Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Blackmail may be the death of us. Unless we’re saved by… Mexico

First - a one-paragraph example of one thing you could do: volunteer to be a local precinct election official or poll-watcher. The training is minimal and you could help ensure an honest vote, in the fall. Yes, it's mostly retired folks.  So? Consider talking some honest, smart retiree you know into doing this, especially in "swing" precincts. Just knowing such sharp-eyed folks are on the job could force the cheaters to try elsewhere! Think about it?

Now our main topic: I’ve long wondered if our civilization is tottering because of one devastating crime, above all others. 

== Blackmail == 

Elsewhere, I describe how it’s the best way to suborn an enemy nation. Other forms of corruption have boundaries… the official you bribed may say: “that’s my limit for this year,” or “that’s too much betrayal, even for me.” 

But the blackmailed person is locked in. And every added thing he does for you makes him ever-more your slave. 

There is a way for the blackmailed person to escape… by coming clean. By openly and publicly confessing, or cooperating with honest civil servants to entrap the blackmailers. But that requires guts. And patriotism of a degree we seldom see, even on a battlefield. Then there’s rationalization – often the blackmailed or coerced person justifies it all by converting to passionate belief in the blackmailer’s cause -- the Patty Hearst Effect. Or the Moscow embassy Marine guards. Or George F. Will.

Hence a warning!  If you find yourself embarking on a career in politics or any other area of influence, be wary of entrapment!  That lucky ticket that's too good to be true. That strangely convenient opportunity to cheat in some small way that you think is unobserved. That alluring member of your sex-of-preference who comes on to you... the methods are myriad and highly, highly developed. See where I describe the cycle, in detail. And the one thing I don't disrespect about Mike Pence is his keeping the ultimate defense talisman nearby -- his wife.

Above all, the blackmailed person – even if repentant -- must overcome a devastating sense of loneliness. There may be hundreds – even thousands -- of men and women, in Washington alone, who writhe within such a trap, imagining they are alone. Many of those betraying America, as we speak – and I’ll talk about the wave of inexplicable treason, below -- are probably steeped in isolation, with a sense of no-way-out. Blackmailers will push that feeling, never letting their slaves realize a central, redemptive truth --

-- that there is a path to salvation. I offered this method to President Obama, and he could have transformed America, but it never reached his eyes. Now, I am about to appeal to the next idealist who could use this maneuver to save his own country… and possibly the world.

== An open letter to the President–Elect of Mexico ==

Dear Mexican President-Elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador,

Would you consider a proposal/suggestion offered by an impudent science fiction author from Upper California? You face incredible problems and obstacles to fulfilling your vow and overcoming rampant corruption, giving citizens hope and confidence in the honest rule of law. Indeed, classic corruption is the least of your problems!

Far worse than bribery is blackmail. Whether a person was originally entrapped in some small misjudgment, or willingly did something awful, the man who is blackmailed is far easier for evil ones to control than someone who is merely greedy or venial. Indeed, there is strong reason to believe that blackmail pervades every government on Earth, and - lately - has thoroughly suborned the United States of America.

There is a way out of this! You - personally - could set an example to the world. Simply declare amnesty for the first twenty men or women who come forth into the light with profound information that could transform Mexico!

Yes, there must be standards. Let’s say they must surrender most of any ill-gotten gains. In order for it to count, they must tell-all! Name others, including their blackmailers. There will have to be guarantees of safety, witness protection and possibly foreign refuge. Arrange these, along with safety from prosecution. Indeed, if their revelations bring down higher figures, then promise 10% of any seizures, as a reward.

Promise that the first who come forward - bravely - to confess and to reveal, will not be known as pardoned criminals, but as heroes.

What do you have to lose? Is twenty enough? Make it a hundred! If no one steps up, then it cost you nothing. If this unleashes a wave of pardon seekers, make sure the brave ones who step up first get special honor. Some may accuse you of setting up pardons for cronies. But that will die down, as a tide of revelations sweep forth! Also note, you need no legislation to issue pardons… though legislation will surely follow.

For safety’s sake, issue an Exclusion List. Ask Law enforcement agencies to write down those criminals they have already built strong cases against. You can name a hundred men whose pardon requests will not be honored. Can you think of a better way to single them out and terrify them into making a deal?

Oh, this is not a new proposal. I have put it forward for many years, to no avail. 

But you are a special case. You are committed to eliminating the corruption that has ruined civil life in Mexico. Alas, people expect – cynically – that you will just slip into a familiar pattern, either that of the sellout presidents before you, or that of Chavez, Erdogan and Duterte. There will be overwhelming pressures to go in either of those directions, so you must find something that will propel the idealistic momentum right away, and unstoppably. 

This one thing would prove the cynics all wrong, from the very start!

I have plenty of other proposals, but this one is so simple and blatantly obvious that it needs no further explanation. Think. Nothing could possibly alter that situation as swiftly and effectively as a sudden and cleansing wash of light.

== Back in the U.S.S.A…. ==

How deep does the betrayal go, in America?

This long and terrifying piece finally broaches publicly what many of us have known and said. That the "Russia Thing" probably goes far deeper than even Trump's loudest critics dare to say. Those critics may be trying hard not to sound like Alex Jones, whose wild ravings make "conspiracy nut" an appellation any moderate American would shun. But what if that's the aim of Jones and Hannity etc.? 

There have been dire conspiracies in history. And yes, cries of conspiracy bear some burden of proof. (Jones/Fox never show scintillas of evidence, after 25 years of "Clinton investigations.")  But as proof piles skyward that Donald Trump's cabal are - at-minimum - mafiosi, when do we get permission to extrapolate the trend? To reckoning on the worst?

Yes, this article goes a bit over the top, in places. Heck I have, too, by calling this "phase 8 of the Civil War." But even accounting for that, how can you shrug off the trend? When every single US strength that won us the Cold War is being systematically dismantled? From our alliances and science to strong institutions, citizen confidence, trustworthy media and the moral high ground? When every fact-using profession – all of them - is under attack by Rupert Murdoch's cult? 

One such betrayal, or two, or a few, might have excuses like "stupidity' or 'dogmatism." But when all actions push in the same direction, I invoke Goldfinger’s Rule:

“Once, Mr. Bond, may be happenstance.
"Twice could be coincidence.
“Three times is enemy action.”

It's been a lot more than three times! Read this piece. And stop softpedaling or saying "he exaggerates." Yeah, maybe he does, in a few places. And it is past time we err a bit in the same direction. Or we're the stoopid ones.

== Are they planning to abandon us to our fates? ==

Okay, we’ve seen several types of traitors in this essay. Those who are avidly and actively helping foreign tyrants to bring down our Great Experiment… those who have been suborned or blackmailed into it. There’s also the classic duo of the Confederacy. Zillionaires who want a return of aristocracy and the populist-idiocrat millions who are in it for tribal reasons… no amount of heinous behavior is intolerable, so long as the Fox-confederate media tell them it’s okay. And especially so long as it galls the damn liberal or “fact” elites.

But what about those fact elites?  Are they necessarily on our side? Or might they also be conspiring against the West?

In Survival of the Richest, Douglas Rushkoff assumes the worst… that the betrayal of human civilization by aristocracy has two parts.  The dullard troglodytes of the right, who aim to topple our enlightenment in a microcephalic dream of restoring feudalism… and the smart billionaires, who are giving up the fight and fleeing for sanctuary.

Ah… sanctuary: as in the movie “Logan’s Run”?  We’ll return to that.

But first Rushkoff talks about interviewing a number of rich techno-transcendentalists (my term) who support things like life-extension, mind-uploads, mental augmentation and other ways that humans might move beyond present limitations. I have known a lot of these fellows for a long time. So has Rushkoff, so let’s hear what struck him:
“That’s when it hit me: At least as far as these gentlemen were concerned, this was a talk about the future of technology. Taking their cue from Elon Musk colonizing Mars, Peter Thiel reversing the aging process, or Sam Altman and Ray Kurzweil uploading their minds into supercomputers, they were preparing for a digital future that had a whole lot less to do with making the world a better place than it did with transcending the human condition altogether and insulating themselves from a very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic, and resource depletion. For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape....”

“They were not interested in how to avoid a calamity; they’re convinced we are too far gone. For all their wealth and power, they don’t believe they can affect the future. They are simply accepting the darkest of all scenarios and then bringing whatever money and technology they can employ to insulate themselves — especially if they can’t get a seat on the rocket to Mars.”

== Sorry, it’s not that simple ==

Look, I like Doug Rushkoff. But this oversimplifies out the wazoo. Sure, anyone can see that large swathes of oligarchy care only about the re-establishment of 6000 years of feudalism. Hence they use lavishly-paid propaganda-shills to demonize every single fact-using profession (name one exception), from science and journalism to the FBI and officer corps. 

And yes, many of them know they are risking planetary genocide and ecocide, and many are plotting their safety bolt holes.  I know several of those guys, and their favorite spot is… Patagonia, where land prices have spiked from poverty to resort levels, as they buy up everything from ranchitas to whole mountain ranges and watersheds, stocking them with arms and helicopters and bullion. 

(One fellow asked: "I have one problem that keeps me awake at night - if civilization falls, how do I keep my guards loyal?" In fact, I do know how. But the guy balked at my consultation fee. Fine. Go without sleep! The thought makes me smile.)

By comparison, the techies buying citizenship in New Zealand and financing “seasteading” experiments are actually kinda mild, even endearing.

Doug Rushkoff finishes his interesting (if hyperbolic) essay with an ultimate truth: “Being human is not about individual survival or escape. It’s a team sport. Whatever future humans have, it will be together.”

Absolutely. It will take a flat-open-fair civilization - like this utterly unique one - to get out to the stars. That shared dream will see some creative types a tad richer than all the other rising boats, and that's fine.

Alternatively, if that wonderful civilization is stolen from us, there is no place -- on Earth or off -- where the thieves will be able to hide.


jim said...

Maybe try a variant on the blackmail theme for tax cheats.
Amnesty and a small portion of the recovered taxes for the lawyers, tax accountants and bankers that turn on the wealthy who paid them to help cheat the government out of its tax dollars.

Treebeard said...

“It will take a flat-open-fair civilization to get out to the stars.”

