Brutish Better Angels


There's no reason to believe that human-caused climate change and mass extinction will be mitigated by us anytime soon. We are quickly headed towards the failsafe line. My educated guess is that we are headed towards hard times. Science, engineering, and technology keep advancing to the point where all the things we take for granted in those domains have become black boxes to the vast majority of us. We use them but we remain ignorant of how they work.

Culture, society, human consciousness, the climate, as with so many systems, are extremely complex, hard to model and understand, much less predict or control. Most of us are simply not equipped to grapple with the complex systems surrounding us. We evolved to tell stories, to be hyper-social so we could cooperate, survive in tribes and compete with other groups successfully. Hence, we remain vulnerable to con men, marketers, propagandists and despots.

Despite all the wonderful things we have achieved and our amazing success as the apex species on earth, we are woefully unprepared to deal with the torrent of difficult challenges confronting us.

One's emotional reaction to today's reality can be controlled only insofar as one is capable of understanding what we're facing. Few people have the background knowledge across multiple domains of interest to have access to true freedom of thought. And those of us who can think can't necessarily act productively on what we know. We simply don't have the power, the resources or the network needed to be an effective actor. We can only do our small part and perhaps feel a little bit better about ourselves.

I've decided to try to have as much fun as I can during the rest of my life and make a greater effort to be a better friend. That's really all I can do. When the real suffering begins I can only hope that there will still be compassionate people in the world. I also hope the suffering won’t last too long this time.

Get ready for it.

Welcome back, Thomas Hobbes.

"Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of Warre, where every man is Enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall. In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short."

The numbers may support Steven Pinker's "Better Angels" but the future may be more Hobbesian that we'd like.


Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.