This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.
SUDDEN SYSTEMS CHANGES
Earth is an immensely complex system, and its behavior is similar to any system.
It stays mostly (dynamically) stable within certain limits. It accommodates human inputs up to a certain extent within its usual state, and if or when these inputs build up sufficiently, the Earth systems will shift more dramatically to continue to adjust to and accommodate these inputs.
And since we – as a species and society – are adapted to the previous state, this will be challenging to us. We’ll have to adapt to these new states, and the transition won’t be easy or comfortable.
Most likely, it will involve a lot of human suffering, especially among those who already are marginalized, and it will also involve loss of life of both humans and other species and loss of species.
We are already seeing this and in the middle of it, and it will get worse.
It also means that we can expect sudden, and to some extent unexpected, changes in climate and ecosystems. Right now, we are seeing it in a dramatic heatwave in the Pacific Northwest of North America, beyond what climatologists and meteorologists expected. This is just a small taste of what’s very likely ahead.
When I got into system views in my teens, in the ‘80s, this was already predicted within the systems world, even if the mainstream didn’t take it seriously. Now, those predictions are coming true.
JUNE 30, 2021
MONEY IS SWEAT
I saw a note in the news about a super-wealthy man saying that taxes on capital and property should be abolished since money is sweat. I assume he meant that he had worked for it, so he should keep it.
What he didn’t mention is that the majority of the sweat that takes the form of money is the sweat of other people. They work for him, and he takes the profit out of their labor.
He also didn’t mention that the vast majority of those who end up with a lot of money, start with a lot of money and other resources and privileges. The more money you have, the easier it is to invest it so you get more. And the less you have, the less you have to invest in anything at all since you need it to survive.
It’s a rigged system, those in a privileged position are not interested in changing it, and most of the rest are sufficiently brainwashed to think it’s a generally good system and should mostly stay as it is. (With a few modifications on the edges.)
What he also didn’t mention is that wealth is taken out of the commons. These are resources for all of us, for all life. Innumerable beings now and in the past have spent their life making it possible, and he is taking large portions out of the commons and for himself.
This is not about him or any one of us, this is about all of us and all life. None of us have the right to accumulate resources from the commons far beyond what we could possibly need to support our own life and what we need for a good quality of life.
JULY 3, 2021
WHEN THE PUBLIC IMAGE WE CREATE FOR OURSELVES BACKFIRES
Russia these days seems to be an example of how the public image we create for ourselves can backfire.
Apparently, the government and media boasted of Russia doing very well in the pandemic, and they also emphasized the problems with Western-made vaccines. All in an attempt to create a desired image for themselves.
And now, it seems that many don’t want the vaccine, partly for these two reasons. They don’t see the pandemic as a big issue in Russia. And the vaccine-skepticism promoted by the government and media directed at Western-made vaccines predictably bled over to their own Russian-made vaccine.
I am sure there is more to this story, but it does show the downsides of overly cultivating a certain public image of ourselves, and especially when it’s not grounded in reality.
JULY 4, 2021
TRANSITIONING TO A POST-OIL WORLD
Ever since I was a teenager, I have been baffled by the short-sightedness of Norwegian politics. Since the oil age started, we have known it would end. It will end for Norway since the cost of extracting more oil at some point would exceed the profit. And it will end, not because we run out of oil, but because better technologies come around.
These days, we are in the last phases of the oil age. Already now, renewable energy is often cheaper than oil, at least in many places in the world. We’ll still use oil for some things, but not the massive amounts we have been using for transportation, heat, and production.
For me, it’s baffling that Norway isn’t using the current profits from oil to become a leading country for renewable technology. They have the money. They have educated people. They could easily do it. And they don’t. They never did.
It seems like a huge missed opportunity. And it’s difficult to understand why they didn’t do it. There are no good reasons for not having done it, apart from an almost baffling short-sightedness.
IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE
Canada broke its heat record with close to 5 degrees Celcius some days ago. (The town promptly burnt to the ground, which seems symbolic.) And this wasn’t a freak occurrence. It’s part of a very clear trend.