How do you know this? Leaving aside the fact that I think our chances of getting out to the stars are close to zero, I don't see why it has to follow the Federation model, regardless of how entertaining Star Trek was. Maybe it will be some breakaway group of “Augments”, Borg-type collective, Garth of Izar madmen, Ferengi capitalists, Klingon warriors or Sith-like cult who have the gumption to pull it off. Was it flat-open-fair civilizations that colonized this planet? Weren't the first ships that sailed the world built in feudal, theocratic Europe? Weren't many early American settlers hardcore theocrats, capitalists and slavers? What about all the expansionist empires motivated by power and plunder? I doubt the tribes who settled the Pacific islands, migrated out of Africa and into America cared much about flat-open-fair civilization either. So it all sounds like wishful, inside-the-box thinking to me. Frontiers have been opened by people with a variety of motivations, many of which aren't kosher by modern liberal standards, and won't be in the future.

David Brin said...

Oy, I hate the fact that the ent occasionally asks a cogent (if ignorant) question. The answer fellah, is simple. All those feudal societies were led by paranoid elites who had one priority, stable grip on power. All research - except for weapons - was generally repressed. All innovation that might raise up new talent to compete with their inbred, spoiled sons. The few exceptions, like the Yongle Emperor, rapidly fell back to type. And yes, they all were wrecking the world, but killed anyone who suggested changes.

Dumb ol' ent. ONE civilization ever made reaching for the stars something we could even conceive! Let alone engendered the creativity to make it seem dimply plausible. It is the one that did everything in its power to evade the feudal model and trap. The one to which you show such ingrate, insipid and whiney disloyalty.

Treebeard said...

And yet humans did manage to expand across this planet, even during the 6000 Years of Darkness and before. It's true that we now have the ability to imagine travelling to the stars, and to calculate what it would take to do so, and to immerse ourselves in amazingly realistic simulacra of such, but not much more than that. Wasn't there some government-sponsored flat-fair-open “100 Year Starship Program” a few years ago that had a lot of feel-good Star Trekkian rhetoric but went absolutely nowhere? At this point maybe some Klingon-Augment-Ferengi-Thielian SOB's are what is needed to give this enterprise a kick in the pants and a reality check.

Alfred Differ said...

@matthew | You were propping up a straw-man at the end of the previous thread. I make no such argument and would reject it from anyone who tried.

I am quite confident that you and your friends will make sure the poor have security too even in a world where many of those services are privatized. I'd help make that happen as long as your friends didn't accuse me of eating children or something like that. 8)

However, I don't mind a mixed state of affairs. It's just that I want to be able to opt-in or opt-out if one of the service providers goes against what I believe to be good moral behavior. If most of my local LEO's are good people, I'd probably purchase services through them. If they lose my confidence, though, I don't want to have to sue my city to correct their behavior.

David Brin said...

Feh. The Dutch and British were horrors, by our standards, because their horizons of inclusion were much narrower than ours and yes they did slavery. But by the standards of THEIR time, they were expansive and inclusive and pro-democratic. The Polynesians and other expansive tribes? Have you any idea of the concept of temporal scale?

That leaves the spanish - gruesome conquerors and sadists, and the Portugese, even more gruesome. And yes, those are good examples of your argument. And a deeply sick one it is.

Alfred Differ said...

@treebeard | Was it flat-open-fair civilizations that colonized this planet?

Mostly... except for the civilization term. Earth was mostly colonized by our pre-agriculture ancestors. The HG nomads were about as flat, open, and fair as we've ever been until recently.

You might be thinking about re-colonization and conquest?

The main reason David is probably correct is that colonizing space will require considerably more capital expended than we needed to spread across the Earth. We were already well adapted to cope with old Terra. That's not the case for various space 'biomes'.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Addressing another of Dr. Brin's favourite elements, that of transparency, Rachel Maddow got a tape of a 'private' fundraiser for Cathy McMorris Rodgers, made two days before yesterday's primary that she only barely won. Devin Nunes was the guest speaker. Nunes' speech in a nutshell: Trump is cringeworthy, Trump is criminal, and the only way we can save his ass, and our own, is by obstructing justice. It's a rather amazing example of the backroom corruption that permeates politics. Nunes said they the party leadership is only pretending to oppose the impeachment of Rosenstein because they have to get their latest howling Dominionist onto the SC first since impeaching Rosenstein will certainly trigger a constitutional crisis.

Winter7 said...

In ancient times, Mexicans had a dictator similar to Donald Trump. It was called "Emperor Moctezuma second; son of Axayácatl".
A historian of the time, says of him: "He was a very severe and severe and fierce Lord, who gets angry suddenly with light occasion." "He was elected military chief during military campaigns of Ahuizotl." Already elected, he maintained an energetic policy even towards the internal and implemented mechanisms to focus power in his person. "He had many women as" friends "and two caciques for legitimate women." He had two hundred principals in other rooms next to his to attend to him, who had to go barefoot to visit and address with the words: "Lord, my lord, my great lord" without turning his back and with his eyes down ".
When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico, Moctezuma made friends with the invaders and granted them everything they asked for, including slaves and lots of gold.
One day, the Aztecs practiced their religious rites in honor of their gods in a temple. The Spaniards arrived at the temple, and massacred several Aztec nobles, which angered the Aztecs. Then, the Aztecs surrounded the palace where the Spaniards were staying. Then, Hernán Cortés asked Moctezuma to go out on the balcony to calm the town; But the people were even more enraged, for everyone knew that the leader was a puppet of the Spaniards. Because of that, the people took stones and stoned him to death.
The Aztecs were very submissive and, however, did not forgive the leader's betrayal. I wonder ... What will the Americans do with the traitor Donald Trump?

In spanish:
En los tiempos antiguos, los mexicanos tuvimos un dictador parecido a Donald Trump. Se llamó “Emperador Moctezuma segundo; hijo de Axayácatl”.
Un historiador de la época, dice de él: “Era un Señor muy severo y grave y sañudo, que se enoja súbitamente con liviana ocasión." “Fue elegido jefe militar durante campañas militares de Ahuizotl. Ya electo, mantuvo una política enérgica incluso hacia lo interno e implementó mecanismos para centrar el poder en su persona”. Él tenía muchas mujeres por “amigas” y dos cacicas por legítimas mujeres. “Él tenía doscientos principales en otras salas junto a la suya para atenderlo, quienes tenían que ir descalzos al visitarlo y dirigirse con las palabras: "Señor, mi señor, mi gran señor" sin darle la espalda y con la vista abajo”.
Cuando los españoles llegaron a México, Moctezuma se hizo amigo de los invasores y les concedió todo lo que le pidieron, incluyendo esclavas y mucho oro.
Un día, los aztecas practicaban sus ritos religiosos en honor a sus dioses en un templo. Los españoles llegaron al templo, y masacraron a varios nobles aztecas, lo cual enfureció a los aztecas, los cuales rodearon el palacio donde se alojaban los españoles. Entonces, Hernán Cortés le pidió a Moctezuma que saliera al balcón a calmar al pueblo; pero el pueblo se enfureció aún más, pues todos sabían que el líder era un títere de los españoles. A causa de eso, el pueblo tomo piedras y lo lapidaron hasta matarle.
Los aztecas eran muy sumisos y, sin embargo, no perdonaron la traición del líder. Me pregunto... ¿Qué harán los norteamericanos con el traidor Donald Trump?

Zepp Jamieson said...

England has a long and shameful record regarding slavery, but it should be noted that the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, and the banning of slavery in all British colonies in 1833, were two seminal events that stiffened southern resolve to defend their peculiar institution at all costs. The former may have help precipitate the war of 1812, as well. Some Englishmen hired American vessel to traffic slaves for them, and while I don't know of any evidence the English found any such vessels, it was in part a reason for interfering with American shipping.
The French may have been the most horrific colonists around, with one curious exception; North America. It may have been purely a result of their rivalry with English, but they actually treated the indigenous people with a fair bit of decency here.

David Brin said...

Except in Haiti, where the French were (racist) monstrous.

David Brin said...

There was long a stratum of French and English society that had a romantic attachement to "Indians or native Americans. This is evident in that they generally asked the local's "what's the name of this place?" And hence a myriad place names, in native tongues. Alas, that sympatico stratum was often followed by predators. The Spanish skipped the friendly phase and just told the locals their new names.

Alas, the end result was often the same.

Alfred Differ said...

Maddow's recording (from an event attendee) will likely be explained as the kind of lies one has to tell donors to keep the cash flowing. That will be done with a wink in the direction of those donors in order to suggest the the lie is the one being told to the press.

The line "this all goes away" is definitely donor fodder.

The bit about having a plan to impeach Rosenstein that can be brought back later due to timing is also good donor fodder. It's far better than "We don't have a viable plan." 8)

No doubt the GOP needs to do some background checks on attendees at these events.

Does anyone here know how many consenting parties are required in Washington to make the recording legal?

Alfred Differ said...

... not to defend slavery, but I'm inclined to think that it was part of the attractor. That institution has been with us a VERY long time.

Ultimately, the British were able to set it aside for economic reasons. They didn't need them because they had replacement 'slaves' that weren't so expensive in terms of security. I'm not referring to oppressed colonial populations.

I suspect we can trace a lot of liberal social improvements to the fact that we aren't living near starvation wages anymore. We can afford to risk being faithful to our ideals.

Alfred Differ said...

Can't resist...

The flyover text is even better.
I don't work on that kind of software, but I obviously should get into the field. 8)

locumranch said...

Words mean different things to different people and this is especially true in the case of blackmail, an action which we identify as 'criminal' & we define in terms of the use of unjustifiable extortion, coercion or threat in order to compel the behaviour of another.

The key word here is 'unjustifiable' as it is this idea that separates criminal blackmail from its legal equivalent, insomuch as the Rule-of-Law also requires the use of (justifiable) extortion, coercion or threat in order to compel the behaviour of another.

It all comes down to (subjective) justification:

(1) It's the difference between Blackmail & the Rule-of-Law;

(2) It separates legitimate government from illegitimate syndicate; and

(3) It is how we grant moral legitimacy to all those actions that we would otherwise call 'criminal'.

Any & every action is 'legitimate' when we believe our actions to be justified.

All those who believe that the pinnacle of civilisation is the WEIRD west will take offence at the suggestion that it is not; all those who believe in climate change will use their belief to justify the criminalisation of the climate denier; all those who believe that Trump is a Nazi will use their belief to justify the destruction of the Nazi Trump by any means; and all those who confuse "This, (their) position" with their identity will assume that those who put to lie their "position" are calling them a liar.

