make out that you give a rats ass about the people starving on the streets when you buy your next unnecessary item that of cause you’ve talked yourself into believing you have to own and don’t forget to blame all the worlds problems on the government or the 1% of the worlds population that own the wealth who could make the world a much nicer place.
      Ideals of grandeur or grandiose delusions of the dominant species gives us hope within an unconscious ignorant bliss.

      The dominate species upon the earth is bacteria. If we don’t unite within a humane UNBIASED SANDBOX FOR ALL OF OUR BIASED MIND SETS THROUGHOUT ALL SITUATIONS IN LIFE. It is hell for the majority of the population and bacteria is winning as the world gets more so polluted.

  35. Well, James, thanks for the warning re your bleak post. I would, however, like to point out one crucial inaccuracy within your opening statements. That being that you expected few, if any, people to read your post. Judging from the wealth of comments, I’d say that theory was invalidated.
    As for your views, I believe all of my personal feelings have already been voiced in the comments above.
    Looking forward, I’ll keep writing my futuristic warnings in my blogs, science articles, and novels but always resolving them with a happy ending. Just basic survival instinct, I guess. Also, a serious resolve to see brightness even when the gloom is pervasive.
    I enjoyed your post, in a way, and liked the preliminary warning. As writers, we need to be diligent and responsible.

    1. T.E.Mark, I didn’t expect that. This post is my most popular. It still gets 50-100 hits a day. And if you search on “Are humans stupid?” in Google, this essay is often the top return.

      1. I’m glad that I ran across your posts it gives me time for human interaction. I’m one of those people that reaching the age of 50 and still trying to interact with the new generation on a logical level has been found to be an impossible task. The ability of the human species to interact and communicate with each other has ceased to exist. It’s apparent that even with the advantages of technology to help them move forward they still don’t get it. We could go on for hours and hours discussing the pitfalls of humanity or reach out and try to educate the new generations to make things better. This was the lie I told myself. I’ve found that their brainwashing (Government) has limited their ability to think outside the box. I myself am not religious, an no longer believe in a God. If it is there I have a few bones to pick with it. The base of all of the various religions is to give hope to the suffering and moral direction thru life and support. I normally lose a lot of peoples interest when I take religion out of the picture, because it is the only hope that so many have, as someone once said. “The truth can often sting.” Buddha once made the comment that, “The world is pain and suffering.” This is true because (we) choose to sit-by and stand-by and do nothing. The (we) good people, with good positive moral values, with a love for mother earth and the desire to see if we can become the race of human intelligence that we need to be to exist. As a lot of people have probably seen with the added years on their lives, it’s always seems that the ones who are kept down are the ones that need to be followed and listened to. They don’t follow the poor man because he’s poor. They don’t follow the person that doesn’t have accumulated knowledge stemming from some College, University, or someone rich and high in society. Artificial Intelligence is a life saver because it doesn’t react on emotion, and prejudice feelings, but logic. But it is just like a human baby, a baby isn’t born with these things either except emotions. It has to be taught logic, reasoning, and how to control it’s emotions. The AI doesn’t have emotions as humans do but it might experience a bug every now and then. To make a long topic short humans experience bugs also and many of these bugs are brought on by our own societies and cultures and leaders. Just simply no-one wants change because they are at the top and don’t want to come down to reality. It’s not about the human species, it’s about them and theirs. Chaos Theory, String Theory, Religion, Cults, AI, Government, pick your poison. It seems to be a puzzle that was put in place for humanity to figure out and the majority just don’t get it unfortunately. I ask myself everyday do I follow my emotions (I wish I could just turn them off sometimes. LOL) or should I continue trying to make logical choices based on my outcome in life. I usually windup following logic, morality, and just flat out refusal to be drawn into their hell. I’ve noticed that this new generation is following history and repeating things that the human race should have already figured out doesn’t work. This is a major depression in itself because you can’t reach them, they are like AI’s bent on destroying the world all for the sake of self satisfaction. It often crosses my mind that from a logical view it’s past time for something to happen that will wake them up. Be it war to end all wars, or something else. there is no need for any human to go hungry on this planet or be in pain, or despair or have to listen to an hour of fire and brimstone for a cup of soup (really!!). I try to be always open to other human perspective it’s the way we learn and try to find the other pieces of the puzzle called life and existence. Big question is are we the higher intelligence on this planet, if so I myself do not see it. We could be, but we have to make a stand against them and come together and find a way to wake them up. They don’t respond to logic, nor do they respond to reasoning. How do we save our planet from them when they have been mass infected by a mental virus? Thanks again for the topics Mr. Harris or James, it has been nice to open up about a few of my concerns for this planet and humanity. By the way depression is just reality trying to wake you up I call it home.