I saw an article in Norwegian news where an expert said the classic words: It can’t happen here. It won’t happen here.
That’s what they said in Canada as well, up until a few days ago. If there is anything we know about systems change and climate change, it’s that it can and often will be abrupt. We can see dramatic shifts. It’s not linear.
So yes, it can and most likely will happen here. And not just in terms of temperatures.
Note: I realize that the climate experts saying “it can’t happen here” may have referred to the specific temperatures. To me, that’s missing the point. The point is the dramatic shifts in climate and weather.
WHEN THE RADICAL IS THE MOST GROUNDED
In an evolutionary perspective, the combination of personalities and political views, and orientations we see today makes a lot of sense.
The conservative maintains some stability. The progressive helps us progress. The moderates see some value in both and want to maintain a middle ground. And so on. We need the whole mix to function well as a species.
We see the same when we are faced with a collective threat, whether it’s real or perceived. Individually, we may over- or under-react. And although we collectively may be a bit slow to react to real threats, we usually pull ourselves together when we need to.
So what about our situation today, when we are faced with unraveling ecosystems and massive changes in our natural systems?
These are threats that to many are more abstract and still far away and something someone else will experience – somewhere else or in the future. That means we are slower to collectively respond.
Also, the solutions are not the usual local and moderate ones. The solutions are deep systemic and global changes in how we organize our lives and societies. We need a reorganization of all our systems – economy, energy, production, transportation, food, education, philosophy, science – to take ecological realities into account and to focus on what really matters. Our collective responses so far are not even close to do any of this.
Faced with our current ecological crisis, a moderate approach still has a function in slowing down the more drastic and less-thought-through changes. And it’s far from sufficient for dealing with our current situation.
In most situations we humans have found ourselves in, a moderate approach is the most realistic, grounded, and sane.
And today, the most realistic, grounded, and sane approaches are the more radical ones. The ones that recognize the need for deep and profound systems changes.
Today, Greta Thunberg is the one who is the most grounded and sane. Not moderate mainstream politicians.
I know radical groups have seen the world this way through history. They have always said that a radical approach is what we need. And yet, today, this is grounded in science. Science shows us that a radical approach is the only way forward if we want to maintain some quality of life for ourselves and those who come after us.
I have written about this several times, but thought I would quickly look at some reasons why we see an upsurge in conspiracy theories these days, and why more people seem to be into them.
Conspiracy theories can be a way for us to distract ourselves from our own discomfort and pain.
To me, it sometimes looks like trauma behavior. It’s one of the ways we humans respond to our own pain. We latch onto stories about someone else that makes them into scapegoats and villains, and we get obsessed with it.
The internet is an echo chamber. It’s easy to find people who see the world as we do, and reinforce and perhaps elaborate on this view.
Lack of media literacy. Many don’t seem to have a good education in media literacy. They often don’t sufficiently question the sources or do sufficient fact-checking.
Lack of understanding of logical and fair reasoning. Again, many seem to have missed these courses in school. (If they had them in the first place.)
There is a grain of truth in many conspiracy theories, although many don’t put it in perspective. Yes, there is corruption. Politicians sometimes are in the pocket of big money. What’s happening in public is not always what’s happening behind closed doors. Vaccines have side effects, and sometimes serious ones, and they don’t work 100% and in all cases. We all know this. It’s not new. And that doesn’t mean there is a vast conspiracy behind this, and it doesn’t mean that vaccines don’t have their place and have hugely benefited humanity over the last several decades.
Things happen. Life is full of random and unintended events. That too doesn’t mean there is a conspiracy behind it.
For some, it may be easier to blame individuals or groups than look at systemic problems. It makes it more concrete, and if we want to get angry and blame, it’s easier to get angry at and blame people than systems.
