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Topic: Re: The world's biggest problem? Too many people
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Kirby Urner

Posts: 4,713
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: The world's biggest problem? Too many people
Posted: Aug 6, 2011 11:55 PM
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On Sat, Aug 6, 2011 at 3:02 AM, GS Chandy <> wrote:

<< snip >>

>> Misanthropy is not the only attitude to take.
> I wouldn't describe my attitude expressed in the
> quotation above as "misanthropy". Verging towards the
> pessimistic with regard to human futures on the planet,
> but not misanthropic at all.

For clarity, here's a misanthropic view (don't get me
wrong, I like this Youtube and share it frequently, even
though my Coffee Shops Network's philosophy is

>> Humans have capabilities you wouldn't have guessed
>> from their early beginnings, unless you had seen the
>> phenomenon on some other planet before.

> I agree entirely. It was (I believe) precisely to help
> enable these capabilities to be realized on the ground
> that the late John N. Warfield created his developments
> in 'systems science'. It was precisely with such an aim
> in mind that I developed the OPMS based on and developing
> from Warfield's work.

'Systems science' has gone in many directions. On
mathfuture, we're looking at at least one of those

Here at Portland State University, we still have a
lingering systems science PhD program.

In my writing 'systems science' mixes with 'general
systems theory' and is used to muscle aside Economics as
the monopolistic discipline when it comes to bread and
butter issues, investment banking etc.

Economics, the discipline, deserves real competition.

>> The general trend seems to be for population growth
>> to level off when security for one's offspring and
>> self are attained, meaning you don't need multiple
>> children for insurance that at least a couple will
>> live long enough to support children and the elderly.


> I agree entirely. But is such a development about to
> come before we fall into the 'abyss' ahead of us? I
> don't know - I am torn between pessimism and optimism
> on this issue.

People can sit around passively and fatalistically hoping
something good happens. Some education systems promote a
more activist response.

The USA used to be cram packed with activist "can do"
types who had all kinds of DIY (do it yourself) skills.

Since the advent of television, there's been an across the
board dumbing down to where the "mindless consumer" is
more your typical denizen of the Lower48.

Much closer to the Eloi of H.G. Wells fame.

There are moves to counter this trend, starting with the
root problem: television programming too exclusively in
the hands of the greedy-stupid (almost synonyms), the

>> Women then choose lifestyles where they don't have to
>> surrender so many years to pregnancy and childbirth.
>> They enter professions etc.

> Indeed. We are seeing that a lot in India. But is
> progress fast enough? I believe not.

Thinking nationalistically, one nation at a time, is not
necessarily an optimal or intelligent approach.

There's just the one biosphere.

More Russians seem to get that, probably because of the
way the language is wired.

>> Providing security has a lot to do with the
>> availability of electricity. Much comes with that
>> (its a parameter with which many trends are bundled).
>> That's why a global electrification group such as
>> GENI ( touts itself as having an answer for
>> over-crowding.


> The underlying global problem is there ARE a huge number
> of useful solutions available in every area, every field
> - but rarely do they ever come to be used effectively at
> the levels at which such solutions would significantly
> "contribute to" the resolution of global issues. Or,the
> resolutions become tangled up with various other system
> issues. Here's a relevant example: In India we have,
> over the past several decades, been growing enough
> foodgrains and etc to feed all our people. We have a
> fairly significant food surplus every year.

Yes, we inherit a lot of misinformation and awkward /
dorky reflex-conditioning from past generations.

Some of that conditioning made good sense at the time
perhaps, but now you've just got a lot of idiocy spewing
forth from the mouths of "know it alls" a lot of the time.

That's partly why I look for systems theory people and
recruit from places like PSU (e.g. John Driscoll, Nate
etc.), where the dangerous blinders of hyper-
specialization have done less to destroy thinking

For the most part, universities have encouraged hyper-
specialization, meaning their analysis and published
output is a far cry from what's really needed.

That's partly why think tanks have stepped in to supply
policy-makers with more big picture thinking.

It should be the universities, but they've done so much to
render themselves irrelevant.