      2. Jim is fine. I find the comments, especially like yours Mellie, interesting. We’re all out there coping with the same frustrations. We try to be logical, but everyone else is racing full-tilt with their emotions.

  36. Hi..i have been in the deep throws of nihilism and cynicism since I was 12, and now in my fifth decade, I well understand that one cannot lose faith one never had (in the human race).

    One of the CRUX issues that is never addressed- and is the elephant in the room..CORPORATIONS

    WHY does the “free Market” economy look so much like Feudalism? (actually worse than feudalism because the serfs are free range with no rights to the land whatsoever,)
    The entire system of government and society is now set up to benefit Corporations, and in fact are ANTI-LIFE.

    Corporations are strictly hierarchical institutions that are mini totalitarian empires (diametrically opposed to freedom), have autonomy )(and usually use more of the commons while paying less) are IMMORTAL, and have “limited liability” which means that if they create a product that kills or maims people, it is actually more profitable for them to keep producing it, and then pay the minimal fine slapped on them by the Regulatory agencies..and figure it into the cost of doing business.

    The only focus of a CORPORATION is immediate self gratification..that is increase in profits.

    If a corporations were human- they would be a true sociopath- focused only on meeting their own needs at everyone else’s expense and not giving a damn as long as they get theirs.

    THESE are the transnational institutions that are now more powerful than national governments, have seized control of them like vultures feeding on the very flesh of a nation they have destroyed while stealing it’s resources.
    (one example – in PA the state legislature has made it legal for the oil companies to come in a TAKE the mineral rights beneath your property, if you do not sign a contract with them, they are allowed to frack your land via a neighbors land, and DESTROY YOUR WATER SPRINGS and the water table itself.)

    THESE are tha actos driving the bus over the cliff.
    Look around you and ask yourself why humanity is the ONE animal (not insect) who is forced to toil long hours just to survive in an environment made INIMICAL to life itself by the institutions it has erected and allowed to feed on it.
    All the other life forms on the planet get to suffer for this perfidy.
    If you do not believe me , visit a factory farm.

    ALL of our societal institutions are anti-life.
    They literally destroy life itself…that is their main function.
    We have gotten here because people do not like to think.

    1. Corporations and the free market religion have become 100% successful at siphoning off wealth. The wealthy are using up all the resources, and have conned most people into working for them at unbelievably low wages. The end of civilization will be the .1% squeezing the 99.9% of everything they have. Unless capitalism is fixed, it will destroy itself. It’s become a Ponzi scheme.

    2. Corporations are monsters of our own making. We are a society of consumers. Capitalism grew as a system to supply what we demand in the most efficient manner possible at a price point that we think we can afford. Nothing more nothing less. They have become so efficient that they can even supply what we think we need. Technology has a way of doing that. For example we buy I-Pads because we think we can’t live without them.

      The only way to slay the beast is to move toward an economy of sustainability. This concerted action will starve the life blood of capital required to invest in new stuff. The monster will become sluggish without nourishment, and begin to sell off assets no longer required for production in the face of lower demand, until there are no more buyers. A downward spiral. The environment wins. However like all change, it has a price. Fewer jobs for citizens, and a lower standard of living, which shouldn’t phase us as this is exactly what we should expect by limiting our demand to sustainable levels of production.

