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How To Get There 22/12/19

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, December 22nd, 2019 - 28 comments
Categories: Deep stuff - Tags:


This post is a place for positive discussion of the future.

An Open Mike for ideas, solutions and the discussion of the possible.

The Big Picture, rather than a snapshot of the day’s goings on. Topics rather than topical.

We’d like to think it’s success will be measured in the quality of comments rather than the quantity.

So have at it!

Let us know what you think …

28 comments on “How To Get There 22/12/19”

  1. Dennis Frank 1

    Aristotle:  Man is a political animal.  Ah, but is woman?  Well, anyway, looks like a more sophisticated form of politics is required.  The failure of representative politics when engaging climate change has proved that.

    A significant contribution to political psychology has been made despite the concurrent failure of political psychologists.  Political Animals:  How Our Stone-Age Brain Gets In The Way Of Smart Politics (2016) addresses topics such as reading people, truth, and empathy.  Author Rick Shenkman  [http://www.songofacitizen.com/songofacitizen.com/RIck_S.html] has written several best-sellers, and gives a short explanation of Trump here:  https://yubanet.com/opinions/rick-shenkman-why-this-was-the-generation-cursed-with-a-donald-trump/

    "What advice would you give to the Democratic Party about how your research on social psychology could help them organize and win?"  "People vote for candidates who make them feel smart rather than dumb, energetic rather than nostalgic. It's all about the voter. It doesn't matter how the candidate looks, whether the candidate looks smart or dumb or whether the candidate has combed their hair properly and put on a tie. What matters is how the voter feels in that candidate’s presence. That's my most important insight."  https://www.salon.com/2018/07/23/historian-rick-shenkman-on-donald-trump-all-the-worst-things-in-american-history-piled-together/

    Shenkman doesn't refer to triune brain theory, but feelings come from the mammalian part.  Transcending feelings comes from the neo-cortex.

    "It is important to note that no single branch of science is responsible for our new understanding of the brain.  It is only by consulting the work of a now-dizzying array of disciplines in the sciences and social sciences that we can [get up to speed]… These include neuroscience, genetics, evolutionary psychology, anthropology, behavioural economics, political science, political psychology, social psychology, and even game theory.  Throughout this book I cite studies in all of these fields, and others."

    How to get to the future?  Two ways, traditionally:  take it easy, go with the flow (most people) or envision a better world and co-create it (the constructive few).  Leftists in the latter bunch are so prone to disempowering themselves via idealism & utopianism that it is essential for them to get real by informing themselves how our brains work!  Only by wising up and changing their approach will they eventually get there.

    • Robert Guyton 1.1

      "People vote for candidates who make them feel smart rather than dumb"

      That's a very significant observation, imo.

      (Does anyone else have the same aversion to using the word "key" in a sentence, as the result of having had a Nat-moneyman of that name as our PM in recent times? He's killed that word for me smiley

    • Ad 1.2


      "People vote for candidates who make them feel smart rather than dumb, energetic rather than nostalgic."

      That is the kind of foolish lie that has killed the left. 

      Duterte. Bolsinaro. The Bunga-Bunga nutjob. Johnson. Trump. Duda. Zelinksy. Orban. I'm just getting warmed up. 

      They make people revel in their ignorance, bathe in muddy nostalgia, and have fun doing it. 

  2. Robert Guyton 2

    For "Standard" readers who are particularly interested in gardening and forest-gardening in particular, there's a Facebook page I manage called "The Forest Gardeners" that might entertain and inform.


  3. Dennis Frank 3

    "The academics who gathered in Lisbon this summer for the International Society of Political Psychologists’ annual meeting had been politely listening for four days, nodding along as their peers took to the podium and delivered papers on everything from the explosion in conspiracy theories to the rise of authoritarianism."

    "Then, the mood changed. As one of the lions of the profession, 68-year-old Shawn Rosenberg, began delivering his paper, people in the crowd of about a hundred started shifting in their seats. They loudly whispered objections to their friends. Three women seated next to me near the back row grew so loud and heated I had difficulty hearing for a moment what Rosenberg was saying."

