Restoring Humanity: Exploring Our Connections to Earth & Each Other
Prepare to have your heart blasted open. Charles Eisenstein joins our host, Daniel Schmachtenberger, to explore the many facets of humanity that will contribute to large-scale healing of our earth and civilization. We take a look at things we do every day that are contributing to the breakdown of our relationships with each other and with our planet. In order to restore our meaning in life, we need to take care to heal the root of our addictions and patterns and understand the interconnectedness of life and earth. Deep down, we all want what is best for ourselves and each other, but often sacrifice exposing the truth out of fear of losing our belonging and sense of security. Listen in to find out what kind of conversation needs to happen to create a more beautiful world for everyone.
In This Episode We Discussed:
- Protecting earth and its life out of love
- Re-ordering our priorities with environmental issues
- Lack of reverence for the earth is the root of our environmental issues
- There isn’t a single cause, but a matrix of causes
- A healthy relationship with water(and much more)
- Understanding the interconnectedness of life and earth
- Looking at the role of insects and animals on our environment
- The world can’t be reduced to just measurement
- An example: The thinking behind the pharmaceutical approach
- Underlying healing has to happen with complex issues
- Order of priorities in healing our ecosystem
- The role of addictive consumerism in environmental issues
- Relationships, intimacy, and nature > Money, investment and consumption
- Main cause of addiction is loneliness
- Which direction should we head? Secrecy and control OR transparency and community?
- Increasing symmetry of power with transparency and decentralization
- Issue of sacrificing truth to belong to a side
- Good guy vs. bad guy mindset
- Believing we’re on “team good” leads to the endless quest for power
- Let’s learn to unite over connectivity rather than over the enemy
- We need a unifying story to the meaning of life
- We can create synergistic solutions to polarizing issues
- Humility in conversation is the only way to get to solutions that work for everyone
- Inspiring history: Conversation style of the founding fathers
- How can we address the issues of polarization and sense making in our own lives?
- Courage in conversation
- Looking at one polarized issue: Vaccines
- Long and nuanced conversation is necessary, but platforms and attention span are making shorter and fragmented conversation most common
- Our attention span atrophies, if we don’t use it
- On being wrong
- What are some things people can do to increase the quality of their sense making?
- Take in a variety of perspectives to reach the truth
- The healing path for each person is different
Climate – A New Story
Sacred Economics Video
Charles on Oprah
Bohm – Wholeness and Fragmentation
How Wolves Change Rivers
On Being Wrong
Gabor Mate on Societal Drivers of Addiction
Full Episode Transcript
Charles E:Just to have an answer, why are we here? What’s the purpose of humanity? What am I a part of? I think we need an overarching story to animate the stories that give meaning to life. Like, what is ownership? What is capital? What is money? These are all functions of collective agreements. To me, the real question is, what agreements shall we have that define money and property? Not should it be public or should it be private, it’s what are the agreements that are consistent with the world that we all live in?
Speaker:Welcome to the Collective Insights Podcast, where we explore topics and technologies revolutionizing human well being. Charles Eisenstein joins Daniel Schmachtenberger for this episode to explore the many facets of the global issues we’re facing, and discuss what it will take to heal ourselves, our environment and our civilization. Charles is a speaker and a writer focusing on themes of human culture and identity. He is the author of several books, most recently, Sacred Economics and The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible. Stay tuned as Charles and Daniel explore heart opening questions like, what does it mean to exist? How do we heal from our addictive need to consume? And how can we stop fighting each other? Thank you for joining us for this amazing discussion.
Daniel S:Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Collective Insights Podcast. My name is Daniel, I’m delighted to be here with Charles Eisenstein. Charles is a friend, a really insightful thinker and brilliant educator on many of the issues that are most critical and that I care about the most regarding humanity writ large. He’s the author of a number of really exceptional books, most famously, I believe, is Sacred Economics, which is a fantastic place to start. If you want the footnote’s version, it’s a wonderful like 15 minutes video that was produced on Sacred Economics, it is a good introduction beyond this to some of the ideas there. He wrote a book called The Ascent of Humanity, and recently wrote a book on climate change, and it’s called, Climate: A New Story. And in a way, it’s about issues associated with climate change, but it is also, in some ways, inclusive of many of the deepest thoughts that are up much of his work to date.
Daniel S:And so, I’m excited for us to dive in on this topic, and he’s sharing an alternate narrative about how we approach climate change to the standard environmental narrative, that is, as a deep ecologist. And yeah, I’m excited to dive in. Charles, thanks for being here.
Charles E:Yeah, I’m excited also.
Daniel S:Climate change has become almost as polarizing a topic as like gay marriage or abortion in terms of how radically different political left and right views on it are, and you are bringing about a view in the book that is none of the standard narratives, and, well, discussing the perspectives of both, what people would call climate denial and kind of standard narrative climate change. Can you just share for people who haven’t read the book kind of high level overview, what is your primary thesis on climate change? How we think about it? How we approach it? How we could or might want to approach it differently? Yeah, what’s the kind of entry point.
Charles E:Yeah, there’s a few different entry points I could talk about. You’re right in saying that it’s not, not only is it not the left narrative or the right narrative, but it’s also not a compromise between those two narratives. But really off the spectrum, because you mentioned the polarization, what I find to be true in any polarized issue, is that, the key to resolving it or to understanding it, even, lies in the things that both sides implicitly agree on without knowing it, and on the questions that nobody’s bothering to ask. In the book, I’m offering a different framework, a different viewpoint. I guess, one way to talk about it, is from the living Earth perspective, the living Earth paradigm, which recognizes that the planet is a living being. That the forests, the oceans, the rivers, the water, the elephants, even the whales, the wolves, the salmon, the seagrass meadows, the mangrove swamps. Especially, the Amazon, the Congo, these are all workings of a living being.
Charles E:And that means, is that, even if we cut carbon emissions to zero and install giant carbon sucking machines in every city and go into negative emissions, if we continue to destroy these organs, then the planet will die of organ failure, whether or not that goes along with rising temperatures. It could even be a bypass in a good way, a bypass of entrenched political positions. That say, actually, you don’t have to believe in greenhouse gas induced global warming to still be opposed to say, seismic testing, seismic surveys of the ocean floor to drill for oil and gas, because, it’s deafening the whales and killing the whales and causing mass plankton die off. And those are … even if you’re completely, and this is another perspective I’m offering in the book, an invitation away from instrumental utilitarianism that values nature for its service to ourselves and holds it valuable only in what it can provide to us.
Charles E:And instead to say, so it’s not just that the planet will die and bad things will happen to us if we continue our ways, but it’s also calling on our innate biophilia. Like, suppose bad things don’t happen to us if we commit eco side. Suppose we could produce a future where we live in bubble cities and all of nature is dead, and we grow vat in foods and food in vats and we regulate the atmosphere composition with machines, and we have high definition VR experiences of the nature that’s been lost. Suppose we could do that, do we want to? Or, are the beings of nature valuable in and of themselves as objects worthy of love? And that connects back to the … Let me know if going on too long here, but that connects back to the living Earth paradigm, because, it’s totally irrational and delusional to love something that’s not even alive, or something that’s not a being.
Charles E:Like this kind of practical level where utilitarian level of, we better respect the organs of Gaia or the planet will die. And the heart level of, we love these beings, let’s hold them as sacred. These two are intimately intertwined, these two levels. So the paradigm shift is both a shift of our mental perspective and understanding, and also, a shift into a different heart relationship with the rest of life.
Daniel S:Okay, just even in that brief introduction, you touched on a lot of topics. I want to get deeper into the inadequacy of the utilitarian ethics and what love means beyond that, and the problem of over focusing on a few simple metrics and living Earth, rather than kind of geo mechanical Earth. Let’s take them one at a time.
Daniel S:I think, a lot of people who would identify as caring about climate change, and maybe identify as environmentalists, would say, “Yes, climate change is one of many environmental issues. There’s plenty of other environmental issues, species, extinction, pollution, but this is such a large and pressing issue that focusing on it doesn’t automatically mean we won’t have all the other problems, but it does need deep focus within a timeline.” And so, can you respond to, are you just saying climate change and other stuff? Or you’re saying something other than that?
Charles E:Yeah, I’m saying something other than that. I’m arguing for a reordering of our priorities, because I think, and this is where I get into trouble. This is where I deviate from the conventional narrative. I am not so convinced that we really understand the climate and the biosphere in general very well. I think that our quantitative models are inadequate and that the critiques of the skeptics, who actually are deniers in a certain sense, I could go into that later. They’re more hostile to what I’m saying than environmentalists, than climate activists are. But I think that some of their critiques have merit, and especially, the critique of science as an institution. I am skeptical of a lot of what scientific authority says or what scientific convention holds that’s true. It is, due to problems with peer review, academic publication, it’s kind of collective confirmation bias that, it’s not that I don’t think that greenhouse gases are dangerous, but the narrative that puts them front and center and equates environmentalism to greenhouse gases, I don’t trust that.
Charles E:Especially because, it sits so comfortably in our society’s customary ways of tackling problems. It fits so comfortably into an accounting mindset, where you have a carbon budget, and you add a little here, you subtract a little there, you evaluate policies based on metrics. You find a one cause of everything. I could go into more, like all the different reasons why I distrust that narrative. There’s also my interaction with indigenous people and their worldview, that they cite very different reasons why the climate is becoming deranged. Okay, that’s one thing, I don’t blindly trust scientific authority or scientific consensus.
Daniel S:Okay. I just want to say something before you continue. For people listening, I want you to notice as we go, if you have reactions, and notice if you might have certain kinds of confirmation bias. Notice if you’re running ingroup outgroup type modeling, where you just said, “Oh, he said that Earth is a living thing and he has problem with science. He is a pseudoscience hippie and he’s not part of our science’s way of making sense of the world ingroup, or, now he is part of our ingroup because he’s denying climate change which is awesome so we don’t have the environmentalists cause problems with the economy.” Just notice if you’re flipping between existing sense making scripts and trying to then say, “Okay, he probably didn’t do a good job of studying the research and he’s doing an irresponsible thing right now.”