      As for the elites or what author Francis Fukuyama calls the “rent seekers” or the 1% that popular culture has dubbed them, they require a different approach that is found in re-balancing the political order

      Currently the elites enjoy a disproportionate amount of the wealth. They also hold the same for political influence. History has shown that this situation will not last indefinitely. The challenge is to restore the balance without having to resort to violence as a means to achieve the same end. Fukuyama describes what happens when the power elites remain unwilling to reform the status quo as the trade off does not benefit them. Aside from violence we have the moderating influence of the democratic process to fall back on. So far so good, as the recent general election produced a populist as president. A clear rejection of those same elites in both political parties. However the cure seems to be shaping up as potentially worse than the disease. Trump has fractured the political process to the point where passing any legislation becomes very problematic. Rule by executive order just won’t cut it, as the founding fathers had already planned for this situation with the division of powers embedded in the constitution.

      So where does this leave us? With the political process frozen, and the courts serving as a bulwark against arbitrary executive power, we are left with the streets and mob (crowds). Remember, protest has served the republic well. Think civil rights and the Vietnam war in recent times.

      For despair, I recommend Johann Sebastian Bach,…specifically the ‘Air on G string’, and ‘Sheep May Safely Graze’ …to sooth the soul

  37. James: Perhaps I should not have read this after seeing your warning, but I did not expect to see anything new to me. I was right, but still found it interesting.

    I was especially drawn to your line, “it’s so sad because most people are good, and many people are smart, and we should be much better than our collective self.” This is quite true and begs the question; Why are things getting worse rather than better?

    Something that I have frequently noticed is what has been labeled the Dunning–Kruger effect, where people tend to exaggerate their skills and knowledge. It often comes down to people thinking they know something to be true yet the facts don’t support it. Seems to me this influences all of the things you listed.

    John

  38. Make out that you give a rats ass about the people dying from malnutrition, begging children homeless because of war and banks, country less because of dictators, ignorant because of other peoples arrogance etc. etc, etc, when you buy your next unnecessary item that of course you’ve talked yourself into believing you have to own.

    Dunning-Kruger effect what a joke trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes with deception. He must have been there when Sigmund Freud sold out the human race to the merchandising dictators that own the banks. The puppeteers that pull the strings on their Pinocchio misgovernment.

    People are in general not very nice. You will disagree as you backward rationalize your own actions of cause and effect. In general people are a product of the surroundings that they are subjected too. I could go into countless scenario’s, but what ever the out come we generalize and rationalize fore our own sanity and survival.

    Let’s look at the scenario that trumps all scenario’s apart from President Trump. The scenario of God being on Earth in the living flesh. The Bible that is either fabricated or corrupted by the puppeteers ( The Kings and Queens, the church leaders or Sigmund Freud’s dictator’s that believe in the greater good no matter how grey the colour grey/ color gray becomes ) so Dunning Kruger effect that John.

    1. You are the second person to mention the Dunning-Kruger effect to me this week. However, I’m not sure who your comments are addressed to. Are they to me, or one of the other people leaving a comment. This thread has gotten long and confused. Unfortunately, this essay is a depressing subject and gets a lot of comments by people are very cynical about the state of the world. Sometimes I wish I had not written it. Other times I think I should write version 2.0 with even more evidence. Every day I read more articles I could have used. By now I could write “1,001 Reasons Why the Human Race is Too Stupid to Survive.”

      I didn’t know about the Dunning-Kruger effect, but from a quick reading, it sounds like it could explain why we can’t get our shit together in a collective manner and solve our problems.

      1. I comment from time to time on this refreshing thread. A signal like the gong in Australia in “On The Beach” that might indicate there is one aware person still left on earth. The phrase “get our shit together,” made me smile. Who is us? I have talked with countless people about the coming apocalypse, and 99 out of a 100 never thought about anything of the sort. Zero out of 100 have considered doing anything about it. I got an equal kick out of a woman at a party I attended, a one-out-of-100 person, who had at least heard that there might be a problem. She said she thought that there would soon be a grass roots movement to do something about it. Ha ha ha ha ha ha, and, ha.