A lot of the problems in the world today are systemic. They are inherent in our systems and don’t require vast intentional conspiracies. Our systems are set up to benefit those already privileged so no vast conspiracies are needed for the privileged to maintain their privilege. Our systems were created when we didn’t have to take ecological realities into account, so ordinary people living ordinary lives is hugely destructive simply because of the system.
Whether intentionally or unintentionally (there is often a mix), conspiracy theories distract us from far more serious and well-known situations in the world. We know we are in the middle of an ecological crisis. We know there is a large number of people living in poverty. We know the political and social system is rigged to benefit the privileged and marginalize the rest. These are some of the huge and real issues in our world, and most conspiracy theories pale in comparison.
And this is not just about others. I engage in conspiracy theories as well. For instance, whenever I think and feel that life is conspiring against me, I engage in my own form of conspiracy theory thinking.
JUNE 15, 2021
2800 DEVIL PAINTINGS
A professional restorer found 2800 devil paintings in a church in Norway in 1940, reported they were from the 1600s, and it was accepted. And now, it turns out he likely painted them himself.
If he painted them, why did he? I can’t help wondering if it’s connected with the year: 1940. The year after WW2 started and the year Norway was occupied by the Nazis.
He likely experienced a world full of evil and may have expressed it this way, whether it was conscious or not.
And since what we see in the world is what we know from ourselves, these are also his own demons. Perhaps it was a way for him to deal with and try to get to know his own demons.
It could also have been a joke, although even then, it may have been fueled by some of this. Why didn’t he paint angels instead? Or just regular faces?
MOVIES AND GENDER ROLES
A surprising number of movies and TV series made today still depict traditional and stereotypical gender roles. For instance, men are strong and keep it together, while women cry and scream. And if it’s reversed, it’s often for comedic effect.
We could say they just reflect society. This is still how many are raised, so the movies depict what’s happening. There is some truth to that.
At the same time, it seems like lazy writing. Going into stereotypes is often easier and requires less work. And from my limited impressions, it does seem that US productions do this more than say European, perhaps because traditional gender roles are more active there than in Europe.
And, of course, there are plenty of movies and TV series that don’t fall into these stereotypes.
JUNE 16, 2021
A PANDEMIC AMONG THE UNVACCINATED
We are now seeing what we knew would happen a long time ago: a pandemic among the unvaccinated. In most countries, the people hospitalized and dying from covid are the ones who are unvaccinated.
We are seeing a continued pandemic in poorer countries that don’t have access to enough vaccines. And we are seeing a pandemic among those who, for whatever reason, have decided to not get the vaccine.
It’s easy to create a mental split between the two, and have sympathy for the first group and not so much for the second.
After all, those who choose to not take the vaccine chose to listen to misinformation, they chose to actively put themselves and those around them at higher risk, and they chose to actively participate in continuing the pandemic with all of what that means – higher risk for far more dangerous mutations, a lot more people dying and getting long-covid, a far longer period of social restrictions and lock-downs, and so on.
And yet, no matter how irresponsible and idiotic that may seem to others, they didn’t choose to be a person that makes that decision. They were put together in a way that makes them susceptible for misinformation, and we live in a society – and especially a digital world – where misinformation flourishes.
When we go back one or a few steps, we get to a place where there is no choice.
WHY NOT MORE RESOURCES FOR SETI AND UFO RESEARCH?
Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and UFOs have been an ongoing interest for me since my childhood. I loved Carl Sagan and SETI in elementary school and was also deeply fascinated with UFOs. (I was a member of the Norwegian UFO organization at the time.)
Is there intelligent life out there in the universe? Who or what may they be? Can we get in contact with them? Are they already here?
What are UFOs? Obviously, most of them are known phenomena, but some seem far more weird than that, and we do have enough data to know there is something genuinely unexplained out there. Are they unknown natural phenomena? Intelligent life we don’t know about? Something we may call supernatural? A mix? Something else?
It’s difficult to think of many more important questions than these. What we find has the potential to be some of the most important discoveries in the history of humanity.