Daniel S:You might not know until we get further what the degree of actual research into the science and literature that he’s done is. And so, I just want you to notice, because we’re actually going to be exploring very deep things here. Charles in the book writes about problems of the philosophy of science not as wrong, but as inadequate and of academic process and of political process and of economics writ large. We’re going to be addressing all kinds of like sacred cows here, so just buckle up and be ready for that.
Charles E:Yeah, yeah. We decide, is this guy on. You see on our side, you see on their side. Well, it’s hard to say because it seems like he really cares about the environment but he’s denying climate change, which I’m not, actually. What I’m saying is that, I don’t know for sure. But what do I know for sure? I had this interesting interchange with climate activists recently, who just, in a public forum, he just excoriated me as being a threat to the planet because I’m minimizing the urgency of cutting greenhouse gases. And I said, actually, as far as practical policies, we agree on almost everything. Like, from a living Earth perspective and from a perspective of reverence for those living beings that we call soil, that we call a river, an estuary, etc, etc. A Forest. Well, I’m opposed to fracking, that pollutes and insults the water. I’m opposed to offshore oil drilling, I mean, look what the oil spills do to marine life. I’m opposed to mountaintop removal, tar sands excavation, pipelines, down the line, every single thing.
Charles E:Functionally, the living Earth perspective also means, drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The result would be the same or even better, and this goes into the issue of what actually is greenhouse gas emissions a symptom of? How do you actually change it? What are the underlying conditions that generate endless consumption, endless economic growth, endless growth in the use of energy? If we want to change the expression, we have to look at the root. Yeah.
Daniel S:Okay. Before we get into the root of what drives some of the things that cause climate change and related issues, I don’t think anyone has or I don’t think most people are clear of what alternate narratives on the cause of environmental issues is. It seems like flooding and wildfires and coral die off are pretty obvious signs that that’s the main thing that we should focus on. Can you offer some alternate perspectives that are compelling for you as to how you explain those?
Charles E:Yeah, the first thing I would say is to be wary of a single cause, an explanation for everything that appeals to one thing, that is so comforting for us. That’s what we are comfortable with because then there’s an enemy that we can address. So like, what about cancer? I mean, for decades, they’ve been trying to find a virus. If it were only a virus, then we would have something to kill, or a gene, then we would have something to alter, something to control. This mindset of find the enemy or find the cause, extends to politics, extends to criminal justice, the war, terror, medicine, yeah. And it also is part of the mentality of money, which is the one thing that will solve all your problems. If only I had this one thing, the unitary means to the universal end, I guess, you could say, or the universal means. That said, that’s my disclaimer, so then, I would look for a matrix of causes that maybe don’t distinguish all the time between what’s a cause and what’s an effect? What’s a symptom and what’s the cause?
Charles E:I cannot have a one thing, but I could talk about a few things. I think the biggest one is the water cycle. I think that, if we focus on a substance as the most important thing to change our relationship to, it would be water and not carbon. A lot of what is ordinarily blamed on global warming, I think it’s actually due to disruptions in the hydrological cycle, through deforestation and what I call soil abuse, which basically means plowing. Exposing bare soil, but also destroying the microbiota of the soil, destroying the earthworms, destroying the ecosystems that interact with soil and keep it alive and intact and able to absorb rain. In a healthy ecosystem, there’s almost no runoff, everything soaks into the earth, into the soil or down to the aquifers. And then, trees and deep rooted grasses, I mean, some grasses have roots that go like 10, 20, 30 feet.
Charles E:They transpire the water, long after the rainy season has passed. So they extend the rainy season, they stimulate the formation of clouds through their volatile compounds, through even bacteria that live in the plants, that seed the formation of clouds because they nucleate ice on them. I mean, it’s super, super complicated. But you cut down the forests, and the rain stop coming. Not to mention, not only do they recycle water back into the air, and then, it rains again and they keep the rain going, but they also bring in water from the oceans. Because, when this huge amount of moisture evaporates and then condenses, the condensation creates a low pressure zone that creates what they call a biotic pump, that’s responsible for the flying rivers of Brazil. That just draws in moisture they near from the oceans into the continental interiors. You get the sense of Earth as a physiology, there’s a physiology here.
Charles E:You cut down the forests or you destroy the soil’s ability to soak in the water, and you have flooding, because there’s no sponge anymore where you fill in the wetlands, that’s another big one. You have flooding, and then, after the flooding, there’s no water in the water table or in the soil, so you have drought. And rather than indict our agricultural practices, our development, the whole ideology of development of the whole relationship to the land, boy, it should be a lot easier just to install some carbon sucking machines everywhere. Do a little bit of geoengineering and continue business as normal, which is often what is meant by sustainability. Like, what do we want to sustain here? And I think that, in a way, the carbon narrative is more friendly to, at least, superficially, more friendly to the status quo, because it suggests that we can just come up with some other fuels and essentially continue business as usual.
Charles E:And I think, I guess, I’m arguing for a deeper radicalism that says, “No, no, no, what needs to change is our entire relationship in way of seeing the Earth. To hold every place, every by region, every ecosystem, every species as important, valuable, and even, sacred. Nothing less is going to bring health to this Earth.”
Daniel S:When you started with the hydrological cycle, someone could have almost got excited for a minute that you are shifting the focus from carbon to water, but there’s still kind of one thing to pay attention to. But then of course, what you said about the hydrological cycle wasn’t actually addressing water directly, it was addressing plants and soil and bugs and et cetera. When you say, water, you’re really paying attention to a cycle that depends on a lot of things other than water?
Charles E:Right, including carbon. I mean, the things that improve the hydrological cycle are also things that improve the soil, and which also happened to sequester a lot of carbon. If you want to look at it through the carbon, it’s not that the water paradigm is inimical to the carbon paradigm, they’re deeply, intimately connected. And that’s why, there’s actually a lot of overlap with, say, the drawdown perspective, which puts regenerative agriculture pretty high on the list.
Daniel S:You’re talking about understanding flooding, and then, understanding droughts and correspondently wildfires as not just a result of greenhouse gas based climate change. What about ocean acidification and coral?
Charles E:Yeah, here again, I don’t know. Let’s start with that, I don’t know. When I look at the ocean as alive and want to understand its physiology, then, I look at things like … I mean, there’s many perspectives. One would be the perspective of fish and whales. I read one paper that said that 50% of layer mixing in the ocean is generated by the kinetic mixing effects of fish and Wales, and just marine life in general. Life contributes as much as wind and geo mechanical currents to the mixing ocean layers as … I can’t remember the beginning of that sentence, but you get the picture. Life is really important to bringing the cold nutrient rich water to the surface. And you remove keystone species like the … I mean, populations of sharks, of bluefin tuna, like the big predators, orcas, sperm whales. I mean, the populations of these creatures have precipitously declined, due mostly to overfishing and to commercial whaling.
Charles E:These organs of the ocean aren’t functioning anymore. Of course, things are going to go awry. Of course, all systems will become less resilient. I mean, the trophic cascades, you know that start when you remove all of the workers, or you dredge the ocean with drift nuts. Who knows what kind of effects that they produce? And again, I’m not denying that higher atmospherics’s carbon dioxide contributes to ocean acidification. But also, some of the literature I read was just about the incredible abundance of wildlife before colonization. You had like in the Chesapeake Bay for example, just massive quantities of shellfish, just unbelievable amounts. You had oysters that were a foot long, a foot across. [inaudible] was removing vast amounts of carbon in the form of calcium carbonate from the water and when you have healthy nutrient transport, you have kelp beds that alkalies the water, and then, you have different fish and shellfish feeding on the kelp and sequestering, where fish even excrete calcium carbonate as well, you have a physiology that’s functioning.
Charles E:I think that, I mean, basically, my perspective is that greenhouse gases are putting additional stress on a seriously weakened physiology. I’m not saying that they’re not a problem, but I think if we had resilient robust ecosystems, if we hadn’t destroyed half of the mangrove swamps in the world, and 80% of the seagrass meadows, and have two thirds of the rainforests, etc, etc, etc, down the line, then, changes in greenhouse gases would not be much of a problem. I could go more as far as these causes of ecological degradation, toxic pollution, pharmaceutical pollution, pesticide pollution, we’ve doused the entire land surface almost with pesticides for 90 years. I mean, what does that do to insect life? To bacterial life? To the mycelium networks? And then, there’s the electromagnetic pollution. I’ve just been starting to look into some stuff around 5G and what that does to humans, but also, what does it do to insects. Yeah.
Daniel S:This is a really good point when you mention ubiquitous pesticide use and even things that aren’t intended as pesticides that end up being pesticides. Like glyphosate, which is intended as an herbicide, but it’s also an antibiotic and anti parasitic, which also means anti bug. And you look at the graphs of the usage in tons per year, and then you look at the correlation of species extinction of flying insects, their pollinators and there’s a strong correlation. And this is a good example of 50% of die off of flying insects in the last decade, is more concerning to me as an ecological crisis than atmospheric CO2 levels. And so, one of the things that you bring up is, hey, that doesn’t get that much attention because we’re saying all the environmental attention has to be funneled into carbon sequestration or cap and trade on emissions. And so, not only might there be more critical environmental issues that are going but the approach to climate change won’t even work because to the degree that animals are actually serving a role in the carbon cycle or the hydrological cycle, there’s a deeper process.
Daniel S:You mentioned the topic of trophic cascades, and I just want to say, anyone who hasn’t studied trophic cascades. The classic example that made this famous was the Yellowstone wolves. Just go to YouTube and check out the video, how wolves change rivers. It’s mind blowing how a single keystone species, the top of a predatory ecosystem ends up changing the whole ecologic nation. So the reintroduction of wolves not only increased all of the species, but because of the way that the trees stabilized the soil, it changed the actual hydrology of the space, the river dynamics. Now, when Charles was talking about what we have done to large fish species and the ocean, and you start to get a sense of like, “Oh, yeah, there’s very little whales left. And if the whales are bringing nutrient rich water and then coming up to the photic range and defecating and that’s a part of what allows for the kelp blooms that are part of what supports the coral.”
