Discernment can save your life
Everyone is going to die, but with care you can avoid dying from dumb
When I was growing up, it was common knowledge that “to err is human, but to really screw up you need a computer”. After spending half a century on this bonkers planet, it seems more like “to err is human, but to get really screwed up you need to become transhuman”. The confluence of nanotech, gene therapy, and artificial intelligence creates a whole new class of nightmare for our species.
Many of the people I know have decided to tinker with the biology of themselves and their family in ways that they would never treat their car or phone. This is rather… odd. Would they unquestioningly obey if the government told them to replace the operating system of their laptop with unknown code? If only we came with a bio-warranty where “opening the cell genetics” invalidated the creator’s guarantee!
To assist those who are struggling with the idea that “people make mistakes, and some people make spectacular mistakes with the help of novel pharmaceuticals”, I have brought together a dozen of my best essays on the subject of discernment. You never know, it might persuade someone, somewhere, that it’s a bad idea to play with your immune system as if it were a Lego toy.
For each article I have pulled out one notable “taster” quote.
Then he stopped me dead in my tracks, and in his unmistakable Irish tone asked me the single most important question you can ever ask. I shall never forget this moment for as long as I live.
As Terence McKenna astutely observed, “culture is not your friend”, and the first four letters are c-u-l-t for a reason. If we wish to deliver a better world to those who come after us, one where the ethical is at least the peer of the logical, then we must change. To do so requires us to engage in an often painful reexamination of the present. For again, as McKenna quipped, by rejecting the cultural illusion, “the cost of sanity in this society is a certain level of alienation”.
As the elder child, this parental division left me with an unresolved dilemma: which cosmology to follow? There was a related unconscious fear of parental rejection in making such a choice. By around the age of ten I had decided there was this alternative belief system called “science” that I rather liked, with some rather attractive “alternative facts” to the JW cosmology.
Making sense of the world at war is hard, and if there is one thing I have discovered it is self-compassion is the basis of progress. Other people might judge you for upgrading your intuition, with inevitable dead ends that demand changing your mind from time to time. None of that matters. Your own conscience will tell you to forgive yourself for missteps, as the quest for gnosis is fundamentally a righteous one.
What I like about this metaphor is that it allows us to get away from a “true or false” binary perspective, and instead have some nuance about foundational beliefs, fallibility, and uncertainty. The physicality of the metaphor makes it relatable rather than abstract. It allows for a graceful acceptance of someone’s beliefs as at least having “skip value”, rather than having to reject them or overpower their arguments.
A phrase I often hear is “I cannot imagine that…”. This is a statement about the limits of the speaker’s imagination, not about the reality of the world. To confuse these is a solipsism, i.e. to suggest all that exists is what I can imagine, and nothing more or less.
The weekend ended when I was finally delivered to some friends the other side of London for “care and calming”. To say that I have had better weekends in my life is to push the British tendency for understatement to its fullest extreme. I was traumatised by this sudden and embarrassing episode, and there have been consequences in my life that I am still dealing with.
Computers can automate the modification of individual belief. In the world of social media and artificial intelligence algorithms, we can deliberately generate unity — or conflict — as matters of policy. If the whole basis of your psychopathic power system is oppressors vs oppressed, then conquest of the mind is its fuel, and engineered social division is its fire. The greater the atomisation of the public realm, the more energy is expended by the public fighting among themselves, and the less ire is directed at their feudal overlord class.
We are passing new frontiers of human experience, both good and bad. In this war every social and familial relationship is changed. This challenges the core of our sense of self and safety, since our bedrock of comforting friendship and family care is being “carpet bombed” by lies. The result for many Patriots who are awake and aware is an extreme isolation and distress. Winning this war is a personal quest for perseverance and endurance. It is indeed full blown spiritual warfare.
What I have found over the years is that whilst your own lived experience is the “gold standard”, the “silver standard” is that of victims of negligence, crime and corruption. By this I don’t mean generalised victim complexes based on identity politics, but rather those who have directly experienced the wrong. They will expend great energy seeking truth and justice, with no ulterior profit or power motive.
The media wolves have been guarding the public sheep, whilst telling them they are harmless sheep dogs. Meanwhile, the legislative shepherd — whose dedication to ovine longevity is dubious at best — appears to be overly interested in lamb recipes. We’ve all been fleeced, and there’s a storm approaching. Time to bleat loudly for attention, and hope for rapid rescue by some judicial animal lovers.
There is a bonus essay that comes packaged in the context of telecoms networks, but applies to everything:
The frequentist view is the future is just like the past, with low rate of skew in the emergent network properties. Because of past good experiences, many simply assume endless emergent good outcomes.