So why don’t we allocate more resources to study them? Why do SETI researchers have to piggyback on other research projects, and why do they only get crumbs compared to what astronomy research in general receive? Why do we leave UFO studies to amateurs and enthusiastic but ungrounded people on the fringe?
I am not sure what the answer to these questions is. It does seem that academia, in general, encourages research into already familiar and relatively uncontroversial areas. And the whole topic of life in other places in the universe has been controversial, for whatever reason.
In reality, it’s a question for science that can have a huge impact on how we see ourselves in the universe and our future evolution. And in practice, it turned out to be a controversial topic, sometimes resisted by religions, the domain of big and ungrounded claims, and so on.
Fortunately, SETI research continues. And there is some research into UFOs by the military, and there is even a university in Norway doing ongoing UFO research in Hessdalen, a valley in mid-Norway.
It’s also interesting that there is a rivalry between SETI and UFO studies.
SETI people typically want to distance themselves from the UFO field in general, perhaps because they don’t want to be tainted by the stigma the UFO topic has received over the last several decades. They often do so by blatantly dismissing UFO data in ways that show they know next to nothing about it, don’t care to know about it, and don’t have an interest in being intellectually honest about it.
The recent knee-jerk dismissal of the US navy UFO data from people in the SETI community shows this. The military data consists of radar observation, video footage, observations, and more, they have data from months and months of observations, and their best specialists cannot explain what it is. And the SETI folks dismiss it as radar echos or other things that don’t come close to explain the data.
Some UFO folks similarly dismiss SETI by saying: “We know they are already here, so why waste resources looking for them elsewhere.” This is equally dismissive, illogical, and intellectually dishonest. We don’t know what these unknown phenomena are. And even if some turn out to be aliens and they are here, that doesn’t make SETI any less important. If anything, it makes it more important.
It’s tempting to say that the SETI/UFO topic shows the small perspective of humanity. It’s a hugely important topic, and yet we allocate very few resources to SETI and almost nothing to the serious study of UFOs. The UFO topic has become largely taboo, for whatever reason. And there is petty and meaningless infighting between SETI folks (usually astronomers) and UFO folks (usually laypeople where only a few take a rational and grounded approach to the topic).
THE MINDSET BEHIND MANICURED LAWNS
I am at the cabin by a lake and in the forest outside of Oslo, and the neighbor here has a very noisy weedwhacker he is using (for hours, it seems) every week to create a large lawn around his cabin.
To me, it seems like a kind of insanity. It’s extremely noisy in an otherwise peaceful place. It creates a desert out of what otherwise would be a flourishing wildflower meadow. We all know – from seeing it for ourselves and from science – that the insect population, and all the animals relying on insects for food, is plummeting drastically, so why remove wildflowers when they are so desperately needed? Why spend so much time on creating a large lawn when it’s not used for anything practical, and it looks so out of place in the middle of nature? Also, we are guests here, so how can we think it’s OK to mindlessly remove valuable habitat for the ones who live here and rely on this nature for their survival?
What’s the mindset behind that action? I am not sure. I imagine it may be a lack of thoughtfulness. Perhaps he thinks: This is a kind of house, so I’ll make a lawn around it.
In general, lawns are an example of thoughtlessness. Why spend so much time and money maintaining a lawn when it’s rarely if ever used, and it could be a low-maintenance wildflower meadow supporting a large number of insects and animals living on those insects?
I imagine that in the future, our current obsession with lawns will be seen as one of the features of our current society hellbent on ecological destruction.
When I was a teenager in the mid-80s, there was a pretend-documentary series on Norwegian TV (NRK) set a few decades in the future, showing the effects of the climate crisis. And what we see today, with massive fires and floods and more, is as if taken out of that series.
What people have been talking about for decades is now happening. We are now having silent springs, with a huge loss of insects, birds, and other animals reliant on insects. We have massive climate disruptions. We have unraveling ecosystems from overuse and all these other reasons.
We’ll soon see the rest of what many of us have been warning about for decades: Huge migrations. Wars over fresh water and other essential natural resources.
And we may well see the rest as well, including the death of the oceans which will have a huge impact on Earth as a whole.