Daniel S:And also, even if you look at the hydrological cycle, and you say, “Whoa, it’s not just water going into the atmosphere, but it is bacteria that end up being a part of cloud seeding.” It’s not even like we can say, “Okay, well let’s study nature better to then find a couple more active metrics rather than one, let’s make three metrics and try and optimize for those.” How does a complex self organizing system actually self organize? And how do we support that as opposed to think that it’s broken and override it?
Charles E:Yeah, that’s very well said. I came across another good example of trophic cascades in a conversation with Brock Dowman, he co founded the Occidental Arts Educational Center, what’s it called exactly? Anyway, he was describing the effect of dams on creating forest fires. Because, the dams prevent the salmon from coming upstream, so the salmon are no longer available for the bears and the eagles to eat. So the bears and the eagles are no longer defecating nutrients from the ocean into the forests. The forests, which he says, some of them, isotopic analysis says that half of their nitrogen is coming from the ocean. The forest now become less resilient and more susceptible to forest fire. How do you encompass that in a metric? And then, of course, they’re going to release carbon dioxide. And then, once they burn, no longer holding down the soil, so the soil oxidizes and runs off and etc, etc.
Charles E:Okay, how are you going to encompass that in your metrics? It’s almost impossible. The metrics as far as dams go, they allow the generation of electricity without fossil fuels, so dams are of benefit in the existing metrics. The metrics based mind wants to extend the metrics and say, “Well, let’s take into account, the methane from the areas inundated by the dams and balance that off with …” like, you can extend the metrics to some point, but, how are you going to extend it to the salmon, or beavers, or wolves, or whales? Because, their effects are so diffuse through the ecosystem, through the highly nonlinear cycles of cause and effect, you can’t do that. And the delusion that you can, that gets to one of the deeper metaphysical principles of science, or maybe it’s more of a … Well, it starts with a metaphysical principle that the whole world can be reduced to number, and is therefore, if you ignore chaos theory, that is therefore amenable to prediction and control.
Charles E:And that, the improvement of the human state depends on improving our ability to measure and control everything, and that we are becoming better and better at that. And that progress consists of extending our measures to a greater and greater area. But in practice, what happens, is that, the things that you can’t measure, you just don’t bother to measure. And they get left out, even if they turn out to be more important than the things you do measure. Or, you decide not to measure the things that are going to harm your personal economic self interest, or that of the institutions you’re working for. It’s very convenient to leave certain things out, if they harm your profits. So, forgive me for being a little bit cynical, but I think that it’s not just a matter of including more in our metrics thereby preserving our quantitative decision making processes, but it’s really to … And it’s not to abandon the quantitative method, it’s not to abandon science, it’s not to ignore those things, but it is to put those methods and that way of seeing the world in its proper place. We could talk philosophical about that, but yeah.
Daniel S:Yeah. Okay, people who have listened to this podcast historically will recognize that what Charles is talking about is something we’ve talked about quite a lot, and particularly, in the area of health care. And because, setting a body, which is obviously a living self organizing complex system, is a really good way to pay attention to this. We try and reduce health to some small set of metrics. We end up doing things like saying, “Okay, we’re going to pay attention to your cholesterol, to your low density lipoprotein. And then, we’re going to give you a stat.” And to lower it, and it actually worked. And yet, it increases liver toxicity and neuro toxicity and a number of other things. So, the question is, can I sink of low density lipoprotein or LDL HDL ratio, or whatever increased metric complexity I tried to look at, as an adequate measure for health?
Daniel S:Because, in that stat and approach, pharmaceutical approach in general, we’re not asking, “Well, what else is going on associated with the LDL being high? What are the underlying causal factors?” Maybe it’s not only one, maybe there’s a number of them. “Why is the body not self regulating as well as it used to? How do we support its own self regulation? Nope, the number is too high, we’re going to give something external to lower it without paying attention to what else that might have been a symptom of, and now the fact that we just made the regulatory system week or independent on that intervention.”
Charles E:Yeah, perfect example. It’s so congruent to what we’re doing to the environment. Yeah, you extend the metrics further and further, and then you look at, well, who benefits from those metrics? And who benefits from the entire metrics based approach? The entire approach of find a number, find a thing that you can control. Obviously, it’s the purveyors of technologies of control, i.e, the pharmaceutical industry. They’re really happy if you can find a biological marker that in a confusion of cause and effect, they can identify as the cause. And then, you take that sucker down, you reduce those levels, problem solved. And like you were saying, see, so at first, it was cholesterol, right? Just cholesterol levels, and then, it was LDL, and then, it was something else. And the whole time, higher levels of cholesterol that could just be a symptom of like chronic inflammation caused perhaps by the very unsaturated fatty acids that were being prescribed as beneficial.
Charles E:You get into a morass where you don’t know, you can’t find one thing that causes it. So yeah, I think it’s [crosstalk 00:37:23].
Daniel S:Okay. Let’s play with this example. Let’s say, we look at the pharmaceutical approach. We have a regulatory system, where the FDA says, in order for a doctor to use something to treat a disease, first, we have to diagnose the disease and agree upon disease diagnosis process. We’re treating disease, right? We’re not promoting health as first kind of thing. And then, we have to have an FDA approved process to treat the disease. And so, then, the drug or whatever it is, has to go through FDA approval, and the process of doing that is an expensive process, right? I got to do phase three clinical trials that cost us to a billion dollars, sometimes more than that. And where does the money come from to do that? Well, it comes from patenting a molecule that I’ll be able to, because of the patent, sell for price much higher than if I didn’t patent, then there could be competition on it once I had invested all the research, and it makes sense.
Daniel S:If I’m doing a billion dollars with a research to get it through, so I’m only going to study patentable molecules. Then we look in patent law, and we say, “Well, we can’t patent molecules that occur in the body naturally, or in the environment naturally, only synthetic ones.” I’m not going to look at what was happening in the body differently when it was young and healthy, or things in the environment that we call evolved, and then, I’m look at synthetic sheet that was never part of a healthy human being, or a healthy environment because it’s the only stuff that I can patent, that I can make the money back on to get to the FDA trials. You say, okay. This is nobody’s fault, actually. Actually, not the pharma companies, it’s a system that is oriented in a way to do a thing. And there is actually, like say, I want to study an herb or I want to study diet. I can’t get it through FDA approval because there’s just no way I’m going to get a billion dollars from, for something I’ll never be able to make money back on.
Daniel S:Well, I can sell the herb, but everybody can sell the herb and undercut my price, because they didn’t put the $2 billion up front, right? Now, we’re starting to look at, okay, well, that’s … And then we say even deeper, we say, “Well, it’s also the fact that the high cholesterol didn’t necessarily have one cause. It might have been partially inflammation from eight different things, it might have been mycotoxins affecting the vascular system, it might have been …” Now we recognize it, inadequacy of the epistemic approach to medicine. Now we just set our underlying epistemic approach, and our regulatory systems, and our fiscal incentive systems, and our patent law are all part of the problem. And so, what is the solution? Well, that’s kind of like a deep civilization restructure that is necessary, because it’s all those things. Now, that’s a pretty obvious example because most people don’t have a hard time thinking about the body as a living interconnected system. Now, as we start to look at the plan and say, “Well, it’s actually pretty interconnected.”
Daniel S:Whether someone takes the metaphysics of, it is living or not, we just say, “It’s very interconnected.” We’ll get to the living part in a moment. And it is self organizing, actually, ecosystems are self organizing. And so, we get that distinction of complex versus complicated, right? There isn’t an external blueprint that built it, like there is a laptop, there is this ongoing set of interacting generator functions. We really do need a different way of approaching it writ large. So what you’re bringing up here is, there’s financial incentives associated with what drives climate change, and there’s regulatory issues, and there’s epistemic issues.
Charles E:That’s right, it goes all the way to the bottom.
Daniel S:And it’s actually, no bad guys fault.
Daniel S:It’s not like the oil company is a bad guy, it’s like, they economically can’t do something very different than they’re doing in the presence of anyone else who would do that thing, and the nature of regulation, and the nature of market supply and demand.
Charles E:Right. I would say I would be in favor of a carbon tax, but I understand that it’s not going to work. Because, if you have a system that constitutionally requires more and more input of energy, especially, concentrated portable energy like oil. It’s like trying to go on a diet without changing the underlying drivers of your cravings. It’s like, if you’re an alcoholic and trying to quit cold turkey when nothing else has changed, when the trauma and the wounds and the pain that you’re medicating with alcohol is still there, no amount of willpower is going to be enough to stop yourself for very long from drinking. And the same thing is true of our addiction to fossil fuels. Yeah, it’s a fool’s game.
Daniel S:This is an interesting example. If we think about someone who’s got a drug addiction issue that is actually related to numbing some pain they don’t know how to resolve, and we see military veterans come back running PTSD from their pain or traumatic brain injury or whatever, and now, they have an opioid addiction, an alcohol addiction. We can’t just willpower them off of it or shame them off of it, there’s actual healing that needs to happen. So, you’re describing something like healing that has to happen at the level of the collective.
Charles E:Yeah, because, it’s not that those military veterans are bad, nor are their drug dealers bad. They’re functional necessity of the system, they’re generated by the system, it’s unavoidable that you’re going to have people playing that role. Yeah, I mean, that’s the question, how do we change the system? Can you repeat what your question there was?
Daniel S:When you think about the underlying healing that has to happen, there’s a reason that you discuss story and narrative a lot, but also systems. It sounds like one could take what you’re saying as, “Oh, that’s a good critique of the inadequacy of the carbon tax approach with no good suggestion.” How do you suggest we actually approach? Acknowledging the complexity of the issues.