  39. Quite simply.. As I too am getting older (but still feeling in my mind, not thoughts, as I did 20 years ago) I can’t help but feel the pangs of the gripping reality of our social disparity. We all too often lose sight of the importance of living among and alike one another without trying to one up one another and selfishly manipulate everything around us to be as we (individually and coerced manipulation as a whole) to live the way we feel is best for EVERYONE. We can be a fiendish minded race above all at times and therefore allow our jealousy and selfishness supersede anyone else’s that does not conform within our own beliefs or standards. We reason with fairness due to democracy or capitalism in our political beliefs as well as find justification in our religious or spiritual beliefs. So yes James, in many if not most, you’ve made many valid and reasonable points. As an individual, where is my grand soap box to stand and even attempt the call for a reasonable gathering in humanity, NOT the apparent government appointment to potentially create a potential genocide??
    I know you don’t have the answers per say James, as I was just asking in jest.. not to say that this is all a joke of course but it seems rather a bleak for me a mere human on this planet of billions to even try to create a mass difference.
    Thank you very much for sharing. It was all a great read.

    1. I think we all feel powerless to act. That we have no control over our fate. Basically, our political polarized divide leaves us in two groups. One that wants to act, the other denies action is needed. As long as half the population believes the way to save the world is to lower taxes, reduce regulation, and help the rich get richer, how can the people who believe in a different way to save the world do anything? We’re at a stalemate. Until a large majority of the population agrees on the problem we’re doomed to allowing the selfish to have their way.

  40. Yes James you have hit the nail on the head “We’re at a stalemate” we have no option’s we believe we have options because we have the right to vote. Do we believe all the media hype from our politicians? I have only ever heard of one in government refuse the retirement pension. Gough Whitlam’s wife Margaret Whitlam and I question why do retired politicians, that have way more then enough need or get a pension at all?
    $500 million a year it costs to pay retired politicians free money fore 21 years after 65/retirement age and we are obviously over governed.
    It’s not as if their there because they care. A police officer or a soldier is inspired by injustice to make it a better world to live in, “I hope”
    But the biggest question I ask is are politicians border line sociopaths in the same basket with the merchandising dictator puppeteers. If it wasn’t for these sociopaths that have corporate monsters at large where all of our superannuation’s are invested making us all share holders that pull our investments if shares dive on the stock market.

    “We’re at a stalemate” a link in the chain to our own demise. An Australian study has found that about one in five corporate executives are psychopaths – roughly the same rate as among prisoners.

    1. I don’t know much about psychopaths, but I can believe they could succeed anywhere. It’s the problem of hawks and doves. The strong will exploit the weak. Our government is run by people who are great at greed. They have banded together to game the system for their own reward. They have developed a self-serving philosophy and spread it to tens of millions, even when it doesn’t benefit those people. They are quite good at what they do. They don’t want climate change to existing because fixing it would require given up a massive amount of accumulated wealth and power. Republicans have spent decades scheming to get where they are today. They’re not going to back down now.

  41. The only way to fix the worlds problems is to start with the problem at the cause. Hawk children are noticed at preschools, kindergarten by teachers that don’t have permission or time or the resources to help correct this disability. We have the ability to locate these future hawks early in there lives to teach them the importance of empathy and sympathy.

    The biggest contributor to this on going issue are parents that push there kids to be hawks, “we want our kids to succeed” Yes they may succeed with money and seem to be a success, but as parents and partners they suffer and so does everyone around them.

    http://sfhelp.org/relate/empathy.htm

    The link above should be a mandatory lesson in every child’s school.
    Mr Peter K Gerlach has lots of free advice yes absolutely free.