People will find offence when they feel offence is justified. No other reason is necessary insomuch as reason is rarely applied.


jim said...

It is pretty easy to imagine a slightly different world were the “bad guys” of western civilization -the Nazis and the Soviets – make as much if not more progress towards space colonization as Corporate America has/ will.

Again this points to what is really enabling the vast expansion of human capability ….. fossil fuels.

jim said...

In the early 1800’s the British had figured out that wage slaves are cheaper than “real” slaves in factory /urban settings. You just need a steady influx of disposable labor into the cities and the Inclosure Acts (the theft of the commons by the aristocracy) did just that.

Fossil fuels were just beginning to be used so they were probably not the most important reason for the end of slavery in the UK. (but there would be no way current prosperity could happen without fossil fuels. Many environmentalist refer to fossil fuels as energy slaves. )

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

No doubt the GOP needs to do some background checks on attendees at these events.

It's the servant class that'll always get them.

Does anyone here know how many consenting parties are required in Washington to make the recording legal?

Whether or not it is admissible evidence in a court of law is not the issue. Distribution of John Podesta's hacked e-mails wasn't legal, but in the court of public opinion, it hardly matters. Unlike a jury, no one is going to demand that the public disregard evidence.

A better argument--from the Republican side, I mean--is to sow doubt as to whether the recording had been tampered with in Breitbart style. Good think they don't take advice from me. :)

jim said...

I know many on this site like comics, so the link above may be appreciated.

GMT -5 8032 said...

The slavery of Africans and First Nation peoples was horrific in its inhumanity and brutality. It was the worst kind of slavery because the masters viewed the slaves as less than human.

This is in contrast to other forms of slavery, such as practiced in ancient Rome where there were categories of slavery. Some slaves were more like employees bound for a term like a contract for professional services. Others were treated as subhuman and subject to horrific abuse.

The ancient Israelites, IIRC, would forgive debts and free all slaves every 7th year.

GMT -5 8032 said...

Then there is blackmail by legal process. Back when I was a criminal prosecutor I read about the US Dept of Justice filing civil lawsuits against people or entities. The prosecutor would present a settlement offer and tell the defendant that if the offer was not agreed to, the Dept of Justice would file criminal charges and seek an indictment.

I thought thus practice was immoral, unethical, and unprofessional. I asked my boss, the county prosecutor, what he thought about this practice. He got angry and yelled at me: "If I ever find that you have done that, I will charge you with extortion." I guess I now how he feels about that practice. He is now a judge.

Russell Osterlund said...

The article Dr. Brin referenced in the main post - "Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler?"- is scary. There is a part of me that wants to hold on to the idea that its premise is entirely entertaining fiction, written for shock value more than enlightenment. On the other hand, accepting it and leaving behind Never-Neverland means that cynicism has completely won the day.

GMT -5 8032 said...

Litigators, prosecutors, and campaign staff often suffer from confirmation bias or a similar bias. They are so invested in their point of view that they are unable to detach and understand how the public at large will view the issue.

donzelion said...

Alfred: "No doubt the GOP needs to do some background checks on attendees at these events."

They already do, best they can. Setting prices at $10k/plate makes it less likely attendees will be coming from the 'enemy' - and in theory, whatever they sneak out of the event will do less damage than the money they contributed to the cause.

That said, a low-level background check, say for a prospective tenant, costs less than $100, takes a few hours, and will tell you about outstanding arrest warrants/sex offender registration, etc. A mid-level check, say for an FBI agent, costs $30-50k, takes months, and will tell you more. The highest level checks have no limit on costs, and take however long they take. And they all err. There's just no way to do this effectively.

To our host's original point, the main sort of error comes from blackmail of some kind. It's rather common. Again, the '$10k/plate' gambit is the most frequent solution: demand a sufficient sacrifice so that whatever they do to hurt you is offset by what you gain in exchange (and the converse even more often, bestow sufficient rewards so that even if they receive treble damages in a qui tam/Private Attorney General action - they'll come out a loser).

donzelion said...

LarryHart: WA is an 'all-party consent to record' state, as I recall, though I don't practice there and could be wrong. Those rules don't normally apply to 'public events' though (even if it's a 'private event,' it's invitational). And they're irrelevant to this context for reasons you say.

The right has invested billions of dollars attacking the entire media system; they don't need to discredit this recording, simply refer to it with a shrug on their radio/TV/cable channels, and turn back to the California fires or other news. That sort of oblique minimization makes people 'unhear' something, immunizing them to a claim. If they opt to discredit this recording, they'll do so only if it serves an agenda (e.g., turn Rachel Maddow into the next Dan Rather).

In that sort of environment, the only viable strategy is activating those who are outside of any camp, wooing the ones who can be engaged, finding points in common with them and building from that foundation.

donzelion said...

Alfred: "Ultimately, the British were able to set it [slavery] aside for economic reasons. They didn't need them because they had replacement 'slaves' that weren't so expensive in terms of security. I'm not referring to oppressed colonial populations.

Mechanization in 18th/19th cent Great Britain worked in tandem with slavery from the beginning; textiles wouldn't have generated sufficient profits but-for the raw material costs being kept down through slave, and later, colonial labor. Perhaps more importantly, had the runt feudalists of Britain been denied a colonial empire upon which to focus their attentions, they'd have turned inward to challenging capitalists at home and extracting wealth from them while securing their estates, rather than to colonial ambitions.

One primary reason for opposing slavery in Great Britain, aside from religious/humanitarian opposition, was the simple fact that slave-traders could finance rival merchant fleets through the slave traffic. Unlike spices and opium, slave trading posed a threat to British imperial power - particularly if a rival country's merchant fleet challenged British primacy in a key theater (Macao/Goa/E. Timor for the Portguese long after they ceased to pose a threat).

"we can trace a lot of liberal social improvements to the fact that we aren't living near starvation wages anymore."
I suspect the move away from starvation wages is itself a liberal social improvement, one that drove others. ;-) Keeping the peasants hungry is useful for a certain kind of business...

Unknown said...

Lucius Cornelius:
The ancient Israelites, IIRC, would forgive debts and free all slaves every 7th year.

Only Hebrew slaves, and I think only male ones at that. All other non-Hebrew slaves were permanent property, able to be inherited by your children and your children's children.

David Brin said...

"It is pretty easy to imagine a slightly different world were the “bad guys” of western civilization -the Nazis and the Soviets – make as much if not more progress towards space colonization..."

Yes "jim," we believe you, that it is easy for you to imagine. It is loony-loco, but yes, you can imagine that. Hitler drove out all but two of the hundreds of first rate German scientists, and they flailed uselessly at something they desperately wanted - nuclear bombs and weapons. The Soviets could not make a decent refrigerator and executed anyone who talked about non-Lysenko genetics. But sure, rave about your fantasies.

As for locum, he is spewing counterfactual strawmen at truly impressive rates, firing at zones where no one is standing. No real person, that is. Wheeeee!

donzelion said...

Jim: "Maybe try a variant on the blackmail theme for tax cheats."
Our host has made a number of proposals in that direction...and hates it (or ignores it) when I criticize them. Were I to be so disdainful of his scientific expertise as he is of my legal expertise, we'd never be able to interact.

But in general, there's a lot of 'qui tam/private attorney general/white collar protection' law already in place - for tax cheats and any one else conducting other types of fraud (most tax cheating at the $10-100m level is a form of fraud in the end - at the $2-25bn level, it's corporate structuring...which isn't fraudulent so much as 'tax aggressive').

One can never get far saying "the rules don't go far enough!" until one knows the rules, where they go, where they do not go. And in the world of tax, we have tens of thousands of pages of tax code because the real experts there (and I'm not one of them) are vigilant, motivated, smart as hell and on their game.

One point where I disagree with Dr. Brin: "Let me say that I am less worried about the things that dour pundits normally dwell upon — e.g. political temptations like earmarking and lobbyist dinners" - because I'm all to familiar with how 'lobbyist budgets' operate. Everyone knows not to pay or accept 'bribes' - but historically, one of the easiest budgets to convert into a bribe (or use to develop extortion) was the ever-so-innocuous 'hospitality budget' (which was almost always how it was done in the 60s/80s). Indeed, quite a few very large corporations paid me a few thousand dollars a year to tell them "there's no new laws on bribery - it's still illegal" in a foreign country of particular interest (and their purpose in paying me was never to get an answer, but just to ensure I was conflicted out from any claims that might be brought against them...).

David Brin said...

In contrast, Lucius C seems a balanced and erudite fellow, commenting on both dangerous/immoral things and examples of decent folks overcoming them.

This is why our greatest enlightenment innovation is transparency-mediated competitive accountability, in which we can see well enough to denounce abuses and (often) force some corrective action. No other society ever did it to a large degree… and the oligarchs’ top priority is to end it.

Unknown, slaves could convert to Judaism and then get the Jubilee release… though I think it took another 7 years.

Oh, the fossil fuels thing. Without any doubt, they helped us leverage to a new level, so? Look at how pollution was treated in Soviet and Chinese realms. Complain and you got shot. In the (gradually) liberalising West, Standard Oil was broken up, reducing its political power, after which pollution laws started being passed. It's a struggle, with gas taxes countering the effects of sweetheart lease deals. But fossil fuel costs are mostly un-subsidized and taxed in the West, while dictatorships subsidize pump prices.

Vigorous federal R&D plus tax incentives are behind the rapid advance of energy efficiency standards, LED lighting, auto efficiency standards and the spectacular advance of sustainables. This only happened in the Enlightenment Zones.

The cynical raving "it's all fossil fuels!" collapses if fossil fuels prove to be a step on a ladder that we can then climb beyond to better things. The fact that a negative-sum mind cannot grasp the existence of positive-sum synergies is a tragic comment on human variation.

jim said...

Yep it is just my loco loony imagination.

It is not like the Nazi rocket scientists like Wernher Von Broun made up the core of NASA.

And I was just imagining that the Soviets launched the first satellite, and first man in space and a space station all before 1980.

Yeah only a loco loony would think that Nazis and Soviets could go into space.

donzelion said...

jim: "It is pretty easy to imagine a slightly different world were the “bad guys” of western civilization -the Nazis and the Soviets – make as much if not more progress towards space colonization as Corporate America has/ will."