Charles E:Yeah, well, there are different approaches. One is on the level of narrative, and the other is the approach of healing, I would call it, and they’re related. But on the level of narrative, I think that, as a replacement for the carbon narrative, it is the living Earth and sacred Earth narrative, that also corresponds to systems theoretic thinking. There’s a chapter of the book that’s very, very concrete, it says, “Here’s 17 Priority, 17 things we need to do.” And then, I’ve condensed them into four. Number one priority is to preserve any pristine ecosystem that is still left, especially, the Amazon and the Congo. As long as they are intact, there’s still hope. Because, to use more woo woo terminology, Gaia’s memory of health resides in these places. They are biodiversity reservoirs, the dream of the planet is still intact there. And health can radiate out from these places as long as they are still there. That’s top priority.
Charles E:Second priority is regeneration. So first, conservation, second, regeneration. Which means, reforestation and regenerative agriculture, rebuilding soil, restoring wetlands, undamming rivers, reintroducing beavers. And I guess, establishing marine sanctuaries, over at least half the ocean would be necessary too, yeah. So that to strengthen the planet on the organ and tissue level. And third priority has to do with the pesticides, the herbicides, the toxic waste, electromagnetic pollution, etc, etc. And in number four, is cut greenhouse gases. However, that is already a side effect of the first three. You cannot treat earth as sacred and continue to develop fossil fuels. It is really, really practical, but it still brings up the same question, how are we going to do those things when we still have this addictive need to consume? And to recognize and then start to ask the question, where does this addiction come from?
Charles E:I like to take the addiction metaphor seriously, and not to translate it into just a vector of blame. Usually, when people talk about our addiction to fossil fuels, they say so in terms of disgust. Like, “Oh, we’re just addicted, we’re just addicted.” There’s some self hatred there, which is just an internalization of the search for an enemy, which has everything to do with the polarization that we were talking about earlier. I mean, this is all tied together in one big tangle. But yeah, so to find the bad guy, that’s not the solution. That is a false solution, that is a diversion from actually changing of circumstances from which the bad behavior arises or from which the addiction arises. I think that, I mean, not to oversimplify it, but I think that you could say that the driver of our addictive consumptive society is disconnection. Disconnection from place, from community, just being alienated. Looking outside and how many of these trees you’ll actually recognize?
Charles E:A few hundred years ago, pretty much anyone would have been able to even in wintertime, name exactly, which tree every single one of them was, and the qualities of the wood, and what kind of bird nests in that tree, and what are the seasonal habits of those birds? And what kind of soil does that tree grow in? And what kind of other plants grow in that soil? Indigenous people can still do this, if they’re truly indigenous, truly of a place. And to be alienated from all of that, leaves us so hungry, so desperate to recover our lost beingness, which is a function of relationship. And this goes down to the ontological level, like what is it to exist? Is existence a single predicate? No, actually, it is a relationship, it’s a function of relationship. The more cut off we are from relationships, from intimacy to place, community, nature, et cetera, the smaller we are, the less we exist. And so, this hunger to exist, to recover our lost beingness, that feeds consumptive habit’s acquisition.
Charles E:And the insecurity we get from not belonging, that feeds the quest for a substitute, which is money, investments. Now, I feel that I’m okay here. But really, what we need is to be imprisoned in nature and community. And then, there’s also the ideological level, the ideological cut off from nature, that says that, yeah, it’s just a bunch of stuff out there. It’s a bunch of generic particles bouncing around according to mathematical forces. There’s no beingness there, there’s no intelligence, except what we impose upon it. We’re alone here. And I think that ideology that chart’s out … The endpoint of existence in that ideology is that you grow old, you fight to survive as long as you can, you suffer more and more, and then, you’re snuffed out like a candle. So, there’s a deep anxiety built into the separate self. And yeah, no wonder, we are so driven to consume. And so, I think that also, offers a through line to a healed future that says, it’s about restoring our lost connections, in our perception, in our narrative about the world, and then, like really practically, in our systems.
Charles E:What kind of systems could we have that restore community? That restore our connection to place? It does get very, very practical and it’s also philosophical.
Daniel S:Okay, I want to explore deeper, the way you’re describing addiction. Because, I thought you were going to and I think you would do both. I thought you’re going to describe addiction at the macro system level of saying, hey, if by addiction we mean some kind of repetitive compulsive behavior of something that we know isn’t in our highest good but can’t seem to stop. Then, there’s plenty of reasons at a system dynamic level, where you say, “Okay, the fact that we have a monetary system that requires exponential growth of monetary supply, which do not debase the currency requires increased goods and services kind of fits that. Like a deep economic monetary structure change.” But you went to the level of the personal and the interpersonal, which I think is a critically interesting thing. Had that Kristen Harrison on this podcast not long ago talking about the addiction properties associate with Facebook and smartphone use.
Daniel S:Obviously, they’re getting more ubiquitous and worse than sugar and opioids, because sugar and opioids don’t get fully personalized to someone psyche with real time biometric feedback, and being able to hijack that social connectivity impulse in a way that actually drives more and more separation. But the gest, like, I heard you saying, “Hey, we’re filling a void,” and like [inaudible] work on addiction as such beautiful work that the main cause of addiction as he’s looking at it. And again, it’s easy to want to say the main cause of anything and be over reductive, I’m not gonna do that. But I think, he’s focused on this. The main cause of addiction statistically, they notice is loneliness. And when people have deep, rich connectivity, they heal better. I’ll put one more part of this together and I’m curious of your thoughts on it. When we look at this going forward, and we look at the issue of existential risk, catastrophic risk associated with exponential tech, which is something people heard me talk about here.
Daniel S:Right now, we have the ability for someone to go, take an AR-15 and shoot up a bunch of people, right? And whenever that happens, and they interview afterwards, the neighbors. The neighbors all say, “Yeah, we never saw him, he kept to himself. He was a super quiet guy.” We have a society where he can progress in psychopathology, because he doesn’t have to interact with anyone. He can use a little money and go buy some food in the store without making eye contact with anyone, and progress in psychopathology, then have access to something like an AR-15, but with exponential tech, that could be access to much worse stuff, right? To drones swarms, to whatever. How do you prevent that? How do you make a world that is resilient in the presence of that, where you can’t have shut ins? Right? Some people say, “Well, we must have a ubiquity of surveillance. Oh, that’s already a failed structure if it’s ubiquity surveillance of the state.”
Daniel S:But families and communities address the need of surveillance, but in a healthy way, which was through connectivity.
Charles E:Yeah, again, I want to go two different directions with that.
Daniel S:Yeah, please.
Charles E:I did want to go in the economic direction and I think that there’s a link, the idea that, I like to define addiction as the attempt to meet a need with a substitute that doesn’t actually meet the need. And because it doesn’t meet the need, you need more and more and more of it to temporarily quell the longing. And I think that, on the societal level, we’re trying to meet the need for qualitative things with more and more quantity. And that ties into the economic system because, only things that can be quantified, can be easily denominated in money. And that gets a bit complicated, I mean, obviously, things that are qualitative are still bought and sold for money. But, Anyway, there’s a link there. But what I would really like to explore is the second thing that you were just saying-
Daniel S:And shut ins?
Charles E:Right, yeah, and surveillance. It’s similar to the mindset of, our metrics aren’t working so let’s fix the problem with even more metrics. More generally, it’s our technologies of control are not working, so let’s fix a problem by extending the control even further. We’ve had like, say, you have a school shooters, and it’s like, “Well, I mean, gosh, we had our fence around the school, we had our surveillance system, we had our metal detectors, we were locking every door, and this shooter still got in. And we’ve been surveilling the students, and so, it didn’t work, so let’s do even more of that.” Whereas, in the 70s, when I was in school, we had open campus in the high school. All the doors were open to the community, there was none of that surveillance stuff. There were no dogs sniffing the schools for weapons, there were no cops in the schools, and there was even a shooting club, where the kids could bring their guns to school, and there was a shooting club. Where they would practice their target practice.
Charles E:It almost seems that the intensification of control actually creates the conditions where you have shooters. It’s like you take an explosive force and you confine it in a smaller and smaller container. And what’s going to happen eventually, and when the explosion happens, you say, “Well, the container wasn’t strong enough. So it’s-
Daniel S:So we’re seeing something, you’re just bringing up that you hold an alternate view on one of the other most polarizing issues which is gun control. And because you just said, we had more access to guns in schools and less shootings.
Charles E:Yeah, I mean, again, that is a polarizing issue and it’s another issue in which the key to the debate, I think, lies in what either side is talking about. I don’t want to detour into that because I want to say one more thing about-
Daniel S:Okay, no, I’m wanting to detour not into gun control, but the topic of polarization itself. But finish where you were, and we’ll come back to it.
Charles E:Yeah, like surveillance, and you said that, “This is what I follow a long time.” We’ve two paths in front of us. One is increasing government surveillance over everyone and everything, and that’s the path we seem to be going on. But there’s another path, which is increasing surveillance of everybody, on everybody, which is also could be called increasing transparency. Right now, we have increasing transparency of the population to the government. But there’s also possibilities, like kind of hints of another path, which would be, and it comes out in like the videos of police brutality and police shootings. The government is, in some way, starting to become more transparent to the people as well, or through Wikileaks, things like that. And so, for me, a dystopian future is one where the government totalises its surveillance and control over everybody. And the other is a utopian future in which, everything is transparent.
Charles E:Not to say that there’s no privacy or whatever, but, because invasions of privacy would be transparent. There’s certain realms and boundaries and things. But, yeah, if every financial transaction were transparent, which a blockchain technology offers the possibility of, if you can attach a biological identity to a wallet, etc, etc, we could go into that. But there’s another path that, where everything is, if all financial transactions were transparent, boy, that would change everything. If all government decision making were transparent, if there were no secrets. And so, there’s a movement, there’s two movements in opposite directions at the same time. One is toward greater secrecy and greater control and the weaponization of narratives, and the other is toward greater transparency, we hold that now in our relationships as an important virtue to be transparent with each other.
Charles E:Yeah, those are the two roads ahead of us, I think. It’s the bifurcation right now, the choice that we face and these two timelines that both converge at the present. And I want to do what I can to strengthen the timeline toward a more utopian future.
Daniel S:It’s interesting when you’re describing the difference between transparency and state based surveillance. A couple kind of like underlying math ways of thinking about it, one has to do with increasing symmetry and the other increasing asymmetry of power, because the information becomes power. And so, if you have one surveilling everybody and radical asymmetry, then, you have a situation that maximizes the opportunity for power over dynamics.