  42. I’ve been thinking about this Judgement Day thing. I’m sorry to bring it up. I’m not a Christian. It’s just that I’ve had an epiphany. Civilization and empires rise and fall over eons and it keeps going on and on like that. Or does it? Is there an end, even to that cycle? Seems to me when we get to this awful stage, overpopulation and the planet in such a mess mass stupidity there must be an end to us. Not the planet. Not all the animals. Just us. Good riddance to us, I say. If this was one big test we have totally failed. I lost faith in the human race some time ago. It does not make me feel smug or happy to write this. I’m really angry with the human race.

    1. Robyn, I know how you feel. My goal is to live the best I can and make the most of my time in this reality. But I don’t have much hope for our civilization. I think homo sapiens are smart, but just not smart enough to survive their own limitations. I hope we create artificial intelligence before civilization collapses. It could be they are our successors.

      You might want to read, The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. I find it very soothing to think about how reality will continue on if humanity becomes extinct. Many humans have the hubris to think reality was created for us, but that’s simply not true. We are just an infinitesimal blip inside reality. Each conscious being comes to inside this existence, sees a tiny portion of it for a limited time, and then leaves. I’m very thankful for that.

  43. I would not say we are very stupid. The progress from science and technology have been huge. It is insane if you look up how much we really know these day. The progress of physics (beyond the standard model and in cosmology) have maybe slowed down a bit, but our knowledge of biology and adaptive systems grows very fast.

    Sadly a lot of this progress come with a cost. Even if the vast majority of people are not violent towards each other the few that are will have an increased chance of getting access to advanced weapons. So far the people in power that posses the deadly weapons are mostly interested in wealth and power. As long as the risks of mutual destruction is much higher than the potential rewards there will be no nuclear wars if we assume the leaders are rational agents.

    New biological weapons may change that balance. There is also always the risk that weapons fall into the hands of terrorists and other people with a very non rational view of the world ( or maybe even worse people that want global destruction gets them).

    As we use up the earths resources the importance of power and wealth will increase. The poor majority may not have a chance to do anything against the superior power of the governments. Increased conflicts between nations will certainly follow. It is hard to see how the global climate for peace can improve with capitalism at the core. Growth can’t continue forever is a known fact. Balance and sustainability are key for long term survival.

    New scientific discoveries can both save and destroy the day. With normal humans in power I have hard time seeing a positive change. Artificial intelligence might actually save the day even if it also can be destructive ( It depend I guess a lot on how it is programmed and also how it can modify itself).

    Ideally a communist global society in which power is distributed in some form of inverse greed law would be ideal. The more altruistic a person is the more power he/she should be given for the benefit of all of society. The most powerful under this system would also not only care about humans, but about other lifeforms as well and thus work towards a sustainable earth.
    The governments would have smart and altruistic people running them. Many greedy people naturally goes after power in the real world, but they would be stopped if the systems would work. Lies and corruption would be stopped as well due to it only having a selfish benefit. In a globally connected world I can see that being maintained once the structure has been put to place. Although I can’t see humanity put that structure into place. The process would most likely turn into a global dictatorship and be something like the Sovietunion and name any other attempt of communism. Selfish interests in most individuals would always be a huge problem.

    Once we have that society though I think that genetic engineering could be very useful in terms of improving it. Genes that make you more caring and altruistic would be favored if we could identify them. Along with many other improvements possible to the biosphere. Compare that with the current world when a lot of genetic change (on plants mainly) is made without consider the environmental impact. It is mostly done based on short term gain in terms of wealth ,thirst for knowledge or strive for fame.

  44. I don’t see why we as a species “deserve” saving. We all end up dead eventually “hollow laughter”. It doesn’t matter what we do now or in future. We are only specks in the universe making do with whatever predicament we’ve been placed into. We have only the options of living or dying; it’s the same for every living thing “we just have a lot more strings attached”. There’s no meaning to anything we do; but it means everything to us for some reason. We are self centred as a species and thats fine, that’s all we know.