Back in the 80s and later, I remember several conversations I had with people – including teachers. My position has always been that it doesn’t matter if there is climate change or whether it’s human-caused or not. (Most back then didn’t understand, and many still don’t.)
We still have to make the same changes. We still have to create a sustainable civilization. We have to create economic systems – and systems in energy production, transportation, manufacturing, food production, and so on – that take ecological realities into account.
We have no other choice. We have to do this whether there is a climate crisis or not, and whether it’s human-created or not.
If we wish to survive as a civilization and even species, and if we want to avoid a hellish future for all of us, we have to do it, and it has to happen quickly on a historic timescale.
It has to happen within decades, not centuries.
AUGUST 8, 2021
I see a lot of people on social media criticizing Elon Musk for his space efforts.
Although there is a lot he could have done differently, I generally see it differently.
He has a vision. He wants to make humanity into a multi-planetary species, and that’s essential for our survival and for the survival of Earth life in the long run.
There is no lack of billionaires in the world using their money on far less useful and less visionary things.
AUGUST 11, 2021
THE LAST OF THE CAREFREE DAYS?
I have a feeling that with the pandemic and the increasing severity of the climate crisis, we may look back to 2019 as the last of the (relatively) carefree days.
Of course, it was only carefree for the privileged ones in the world, including here in Norway where I have lived for the last years. For most people in the world, it was never carefree.
With increased extreme weather, we’ll see no end to dramatic changes. Including the decades-long predicted climate refugees and countries closing their borders.
Over the next years, not to speak of decades, more and more areas of the world will be practically unlivable, including perhaps some Mediterranean areas in the summer. As for Norway, I wouldn’t be surprised if not a majority will want to leave the Schengen agreements and open borders with the rest of Europe.
AUGUST 13, 2021
CHILDREN DON’T GET SERIOUS COVID?
The conservative government in Norway today announced that since young people and children don’t get seriously sick from Covid, they will abolish all pandemic measures for this age group.
This seems profoundly misguided to me. We know that a significant portion of young people gets lasting problems from a Covid infection. They too, get long covid, and it may potentially last the rest of their lives.
Fortunately, a long list of medical experts almost immediately published a response pointing out the factual errors in the government’s arguments and the irresponsible nature of their policy.
WHAT ARE WE GOING TO LIVE ON IF WE DON’T HAVE OIL?
There is a surprising (to me) amount of hostility in the comment section for Green Party posts on social media. And a lot reflects how some politicians from other parties talk about the Green Party.
One argument against the Green Party policies is apparently: What are we going to live on if we don’t extract and sell oil?
Well, the other Nordic countries do pretty well without it.
The oil age is already over, even if some haven’t noticed.
And we can use the money we have from the oil business to develop renewable energy technology and industry around this. It’s very late but better late than ever.
Even in my teens, I couldn’t understand why Norway didn’t use oil money to be at the forefront of renewable energy. We have always known that the world would move on from oil. Norway could easily have become leading in the world. And yet, they didn’t.
And now, as an adult, I honestly don’t understand the “what will we do without oil” argument (it’s not even an argument), and why they still don’t use large portions of the oil money to fuel research and development into renewable energy.
AUGUST 15, 2021
Taliban is currently taking over Afghanistan after the US and other troops left the country.
If western countries wanted to democratize Afghanistan, there is one main way to do it: Help the locals, including and perhaps especially in rural areas, have better lives. Make sure they have good schools, good medical care, safety, a well-functioning legal system, and so on. That’s how you get people on your side. If not, you leave a vacuum that is easily filled up by groups like the Taliban.
Right now, the Taliban seems to have a much smarter strategy, especially when it comes to getting the locals on their side, than the western powers.
Also, the project was from the beginning an expression of western colonialism, of wanting other countries to follow western values and systems. That’s not inherently wrong, but it’s good to acknowledge and question it. If we value democracy, perhaps we should value the wishes of the people living there? If we value autonomy, perhaps we should value theirs? (I know it’s complicated since people there have a diversity of views and wishes, as we do anywhere.)