Daniel S:If you have a situation of everyone being connected to, which includes having information about everyone, then you have a many to many transaction rather than a one to many type dynamic. You have symmetry rather than asymmetry, and you have decentralization of the information processing rather than centralization. Centralization is always going to lead to capture and corruption. And now this brings up your point around restorative or regenerative work, because that is actually regenerating elements of the human ecology that used to exist more. Like families and communities. I want to come to this polarization topic because whether we’re talking about climate change or the specifics of whether we do a cap and trade system or, I mean, we just started to critique capitalism itself, right? And we get some of the hottest kinds of debates there, or any of the issues, gun control, nationalism.
Daniel S:We see a movement to increasing polarization and radicalization around almost everything currently, and decrease conversation quality. And speak to that a little bit, because you’re obviously addressing that in a lot of areas, facing that in a lot of areas. What do you see are some of the causes or system dynamics that give rise to that?
Charles E:Yeah, gosh, I think that polarization is actually the biggest problem facing civilization right now. Because, if we cannot come into coherence and stop fighting each other, we’re never going to be a healing influence on the world. When the most important goal is to defeat the enemy, everything else becomes subservient to that goal. And you’re not going to worry about the environmental effects of bombing Iraq, which were horrendous, because you gotta kill the terrorists, you gotta win. And it’s also a matter of priorities and where do we put our energy. You’d imagine what we’d be able to do in energy technologies if we took all of the scientific talent that’s devoted to weapons and turned it toward energy storage, batteries, making better batteries. I mean, our problems would be solved in five years, I mean, we can do anything we want. We can create any world we want, if we put our intention and will into it, and our imagination into it. And so much of it now is siphoned into diversions, into fighting each other.
Charles E:And so, yeah, socialism versus capitalism, that’s a good one. I read left wing and right wing websites, and some that are hard to tell if they’re right wing or left wing because of that everything’s turning upside down now and the so called liberals are telling us to trust the CIA and the conservatives used to be pro war are now, anyway, it’s getting all mixed up. But some of the libertarian anti war websites that I appreciate are also very dismissive and contemptuous of socialism. And so, there’s this polarized socialism versus capitalism. And as usual, Look at, what are the hidden agreements? And what are the questions that are not asked? Well, one of them is, what is capital? What is ownership? Capitalism is supposed to be about private ownership, socialism about collective ownership. Well, actually, this is always a continuum, because to own something is always a social agreement. It’s not that your land or your car or anything is attached to your body. What is ownership? What is capital? What is money? These are all functions of collective agreements.
Charles E:To me, the real question is, what agreements shall we have that define money and property? Not should it be public or should it be private, it’s what are the agreements that are consistent with the world that we all live in? And then that leads to, what capitalism, nowhere to put it is, that the nature and effect of capitalism depends on the nature of capital. And how does capitalism change when capital changes? And this gets into the some of the economic proposals I work with, to change the DNA of mine. Anyway, I veered off a little bit, but yeah. As far as polarization goes, when the most important thing becomes to win over the enemy, everything else gets sacrificed to that including the truth. Because, if, say, you get some new information about something, if you are in the mindset of defeating the enemy, then, the first filter that information passes through is not, is it true? But, does it serve the narrative?
Charles E:So, you’re anti Trump, and the Steele dossier comes up. And “Oh, yeah, here’s something we can use to attack Donald Trump.” Whether or not it’s true, if it’s something that is going to harm Donald Trump and you’re a Donald Trump opponent, then, you’re not going to scrutinize it too much, you’re not going to question that source, you’re going to tend to accept it. Even if in the back of your mind, you know that it’s not really true. You know that it is, as Van Jones put it, “A nothing burger.” But you’re still going to use it and you’re still going to attack anybody who is skeptical of it, because they wouldn’t be skeptical of it if they weren’t on the other side. Because, you cannot understand even if you’re immersed in us versus them, you cannot understand somebody having a different priority, which might be truth. You can understand your enemy very well, because they’re operating in the same way you are.
Charles E:And in fact, you depend on your enemy for your own identity. They’re the bad guys, you’re the good guys. You need them in order to maintain your identity as the good guys. What’s much more threatening than the enemy, is the pacifist. In a time of war, it’s the person who doesn’t participate in the polarization, because they cast into doubt the very premises of your identity and your sense of belonging. And I think that one reason for the polarization of our society is the crisis in belonging, and the crisis in meaning. As the modern modernist, modern in that sense, meaning, making apparatus has fallen apart. And as the promise of technological society to create a utopia, like that whole narrative is that’s falling apart, we don’t know who we are anymore. And also, yeah, and to add to that, the dissolution of community and civic culture, and the intensifying crisis of belonging, that makes people susceptible to these ingroup outgroup dynamics. Because, they’re offered, “Here’s a way you can belong, here’s a meeting you can make of your life. Here’s the way the world is.”
Charles E:So to define ourselves in contrast to an enemy, that’s like the most simplified form of meaning making, that is available to us. Yeah, and so, I agree with you that it’s really dangerous, this is really disturbing. Because, you said something about how it simplifies the dialogue, or destroys the possibility of conversation. Yeah, when truth is sacrificed, when you’re not open to new information, when every piece of information is evaluated on, is this going to help us win or not? Is it going to help make our narrative a better weapon? Then, of course, there’s no conversation to be heard, yeah.
Daniel S:Actually, I want to drill down here the most, because when you said, the biggest issue facing civilization is, you call it polarization. This is another way of talking about, when I described rivalrous games, and why rivalrous games necessarily cause harm to each other and or the comments and with exponential tech, exponential harm is unsustainable. So we either get this now or that’s the fork in the road. Our ability to address any of the issues requires our ability to sense make together what addressing the issue would actually mean, and then, our ability to choice make together. And if that’s broken down, then, failure of everything is eminent, right? As we unpack this a little bit, the focus is winning against whoever the other is. And whether that is U.S. versus USSR or China or whatever, or political left versus right, or a religion versus the other. And then, as it starts to become about any specific issue, right? Those who were for or against a particular proposition, or who have a particular stance on me too, or whatever it is, climate change obviously.
Daniel S:And then we go to the movies or the TV and we look at what we grew up with, and almost every single movie, unless it’s maybe a romantic comedy, in which case, it has another bad meme in it, we celebrate when the bad guy gets hit at the end. That’s the whole thing, is there’s a good guy versus a bad guy that built into the structure of the hero’s journey, and we all feel great rejoice when we finally kill or hurt the bad guy. And we started that celebration with hyper normal stimuli as little children imprinting, being able to decouple our well being from someone else’s so much and not just decouple but anti couple it. And then, we look at our relationship to sports, and we started training, that we want to be able to celebrate a lot when somebody else loses. And if I want people who will go to war later, because war doesn’t feel good, I have to train people to have an anti coupled sense of identity with others.
Daniel S:And so, we start to look at, what is a culture that grows up with zero some sports? And where all of the movie memes are, we win when the bad guy gets hit. And when you start to look at how ubiquitous this is, it’s really profound.
Charles E:Yeah, the programming so deep. The movies, yeah, the problem in the movie is that there’s this bad guy, and the solution, is to kill the bad guy or you lock them up. It’s almost ubiquitous, it’s almost universal in action movies. Very rarely is there an exception to it. And usually, the bad guy loses and everyone lives happily ever after, except in, what was it? Avengers? What was that thing called? Infinity Wars, where the bad guy actually wins.
Daniel S:And then it’s dystopian.
Charles E:Yeah, right. But yeah, it’s deep, deep programming. And then, the hero’s journey as you mentioned, which is about the triumph of the heroic individual, and your picture of Luke Skywalker up there, getting his medal. And that’s the end, when actually, the hero is a very juvenile archetype in the Lover Magician Warrior King schema, it is the immature form of the warrior. So very, very far from being the king, which does not seek glory for himself, but is so secure in his place in the world and so sovereign, that he wants to elevate other people and create conditions for other people to rise to their sovereignty. Anyway-
Daniel S:Okay, this is interesting. Now we connect when you said earlier, the addiction to consumption being partly related to disconnection. So the disconnection is, I’m particularly susceptible to hyper normal stimuli. Whether it’s cocaine, sugar porn, whatever. When I live in a hyper normal stimuli environment, where I’m not connected to people and trees and place. And most everybody notices that, when they go to Burning Man or festival or whatever they aren’t checking Facebook as feverishly as they normally do, because they’re around people, right? And so, now, you’re talking about the immature hero’s journey, where I’m seeking identity on the outside. And now we start to look at polarization and the way that identity is tied to ingroup dynamics, ingroup outgroup dynamics. And, all right, so we’re lonely, we’re seeking to belong, and now, I belong by sharing the world view of a particular ingroup. And that, that group is people who are actually very, very different, but they cohere in their otherness to an outgroup.
Daniel S:And then, everybody normalizes, they’re thinking to whatever the center of the standard narrative of the ingroup is.
Charles E:Yeah, and everybody believes that they’re on team good and that they’re serving the good of humanity. And if that’s true, then, anything that you do to gain more power is justified. George Orwell had very, very acute commentary on this, when he described, I don’t know how well you remember 1984, but he talks about power and double think and that the party on the one hand unapologetically or … that’s not the right word. They have no delusion that they seek anything other than power but it’s for its own sake. And at the same time, they hold contradictory belief that they only want power temporarily in order to produce the perfect society. So the result of those two things is that, they have no hesitation in doing whatever it takes to gain more and more power. Interestingly, the opposition to the party, which in the end turns out to be just an organ of the party, but it’s called the Brotherhood, has the same ideology.
