In the second chapter of The Only Planet of Choice, which I am currently re-reading, the authors refer to a book called ‘Beyond the Limits’, about things like global warming and developing a sustainable future. With this in mind, coupled with a Joe Rogan interview I watched yesterday with Aubrey de Grey, a biomedical gerontologist who thinks we can science our way out of the problems caused by over-population (just as people think we can science our way out of “Covid-19” with a vaccine), I found a section titled Truth telling to be quite relevant to our present day, even though the book was published back in 1992 (by Meadows and Randers and sequel to ‘The Limits of Growth’).
The transition to a sustainable society might be helped by the simple
use of words like [visioning, networking, truth-telling, learning, and
loving] more often, with sincerity and without apology,
in the information streams of the world.
Visioning means imagining, at first generally and then with increasing
specificity, what you really want. That is, what you really want, not
what someone has taught you to want, and not what you have learned
to be willing to settle for. Visioning means taking off all the constraints
of assumed “feasibility,” of disbelief and past disappointments, and letting
your mind dwell upon its most noble, uplifting, treasured dreams.
Some people, especially young people, engage in visioning with enthusiasm
and ease. Some people find the exercise of visioning painful,
because a glowing picture of what could be makes what is all the more
intolerable. Some people would never admit their visions, for fear of
being thought impractical or “unrealistic.” They would find this paragraph
uncomfortable to read, if they were willing to read it at all. And
some people have been so crushed by their experience of the world
that they can only stand ready to explain why any vision is impossible.
That’s fine; they are needed too. Vision needs to be balanced with skepticism.
There was a sound-bite on the radio today about aphantasia and how those who have an inability to recognise visual images in their mind tend to work in science. I found this quite odd and somewhat scary. Reading on…
No, we are no more certain of the truth than anyone is. But we
often recognize an untruth when we hear one, coming from our own
mouths or those of others, and most particularly coming from advertisers
and from political leaders. Many of those untruths are deliberate,
understood as such by both speakers and listeners. They are put forth
to manipulate, lull, or entice, to postpone action, to justify self-serving
action, to gain or preserve power, or to deny an uncomfortable reality.
Lies distort the information stream. A system cannot function, especially
in time of peril, if its information stream is confused and distorted.
One of the most important tenets of systems theory … is that information should
not be deliberately distorted, delayed, or sequestered.
“All of humanity is in peril,” said Buckminster Fuller, “if each one
of us does not dare, now and henceforth, always to tell only the truth
and all the truth, and to do so promptly—right now.” Whenever you
speak in public, even to a public of one other person, you can counter
a lie or affirm a truth, as best you can see truth. You can deny the idea
that having more things makes one a better person, or you can endorse
it. You can question the idea that growth for the rich will help the
poor, or you can accept it. The more you can use your voice to counter
misinformation, the more manageable your society will ultimately be.
Here are some common biases and simplifications, verbal traps, untruths
that we have run into frequently in discussing limits to growth.
We think they need to be pointed out and avoided, if there is ever to
be clear thinking about the human economy and its relationship to the
I’m trying to remain hopeful about the world beyond ‘Covid-19’ but I fear we will just slip back into our old ways, letting this opportunity for a different path slip by.