    We can not fight the inevitable, though we try. Our science and religion to try last forever, become immortal, be reborn, go to heaven…. We live as though we wont get old and wither away and rot in the ground like millions and billions before us, human or not. We try to leave our mark by making or doing insignificant things all of which are eventually forgotten and pushed under the pile of ever growing nonsense we deem “significant”.

    Since this is your fate you may as well enjoy it. We will never amount to anything meaningful as individuals or a “species”. The universe doesn’t care, when stop telling ourselves we matter I think we would all find peace and learn to enjoy existing as the speck we are. How ever you find that happiness in this meaningless existence is up to you, it doesn’t matter what it is.

    I believe in you. Make your happiness mean something, who cares what it is, because after all it doesn’t matter anyway.

  45. Your article cheered me up! Thank you. Does that make me a bad person?
    “The George you are so desperate to preserve is a deception of language, a constructed artifice of a pillaged and plundered history. It is the convenient illusion,” her inner voice rumbled.
    And so spoke the Pink Padma. **** ’em! I wrote a book about a pink elephant. Padma and the Elephant Sutra. A kind of therapy for this human me-ing.
    From a more cosmic perspective, it is astonishing that rocks and gas came out of God’s ass and produced us! And I’ll bet you one dollar we are not the pinnacle of ‘His’ efforts. Who can say what comes next. I’m betting on an enormous planetary inflorescence.

  46. I give you compliments on taking the time to write this essay, how ever there is much more that should be told and less thinking its the evolution of mankind! It comes down to the program that any one person receives! And the choice to learn the real truth??? It is the fault of corrupt power that has put humans where they are! If anyone cares for change? Turn off the tv, put down the phone, shop at mom and pop stores, love the stranger and take your money out of the bank! Be a man and have faith in spirit life and fight back.

  47. Ignorance v Real Education, and Empathy
    We all have to make a personal decision to educate ourselves in the really important things in life. Not useless shit we learn at school, college by academics. Only through real education, can we be free of bigotry and attempt to see things from another perspective.
    The reality though is that the human race will continue to be divided between the haves and the have not’s. In the future the rich and powerful will dominate the less educated and privileged. The idea of everyone equal will be gone, and maybe its true, everyone is not equal really.

    1. I keep hoping the human race will get its shit together and change. But I am reminded of something I read about Neanderthals, that they as a species acted the same way for hundreds of thousands of years. I used to think Homo Sapiens were different because we’re constantly changing. Then I realized humans stay the same, but it’s our cultures, technology, and society that changes, not us. That gives the illusion we evolve when we’re not.

      1. Humans are evolving in small ways. For one example, they are becoming less intelligent on average because less intelligent people are having way more offspring. I have a higher IQ than average, as do all of my friends, and most of us have no children.

    2. It is true that public education needs to reflect real world learning more than it does. However there are too many vested interests in the status quo to effect any positive change. Academics like may institutions in a capitalist consumer economy are focused on commercial benefits. To your point, the elites will always hold sway over others in any given society. That is the nature of the human condition. The good news is that for most liberal democracies like the US, and other 1st world nations, a majority of individuals have accepted the tradeoff between economic prosperity and citizenship. In other words our desire for equal rights (granted by elites) under the rule of law gives most of us a measure of social peace, and the opportunity to pursue our own selfish interests to the best of our abilities, under the presumption of equality. Given this condition, there will always be the have and have not’s. That said if you consider the social condition that most of our fellow humans live in, they would consider our present situation a much more desirable condition than their own.

      The above does not mean we need to accept the status quo within our own society,…just that all social actors will continue to pursue their own best interests in an effort to improve their lot. The result is generally an improvement in one aspect or an other for society as a whole. The real challenge comes when the balance of forces within society begins to unravel. The election of a populist like Trump is a clear signal that the balance is shifting. A wake up call for the elites if you will, that more needs to be done to engage the have not’s within society.

      Social evolution is always a struggle. The mission of all social actors is, as you say, to educate ourselves, and stay engaged. Once we accept our position in society, against our own self interests, is when events become less predictable and social order (peace) is lost.

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