Useful movie touching on this 'The Power of Nightmares'
(aired on the BBC, is on Youtube):

>But our societal systems have not developed so that those
>foodgrains would reach the people most in need. About
>40% of India's children are malnourished - many of them
> very severely. In 2009-10, we lost several score thousands of
> tons of foodgrains secured by our 'public distribution'
> systems were lost to rodents and spoilage - because our
> public distribution systems did not have in place
> suitable storage facilities!!! I've recently seen
> reports that such a situation is now developing again -
> but even today our 'systems' are entirely unable to
> arrive at a satisfactory resolution of the issue. (I'm
> sure you can find on Google the debate that occurred and
> is going on now. You will surely find much of interest
> there - and much that will validate my underlying thesis
> about the ineffectiveness of the systems we have in
> place. At a different level, in different areas of
> concern, the systems in the USA are quite as incompetent
> as those we have in India.

Right. You've got Peruvian cultures that've depended for
centuries on Quinoa, but now that the North American
gringo economy has discovered the protein-rich food
source, the world price is being bid up. When something
gets really valuable, the tendency is to seize the control
of agricultural lands from those least able to defend
themselves and turn over production to whatever vogue cash
crop. This leads to malnourishment and poverty.

Some ecosystems are more protective. For example, Bhutan
in the Himalayas has no diplomatic relations with the US
and is on its guard against entrepreneur developers who
would start the destructive process of making this Kingdom
merely a playground for the rich and spoiled, like has
been done to so many other pristine vistas.

Bhutanese are not about to start displacing their
households to make room for another Club Med owned and
operated by some French conglomerate. India is far more
vulnerable to exploitation from overseas.

> The irony is that very simple, inexpensive developments
> can ensure that such cruel wastages do not occur (in
> India); that the incompetent educational systems in the
> US that are of concern can be significantly changed. But
> those simple developments are very, very rarely adopted
> in society!!!)

Helping new curricula take root in North America is an
ongoing process, with a long history of experiments, some
more successful than others.

We have a lot of ethnicities here, including non-
monogamous non-nuclear family groups with a strong
religious heritage.

Freedom of speech and the division of church and state
means we don't have to kowtow to any "state religion".

The novus order seclorum makes it easy for Quakers, for
example, to teach their own the way they wish.

Its not every learning center where you'll hear one of the
teachers inveighing against the "gringo economy" or
mocking English-speaking university eggheads for being too
specialized to matter much.

Western analytic philosophy gets a special helping of
ridicule, given how self-marginalizing its practitioners.

Given our Friends meetinghouse though (a center of
learning), that's what you'll sometimes hear, with younger
folks chiming in and debating.

"Young" is a relative term as Satya is like 42 and
Lindsey, the former Computer Science Corporation manager,
just turned 36 -- I posted some pix from her birthday
party at the Blue House to my Flickr account recently.

> "Do what we're advocating and your population
> pressures will go down" is their attitude.
> Currently, mathematics and geography are somewhat
> divorced and the various graphs that overlay the
> earth, the networks of wires, transportation routes
> (old and new), other infrastructure, are mostly not
> studied.

Actually, the underlying issue is that the systems we have
in place (including most governmental systems, sub-systems
and instruments) are largely divorced from the real needs
of the people those systems are expected to serve.

Yes, and the discipline of Economics is not as clear on
the whys and wherefores of that as it could be.

If I were helping recruiting a new CEO for CSN for example
(I actually have no problem with our current guru), and
all I saw was a lot of economics on her or his resume, but
no systems theory, I'd likely move on to a next candidate.

> Changing attitudes that must come before the systems can
> be effectively modified/newly developed is an EXTREMELY
> difficult task indeed, I've discovered - and that is a
> major factor for my pessimistic outlook. (However,
> despite this pessimism, I am still hopeful - which may
> be a contradiction in terms, of course).


I think universities might one day restore their
reputations and stop coming across as such scammy and

I tend to blame academia for the nastiness of the world.
Ivory Towerites tend to talk of "the real world" as
someplace far away.

I'm glad we're diverting a lot of the top talent away from
this swamp of over-specialization for the time being.

The "doctor of philosophy" degree has been corrupted,
thanks to the death of "white man" philosophy
(Wittgenstein was alive to observe its last stages prior
to death).

This is not a big crisis though. There are plenty of
cultures and ethnicities well positioned to pick up the
slack, including some with military aspects.

Quakers tended to get along with the military in the early
days and that hasn't changed a lot in some circles.

Like I told Melody over beers the other day, don't think
badly of me just because you see me hanging out with a lot
of officers and ex-officers. I've worked with the police
too (I told her the story). Goes with the territory.


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