NAIVE LIFTING OF RESTRICTIONS
Norway has lifted most of the domestic pandemic-related restrictions. When I am out, I see hardly anyone wearing masks anymore – even in indoor spaces. (I am often the only one.)
This seems incredibly naive. We know from other countries that the delta strain spreads quickly, including among people who are fully vaccinated.
Why abandon even the simplest and least intrusive restrictions or requirements, like requiring a certain distance between people and mask-wearing in indoor spaces? Why allowing schools and universities to function without restrictions when we have the delta strain and know how quickly it can, and most likely will, spread in those settings? And we also know it very likely will lead to a significant number of cases of post-viral syndromes / long-covid among young people?
It’s almost guaranteed we’ll see a significant increase, or even an explosion, in infections within a few weeks. If we had kept the simplest restrictions, we could have slowed down the increase. Without any restrictions, we’ll see a surge that may lead to a stricter set of restrictions.
So why such an obviously reckless approach? There is an election coming up and they may want to make people happy in the short run, hoping that the inevitable and more serious restrictions won’t have to be implemented before the election. If so, they may be both cynical and naive.
Update: It’s now August 26 and we, predictably, now see the highest number of daily infections ever since the beginning of the pandemic. And the government hasn’t changed their “no restriction” policy.
AUGUST 18, 2021
MEAT & LACK OF PERSPECTIVE
I saw a news story saying that the ministry for health in Norway recommends reduced meat consumption, while only around 6% of municipalities around Norway plan on reducing the use of meat where they are responsible for serving it. (Homes for sick and elderly etc.) One said there is no reason to reduce meat consumption since an avocado from Brazil isn’t more ecologically friendly than meat.
To me, this shows a lack of perspective.
Nobody needs to eat meat. It’s just a part of the culture. It’s easy to make delicious, nutritious, and satisfying meals without the use of meat.
We know that meat consumption is connected to a range of illnesses and that reducing meat consumption offers a range of health benefits. Reducing meat consumption would mean a significant economic gain for the public and would mean we can use a portion of the tax money for something else than treating illnesses partially caused by meat consumption.
We know that meat production has a huge ecological footprint, especially in terms of land and water use.
It doesn’t matter if something else also has an ecological footprint. The aim is to reduce the ecological footprint overall, and in any area where it’s possible. (If an avocado from Brazil has a large footprint, use something else produced in Europe.)
It’s difficult to impossible to justify how we treat animals in the meat industry. We treat them as objects, slaves, and prisoners. We confine them in often terrible and hellish living conditions. We willfully ignore that they feel as we do, and want freedom and a good life as we do. We blind ourselves to the profoundly unethical and unjust way we treat other species, including in the meat industry.
This has to do with worldviews and our own collective well-being and even survival. The worldview that justifies how we currently treat animals, is the worldview that’s behind the current global ecological destruction and crisis. For our own survival, and to have a good life for humans in the future, we need to shift our collective worldview. We are asked to see ourselves as part of the web of life, and not indulge in the fantasy that we are somehow outside of it.
So why do so many want to maintain the status quo? It’s probably some of the usual culprits: It’s easier to do things as we already do it. People who eat meat daily may feel judged, they have internalized judgmental about it, so they dismiss suggestions of change so they won’t have to agree with the view they feel threatened by. They may not see the big picture or take it seriously. They may not want to consider the topic more thoroughly. They already have a lot of things to deal with, and this is just another one and one they feel they can dismiss.
USING MONEY FROM OIL TO FUEL RENEWABLE ENERGY TECHNOLOGY
The Green Party in Norway wants to stop oil production, which is understandable.
My take on it is slightly different.
The age of oil is already over, it’s just that some haven’t noticed yet.
So why not use the money from the current oil production to fuel renewable energy research and technology? Why not use it so Norway can be at the forefront of the next wave of energy production and use? It’s already a few decades late, but better late than never.
