Friday, November 19, 2010


Change Your Mind

"An Inconvenient Mind" is the title of a recent Dot Earth post in which Andrew Revkin invites folks to weigh in on how the limits of the human mind might be limiting our capacity to accept the scientific consensus about the dire threats posed by global warming. The views of several academic students of mind and human behavior provided the basis for speculation and reader response.

Personally, I don't like to "shrink" the problem in this way. It feels too much like "blaming the victim. Here's my comment:


I resist the temptation to reach for a psychological explanation of our dilemma. "An Inconvenient Mind" feels too much like "blaming the victim." Perhaps it is inconvenient that our minds are not omniscient so that we might all see the same picture but that is the way it is. That is why we argue instead from our points-of-view and have only an imperfect politics to produce agreement on action.

On really big questions where no one knows all with clarifying precision we are buffeted by the information flows of a media-driven world that makes propaganda -- meaning any public relations supporting any agenda (true or false) -- all important. The climate hawks got off to a pretty good start with Gore's propaganda and the opposition counter-attacked with a more multifaceted and much better funded propaganda campaign. Bottom line is that it's not about our minds but about (no pun intended) whose ox gets gored and the limited ability of politics to resolve conflict.

In the old days of the Great Iroquois Confederacy (which gave a thousand years of peace and helped form the US Constitution) if the chiefs could not agree the matter was turned over to the Clan Mothers who were asked a single question: "What would be best for the seventh generation to come?"

Nowadays, in our globalized everything (including politics) the chiefs can't agree and big Clan Mother or Mother Earth will make the Seventh Generation call by triggering new evolutionary forces. Will it be good or bad and for whom and when is not known but Pancho's immortal words from the Man of La Mancha come to mind, "When the rock and the pitcher decide to fight, it's not going to be good for the pitcher."

The developmental path chosen by ever-multiplying humans has been a long conquest of nature. Inconvenient or not, She will fight back. And, this is not a "mind-trip."

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