Charles E:There’s this really famous scene, this really famous passage, where Winston, the main character is being recruited to the Brotherhood, or he thinks he is, he’s actually being intrapped. And O’Brian, the inner party member, asks him, I have the passage here, hold on. Yeah, he says, “You are prepared to commit murder?” “Yes.” “To commit acts of sabotage, which may cause the death of hundreds of innocent people?” “Yes.” “To betray your country to foreign powers?” “Yes.” “You are prepared to cheat, to forge, to blackmail, to corrupt the minds of children?” etc, etc. He goes on, “Yes, yes, yes.” And he’s revealed thereby to actually have the same mindset as the party. I will do whatever it takes to gain, to overthrow the party. And so, this to me is like there’s a distilled version of what’s happening with the weaponization of narratives.
Charles E:Sometimes, I get the sense that the talking heads in the pundits, don’t actually believe what they’re saying on some level. But they have to pretend to believe, and that pretense has to even fool themselves, so that they can exhibit genuine indignation at somebody who is contradicting their narrative, even though, they actually, on some level, agree with that person. Kind of read another little passage from Orwell, it’s just so delicious, it’s like a textbook example of double think. And I think that, like we all recognize, the book is so prophetic. To tell deliberate lies, while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that is becoming convenient. And then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion, for just so long as it is needed. To deny the existence of objective reality, and all the while, to take account of the reality which one denies. All of this is indispensable unnecessary.
Charles E:And it goes on, to know and not to know. To be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies. To hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them. Okay, anyway, I could go on but it just gives me chills that someone can be so, so prophetic.
Daniel S:Well, this is not a new phenomenon, right? If we go back to the court of Versailles and the way the politic dynamics work with Louis the 14th, or we go back to the Roman Empire, the Egyptian Empire, this is kind of the history of Empire. It’s the history of control structure. One way of thinking about it is, up to the size of a tribe, up to the Dunbar number, which was almost all of human history, everyone can know everyone, be connected to everyone and all be part of a conversation that’s going to create a decision that affects their life. And so, the group would always cleave when it would get larger than that, because if the group gets so large, we can’t all be part of a conversation, then, a decision will be made that will affect my life that I don’t get a say in. So we’d rather [inaudible] part of a small group.
Daniel S:And so, the only thing that ended up leading to, or one way of looking at what led to humans doing groups larger than that, where they were willing to give up some freedoms, was this seemed need for security because tribal warfare started. The other tribe was bigger and they were going to kill us unless we fuse with another tribe. And now, we start the process of being held together by outgroup identity, driving an ingroup identity beyond actual connectivity. And this was Machiavelli’s enemy hypothesis, right? People are tribal, they’re going to separate into small little tribes that get along well, where they have enough power and influence in the system. And the only way to get the tribes to unite, is having a larger external enemy than they are with each other. And I think, one of the things that you’re trying to do, is to say, we don’t need an enemy to unify, we need a common something.
Daniel S:It doesn’t have to be a common enemy, it can be a common sense of shared values and narrative and interconnectivity, which is a pull vector rather than a push vector on a basis for-
Charles E:Yeah, just to have an answer, why are we here? What’s the purpose of humanity? What am I a part of? I think we need an overarching story to drive or animate, I would say, to animate the stories that give meaning to life. And we had that century ago, when you could aspire to be a captain of industry and participate in the conquest of nature. That was a good thing, then, the conquest of nature was celebrated. We had a unifying story as a civilization. Certainly not all the planet participated in that story, would agree with it, but the dominant society had that story, and we do not have one now. And I guess, what I’m proposing, and certainly not me alone proposing, but the story I would say that wants to be born now, is a story of we’re here to heal the damage that’s been done to Earth. And then, to participate in the unfolding of the dream of the planet, in partnership with a living Earth.
Charles E:That feel is pretty exciting to me. And I think, even without that story being fully conscious, a lot of people are already gravitating toward that. The really intelligent, dynamic young people that I know, they are, generally speaking, way more interested in permaculture design rather than nuclear engineering or rocket science. Maybe I have a self selected data set here, but I don’t know, forgive me for being optimistic.
Daniel S:If we come back to how easy ingroup outgroup identification is, that it is necessarily destructive, that we … I’ll actually construct this a tiny bit. I don’t remember who, one of the founding fathers had a statement that was something like voting is. We’ve discussed this, voting is the death of democracy, because the key insight into a democracy working well was actually the quality of conversation that happened in the town hall. And it was only if we couldn’t have a good enough conversation that led to a synergistic satisfier for everyone that we were stuck with a boat, but we don’t even have that conversational process to say, “Can we collectively sense make the choice we have here and what are all the values that matter? What are all the pieces of data that matter, that every different sense maker has a noble perspective on? And what would a good proposition even be?”
Daniel S:We go straight to, here’s a proposition that some very limited percentage of the population who didn’t have all the values and all the data clear, made. And then, we get this binary choice of yes or no in the proposition, the proposition is always based on a theory of trade offs, because in benefiting that one thing, if prop eight goes through, it’ll damage other things, which is why everybody doesn’t vote for it. And now, so the process of voting itself, ends up being necessarily polarizing. And the idea that we go straight to choice making before sense making what a good choice would even be, is kind of ridiculous. That’s what we think of civic engagement, which is actually a form of frame control, right?
Daniel S:But now, rather than those of us who want the proposition versus those of you who don’t want the proposition being able to work together to what a good proposition would be, we need to spend most of our time fighting each other because you’re the bad guy because I want the proposition to go through that allows better jobs because my kids can’t fucking get jobs right now, and you want to protect the damn hours. And the proposition is structured in such a way that, if you get what you want for the house, my kids can’t. And if I get what I want, the nature that sacred to you dies, but it was just because of a shitty proposition, where, had we done a better job of trying to say, what’s meaningful to everyone? Can we craft a better synergistic satisfier? We’d probably come up with things.
Charles E:Right, yeah, certainly. Because if that’s the choice presented to us, then, it’s inevitable that people will cleave into opposing counts. And to prevent that from happening, like you say, there has to be a conversation that transcends that set up, it’s a setup, it’s a polarizing setup, and looks at, well, what is the nature of the system that constantly asks us to sacrifice nature for the sake of jobs? And does it have to be that way? And is there another kind of system? That place can only be reached through a conversation, where each side is willing to let go of some of their preconceptions and some of their identity with their opinions. Conversation is the only way to get there, and conversation that isn’t debate. A lot of what passes for conversation is, what the political system holds as a conversation is a debate. The presidential candidates, they don’t have a conversation, they have a debate, which side wins. And a debate doesn’t get you to anywhere new, all it does is help one side win over the other.
Charles E:For conversation to happen, genuine conversation, there has to be some degree of humility or non attachment to an opinion you’ve identified with. Where there’s still awareness, that you’ve identified with an opinion. And-
Daniel S:I actually wish that people would study this part of American history and Western history of like, when you think of the founding fathers setting the country up, there’s obviously plenty that retrospectively, we can criticize about that. But, the meaningful advance in social structures that did occur there, occurred because those people were products of the enlightenment. They were all people that were studied in Economics and Ecology, and Agriculture and Natural philosophy and the sciences, and they were all trained in dialectic. And you’d see the letters that they would write to each other, and there were these profoundly thought form, nuanced, respectful types of letters and the nature of the conversation. And so, they would have a conversation where they would actually listen and learn from each other, right? So collective sense making was happening, and they made a system that works for people like them. This is why they said, “We’ve given you a republic, if you can keep it. And education and civics have to be the center of keeping it. Because if you don’t really engage in the conversation in civics, then you are consenting to be governed by those who will to power.” Which is exactly what happened.
Daniel S.:If you go back to where all of the knowledge was generated in the Greeks, it was again because of an orientation towards quality of conversation and dialectic. So, when you say we have to have real conversation, that doesn’t just mean conversation with people that already hold the same views as you that reinforce your cognitive bias.
Charles E.:Right. Yep.
Daniel S.:So, how we change the system writ large is a big topic. You already said what the four pillars for environmental focus you’d like the world would be focused on, when I think they’re actually very good at four pillars. But on this topic of polarization and sense making, what are some things that just listeners can start to implement to move in the direction of addressing those issues, at least in their own life and locally?
Charles E.:I think one thing that’s useful is to start noticing our own tendencies to engage in this kind of debate, in this kind of a will to dominate the other, to be right. To let us become aware of our own cognitive biases, of our own confirmation bias, for example. If you read something that disagrees with you, how do you deal with that? Are you open to being wrong? Or are you going to find some way to demonstrate that you’ve been right all along?
Charles E.:Most people who are gonna … This came up, what was it? Oh, yeah. I mean, here talk about a polarizing issue, the Maga teen, in his confrontation with that native American guy. Then there’s this video that shows that there’s a little bit more to the story. Then, I just looked at a little bit of this on Facebook or whatever, and then this guys says, “But that video came from this notorious right wing propaganda site.” So we shouldn’t pay attention to that.
Charles E.:Find some way to exclude data points that don’t fit into your narrative. Do you do that? And if so, why? Why is it important? I think that in order for us to be catalyzers of a different kind of conversation, we have to embody it and exemplify it ourselves. Then it becomes infectious. Because, if you approach somebody with a willingness to listen, a willingness to be wrong, a willingness to learn, that itself is an anomalous data point.
Charles E.:You don’t encounter that very much, so it’s an invitation for somebody else to join you in that, because people are defensive. Especially people who have a strong, intellectual attachment to their opinions. In other words, educated people. People feel, because an attack on your opinion as an attack on you, if you’re identified with it. And if it’s part of you being in team good and right and good. So it is a peace offering to listen to somebody, and an invitation into peace.
Daniel S.:Okay. You actually said something there that addresses one of the reasons why this is hard. So you said, notice our own confirmation bias, and seek to get more earnest. Seek to be willing to listen and inquire and learn new things, and update our views. Which looks like saying, “Hey, I was wrong. Or at least in complete about that.” And separate our identity from our views so that our views can change, and we don’t take personal ego offense.
Daniel S.:Now, one of the … when you said identity connected to team, right? In group identity structure, I am a Trump supporter. I am a Trump hater, or whatever it is. Now the in-group/out-group dynamics do a good job of keeping people from leaving through social pressure that says you’re either with us or against us. So, if you’re willing to engage in listening to the people on the other side at all, you’re not with us. You’re against us, and you just lost all your friends.