Even after there is a general shift to renewable energies, we’ll still need oil. We’ll need it for certain things, and use it as the precious and limited resource it is.
Western science has traditionally been wary of anthropocentric assumptions, of assigning human characteristics to non-human species. In practice, there has been a taboo against anything resembling anthropocentrism.
I understand it, but to me, it seems a bit misguided.
The reality is that we are all related, and we are very closely related to other mammals. If we see characteristics and behavior in them that are similar to what we know from ourselves, it’s likely because these are mammalian traits. They are shared by some or many or all mammals.
And beyond that, many traits and characteristics are shared by larger groups of species, beyond just mammals. These are broad characteristics shared by groups of species.
We are not primarily taking what’s uniquely human and assume it’s also in other species. We are seeing far more universal characteristics shared by many species.
The taboo against anthropocentrism likely comes from the idea that humans are very different from other species, including the ones we are closely related to. And that idea seems a bit weird. Perhaps it comes from some interpretations of Christianity?
AUGUST 23, 2021
RESCUE OR KIDNAPPING?
It’s now a few days after the Taliban took over Kabul and the rest of Afghanistan after the western military pulled out.
In the news, I see that Norwegian soldiers brought babies with them from Kabul to Norway, and they did so without knowing who these babies are or who their parents are. I understand it comes from a wish to help, and who knows what’s best in a confusing and frightening situation. But this too smacks of a colonialist attitude. If this was a western country instead of Afghanistan, would they have done the same?
What if Swedish or British people leaving Norway after the Nazi invasion in 1940 brought with them random Norwegian children and babies? How would we see that? Wouldn’t we see it as kidnapping and a crime?
Taking children without knowing who they are and without approval or paperwork is normally considered just that.
Yes, and typically intentionally in order to help the reader shift perspective and understand and empathize with marginalized populations.
And these marginalized populations include non-human species and even ecosystems.
AUGUST 26, 2021
A friend sent me an article circulating among anti-vaccination folks. At first glance, it looked good. The layout and name suggested that it was a regular scientific journal. The authors made the argument that mRNA vaccines can cause something akin to mad cow disease (!). That, in itself, brought up the skeptic in me. And a quick look confirmed that this article is not to be taken very seriously. The journal is not peer-reviewed and has no standing in the scientific community. And the authors are outside of the medical field with two computer guys and one naturopath (!).
Common sense tells us to not trust non-experts’ opinions in a highly specialized field. If I have a heart problem, I don’t go to a computer programmer for advice or treatment. If I need electricity done for my new house, I don’t go to a plumber. If I need legal advice and help, I don’t go to a hairstylist. And so on.
We all, in our daily life and when it comes down to it, seek out specialists when we need help.
So why trust the harebrained ideas of two computer guys and a naturopath when it comes to a highly advanced field like mRNA vaccines? Why not instead trust people who have the credentials and have studied it in-depth for a lifetime?
I often give these anti-vaccine folks the benefit of the doubt. They are scared. They are confused. They may have authority issues. It may be a trauma reaction. They may not be familiar with how the academic world works and mistake these obvious sources of misinformation for something more serious.
All of that may have some validity.
And at the same time, it’s willful stupidity.
They make themselves more stupid than they are. And they do so in order to take a certain position.
I have to admit I have tested people on this a few times. When people post outrageous claims on social media (for instance, billions will die within two years because of the mRNA vaccines), I offer a bet. Since you seem so convinced, and this is an easily measured claim with a clear timeframe, why not put money on it? What about a $1000 bet? None have accepted so far, probably because they know their position is weak and not grounded in reality.
AUGUST 26, 2021
UNUSED NATURAL RESOURCES?
I saw a quote from a nutritionist saying that free-grazing sheep in Norway use resources that otherwise would be unused, which means that sheep meat is more sustainable than in many other countries.
I understand what they mean. And it shows an obvious bias in how we, as a culture, view nature.
We see it as an unused natural resource if it’s unused by us.