You'll find plenty of scifi writers doing exactly that. Historically, you'd find endless examples of 'patronage scientists' making incredible breakthroughs - genius emerges where it will, regardless of social system, and there were a fair number in Germany, the Soviet Union, and in every other corner of the world. There were more than two impressive Nazi scientists, and far more than that in the Soviet Union; in particle physics, you'll find plenty of impressive Japanese contributors even within the neo-feudal imperial system.

The big difference, it seems to me, is that capital alters how society responds to the 'genius game' - no matter how many impressive geniuses we create, many more come from around the world to join with others - to study, to challenge, to compete, to cooperate. There's a clear advantage to doing so in forums where the 'best idea' prevails, rather than the best-connected idealist.

Fossil fuels play their part, but the countries with the largest quantity thereof are hardly competitors in science, and certainly not the flat-fair-open societies that the scientists are flocking to. Japan? Germany? China? These are not countries that became what they are because of fossil fuels, so much as countries that became 'flatter-fairer' - on some level - and found fossil fuels to be an important part of doing that (along with basic literacy, medicine, and a host of other strategies).

David Brin said...

"Yeah only a loco loony would think that Nazis and Soviets could go into space."

Engineers, fellah. Learn the difference. Von Braun leveraged on established German engineering excellence but all the seed corn for going further was burnt by the Nazi regime. Improve combustion chambers and vernier guidance systems? Sure. Build a computer? Atom power or bombs? Never even remotely within reach to even imagine how. Your glib one liners betray genuine ignorance.

The Soviets were better. But... um... Chernobyl? Try comparing their N1 rocket to the Saturn 5. They go Sputnik first because Eisenhower deliberately and calculatedly and brilliantly chose to let it happen.

In abstract, sure, over long time frames, perhaps the Sovs would have got us into space. But jeez, your obsessions insulate you from ever, ever seeing how vastly better we've done in a liberal society that gave you everything. Oh, lefty-locumranch.

David Brin said...

donzelion and I have our differences, but he gets it: "There's a clear advantage to doing so in forums where the 'best idea' prevails, rather than the best-connected idealist."

Still... name for me the top level scientists you know, other than Heisenberg, who remained in Nazxi Germany? I am genuinely curious.

jim said...

"Engineers, fellah. Learn the difference"

Rocket science comes down to the conservation of momentum.
Rocket Engineering is what took genius.

"In abstract, sure, over long time frames, perhaps the Sovs would have got us into space"
That was my point.

Nek Baker said...

Wow! "I have one problem that keeps me awake at night - if civilization falls, how do I keep my guards loyal?" In fact, I do know how. But the guy balked at my consultation fee. Fine. Go without sleep! The thought makes me smile.)"

I keep having this recurring image of Peter Thiel on a tarmac in California getting ready to flee to his hideout in NZ and as he's about to board a couple shots ring out and his body drops to the ground. His guards wait awhile for a couple SUV's pull up with their families and they get into the plane. Steepkng over the arrogant billionaire's body.

The problem with our new would be lords is that they forget the original lords were the nastiest, most brutal warlords of their times who traded protection for subservience. Thiel and his ilk ain't that.

donzelion said...

"Still... name for me the top level scientists you know, other than Heisenberg, who remained in Nazxi Germany? I am genuinely curious."

Off the top of my head, Bosch was the only one that came to mind. Then Operation Paperclip, which nabbed 1600 of em. A quick scroll of wikipedia lists many Germans: some stayed (like Bosch, a Nazi critic), some, like Willstatter fled, and a few died of heart attacks right around the start of WWII but after Nazism took over. Kuhn, Butenandt (Nobel, Chemistry). Haber died before the war, but probably would have stayed.

After the war, few scientists desired to go to the Soviets. That also corresponds to the flattest, freest, strongest America became vis a vis the rest of the world.

A feudal empire can make immense scientific breakthroughs. But a flat-fair-free non-empire will better utilize those breakthroughs, perfect good ideas and convert them to working realities, and break through obstructions.

Alfred Differ said...

Rocket Engineering is what took genius.

Not really. I'm not knocking engineers. I make my living as one. It isn't genius, though. It's hard work in an ecosystem that dignifies attempts, forgives honest failures, and rewards success when people avoid breaking rules.

I worked in an aerospace start-up. Two actually. It takes HARD work and perseverance. It takes willingness to risk big. It takes courage, faith, hope, and some prudence. Genius isn't really necessary. Team efforts by moderately skilled people willing to work and risk easily beat individual genius.

Alfred Differ said...

The Soviets were just as doomed as the Nazis when it came to innovations in and out of science. I've got a shelf full of soviet-era physics texts. Those authors did some amazing things and wrote them down for us to use. Looking at them at the time they were written gave me the impression that they mattered. Looking at them 20 years later, though, I could see the trap they were in. They did their research where they could if it didn't involve a lot of money their state patron did not have.

I was at a physics conference in Mexico shortly after the Cold War ended. Many of the scientists from the former Soviet bloc were very interested in employment elsewhere. One of them didn't have a return ticket. These guys got snapped up cheap by The West and were grateful for it.

The Soviet path would not have lead to the stars. It would have lead to impoverishment and Stalin-style genocide. The US and our allies did the world a favor by opposing them and then hiring away their talent when we could.

Wanna get to the stars? You need innovations. You need vast amounts of risk capital. You need Vision! You don't need conformity, central planning, or rigid thinking. A lot of science fiction stories put forward aliens who do it it some other way, but I think they'd have to be fundamentally alien to pull it off. Anything even remotely like us is going to need many of the same things we will have to invent... from scratch... with no cosmic answer book from which we can cheat.

David Brin said...

"In abstract, sure, over long time frames, perhaps the Sovs would have got us into space"
"That was my point."

Then it's a silly-ass point. Seriously? Getting naming rights to craters on the far side of the moon is one thing. Creating the spectacular spacecraft that have repeatedly explored the wonders of the Jovian system, discovered ten ice-roofed ocean worlds, discovered 4000 PLANETS outside our solar system, plumbed the vast resources of asteroids, discovered the methane seas of Titan, photographed the wonders of Pluto, crossed the heliosphere boundaries of the solar system and prepared missions to the solar gravity lens... while crisscrossing Mars with fantastic, van sized rovers... these are a wee bit different.

It can be asserted that we have limited time to make sustainable space industries that would get us all so rich we can attain the stars. If we don't do it soon, we may never. And "soon" is not something you would get under the system that created the N1 rocket or the Grunt probe.

Your fetish to disdain your own society is what's actually interesting, here, not your insipidly silly opinions, themselves. We all were raised on Hollywood messages of Suspicion of Authority, the first civilization that ever trained its children to be critical of their own tribal elders. (Find one other example.) That reflex - we all suckled it from every movie - has been vital to us, creating millions of critics constantly looking for errors. (It's why the Saturn V and Spacex Falcon worked and the N1 failed.)

But guys like you don't get it. You oversimplify a reflex to seek errors into a snarling-cynical and LAZY reflex to declare that it is ALL error. And thus, you render yourself useless, of no practical value, because your snarks are all predictable. And... boring....

duncan cairncross said...

Mel Baker
Suppose Thiel gets to NZ?

What happens next? - he goes on trial for crimes against Humanity - after civilisation falls his money is no good and his guards cannot help him
New Zealand Culture is a cross between Scottish egalitarianism and Maori pragmatism - I don't think someone like Thiel would end up as a feature in a Hangi....

Alfred I agree
Fascism is a sort of Theocracy with the State as God and the "leader" as High Priest - as a result criticism = heresy - which as our host says is deadly for science
Loyalty "Trumps" Competence - which is deadly for engineering!

Which is why the net effect of all of the Nazi "super weapons" was to REDUCE the German war effectiveness

The Soviet situation was similar - not as extreme as it was less of a "Theocracy" and more of a traditional "Autocracy"

donzelion said...

"You [Jim] oversimplify a reflex to seek errors into a snarling-cynical and LAZY reflex to declare that it is ALL error."

Yet the reflex to seek errors itself isn't the worst starting point... When Jim does it, perhaps he's busily engaged at work. I have an hour or three free, and minutes to survey Wikipedia, wondering, "what really happened to all those German Nobel laureates? They had an incredible university system churning out bright minds, surely a few of them remained into the Nazi era..." Curiousity, and stubborn persnicketiness, isn't a bad trait, just not altogether a useful one.

End of the day though, the answer reinforces the rhetorical point: in the face of Nazism (or Stalinism), science suffers immensely, and while scientists will work in the face of suffering, much as others will, it's not conducive to scientific work.

Alfred: I actually got to know a German 'Nazi' scientist (he never said if he'd come to America through Operation Paperclip, and I never really learned his personal beliefs, but was...very German, very cautious, and very much a product of the early Cold War) - who worked alongside a Russian computer scientist (fleeing the post-Cold War world) at a job with a major defense contractor San Diego (back when that was a big deal down there). The other engineers in that firm thought of him as a 'mad genius...' At the time, I didn't think too much of it - my Dad was in cryptographics with the Navy (on the tech side, not the mathematician side), so he met all sorts of 'odd ball' folks afterward. There's 'genius' in the sense of Isaac Newton reshaping our world, and genius in the sense of 180 IQ and offering solutions no one else has thought of, but still within the 99.9% mark...a large number of the latter will be found in rocket science, since that attracts folks interested in complex problems. The former are...unpredictable.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: "[Jim's] fetish to disdain your own society is what's actually interesting, here, not your insipidly silly opinions,"

There's the committed disdain of the unrepentant (Locum), who array themselves in disdain as a crusty shield to defend against challenge - and then there's the open question what form of disdain Jim's own will take. He is still here, in the face of considerable hostility. For some reason. Which implies that this sort of disdain may actually be disillusioned fury with nowhere to direct itself usefully, potentially directed at you (as if he perceived you as a bully imposing your will on the Hawaiians, or otherwise). It's interesting not because it's disdainful - but because it might imply something more useful, meaningful, even potentially noble. Who knows?

Larry Hart said...


Setting prices at $10k/plate makes it less likely attendees will be coming from the 'enemy'

They always have low-paid servants in the room, though. Wasn't Mitt Romney's "47% of the voters are deplorable*" speech secretly recorded by a bartender?

You'd think they'd at least pay the people who hear everything they say enough to expect some loyalty in return. But apparently, the rich and powerful don't roll that way.

* No, Mitt didn't actually put it exactly that way, but y'know, was Hillary's comment any worse than his?

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Except in Haiti, where the French were (racist) monstrous."
I don't regard Haiti as being part of North America, but that's a quibble. What the French did there was, as you say, monstrous.