    "What caused the stir? Rosenberg, a professor at UC Irvine, was challenging a core assumption about America and the West. His theory? Democracy is devouring itself—his phrase — and it won’t last.  As much as President Donald Trump’s liberal critics might want to lay America’s ills at his door, Rosenberg says the president is not the cause of democracy’s fall—even if Trump’s successful anti-immigrant populist campaign may have been a symptom of democracy’s decline.  We’re to blame, said Rosenberg. As in “we the people.”"  https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/09/08/shawn-rosenberg-democracy-228045

    "Democracy is hard work. And as society’s “elites”—experts and public figures who help those around them navigate the heavy responsibilities that come with self-rule—have increasingly been sidelined, citizens have proved ill equipped cognitively and emotionally to run a well-functioning democracy. As a consequence, the center has collapsed and millions of frustrated and angst-filled voters have turned in desperation to right-wing populists.  His prediction? “In well-established democracies like the United States, democratic governance will continue its inexorable decline and will eventually fail.” "

    Just like it did in ancient Greece, and for the same reasons.  Human nature.  You see it here onsite:  those who testify to having spent their valuable time helping make democracy work are hopelessly outnumbered by those who merely comment.  C'est la vie…

    • Dennis Frank 3.1

      And a paradox:  "While the elites formerly might have successfully squashed conspiracy theories and called out populists for their inconsistencies, today fewer and fewer citizens take the elites seriously. Now that people get their news from social media rather than from established newspapers or the old three TV news networks (ABC, CBS and NBC), fake news proliferates. It’s surmised that 10 million people saw on Facebook the false claim that Pope Francis came out in favor of Trump’s election in 2016. Living in a news bubble of their own making many undoubtedly believed it. (This was the most-shared news story on Facebook in the three months leading up to the 2016 election, researchers report.)"

      "The irony is that more democracy—ushered in by social media and the Internet, where information flows more freely than ever before—is what has unmoored our politics, and is leading us towards authoritarianism. Rosenberg argues that the elites have traditionally prevented society from becoming a totally unfettered democracy; their “oligarchic ‘democratic’ authority” or “democratic control” has until now kept the authoritarian impulses of the populace in check."

      So the internet has freed the people.  Baser instincts are coming into play.  Shenkman's book illuminates those instincts.  I thought we already had the dictatorship of the proletariat, ushered in by democracy.  Looks like that was just stage one, and now we're heading into stage two.

      • Ad 3.1.1


        I don't need to get too idealistic about the power of social media within capitalism. But it's an excellent antidote to the sclerotic party-based democracy that we are used to. 

        We used to be dominated by the economic sphere, because it was where the production of use-values held sway over us like a machine in which we were merely a part. My fathers' generation of worker still narrates like this. 

        We used to have a dominant political sphere which was highly formalized and it was only there that collective decisions were taken. 

        We still have a highly controlled sphere called mass culture where social meanings and moral values were created. Hell MTV was once so powerful only a decade ago. 

        I still hold good hope for social media to continue to evolve into Habermas's public sphere. Twitter is still one of the very best examples of this. Its successors will be a real challenge to what oldies like me consider democracy. Collective decisions will more and more get made by collective opinion amplified in the public sphere of social media. Not Parliament. 

        If strong democracies want to continue to exist, they need to continue to demonstrate that they can achieve things for us that companies can't do and social media can't do. There's a competitive market out there for human agency – and if change really occurs better outside democracy, democracy is going to have to work really hard to get them back voting.

        This is still the quote I like of Ronald Reagan's the best: 

        "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."

        I don't have to like his politics, but it's the right sentiment.


        • Dennis Frank

          Thanks for the thoughtful response.  I particularly liked your para #5.  I have a hunch you'll be proven right about that.  Perhaps I ought to overcome my scepticism & give Twitter a try.

    • KJT 3.2

      A contradiction here. "Democracy is not working because the demos has too much power, without the capability to handle it".

      When, in fact the bulk of people have no power whatsoever.

      Evidence shows, when there is actual democracy people do weald it responsibly.

      Sort of like blaming the cows, for the state of the slaughterhouse.

      • Dennis Frank 3.2.1

        Well, speaking as someone who grew up with "no power whatsoever", figured out how to acquire it out of desperation, and ended up achieving various things that nobody thought were possible, let me just say there's two sides to the coin you describe!