In reality, it’s used by innumerable plants, insects, and other species. Even if we are mostly out of the picture, it’s very much used. It’s often far more used than if we use it since we tend to reduce biodiversity and sometimes even create monocultures.
HEALTH PROFESSIONALS NOT WEARING MASKS BECAUSE IT’S NOT REQUIRED
My parents have a nurse coming by most days to help them. This nurse is not wearing a mask, and my parents are also not wearing a mask. Their reasoning is that the government isn’t requiring it anymore, so it’s fine to not use one.
To me, this seems an absurd argument. There have never been more infections in Norway, and there have never been more people in the hospital. And they chose to not wear a mask, just because the government doesn’t require it?
My parents are in a high-risk group, and wearing a mask is literally the least you can do to prevent infection. It’s the only smart and compassionate thing to do.
I see the same, in general, in Norway. People are not wearing masks, and are behaving as they did before the pandemic. They don’t seem to take any precautions anymore.
This is one of many things that makes me lose a bit of hope for the future of humanity. If people are unable to see even this, how can we collectively change to create a sustainable society?
SEPTEMBER 3, 2021
BREXIT AND JOBS HELD BY FOREIGNERS
I see that Britain has a lack of truck drivers, farmworkers, and so on. Many of the workers in these jobs were from outside of Britain, they went home after Brexit, and there are currently not enough British people who can or want to take on those jobs.
This will probably correct itself in time, and yet it also highlights an important aspect of Brexit. An explicit goal of Brexit was to get foreigners out of the country. And yet, these often held jobs that British people didn’t want. So one of two things needs to happen for British people to take these jobs: Either the economy has to get so bad they feel they have no choice but to take low paying jobs with often poor working conditions. Or the employers will need to increase the pay and improve the working conditions.
THE GOLDEN RULE AND NON-HUMAN SPECIES
I sometimes see people who love cats treat them in a human way, giving them hugs and so on, which is unpleasant to the cat so they predictably leave. They treat the cat as we humans typically like to be treated.
For me, it makes more sense to apply the updated version of the golden rule. Treat cats, and non-human species, as they like to be treated.
How do cats that like and love each other treat each other? They spend quiet time together. They rest together. They sometimes play together. They lick each other. (Pets.)
They definitely do not hug each other or pick each other up.
Of course, this is just a general pointer and there are many individual differences. I had a cat that loved to be picked up and held and now live with a cat that doesn’t like that so I don’t do it.
SEPTEMBER 14, 2021
ARCHETYPES AND ALLOWING FOR A MYRIAD OF INTERPRETATIONS
I was watching the Matrix 4 trailer and was reminded of two components of classic stories: Archetypes and a story allowing for a myriad of interpretations.
The archetypes are used so they speak to a universal human experience, and allowing for a wide range of interpretations makes it more rich and intriguing and for each one to find an interpretation that resonates with them.
I am not saying Matrix 4 will be a classic, but the first – and I would say the first trilogy – definitely is, partly because it has both of those features.
PRIVILEGED ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE MARGINALIZED
One attitude among the privileged towards the marginalized is that they are lazy, could work and make more money if they wanted, and so on. If they don’t have more money, it’s their fault.
This is obviously wrong in most cases. The privileged are mostly privileged they are because they were born into that situation. They had role models. Money. Resources. A good education. A network. And so on. All creating and supporting their privilege. And the marginalized typically have none of that.
So why do some among the privileged maintain this attitude?
There may be several reasons.
In their own privileged life, it holds true. If they themselves – with all their privileges – don’t have a relatively carefree financial life, it would be because they were lazy and didn’t want to work, and they could work and make good money.
They want to justify the current social situation, their own privilege, and that they are not doing more to improve the lives of the marginalized. Assuming the marginalized are lazy etc. is an easy (and lazy!) way of doing just that.
They are parroting what they have heard from others.
They don’t know anyone marginalized. They don’t have the inside view or information. Or they know some and see them as the exception.
EQUAL ISN’T ALWAYS FAIR – OR EQUAL