Tony Fisk said...

TASAT! Mel Baker's scenario with Peter Thiel reminds me of Fred Forsyth's "Dogs of War".
Multinational Mining Corp discovers a massive nickel deposit in a backwater African country, and want to exploit it. Current ruler isn't amenable to persuasion, so they organise a group of mercenaries to orchestrate a coup.
However, there's a trick in the tale ...(Hover for spoiler).

On slavery: in 1788, long before emancipation and industrialisation, and in charge of a group of convicts, Arthur Phillip envisaged a new colony that forbade slave labour. He would probably fit in the social "stratum" that David mentioned. A dreamer, maybe, but he was a competent organiser and administrator. Had a spear wound not shortened his tenure as Governor, and had the marine commander been more sympathetic, who knows what might have happened?

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | I’m sure there was some genius on the German rocket team. Probably quite a lot. Genius isn’t as rare as people think. The IQ 180 folks are pretty rare, but 140-150 happens often enough in a large population that they can find each other. In my first year of grad school, there were 11 students. I’m pretty sure all of us qualified, but the best of us (I was typically third from the bottom on test scores) was in a world of his own. I couldn’t fathom how he picked up ideas so fast.

When I point out that genius isn’t as important as some think, it’s because I think they put too much stock in genius. Yes. Geniuses come up with some weird and wonderful stuff, but mostly they connect known ideas in odd ways. Most of it is about mash-ups. See the analogy others don’t see. You can get mash-ups from teams of people who are NOT geniuses, though. Set up the team well and you can get them FAR faster than from a lone genius. A good collaboration can be extremely potent and I suspect that has more power in explaining German rocket guys than genius does.

Stratospheric genius sure is fun to watch and be around, though. Care for them properly and they are like a fireworks show. 8)

Tacitus said...

The Soviets had one great advantage in the early space race. They had possession of the main German research and test facility at Penemunde. You can do a lot of test flights with refurbished V2 rockets if you have a large stockpile of same.

On the question of whether a "Non Federation" type civ might attain serious space travel first I think it is worth more than outright dismissal.

For instance. Space travel being a risky venture, would a society with less value ascribed to the individual be able to find more volunteers for missions with low probability of return? Diving into black holes and so forth.

And the single mindedness of totalitarian regimes can be impressive. Look at what China has done in the past century. Would the application of the same amount of energy (plus industrial espionage and environmental damage, alas) put them on Mars instead of being the Solar System's premier manufacturer of iphones, Christmas tree lights and such?

Now these are not future scenarios that I prefer, or even expect to see. But on the implausibility scale as it currently exists on Contrary Brin I'd say worthy of discussion.


Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin and others here keep pushing for a Star Trek future. Apparently the current administration is on board, but they don't know the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars...

In a move that's been hinted at for months, on Thursday Vice President Mike Pence formally announced plans for the creation of the United States Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. military (joining the army, navy, air force, marines, and coast guard). "As President Trump has said, in his words, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space—we must have American dominance in space. And so we will," the Veep declared...

Larry Hart said... references my favorite Yogi Berra quote!!!

In theory, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) should be dead meat since Donald Trump carried West Virginia by 40 points. But as Yogi Berra once pointed out, in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

Tony Fisk said...

Some saw "Space Force" and suggested "Tab Force".

The grammar nazi in me came up with "Whitespace Force"

Winter7 said...

I guess we were all curious to find out what were the new orders that the Russians dictated to Donald Trump after the successful neutralization of NATO; and the successful destruction of North American institutions.
Well, we can see one of those directives of the Russians: That the United States be the first to restart an arms race in space. (I've already warned you about this before) (but now the course of the news makes the fact more evident)
Before Donald Trump, it was clear that all Western countries wanted space to be a demilitarized zone, for which agreements were signed. But now that Donald Trump ordered the creation of an army in space, under the excuse that "" Space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air and sea. " Now the Russians can feel legally justified to launch into space all the deadly machines they always wanted to have:

And of course, now the Russians feign indignation and promise hard countermeasures "as part of the trick agreed with Donald Trump:

I must assume that the Russians noticed that some American companies are interested in the gold and other riches of the asteroid belt. That is not to mention that, in past years, Russia announced the creation of a space bomber, with which it wishes to carry out "patrol operations over Russian airspace". (Obviously they will fly over all the countries of the world with a huge arsenal of nuclear warheads). Without forgetting that now the Russians will be able to deploy ships capable of "regulating" the traffic of vehicles belonging to mining companies from all over the world that are placing mines in the asteroid belt or in the solar system's moons, with which they will be able to take a huge part of the booty of existing resources in the asteroid belt:

Larry Hart said...

Tony Fisk (emphasis mine) :

The grammar nazi in me came up with "Whitespace Force"

Was that a pun?

David Brin said...

NASA’s New Horizons probe has detected a "hydrogen wall" at the edge of our solar system. Well, well. A bit like my story “The Crystal Spheres”? Just sayin’…

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

a "hydrogen wall" at the edge of our solar system

My first thought was the barrier in the second Star Trek pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before".

My second thought was to wonder whether we made the aliens pay for that hydrogen wall.

jim said...

Thanks for not assuming ill intent on my behave.

What I have found interesting is the intensity of the hostility vs the banality of what I wrote.

the critical importance of fossil fuels
our current state of ecological overshoot (made on Earth Overshoot Day)
Non believers shouldn't tell believers what their religion really means
Soviets had a successful space program, and in a different world it would be easy to image the Nazis having a apace program too.

I was wondering if I made a statement like :
Everybody is going to die someday.
Would I be accused of wanting to commit genocide?

donzelion said...

Alfred: I'll confess that it's been fun to watch geniuses who outclassed me work out problems in seconds that took me minutes or hours; law school offered experiences comparable to your grad school experience.

But my point was that the 99% and up will tend to flock to whatever community offers them the best prospects for using their skills. Smart people who recognize that there are folks smarter than them may (1) respond to the personal challenge by spitefully sabotaging opposition, (2) eschew competition and move to 'safe' zones with simpler minds around them who acknowledge their brilliance, or (3) unite with them in cooperation and form teams of some kind.

(1) and (2) are probably the most common responses to challenges of this sort - but possibility (3) is dependent on the milieu: are there projects where such teams may form? Not often in a feudal society: the 'smart folks' know they're competing for the same seats at the same, ancient tables, that they'll contend for the attention of fickle lords or be forced to some other lord's table. In capital societies, new tables form frequently around new problems that aren't formed primarily by an ancient lord's capacity to fleece the peasants.

Aristotle became Aristotle by grappling with Socrates/Plato and a host of others in Athens, but at the end of the day, we'd have forgotten him but-for Alexander taking him into his table, and paying scribes to set down and transmit his works. But Newton and Descartes could both contend with Aristotle, slightly less reliant upon patronage. They had options Aristotle never did - universities had come into existence with institutional bases. They themselves didn't even need a professorship - they knew there would be audiences interested in what they offered, and perhaps those audiences would matter more to their work than any lordling.

donzelion said...

jim: "I was wondering if I made a statement like : Everybody is going to die someday.
Would I be accused of wanting to commit genocide?"

If when you point that out, you also claimed "so why bother trying to do anything about this problem? why lift a finger for those people? what difference does it make if all those people died, they'll die anyway eventually?" - then perhaps you would be accused.

If, instead, you asserted a memento mori for purposes of humility, then turned to the wonder of what folks actually do with their time here - well, that's a different use of the same point.

If our host has prematurely judged you as an unreflective denier of the value of the work that has been done - he's seen plenty such folks (as have most of us), and may have little patience. But you'll prove him wrong by showing beauty and wonder others have overlooked.

David Brin said...

Tim W is (as usual) vastly more cogent, arguing with actual logic and examples. E.g., he raises some of the advantages of a despotic system over an enlightened one. While the rare enlightenment oasis in human history were vastly – orders of magnitude – more productive and creative, they do react strongly to public opinion, which can be risk-averse. (Note that in the Barnstorming Era, the public had no problem with men breaking necks in flying machines.) Despots in closed societies can simply order row after row of ‘volunteers’ forward, compensating for incompetence with sheer numbers.

The Soviets did this… we now know of several space missions wherein cosmonauts died in secret and there were four N1 launches that blew up without any outsider knowing.

A chilling novel by Beason and Anderson portrays a parallel world in which the Nazis overcame one of their myriad scientific stupidities and tried a purer version of carbon as a neutron mediator, allowing then to make a nuclear reactor. They were still imbeciles unable to purify or design a bomb… and they had none of Fermi’s brilliance at designing something safe. But they compensate by having slaves build their filthy pile, with a promise of freedom after one month. And they keep their promise! And one released Jew takes his suitcase down a road… passing suitcases and skeletons of those released before him.

Incompetent at making a bomb, the Nazis get radioactive filth that they shoot into Manhattan… and it does them no good at all, of course. Like all of their “wonder weapons.”

Tim, China has accomplished all this with 200 $billion in “aid” every year, consisting of Americans indulgently buying crap. We designed that pattern. Or George Marshall and Acheson/Truman/Eisenhower did, back when we put our trust in brilliant adults.

David Brin said...

Oops here's the BEason/Anderson novel:

Winter7 said...

I have a feeling that a supposed Chinese discovery, relative to the force of gravity, is only a childish fantasy:

What I would like to know is how the gravitational waves are generated. That can be very useful for the colonization of space. We could create the USS Enterprise in a shipyard on the ground and then use gravity control to raise the ship to Earth orbit.
The discoveries about the control of the force of gravity should never be shared with the Russians or those of the extreme right.

Winter7 said...

Waw. It seems that someone created a weapon to add to the Ironman suit:

Winter7 said...

Here many defend some entrepreneurs who are honest and play fair in politics. However, I wonder: why these millionaires do not create an institute that supports the formation and support of politicians who can be true representatives of the just democracy of the United States.
But they will have to educate young people in honesty and honesty, from childhood, so that we can be sure that these new leaders are not puppets of the feudal oligarchs. It would be difficult to find among current politicians someone without ties of servitude to some oligarch.
And by the way. If the honest businessmen are really worried about the devastation caused by some oligarchic businessmen ... Should not those just ones do something efficient, to stop the actions of the entrepreneurs who went over to the evil side of the force? That would be more courageous and effective than building a shelter in the mountains of Tibet. (Remember Tony Stark, he decided to put aside selfishness and bad deeds and dedicated his life to protect humanity)
Time to go make some improvements to my house. Which reminds me of the television program "improving the house" with Tim Allen. Remember the wise neighbor who could never see his face? That was fun. :)

Larry Hart said...