Charles E.:Yep. Even to listen to the other side is an act of betrayal.
Daniel S.:Yeah. So you now get villainized. And let’s say that you’re willing to hear perspectives of scientists that don’t think climate change is mostly from anthropogenic CO2 and is a major issue, or whatever it is. If you’re even willing to listen to that, you are a direct threat to what matters most to all life and survival. Right?
Daniel S.:So, what can you say to the courage it takes? Or how you process the loss of identity in in-group in a place where propaganda narrative warfare’s ubiquitous?
Charles E.:Yeah. Where does that courage come from? I don’t know. I think courage comes from the experience of unconditional love. If I have experienced that I’m loved for myself, and not because I meet some kind of qualification, then I’m not risking as much by violating social norms, or norms of a particular in-group. I have a solidity in myself, that’s like, yeah, I’m okay. I don’t care that much if I’m rejected.
Charles E.:But, I don’t want to trivialize it in that way. I mean, there can be real consequences toward … I mean there’s certain opinions that I have, or even not opinions that I have. Even certain, like you were saying, even to countenance the possibility that there’s a valid alternative viewpoint. There are certain issues where if I do that publicly, I could lose half my audience.
Charles E.:I don’t even want to name them, but I don’t know, maybe I will because I just have this fuck it kind of attitude. I’m even sure if it’s a good thing. But, if I say, “Hey vaccines, there’s validity to some of the criticisms of vaccines, or climate change or-
Daniel S.:So, since you did it, you just went to maybe the most polarized issue in a particular perspective there is that’s-
Daniel S.:I’ll say something about the inadequacy of the epistemic process that’s connected to this. So, anti-vaxxer is a word that is designed to bring as much negative sentiment as possible that someone must have shit for brains to believe conspiracy theories and nonsense. They don’t know science. They want to damage the herd immunity and have everyone get smallpox. And yet-
Charles E.:I’m an anti-vax. I have an evil plan. I’m just so ignorant of … Actually, I’m not gonna say I’m anti-vax. Okay, please.
Daniel S.:Right. Then you’ve got the other side that says no, the vaccines are exclusively created to mind control the whole population by the evil pharma deep state complex, as part of their eugenics plan or whatever the fuck it is. Right?
Daniel S.:So, we can see ridiculous polarization, but then we say, “Wait, are all of the scientifically advanced developed nations in the world, do they all have the identical vaccine schedule?” No, they don’t have an identical vaccine schedule. So that must mean that earnest regulators in Denmark and in Japan, and in different places, associated with earnest doctors and researchers. Said, the conclusion that, say the US came up with, is not the only conclusion on the topic. All right, well that’s interesting.
Daniel S.:Then to even say vaccine as one thing. To say, “Okay, the smallpox vaccine and the flu vaccine and the Gardasil vaccine, or I’m against all vaccines, versus some, or at what times are at what load.” You can see that … When I’ve looked into this topic, and I haven’t looked into it deeply enough, I’m pretty sure that I would come to a very nuanced, complex view that doesn’t fit into any of the norming views.
Daniel S.:Like, if you have the Marisol that has mercury based in it, and you don’t need it in and there are problems associated with that, you get it out. The same vaccine might not be as problematic if someone has genetics that orient themselves towards TH1, TH2 imbalances. If we look at how many shots happen at once, or which type of shots. So to even make it I’m pro or against vaccine means that you just had to stop thinking.
Charles E.:Right. But to introduce thinking into it, will harm the narrative of both sides.
Charles E.:Nobody is going to welcome what you’re saying. That what you said is very logical. But, I can refute you by saying, “Four in a leg is good. Two in a leg is bad. Four legs, good. Two legs, bad.” Conversations over.
Daniel S.:Yeah. Now, here’s one of the big points in polarization that is maybe the most concerning thing to me is, if I look at a town hall in the early phase of this country, or I look at a Greek dialectic, they were long conversations. They were not short conversations, and there was a lot of updated view on everyone’s side. There was a lot of nuance perspective that ended up mattering.
Daniel S.:If I look at the bit size, the small bit size that increasing hyper normals stimuli, decreased attention span allows, I cannot put a nuance perspective in a tweet.
Daniel S.:Or in a Snapchat. So, the movement towards … And I’m going to get more clicks if it hijacks your limbic nervous system more.
Daniel S.:So, there is a kind of platform based disposition towards more and more inflammatory, shorter and shorter pieces of information, which will automatically move everyone towards radicalization of every view. It’ll make the left more radically left, the right more radically right. And everybody’s stupider.
Daniel S.:Stupid, or more pissed off.
Charles E.:Right. And as you say, it’s built into the platform, and in the incentive structures of the platform. And also programmed, again, into children at a very young age. As children’s cartoons and programming and movies, thanks to technology have become more and more fragmented. One intense stimuli after another, after another. One intense stimulus after another, after another, after another. A rapid montage of intense scenes, where the future of the universe is at stake every two minutes.
Charles E.:That used to be really expensive to make programs like that. Only advertising had such a rapid transition from one attention grabbing … There’s a technical word for it. It keys into the orientation response, where it’s like a deep neurological principle. That if something new comes into your environment, you better pay attention to that. It could be a leopard. Right?
Charles E.:So, you hold attention by presenting one new thing after another, after another, every one to two seconds. Then the attention span atrophies, and people become cognitively unable to even hold attention for long enough to absorb and integrate a nuanced view.
Daniel S.:Okay. You just said it in a very interesting way. You said it atrophies, and they become unable. This is the fucking key, right? Which is, I have to work out to gain muscle. I have to keep working out to maintain the muscle. I don’t have to do anything to lose muscle. Right?
Daniel S.:Basically, hormesis, the nature of adaptive systems to need to continue to be stressed, to maintain an adaptive response to it. This applies to cognitive and emotional capacities, as much as it does to muscle. So, if I don’t lift an amount of weight where I feel it in my muscle, that means I’m not up-regulating new [crosstalk 00:14:30].
Daniel S.:If I don’t engage my attention span long enough that it takes working to engage it, my attention span will be decreasing by entropy.
Charles E.:Yeah. So if you want to work out, read something published in the 19th century. The paragraphs are longer. The sentences are longer. It’s hard to understand it. You have to work, but it will make you smarter.
Charles E.:The other way to become smarter is to not be so attached to being right, because if you’re attached to being right, then you’re not going to think new thoughts. And the old thoughts will wear a deeper and deeper rut in your brain. I’m sure there’s probably a neuroscience equivalent to what I’m saying.
Daniel S.:There’s actually just a very simple Ted talk that a lady gave. I’ll put it in the show notes later. It was called something like, On Being Wrong. She went into this deep study on human psychology related to being wrong. She gave a short Ted talk. It was really adorable, but she started by saying, “What does it feel like to be wrong?”
Daniel S.:Everyone said, “Shameful and embarrassed,” and whatever. She’s like, “No, that’s what it feels like to realize you were wrong. What it feels like to be wrong before you realize it, is what it feels like to be right.”
Charles E.:But even more [inaudible] …
Daniel S.:Right. Well, this is the thing that’s so interesting. When we look back at previous cultures, we say, “Oh, most of the things previous people believed, we now think to be wrong.” And many of the things I believe 10 years ago, I’m sure are wrong now. And most of the things other people believe, I’m pretty sure are wrong.
Daniel S.:But, I can’t say a single thing that I think I’m wrong about right now. That’s fucking terrible, because statistically I’m probably wrong about almost everything right now, even to my own future self.
Charles E.:Yeah. I would so like that knowledge and that humility, and the willingness to say maybe what I’ve believed is wrong. I would sure like that to be embodied on the collective level. Because so much of what our civilization is convinced is right about the world, I think it’s wrong, and it hasn’t produced very good results.
Charles E.:What brings people to humility? I don’t know if there’s anything other than humiliation that brings [inaudible 00:17:06]. Maybe that’s why it’s called humiliation. I think that perhaps our society is going through the humiliation of a collapse of our aspirations. And our pretenses to create a better world through the technologies of control.
Daniel S.:No, there is something else that creates humility. Thinking well creates humility. This is actually, it’s very interesting, because remember if I think well, I can start to enumerate all the things that I’m aware, that I don’t know. Right?
Charles E.:Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Daniel S.:The known/unknown set is very large, and I can be aware that the unknown/unknown set is even larger. When I start to study nature and the complexity of it … This is where Carl Sagan would talk about the humility that comes from studying astronomy and the size of the universe.
Daniel S.:You would see this kind of radical humility that Einstein have. And like most of the people who studied nature and thought well, they recognized that the sphere of what they knew, as it was increasing, that the unknown/unknown, that did they didn’t even know that they didn’t know stuff about, is moving into the known/unknown. There is more stuff that they know they wish they knew that they don’t know, than they did previously.
Daniel S.:So, there’s a humility that’s possible just by recognizing how easy it is to believe you’re right while being wrong. Looking at how much you don’t know. Studying the complexity of nature. Experiencing awe at the complexity of it. Imagining if you had to manage the metabolic processes of a single cell in your body consciously.
Charles E.:Yeah, totally. There used to be these metabolic maps, like these little flow charts of cellular metabolism. Now, it would take a fine print poster covering three walls, to include all of the metabolic [crosstalk 00:19:16].
Daniel S.:Yeah, that’s my office, is those metabolic charts.
Charles E.:Oh, really?
Daniel S.:They’re so re they’re so over simplified for what it really is, and still so complex and so beautiful.
Charles E.:No, I was talking not just … Because some people might interpret what you’re saying as simply, well, there are facts that our way of knowing has not discovered yet. So there’s a lot we don’t know, but we know how to know. What I’m suggesting, also says that our ways of knowing have built-in limitations. And are insufficient to discovering the things we really need to know right now. And our ways of knowing come from our metaphysics.
Daniel S.:Again, I would say that if we are really endeavoring to think well, what you realized there, which is that there are upper limits on our epistemic capacity people recognize, right? Like, Godel’s incompleteness theorem is something that if you’re a mathematician, you’re not saying eventually we’ll know all math. No, actually we’ll never know all math. That’s an upper boundary on the no ability of math itself.
