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New World, New Mind

Psychology News Future Shock Global Warming

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#1
caltrek

caltrek

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One thing I like to do is pick up aging books, blow the dust off of them and see if they have anything of relevance to say about current events.  One such book is New World, New Mind by Robert Ornstein and Paul Ehrlich.  It very much seems to describe a problem that is still with us.  That is, how we perceive news and how our perceptions may cause us to miss the most important developments in the news.

 

A thesis of the book is that humans tend to perceive dramatic changes very quickly.  Yet it is more difficult to process change that moves more slowly overtime.  A terrorist incident, though otherwise trivial in its overall importance, may gain much attention.  Whereas information trickling in concerning global warming may be easily ignored or the importance unappreciated.

 

The book cites Albert Einstein, who sent a telegram to prominent Americans in which he stated: “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift towards unparalled catastrophe.”[i]


 

The book indicates that this was in a telegram to Franklin Roosevelt, though this is unlikely as Roosevelt was already deceased at the time that the telegram was sent.  Still, that error is minor in comparison to the basic point being made.  We are indeed trying to deal with issues and problems that challenge us to think in new ways.  To ignore the need to think in new ways can very well result in catastrophe.

 

Einstein was writing with nuclear weapons in mind. Still, his warning is equally applicable to the problems of global warming, loss of species, and other developments related to environmental degradation. We may very well have the capacity to develop technological solutions to the problems we face, but this does us little good if we fail to mobilize resources at our disposal to address those problems. We must perceive that they are problems before we can act.  If are brains are hard wired in a way that results in our avoidance of such problems, than we may need to suffer the consequences the hard way.

 

Einstein made his observation in May of 1946.  The book by Ornstein and Ehlrich was published in 1989.  It is sad that little apparent progress has been made is solving the problem identified from the time the book was published until today.

 

 


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#2
caltrek

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A Book Review of New World, New Mind

 

https://openlibrary...._world_new_mind

 

 

 

Investigates, documents, and explains how humans, even very smart humans with Ph.Ds, make very poor short term vs long term decisions, specifically about things like overpopulation and climate change. 

 

This book is about how the human brain evolved in the old world to meet the old world's challenges, but how our old brain no longer makes correct decisions in our modern, industrialized world.

 

As Earth heats from global warming, I think the only hope now to save the human species is to start by clearly understanding the nature of our underlying problem. I think these two authors have presented that problem squarely in New World New Mind. It's not technology that will save us. It is understanding our human nature and correcting for it. In their final chapter they suggest a valuable strategy to cope with our brain's evolved handycap.

 

Yes, this is an older book now, but I think it's message is more important than ever as of late 2016, where the future of life on Earth now looks very dark to this environmentalist and engineer.

 

 

Read it free online here:  http://malorbooks.co...NewMind-web.pdf


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#3
caltrek

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I thought this passage from the book is particularly striking.

 

 

Great Britain is busily spending her North Sea oil revenues to support a growing population of untrained, unemployed young people who have little hope for a productive future.  Gradually Britain is slipping into a situation where her main exports are antiques and soccer riots.

 

Instead of trying to rebuild its decaying nation into a viable entity and make it a center of intelligent moral leadership, the Thatcher government is squandering its limited resources on two new nuclear submarines to carry Trident II Dmissiles.  These contraptions, which have a "counterforce" capability, will simply push the Soviet Union onto more hair-trigger military posture and reduce the security of Great Britain and the rest of the world...Astounding as it may seem, politicians elsewhere are often worse than those in the United States at gradually changing environments.

 

Of course what seem to have happened is that the Soviet Union squandered even more of its resources on building up its military defense capability which, soon after the book was published, resulted in its collapse.  Still, if anything, that strengthens the validity of the point being made.  Today, I would argue, Great Britain suffers from Thatcher's short-sighted policies that diverted investment into the useless Trident missiles. 


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Psychology, News, Future Shock, Global Warming

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