The discoveries about the control of the force of gravity should never be shared with the Russians or those of the extreme right.

Then it's a good thing they don't read the internet. :)

There was a story by James Blish which established that gravity had been discovered in 2018 (although postulated for centuries prior), so maybe he made that all up, and it came true anyway.

donzelion said...

Tim/Tacitus: (I've lost track of your preference) -

"The Soviets had one great advantage in the early space race. They had possession of the main German research and test facility at Penemunde."

Oddly enough, you've referred to the primary disadvantage of a non-capital-based system in space exploration: the relatively high probability that whatever they've invested into some novel, exploratory work would ultimate benefit someone other than the original investors. Even in modern business, 'first mover advantage' is checked by latecomer savings in most fields of technology: it's sometimes crucial to be 'first,' it's often a tactical error, and nobody knows with certainty which will prove to be accurate at any given time.

But that dynamic applies in 'capitalized commerce' - in 'feudal commerce,' the 'second mover' will usually invest any reliable savings into additional muscle to appropriate the benefits of the first-mover more directly.

So...the circumstances in which something other than a capital-society might achieve sustained space ventures, it seems to me, would most likely be
(1) if a totalitarian regime became a global government with no rivals, investing into space exploration without fear of loss of power on Earth would be feasible, PROVIDED that the regime had strong confidence that it could not be replaced/removed by rivals
(2) if the costs of exploration were dramatically reduced somehow, relative to the costs of building/securing tech on earth (e.g., a new technological breakthrough made escaping orbit orders of magnitude less expensive) - in which case, the relative savings of 'second mover advantage' would be negligible
(3) if some resource in space were discovered that was so easily accessed and so abundantly valuable that any regime would see the cost to acquire it as necessary to ensure its own survival vis-a-vis rivals

For the third possibility, we have the tantalizing possibility of rare metal asteroids (though if trillions of dollars in platinum suddenly became available on Earth, the value thereof would fall...).

"Space travel being a risky venture, would a society with less value ascribed to the individual be able to find more volunteers for missions with low probability of return?"
Doubt that would make much difference. While making one-way vessels would save money, exploration and new ventures have already set aside the 'savings' orientation to take on risks for unknown potential returns.

Winter7 said...

Larry Hart:
“There was a story by James Blish which established that gravity had been discovered in 2018 (although postulated for centuries prior), so maybe he made that all up, and it came true anyway”
Yes. I think you're referring to the Dillon-Wagoner gravity polarity generator. Mentioned in the novel "Year 2018", and the story revolves around the construction of a gigantic jupiter bridge; with all the work done by remote control ... Hey, if we are in 2018! What a coincidence!
That means that we only have this year to build the Dillon-Wagoner gravity polarity generator, otherwise, the prophecy will not be fulfilled.

As for gravitational waves; I suspect that:

A) Not all particles emit gravitational waves with the same intensity.
B) Occasionally, regions of space, apparently empty, can emit gravity waves.

And, considering those issues, I think it just occurred to me what the source of gravitational waves is. But I must not say it, because the Russian hackers could be watching us. (Haaaa, how I detest all the mercenary hackers who work for the Nazis and the Russians)

Winter7 said...

Larry Hart:
“My first thought was the barrier in the second Star Trek pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before".

My second thought was to wonder whether we made the aliens pay for that hydrogen wall.”

¡Yes!. ¡Perhaps Donald Trump plans to create an "artillery wall" to block the passage of the most valuable asteroids!
I think it's a race against time. I suppose the one who arrives first at the asteroids with gold will be the one who keeps it. Elon Musk will have to hurry if he wants to get there first. But I see it very concerned with the issue of electric vehicles. And now that he's thinking of creating an electric van, there will be little time left to propel his rockets into the asteroid belt.
I doubt very much that it is possible to make the distribution of the asteroid belt fair. The most powerful will be divided the booty, using negotiations based on intimidation and bluff.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | Not often in a feudal society: the 'smart folks' know they're competing for the same seats at the same, ancient tables, that they'll contend for the attention of fickle lords or be forced to some other lord's table. In capital societies, new tables form frequently around new problems that aren't formed primarily by an ancient lord's capacity to fleece the peasants.

Agreed. Very much so. However, I’d argue the same applies to people who are not genius level and they probably do more of the actual innovative work. Just by sheer numbers, this is likely. In a world our host advocates for (fair, flat, and so on) it would be entirely unavoidable. The geniuses would be responsible for a few black swans no doubt, but not all of them.

Newton and Descartes could both contend with Aristotle, slightly less reliant upon patronage.

Maybe. Ever so slightly. Maybe. Descartes did well enough in The Netherlands, but died in Sweden in service to a monarch. Newton’s early income came through Cambridge, but in later years depended upon a patronage appointment to the Royal Mint. Patronage at their level in the 17th century was still dominant, I think. If you look a little lower on the social ladder, though, I would agree. That approach was beginning to change near the end of the century. The folks lower on the ladder were going Dutch right around then.

I think the best evidence of the collapse of patronage as the dominant source of funds and controller of ideas can be found among composers and authors. There was plenty of genius among them too and at some point they stopped speaking of noblemen in those old, flowery, flattering ways. I look on the 18th century as the period of conversion. Enrichment and enlargement of the middle classes in the modern UK began before industrialization and undermined the need for noble patrons.

The control a patron has is both subtle and crude. An annoyed nobleman can cut you off. An annoyed emperor can cut your head off. The higher your patron is, the more risk one takes on. A spiffy new innovation might undermine a monopoly grant your King gave to another noble in return for serious cash. Release it and one makes an enemy of the fellow with the rights and the King who looks like the fool who can’t manage you. Not healthy. 8)

In a hospital stay a few years ago, I met a guy who was a chauffeur for a nearby exiled Persian. (Oil money I’m sure). He spoke glowingly of his patron care of his employees, but my skin crawled. I heard a trapped mind.

David Brin said...

donzel the scenario you describe is exactly how the Yongle emperor empowered the great eunuch admiral Cheng He to build a mighty fleet to sail to India and Africa. The results - impressive- did not last. The CULTURE of the chinese court reverted as soon as the emperor died and the ships were burnt.

Winter7 the one vaguely plausible anti-gravity method I've seen is the one I invented and portrayed in EARTH, since it uses a method exactly like a laser.

Larry Hart said...


I think you're referring to the Dillon-Wagoner gravity polarity generator. Mentioned in the novel "Year 2018", and the story revolves around the construction of a gigantic jupiter bridge; with all the work done by remote control ...

That's the series, although I read them in a collection called "Cities In Flight". If I recall correctly, the line about gravity was actually in a story that took place much later in time. The story you refer to seemed to have been written as backstory for the series.

Hey, if we are in 2018! What a coincidence!

Well, that's what made me think of the line in the first place.

donzelion said...

Alfred: I think we are actually agreeing, albeit with slightly different emphases. I'm no fan of the myth of monumental genius, so much as the role of the milieu in setting a field ripe for harvesting the fruits of genius: my claim is that we'll find folks in the 99.999% in every social group (and consequently, there'll be more of them in China, reflecting their population) - but not every system will benefit the same way from what they produce.

It is likely that most groundbreaking work happens in increments through the tinkerers, crackpots, and crazy mavericks who stumble by insight or accident into wondrous novelty (or what appears novel, but is actually just tweaked works that had unexpected implications). Where groundbreaking work appears to be a product of a singular genius, closer inspection tends to show that is seldom (if ever) actually the case.

But I think our modern concept of teams is a 20th century innovation, one largely arising from the modern civil engineering, aerospace, and comparable fields involving complex but coordinated work of thousands of contributors. We do stuff in ways that was never done before.

My claim: "Newton and Descartes could both contend with Aristotle, slightly less reliant upon patronage."
Indeed, 'very slightly' - in the 17th century, relative to the 21st - but a vast increase in independence over the today's era, my concern is less that the dunderheads reject science, so much as that they 'privatize' what has so long been a public commons, by reverting to patronage systems and weakening the edifice of independence.

But I do not see those stakes in quite the stark terms our host does: seems to me any rightwing 'simpleton' denying climate change in public will happily invest in real estate, the value of which depends on proper climate projections - and the more the public overlooks the value discrepancies, the more the real estate investors benefit from getting it right (or shifting the costs onto others).

"I think the best evidence of the collapse of patronage as the dominant source of funds and controller of ideas can be found among composers and authors."
Perhaps, and the growth of printers (publishers) from Gutenberg onward affords ample evidence to mull over. For science (& engineering), I'd look to the growth of universities, which combined the endowments of the state, the 'nobles,' and any other wealthy benefactors.

Alfred Differ said...

When thinking about colonizing the stars, I think it is important to remember that Earth’s many continents were not colonized by a civilized primate. We did it as HG nomads. We had cultures, but it would be quite a stretch to argue they were civilizations.

Any reasonably well adapted lifeform should be able to spread among the stars in the same fashion. No civilization would be required. They could be all sorts of whatever we can imagine and probably a lot more. We are NOT such a lifeform, though. We are social primates with a high sense of personal, family, and band value while inclined to think of other, distant humans as being of little value. Our ancestors/cousins left Africa with little more than stone tools and a land bridge. Later wave(s) left with far, far more. In the earliest days, we weren’t much different from other species who migrated. We adapted to neighboring biomes we could reach and then kept going. In the last migration, we were different in HOW we adapted, but we didn’t act as a civilization.

We are NOT adapted for space, but the way we can adapt now is different and probably up to the task. Not only do we have tools, knowledge, and expendable people. We have a way to organize socially into groups far, far larger than our HG nomadic bands. Only one of those ways, though, produces wealth for the common man who might be willing to undertake a migration. Only one.

Why focus on voluntary migration? Compelled migrations are different. People cheat and try to find ways to get back home. Look at the history of Transport used by the English. Which colonies used it? What were the results? Want the stars? Want humans to have the stars? The people who go have to want it.