Daniel S.:If you study Heisenberg’s indeterminism, I can’t actually know a position of momentum simultaneously for fundamental reasons. Or, Bell’s theorem on locality and mechanism. The highest principles on almost all of these disciplines, are actually limits on the knowable. We just don’t like to pay attention to that as much, because this stuff that we know we can control, reality we then get adaptive advantage from.
Charles E.:Yeah. Well, it’d be fun to talk to you more about Godel’s theorem, as that was my area of study in college, and I went pretty deep into it.
Charles E.:But, I feel like now’s not the time for that. There’s something you had said, say like, well yeah, but, but, but … That’d be fun to do some time.
Daniel S.:I agree, that would be fun. Okay. So, I would also like to go into why very limp postmodernism is not the answer to access of certainty and what a mature relationship to certainty and uncertainty is. That neither villainizes uncertainty nor villainize a certainty. But, that’s also a long deep topic. So, we’ve got plenty of things we can flag for a future conversation.
Daniel S.:As we wrap up here for time reasons, what are some things just that people can do to increase the quality of their sense making, in the current world? We’ve already said some of them, but I kinda want to leave people with some clarity. Yeah, what are some of the main ones you’d pick?
Charles E.:Well, I hope that just listening to our conversation might have caused some gears to start turning. I think that, what you and I are saying doesn’t fit into existing polarized narratives. And is also hard to dismiss as being the result of having shit for brains. I guess you could just make a story about how we’re idiots and delusional and stuff.
Charles E.:But, just that data point, it’s like a pinprick in the veil and there’s light coming in from the outside. Not that I want to inflate our intelligence or our conversation. But, I think as people hear information and alternative sense making that comes from a place unfamiliar to them, there’s a sense of invitation of freshness.
Charles E.:Because I think that more and more people are really impatient and frustrated with the conceptual structures that have been offered them. That have been indoctrinated, or that they’ve been indoctrinated with. I think to trust that frustration would be a good step, and to validate that. And that feeling like there’s something I have not been told here. There are new thoughts that are wanting to come.
Charles E.:To give attention to your willingness to engage those thoughts, and to the willingness to have been wrong. To have that realization, the willingness to let go of your identification with dearly held viewpoints. To notice how those have become part of an identity, to feel the wound of separation. The trauma of alienation, of having been cut off from community in nature.
Charles E.:To be like, yeah, that really hurts. No wonder I gravitate toward simplified opinions that give me a sense of inclusion. I don’t think that there’s an easy shortcut to rebuilding the lost connections. I mean, we are in a hard situation, but at least it’s not your fault. It’s not because you’re bad. We’ve been cast into a really dysfunctional, sick, sick civilization.
Charles E.:Hopefully, and I believe this, we’re approaching its Nadir, and the age of reunion is underway. Yeah. Also, you mentioned Carl Sagan and the feeling of awe and wonder. This new territory that becomes available when we let go of what we thought we knew, or we thought was true. What we thought was real. What we thought was possible. It’s really exciting and fun to be there.
Charles E.:Then, I think too, yeah, to engage that childish, playful spirit … Yeah, I don’t know. I can’t offer much of a formula beyond those things.
Daniel S.:So, I’m going to go ahead appeal to the shortened attention span, decreased sovereignty need of people with something like a bullet point list, of things that I’ve heard you say in this conversation so far.
Daniel S.:So for summary, I heard you say that you intake thinking a new source is from what seemed like a diversity of perspectives. Things that look like political left and political right, and et cetera. And things that, not just saying, okay, I’m taking in the narrative warfare on all sides, but I’m taking in what seems like actually has some good thinking.
Daniel S.:So, one thing that people could do would be to readjust their Facebook newsfeed or to get the fuck off their Facebook newsfeed as their primary source of news. And say for any issue they want to become educated about, if everyone doesn’t agree, can we actually study the various perspectives and look for partial truth first and then see, can I actually do synthesis on that?
Daniel S.:That, of course, requires giving a little bit of respect to someone that you might have thought of as the enemy before, enough to actually listen and see if there’s anything to learn. We had Jordan Greenhall on, he’s taking this maybe further than most people I know, where he has a curated 165 different news feeds that he checks every day. That were from the Russian, the Chinese, the Israeli, the left, right, the hacker. The et cetera perspectives who tries to run an error correction and parallax on that.
Daniel S.:Again, I think this is something that everyone who thinks well ends up saying is, take in a variety of perspectives in your study on things. Then, I also heard you say-
Charles E.:Can I add to that?
Daniel S.:Yeah, of course.
Charles E.:[crosstalk] you bullet point. Also, what I do is I try to really go into it and do my best to believe it. Like, okay, what has to be true for this to be true? Or where does this person have to be seated? And what is it like to be them for them to believe these things? What’s their experience of life? Because there’s truth in everything, because it’s coming from a person’s seat in the world.
Daniel S.:Okay, you just send us something very deep, which is two-fold. One is you’re running a Hegelian dialectic or something like that, that says, okay, let’s make the thesis first. Then we can make the antithesis. Then we can look for the synthesis. So, rather than read it, looking to debunk it, can I read it looking to say, what is the truth in this? And that’s from a rational point of view.
Daniel S.:But, then also from an empathetic point of view, what are the values and the needs being met of people who are believing this and can I actually feel that?
Charles E.:Right. Because, actually, the opinions are just like the outer clothing on a state of being that magnetizes those opinions to it. That’s why people do not change their opinions, if there’s not a deeper change.
Charles E.:The opinions [crosstalk] with a state of being.
Daniel S.:Obviously, the invitation you’re giving here is for people to dis-identify with their opinions writ large. Which allows their opinions to continue to grow and become more accurate and more complex and more nuanced. That requires some change of being that says I am not the being that works with this particular ingroup. Or that is getting a need met from a sense of indignation. Or that is responding to trauma and doing ingroup norming on that. And that’s deep, right?
Daniel S.:So, partly what I heard you say, beyond the news thing, was be introspective about your own cognitive biases, and the way that your own reactivity patterns happen. Notice when you go straight into indignation and being pissed off and righteousness, and be suspicious of those things.
Daniel S.:But then practically, in addition to read new sources, it’s also have conversations with people who hold different views, where you’re earnestly seeking to understand their come from.
Daniel S.:And actually engage attention, where you read things more than bullet points. And can hold multiple perspectives or multiple data points simultaneously.
Charles E.:Yeah. I mean, I could say a lot more about that. But, maybe about judgment and the filters that we put between ourselves and other people, the filters of judgment, and how those judgments prop up a self image. I mean, it gets into what you might call spirituality or work on self. And comes down to the trauma that our civilization and our personal circumstances have handed us.
Charles E.:All these levels, from the most personal to the civilizational are just so interlinked. I guess, part of the mindset of “find the cause” wants us to say, “Okay, so I’m just going to work on the personnel or here’s the cause. It’s trauma. Or it’s a germ, it’s inflammation. No, it’s trauma.”
Charles E.:Not that trauma is not an important piece of the puzzle, but I believe that we’re having a kind of a Gestalt happening. Like a transition to a new, or a different next complex that encompasses everything from the civilization down to the personal, each of which holographically mirrors the other.
Charles E.:We’re in a transition from one self-sustaining, self-consistent civilizational, psychological complex, into another one. So as one piece changes the other pieces, it induces a change in the others as well. And maybe for each person, the invitation or the healing, the specific healing or the specific new information that comes in is different.
Charles E.:What is it that rocks your world? What is it that dissolves your story? What is it that makes you feel no longer at home in the story that you’ve been in? For one person, that might be seeing a UFO. For another person, that might be that their brother went to an alternative healer and healed from stage four cancer. For another person, it might be an ayahuasca trip that they stumbled into.
Charles E.:So, yeah, not that you’re doing this, but I resist my own impulse to say, “Okay, here’s the key thing that changes everything else.”
Daniel S.:Yeah. I think when we say increasing the quality of our sense-making, it’s not the one key, but it’s also of a different type of thing than saying carbon or GDP, because it isn’t the metric, right? It is, how do we relate to understanding the nature of the world we’re in? And the nature of ourselves and the relationship between it to inform what we think is real and meaningful, and how to act?
Charles E.:Yeah. It is different, but on a more meta-level, it’s still like, okay, what’s the one thing? Yeah, and maybe for one person that is the one thing, but I just want to keep the door open for not understanding how this change is going to happen.
Daniel S.:I imagine you read Bohm, as one influence, Wholeness and the Implicate Order.
Charles E.:David Bohm, yeah. I actually did read that book, which is a book that almost nobody actually reads, but everybody cites. That thing is obtuse, man. That book, it’s pretty impenetrable.
Daniel S.:Yeah, it was, but a beautiful one.
Charles E.:But, I labored through it. Yeah.
Daniel S.:His worked with Krishnamurti was some of my favorite work, also. His work on all of these crises come down to perceptual issues regarding fragmentation. I hear very much echoed in what you’re sharing. Because, if you wanted to have the one key, and he talks about wholeness, that is the most fundamentally anti-reductive way of thinking about it.
Daniel S.:Yeah. Charles, this was really fun. So, I hope that people are interested in learning more about how they can take their climate activism, and deepen it into an effective ecological relationship support. So the book, Climate, A New Story, I think is a excellent starting place.
Daniel S.:I’m going to go ahead and put links to a handful of things that we discussed in the show notes here for people who want to check it out. I look forward to those future conversations on Godel’s theorem and other fun facts.
Charles E.:Yeah, me too. This was super fun.
Daniel S.:Yeah. All right. Thank you all, and thank you, Charles.
Charles E.:Yep. Thanks.
Speaker:Thank you for being with us for this conversation with Charles Eisenstein. If you liked this episode, then please share it with a friend and leave us a review on iTunes. If you’re hungry for more information on these topics, check out Daniel’s blog, Civilizationemerging.com. And also, Charles’ website, Charleseisenstein.org for access to books, courses, and more content. Make sure to subscribe to Collective Insights wherever you listen to podcasts so you don’t miss an episode. See you next time.