Question Everything

My mind is always full of questions.  So when I came upon a link on Cassandra’s Legacy to another blog named named ‘Question Everything‘ I had to investigate further.  It turns out that this is the blogspot of George Mobus, an academic at the University of Washington.  He seems to think the same way that I do based on what I have read so far, or perhaps I should defer to his excellent credentials and say that I seem to think on things the same way he does.  Either way I have decided to follow his blog.

I found one of his posts from June this year to be very interesting, putting a new light for me on a favourite subject – the imminent collapse of human civilisation.  More particularly on how people are likely to react to that and why.

The full text of the article by George Mobus can be found here:  How Will People React To A Collapsing Civilization?

I have taken the liberty of extracting parts of the article below, with the hope that it may inspire someone to read further.


How Will People React to a Collapsing Civilization?

Even Before a Real Bottleneck Event

The first truly major event that will unfold as we near the bottleneck event will be the collapse of global civilization with concomitant losses of socially provided services such as food and water deliveries. How people in general react to this collapse will largely provide the forces shaping the way in which the bottleneck will be experienced.

In reality we can expect a wide array of reactions but what likely interests us is which kind of reaction will predominate. How will the average human react and what will they do as the significance of this predicament takes hold.

Instincts and Basic Drives

Let’s start with some basic biology. We are, after all, animals. And as animals we have inherited the basic instincts and drives that motivate all animal life. Fundamental is the drive to persist, to survive at all costs. So deep in the nature of living systems is this drive that except under the most extreme cases of threat, what I have studied as extreme information overload (the definition of stress), the animal will take any action, some of which may actually be randomly selected, to avoid death. The mandate of life is in the very nature of the process of living. It is biochemical, homeostatic, in origin and, truthfully, is part of what differentiates living systems from non-living ones[1].

Modulation by Higher Brain Functions

Humans evolved a mental capability that, while biological in origin, goes far beyond the ordinary dictates of biology. … That competency is sapience. It is what defines us as biological creatures with a difference.

Sapience and a New Dimension to the Biological Mandate

We humans appear to be the first creatures on Earth to exhibit this new capability. And as evolution tends to be a process of incremental progress, our capabilities in this new dimension are merely emergent and not very well developed. We are a first, hesitant step into a new framework of evolution. We represent evolution becoming aware of itself, but only haltingly. Much more must surely be possible.

Sapience comes in a range of levels distributed throughout the population just as other traits are. The majority of people have the barely visible level mentioned above.  Most people acquire a rudimentary capacity for wisdom if they live a longish and full life. But it is wisdom that is generally circumscribed within a short distance from home and family.  It is fairly local in time and space.  And this accounts for why the majority of mature people still cannot comprehend what is going on in the world.  The normal level of sapience in the world is just barely above threshold, so to speak.

Like the fly that buzzes around searching first for food, not understanding that it is trapped in a closed space, it will have used up a significant amount of its reserve energy before it can switch to the escape search mode. Right now you can see our civilization doing this exact same thing. We are blindly trying to keep the business as usual model going and failing to have noticed the switch from realizable growth mode to a contracting net energy mode. We will overshoot the consumption of resources before anybody realizes what has happened (excluding, of course, those few people who did recognize the situation and tried mightily to warn everyone else). Indeed I believe we have already passed that point. Our frenetic attempts to find usable oil in rocks and under the deep sea beds shows that we are starting to get desperate. Unlike the fly, that cannot experience an emotion like desperation, we have the mental capacity to be conscious of our plight.

The fly that does not succeed in escaping and go on to reproduce, is taking itself out of the gene pool unwittingly. We see individual humans that seem to do dumb things all the time that cause them to take themselves out of the gene pool. We even give those individuals special recognition, called the Darwin Awards. I trust the conferrers of that award will have about seven and a half billion certificates printed up soon, or maybe just one big one for the species as a whole.

In truth, I think the sense of something being fundamentally different has already started building in the general population. Not many can articulate what the problem is, let alone what might be the cause.

Watch What People Do

To conclude, keep an eye on what the majority of people are doing. Don’t just look at the surface symptoms. Occupy Wall Street was a symptomatic response. So was the Arab Spring. So is the financial debacle that is the Eurozone. So is the jobs situation and wealth loss (on paper) in the US. All of these are mere symptoms. The constellation of symptoms taken together are placing a heavy mental burden on everyone. And they are already reacting. Pay close attention to how this evolves. Cultural differences will tend to mask any similarities initially. Middle Easterners will react differently than Europeans and those from the Far East. Americans will likely start to act like cowboys!

Eventually, however, all people will converge toward the same self-centered mode of survival and life will be extremely dangerous for all. I fully expect that much of the dying that will ensue in the bottleneck will actually be from humans competing with other humans for scarce and diminishing resources. Starvation and slaughter will become the predominant modes, with epidemics taking out the rest as public health systems fail. It won’t be pretty.

Each and every person will be responsible for their own decisions and actions. That includes decisions on when to try to avoid the trap, and how to go about it. The only cues you will have are the observations of how the majority of people are reacting. Be sensitive. Be alert. Be wise.


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