The Chinese have the oldest surviving civilization on Earth. The one they built has gone through ups and downs over many, many centuries, but it has survived. Their civilization is NOT the way that produces wealth for the common man, though. It produces wealth for traders near the coast who prosper while the Emperor is weak, but it eventually produces strong emperors. Through history, they cycled. Their civilization had bounds. Such an approach might spin-off bubble groups that reach the planets and stars. V Vinge suggested as much, but argued against civilization migrating as we spread that way. Well… that’s how his humans did it in the Zones of Thought books until they got out far enough for FTL and other space opera fun. Getting those bubbles to happen, though, was hit-or-miss. If the bounds are too tight, it would require a ‘very improbable event’ to get even one before we go extinct. Are the Chinese likely to do it? Possibly. They ARE copying us now, so they are blowing past former bounds.

For creatures like us, I argue that civilization is another kind of tool, but one that remakes us as much as it alters anything else. Ours is obviously different from every other one that came before us. Only we have blown past bounds. Only we made the common man rich enough to live beyond subsistence concerns. If anyone on Earth is going to cause one of those bubbles bursting outward, it is likely to be us. Enlightenment Civilization. It remains to be seen if our decedents carry our civilization outward or if V Vinge’s version will be a better description of us.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | I’m sure if we were face to face in a bar, we’d be on the same side of the table mostly agreeing on major points and enjoying arguing over minor details.

but not every system will benefit the same way from what they produce.

Yes. Exactly. I’d argue most of our previous ‘systems’ actively discouraged people even thinking about innovations. Such people were seen as cheaters. Their benefit came at the cost of someone else. Belief in zero-sum (it certainly WAS plausible) effectively defined innovators AS cheaters. That’s why I’m very interested each time anyone here talks about defining behavior X as a cheat. I get very curious about the system they would create with their good intentions. 8)

our modern concept of teams is a 20th century innovation

It certainly evolved rapidly in the 20th century. Even our project management processes adapted fast. Many best practices known today did not exist at the end of the 19th. When historians write of the 20th a few centuries from now they are probably going to have to call it the “ !!! era”. 8)

duncan cairncross said...

Re - Genius

After a career spent using basic statistics to improve real world situations I am sure that the "Normal Distribution" is in fact very very rare in the real physical world

It's a great engineering tool - but as soon as you move away from the norm you find that it simply does not work

For any complex system that has already been optimised you find that the actual distribution is massively skewed - a long tail on the "easy" side and a much shorter fall off on the "difficult side - also the "difficult" side drops to zero really fast - massively increasing the population does not mean that you get much greater range

With regard to "intelligence" (a horrible variable that we can't measure repeatably) we will get a lot (5%??) of very smart people - and the very smartest will not be a whole lot smarter
This IMHO is why teams work so well

Most "Genius" is simply the first - there were lots of equally smart people on his/her coattails

locumranch said...

Innovation, aka 'thinking outside the box', is cheating for all intents & purposes. It follows that (1) the rule obedient are natural conservatives and (2) progressives, by virtue of being innovators, are natural cheaters.

Problems occur, however, when progressives attempt to consolidate their innovative 'cheats' into a new status quo, resulting in role reversal between putative conservatives & progressives.

The creation of more than one rule set leads to inevitable social instability, aka 'war' on a periodic basis, which can only resolve after one rule set reestablishes dominance.

Whatever rule set dominates becomes the new social order; its adherents redefine themselves as the new conservatives while simultaneously redefining the defeated rule set adherents as the new 'cheaters'; until, eventually, further innovation triggers the whole cycle to repeat.

It is this lack of historical perspective & self-awareness that defines our current age:

Progressive innovators like our host act out the rule-obedient tradcon role while fancying themselves rule-disobedient revolutionaries & the traditional rule-obedient conservatives (who has pretty much lost everything worth conserving) are now free to cheat, innovate & act out in the progressive rule-disobedient manner.

It is to laugh.


David Brin said...

Blah blah. The fetish is to set up a magical incantation that

- sounds polysyllabic and uses long words

- declares something that is so blatantly opposite to well-known facts that they it just HAS to mean the declarer is a really smart person who sees a Truth that's deeper and hence over-rules all well-known facts...

- strawmen! You guys see the clay doll model I made of you, way over on the far horizon that doesn't resemble you or share any traits with you? I declare it does!

blah blah de blah blah.

Slim Moldie said...

Locum: "Innovation, aka 'thinking outside the box', is cheating for all intents & purposes. It follows that (1) the rule obedient are natural conservatives and (2) progressives, by virtue of being innovators, are natural cheaters..."

I get what you're trying to say. And I disagree. By your argument I might as well just start driving an armored truck and running every red light. Red is the new green, bro! Look Mom, I'm innovating!

Let's try to apply your reasoning to musical instruments. For strings we can go back to 3000 BC maybe more. All your orchestral favorites. The lute. The harp. The piano. The guitar. The lap steel guitar. The electric guitar. Do they get tossed aside when somebody makes changes? Now lets take the pedal steel guitar. It is still being tweeked, more pedals, levers, tunings fret boards and isn't standardized you can choose an E9 or a C6 and nobody gives a hoot as long as you can contribute to the music. My technique book published in 1975 even points this out as it also dedicates an entire section showing famous players different tuning layouts and pedal configurations. INNOVATION is not cheating. I can play my guitar without a pick like Mark Knopler or I can finger tap like Eddie Van Halen, use a pick a broken bottle, a drill a bow, an ebow. It's all good. Innovation is innovation. If it sounds good and people like it then or even if it sounds like shit and YOU like it. It's all good. If I don't want to play my drum set and instead want to use scrap metal and plastic buckets filled with my own urine I could still find a band as long as I can keep time and play a groove.

Moreover CHEATING is not innovation. Cheating is a selfish act that doesn't benefit anyone except perhaps the cheater. Cheating is figuring out how to break rules to serve yourself. Cheaters cheat when they are too lazy to work hard. Or when they are cornered or close-minded or ignorant. Given a way to save face I think most cheaters would rather change their behavior. I can't cheat at math. I can employ innovations like imaginary numbers to solve otherwise resolvable problems. I can't somehow cheat and play my drums like shit with poor timing and make people like the way it sounds. I can use a drum machine while I play the real kit. But that's innovation. Not cheating. I can tune my guitars or make them sound like a cat fight. But why would I?

For the love contemplate why people appreciate jazz.

It IS to laugh.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | "Normal Distribution" is in fact very very rare in the real physical world

Reminds me of the spherical cow joke. When I first heard it, I thought it was cute. After digging and learning how to construct theories, I realized the joke was pretty deep.

People confuse the map for the terrain all the time, but when it comes to statistical distribution lunacy, I like to throw Taleb's stuff around lately. Fat tails, black swans, and 'how could you possibly know that' are powerful cutting tools for dismembering nonsense. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | I mention innovators and cheaters appearing to be the same to people stuck in an old way of thinking and you jump right in and demonstrate it for us. Thanks. 8)

Tacitus said...

Slime Moldy

Lets differentiate a bit. ( Does that mean we will sound more like Alfred Differ?)

Cheating your fellow man is generally a bad thing.

A physicist trying to cheat Isaac Newton and invent FTL drive.....I approve.


locumranch said...

Slim Modie's analogy between music and social rule sets falls flat, as any one can tell if & when they try to compare the melodic to the atonal, classical to jazz, jazz to rock & rock to rap.

I mean, really now, what kind of fool argues that comparisons between Bach, Schoenberg & the Notorious B.I.G. demonstrate the universality of music?

His 'armored-car that runs red lights' analogy is more apropo, since this is exactly what happened when transportation transitioned from the animal to the mechanical. Or, is he actually trying to argue that horses & oxen instinctively obey the 'red light, green light' traffic rule?

Of course, the progressive rule set APPEARS correct, natural & intuitive to those WEIRD-os like Slim who who cannot conceive of a different rule set, even though all those other rule sets that feature inequality seem perfectly correct, natural & intuitive to BILLIONS of non-WEIRD humans everywhere.

That's why David, Alfred & other people who are "stuck in an old way of thinking" are so quick to accuse INNOVATORS like Trump of cheating:

Their 'cultural bias' is showing.


locumranch said...

For the amusement of the 'Sundiver' fans everywhere, NASA delays Mission to Sun, believing that the Parker Solar Probe's could get closer at night.

Jon S. said...

Tim, inventing FTL wouldn't be cheating Newton - for starters, Newton didn't invent any rules, he just discovered them; it's a bit like claiming to be cheating me when you make house rules while playing Monopoly. Also, Newton had no idea that the speed of light was any kind of limit - that was Einstein, who probably also wouldn't feel terribly "cheated" if you found an extension of his physics that gave you a workaround. (Alcubierre didn't "cheat" - he found a loophole, in that the relevant equations don't mention how rapidly space itself may expand or retract. It may not be a loophole any of us are able to exploit, of course...)

Rules-lawyering the universe can be very munchkin, but it's not cheating. :-)

Alfred Differ said...

Trump is cheating, but in old ways.
He's not innovating.

Larry Hart said...


Openly courting the Nazi vote might be considered a kind of innovation, Your Honor.

donzelion said...

"Trump is cheating, but in old ways."
The oldest tricks in the book. The oddest part is that presenting old tricks with new media can, with deft hands around him, 'appear' novel. But snake oil salesmen have plied their trade for millennia. Occasionally, they hold power. Briefly. One tests the system by seeing how well it recovers from the rubble they leave behind...

America has certainly had its share of dangerous would-be populists (Andrew Jackson?), inept iconoclasts who set the country on a path toward war (John Tyler, Pierce, and worst of all, Buchanan), who dawdled while the country 'seemed' in good shape but in so doing failed to cure the sicknesses (Harding, Coolidge, Hoover). Trump is the first outright charlatan to make it through - tweeting as if he were Andrew Jackson on steroids, twisting to his constituency with all the courage of Buchanan, and administering with the ineffectiveness of Coolidge. Nothing new, except the noise.

donzelion said...

Duncan: "With regard to "intelligence" (a horrible variable that we can't measure repeatably) we will get a lot (5%??) of very smart people - and the very smartest will not be a whole lot smarter ...This IMHO is why teams work so well"

I am beginning to regret using the term in this context. My point wasn't that genius is important - but that it will emerge all over the world, a fairly common statistically occurrence that reflects some portion of the population pretty much everywhere, in all ages. It may occur even more frequently some times, but that's not all that important: what matters is how 'good enough' skill gets utilized (genius or no) - and the folks who are capable of being 'good enough' will move to where their skills can be compensated (to the extent they can).