        Archimede's principle of leverage comes to mind, eh?  Figure out the lever, then position yourself in the best place to operate it from.  This logic applies to groups as much as individuals.

  4. weka 4

    Denis: "Aristotle:  Man is a political animal.  Ah, but is woman?"

    People worried about global warming often want their leaders to enact ambitious climate policies. A recent study suggests that electing female politicians can help make that happen.

    Astghik Mavisakalyan is an economics professor at Australia’s Curtin University. She and a colleague examined the legislatures of 91 countries. They compared the percentage of seats held by women to the rigor of each country’s climate policies.

    “We found that female representation in national parliaments does lead countries to adopt more stringent climate change policies,” she says.

    The researchers say it’s not just because countries that elect more women also happen to support more environmental protection.

    In their analysis, they considered all kinds of factors, including the country’s GDP per capita, education levels, and overall political orientation. They found that none of these other factors could fully explain the link between female leadership and climate policies.

    More research is needed to better understand the connection. But based on the data, Mavisakalyan says it seems possible “that climate change campaigns may actually succeed more in places where there are more females in political power.”


    Makes sense to me. Would be interesting to see how that changes even more when its Indigenous women.

    (yes, not all men or white people. Don't panic, women, esp Indigenous women know how to share power).

    • Dennis Frank 4.1

      Thanks Weka.  Makes me more hopeful (despite American women voting for Trump).  A counter-trend towards a cleverer politics is required, from both sexes.  The Greens pioneered it with consensus & co-leaders, but we need more innovative techniques as well.  Material technology continues its rapid advance, but we are up against our brain structure and function, making it hard to advance social technology.  Action Station is one way to transcend representative democracy, but we need to develop others.

  5. Dennis Frank 5

    "Kahneman frequently recounts one particular anecdote of a close run-in he had with a German soldier when he was 7 or 8 years old. He was living in France at the time, during the Second World War. He was walking home past the 6 p.m. curfew when he bumped into a German soldier. He froze. Rather than the reprimand Kahneman feared, the soldier picked him up affectionately and handed him some money. “I went home more certain than ever that my mother was right: people were endlessly complicated and interesting.” "

    He went on to win the Nobel Prize in economics for his discoveries about human decision-making.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/stephaniedenning/2016/12/28/the-undoing-project-how-to-judge-a-book-by-its-cover/#1274a821372f

  6. Jenny How to get there 6

    It’s all about leadership.

    As record breaking heat wave and fires scorch Australia: New Zealand has a role to play


    “chugging along”

    Despite the fires, despite the heatwave, climate destroying industry in Australia keeps right on 'chugging along'.

    “It has been a tough couple of days in Central Queensland through the bushfires,” .

    “We have had some great news today though with Adani announcing that they have secured finance and plan to start work before Christmas!”

    “So many have written it off but they just keep chugging along!” 

    “We need these jobs and this great news for the future of central and north Queensland.”

    Queensland Senator Mathew Cavanan Minister for Resources & Northern Australia.


    Time for New Zealand to throw a spanner in the works.

    In March Australian Emergency Responders are planning to have a conference on climate change and the fire emergency.*

    Hugely disappointed' emergency chiefs to hold bushfire summit with or without PM


    It would be really valuable if these 'Emergency Chiefs' could point to some iconic government action by this country so as to be able to call on their government to do the same.

    *(The fire fighters' conference may have to be postponed if the fire emergency continues into March).

  7. Dennis Frank 7

    Research has suggested triune brain theory may be too simplistic.  However in science it is normal for a theory to account for part of reality.  Wikipedia's overview:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triune_brain

    "Howard Bloom, in his book The Lucifer Principle, references the concept of the triune brain in his explanations of certain aspects of human behavior. Arthur Koestler made MacLean's concept of the triune brain the centerpiece of much of his later work, notably The Ghost in the Machine."

    "Peter A. Levine uses the triune brain concept in his book Waking the Tiger to explain his somatic experiencing approach to healing trauma.  "Glynda-Lee Hoffmann, in her book, "The Secret Dowry of Eve, Women's Role in the Development of Consciousness," references the triune theory explored by MacLean, and she goes one step further. Her theory about human behavior and the problems we create with that behavior, distinguishes the prefrontal cortex as uniquely different from the rest of the neocortex. The prefrontal cortex, with its agenda of integration, is the part of the brain that can get the other parts to work together for the good of the individual. In many humans the reptilian cortex (agenda: territory and reproduction [in humans that translates to power and sex] is out of control and the amygdala stokes the fear that leads to more bad behavior. The prefrontal cortex is the key to our future if we can harness its power."