No matter how great any single genius may be, the greater genius by far is reflected in a community able to welcome them, equip them, turn them loose, and show gratitude. In that, to worship 'Einstein' (the idea, not the person) is to remind others to open the doors to Jewish refugees, to be grateful to them - for whom too many millions had the doors slammed shut in their faces in 1939 (we could say the same thing about Syrian grad students and Steve Jobs...even if he never met his biological father).

Larry Hart said...


One tests the system by seeing how well it recovers from the rubble they leave behind...

The Foundation recovered after the Mule. Maybe we can do the same.

Nothing new, except the noise.

I think the innovation is in convincing 30 to 40 percent of Americans to hate everything American while simultaneously thinking of themselves as American patriots.

Winter7 said...

It seems that Dr. James Cheeseman is the only doctor who can tell us when we are going to die, with a margin of a few days. That is good, because if we know that we are about to die, then we can go to complete medical exams, to find out what happens and apply the solution on time. This news is very useful for those who want to live at least three hundred years:

It is an advantage to be the owner of the sword of the omen of the thunder cats :)

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "I think the innovation is in convincing 30 to 40 percent of Americans to hate everything American while simultaneously thinking of themselves as American patriots."

Ah, that. The more I meet with these folks, the less I think this is accurate. While Trump retains high 'support' numbers among this group, digging a bit deeper suggests a nuance: most don't know any reason to be angry, since the economy is mostly sound, the tax cuts are mostly in order, and a reversion to Bush Jr is no grand betrayal. They're uncomfortable with Trump's tweets, Russia, and a few other features of the administration, but they're not seeing an urgent threat (any more than Dems perceived Obama was a 'threat').

The right has found a way to use their trolls as a shield to guard the non-trolls: they know that if they deploy trolls as a forward guard, the Left will engage with them in such a way as to tune out the non-trolls and leave them off the hook. Innovative? Not quite so sure...but the point of the story is it can only work IF progressives leave things at Facebook/Rachel Maddow level engagement, rather than personal hand-to-hand (block-to-block/precinct-by-precinct) engagement. If progressives preach to the choir, they'll continue coming 'close but no cigar' in November; regressives need only throw stink bombs into the churches to suppress voters.

Winter7 said...

I have heard that there are different kinds of intelligences. Consequently, a research team made up of people with different intelligences could solve problems more quickly than a team of researchers formed only by scientists who are geniuses in mathematics and conventional studies subjects. Of course, not all multiple intelligences are useful in a research team, but I think that some combinations of unusual intelligences might work better than expected:

Theory of multiple intelligences:

The theory of multiple intelligences differentiates human intelligence into specific 'modalities', rather than seeing intelligence as dominated by a single general ability. Howard Gardner proposed this model in his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. According to the theory, an intelligence 'modality' must fulfill eight criteria:

1- potential for brain isolation by brain damage,
2- place in evolutionary history,
3- presence of core operations,
4- susceptibility to encoding (symbolic expression),
5- a distinct developmental progression,
6- the existence of savants, prodigies and other exceptional people,
7- support from experimental psychology, and
8- support from psychometric findings.

Gardner proposed eight abilities that he held to meet these criteria:

1- musical-rhythmic,
2- visual-spatial,
3- verbal-linguistic,
4- logical-mathematical,
5- bodily-kinesthetic,
6- interpersonal,
7- intrapersonal, and
8- naturalistic.
He later suggested that existential and moral intelligences may also be worthy of inclusion.

Although the distinction between intelligences has been set out in great detail, Gardner opposes the idea of labeling learners to a specific intelligence. Gardner maintains that his theory should "empower learners", not restrict them to one modality of learning.
When Gardner's theory on multiple intelligences came out in 1983, it radically transformed teaching and learning in the U.S. and around the world with the notion that there is more than one way to learn — in fact, there are at least eight! The theory was a huge departure from the more traditional "banking method" of education in which the teacher simply "deposits" knowledge into the learner's mind and the learner must "receive, memorize and repeat."
Instead, Gardner broke open the idea that a disengaged learner might learn better by using a different form of intelligence, defined as a "biophysical potential to process information that can be activated in a cultural setting to solve problems or create products that are of value in a culture." This defied previous consensus on the existence of a single, general intelligence or "g factor" that could be easily tested. On the contrary, Gardner's theory posits that each of us has at least one dominant intelligence that informs how we learn. Some of us are more verbal or musical. Others are more logical, visual, or kinesthetic. Some learners are highly introspective while others learn through social dynamics. Some learners are especially attuned to the natural world whereas others are deeply receptive to the spiritual world.

Winter7 said...

Intelligence modalities (Part 1)
Musical-rhythmic and harmonic
Main article: Musicality
This area has to do with sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, tones, and music. People with a high musical intelligence normally have good pitch and may even have absolute pitch, and are able to sing, play musical instruments, and compose music. They have sensitivity to rhythm, pitch, meter, tone, melody or timbre.

Main article: Spatial intelligence (psychology)
This area deals with spatial judgment and the ability to visualize with the mind's eye. Spatial ability is one of the three factors beneath g in the hierarchical model of intelligence.

Main article: Linguistic intelligence
People with high verbal-linguistic intelligence display a facility with words and languages. They are typically good at reading, writing, telling stories and memorizing words along with dates. Verbal ability is one of the most g-loaded abilities.[9] This type of intelligence is measured with the Verbal IQ in WAIS-IV.

Further information: Reason
This area has to do with logic, abstractions, reasoning, numbers and critical thinking. This also has to do with having the capacity to understand the underlying principles of some kind of causal system. Logical reasoning is closely linked to fluid intelligence and to general intelligence (g factor).

Further information: Gross motor skill and Fine motor skill
The core elements of the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are control of one's bodily motions and the capacity to handle objects skillfully. Gardner elaborates to say that this also includes a sense of timing, a clear sense of the goal of a physical action, along with the ability to train responses.

People who have high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence should be generally good at physical activities such as sports, dance, acting, and making things.

Gardner believes that careers that suit those with high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence include: athletes, dancers, musicians, actors, builders, police officers, and soldiers. Although these careers can be duplicated through virtual simulation, they will not produce the actual physical learning that is needed in this intelligence.

Winter7 said...

Intelligence modalities (Part 2)

Main article: Social skills
In theory, individuals who have high interpersonal intelligence are characterized by their sensitivity to others' moods, feelings, temperaments, motivations, and their ability to cooperate in order to work as part of a group. According to Gardner in How Are Kids Smart: Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, "Inter- and Intra- personal intelligence is often misunderstood with being extroverted or liking other people..." Those with high interpersonal intelligence communicate effectively and empathize easily with others, and may be either leaders or followers. They often enjoy discussion and debate." Gardner has equated this with emotional intelligence of Goleman.

Gardner believes that careers that suit those with high interpersonal intelligence include sales persons, politicians, managers, teachers, lecturers, counselors and social workers.

Further information: Introspection
This area has to do with introspective and self-reflective capacities. This refers to having a deep understanding of the self; what one's strengths or weaknesses are, what makes one unique, being able to predict one's own reactions or emotions.

Not part of Gardner's original seven, naturalistic intelligence was proposed by him in 1995. "If I were to rewrite Frames of Mind today, I would probably add an eighth intelligence - the intelligence of the naturalist. It seems to me that the individual who is readily able to recognize flora and fauna, to make other consequential distinctions in the natural world, and to use this ability productively (in hunting, in farming, in biological science) is exercising an important intelligence and one that is not adequately encompassed in the current list." This area has to do with nurturing and relating information to one's natural surroundings. Examples include classifying natural forms such as animal and plant species and rocks and mountain types. This ability was clearly of value in our evolutionary past as hunters, gatherers, and farmers; it continues to be central in such roles as botanist or chef.

This sort of ecological receptiveness is deeply rooted in a "sensitive, ethical, and holistic understanding" of the world and its complexities – including the role of humanity within the greater ecosphere.

Main article: Spiritual intelligence
Gardner did not want to commit to a spiritual intelligence, but suggested that an "existential" intelligence may be a useful construct, also proposed after the original 7 in his 1999 book. The hypothesis of an existential intelligence has been further explored by educational researchers.

Additional intelligences
On January 13, 2016, Gardner mentioned in an interview with BigThink that he is considering adding the teaching-pedagogical intelligence "which allows us to be able to teach successfully to other people". In the same interview, he explicitly refused some other suggested intelligences like humour, cooking and sexual intelligence.

David Brin said...

"The right has found a way to use their trolls as a shield to guard the non-trolls"

Only because democratic politicians and the in group of op ed writers are too incredibly stupid to study polemic as an art, the Murdoch's people have.



Winter7 said...

When I was a student, I always felt that something was wrong with educational methods. In addition, many teachers tend to provide data and ask students to read certain books, but they never answer questions and I have often suspected that many teachers do not really know the subjects they teach.
In Mexico, where teachers obtain and retain jobs through a corrupt union, inept teachers are very common. And I am sure that the government has not taught the English language correctly for decades to force students to go to private English schools.
In public schools in Mexico, bulling, as I recall, was always a serious problem. The teachers simply pretended that they did not see what was happening around them. I had to learn Karate. That works.

Winter7 said...

Stop fires in California.
I regret that the fires continue in the state of California. I wonder if it would be possible to divert a Pacific hurricane in the direction of California. That could bring enough rain to put out fires.
Hey! It would be easier to sow clouds in front of California and then generate a tornado. I have seen some machines that generate micro-tornadoes to generate energy. I have already thought about the possibility of generating tornadoes artificially. (for ecological purposes, of course :) It may be possible to create tornadoes in the sea. I suspect that an attempt would be successful if it were carried out in strong wind conditions. With a wind that advances towards the fires. (Being in the sea, the tornado would collect water and fish, with which the fires would be extinguished and we would obtain fish.
Second thought. That would not work. If the tornado reaches the fire without water, the fire would be aggravated ... Or would the tornado, created just off the coast, hold the water for long enough? ... Hummm. It is required to experiment with that project on the coast of some desert.
Haa. How well they reminded me to take my vitamin B pills. I think they work.

Larry Hart said...

Lost in all the subsequent posts, Dr Brin has moved...



dimonic said...

@David Brin

"We all were raised on Hollywood messages of Suspicion of Authority, the first civilization that ever trained its children to be critical of their own tribal elders. (Find one other example.)"

Such suspicion was not product of Hollywood. In this, Hollywood was a true mirror of society. Take a read of Dicken's "American Notes" .

A.F. Rey said...

Testing - and the 100th Comment! :)