    Collaboration on co-creating a better world is the praxis that embeds our creative politics in the real world – the activity that manifests the potential of our pre-frontal lobe.  All we need to make it happen is to become ready, willing, and able.  Then start.

  8. Dennis Frank 8

    "One day in 1891, a wealthy world traveller who enjoyed puncturing public myths offered $500 to anybody who could prove that a shark had ever attacked a human being off the East Coast of the United States. The offer drew headlines. People were sure he’d have to make a payment. They were wrong.”

    That’s how Rick Shenkman starts his intro. Then, 15 years later, “Charles Vansant, dressed in a black swimsuit that stretched from his knees to his neck, headed to the ocean for a swim.” He’d just arrived from Philadelphia with his family at Beach Haven, on the Jersey Shore checking into “one of the finest hotels in the area”. Then “he suddenly began shrieking for help”. “As Vansant fought for his life, his blood turned the sea-water bright red. A brave lifeguard quickly swam to help”, but Vansant died on the beach. He was 25 years old.

    “Five days later Charles Bruder, the bellboy captain at the Essex and Sussex, a top-notch hotel in Spring Lake, 45 miles north of Beach Haven, went for a swim in his lunch break. In full view of hundreds of tourists” a “shark took off his right knee above the leg” then his left foot. He too died on the beach. He was 28. More attacks followed: “a shark ventured up a creek all the way to the small New Jersey community of Matawan” 16 miles inland, where it “killed a boy out for a swim and a man who tried to save him.”

    Then an experienced angler caught a shark and killed it, and there were no more attacks that summer. People returned to swimming as usual. So long periods of normalcy can be interrupted by anomalous events, and while it is rational to assume normalcy will continue, you can’t rely on it. There’s joker in the pack, and the pack gets shuffled, so you never know when it will turn up. Thus chaos theory, and the science of complexity. So Shenkman goes on to document the political consequences.

    Christopher Achen, a political scientist at Princeton University, is his source. In 2002 Achen happened upon two books about those 1916 shark attacks, Twelve Days of Terror and Close To Shore. He reflected on their effect on the local community and “remembered a conversation he’d had with another political scientist”.

    “I was talking to Larry about the standard political science view of elections, namely that when times are bad, people vote against the party in office, regardless of whether those office-holders have any responsibility for the problem.” Larry joked that if a meteor hit Arizona, they’d vote against the incumbents.

    “That’s when Achen had a classic eureka moment.” He realized the shark attacks would have reduced the vote for the incumbent president, Woodrow Wilson, who was then running for re-election. “That was because the attacks had meant economic catastrophe for the beach-front communities.” Shenkman: “As Fernicola report, the attacks cost New Jersey about a million dollars in business” ($16 million in today’s dollars). “To test his hypothesis, Achen, who had a fellowship at the time, retreated to the bowels of the Princeton library for weeks of tedious and dull research.”

    “Chances were high that Achen was on a wild goose chase. Woodrow Wilson had not only served as the governor of New Jersey before becoming president – which meant that he had a powerful bond with the state’s voters – but he also had a particular connection with the people living along the Jersey Shore because he had summered there even after moving into the White House.” So to the findings…

    “Statewide, Wilson retained roughly the same support he’d had four years earlier, but in the four counties where fear was highest and the economy was impacted the most following the attacks, his support declined by about 3%.” More dramatic was the effect “when he further broke the returns down by township. In the two beach communities most affected by the attacks, the decline in support for Wilson was precipitous. In Spring Lake, where Charles Bruder was killed by a shark, Wilson’s support dropped 9%. In Beach Haven, where Charles Vansant was killed… Wilson’s support dropped 11%.”

    So the irrationality effect is local, and becomes marginal in a regional context. But if a disaster is regional – or nationwide, we’d expect irrationality to be decisive. If the election in Oz had been held mid-December, Labour would have won!

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