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Nice post, Michael! Spot on in so many ways.

"Peter Thiel, who recently made news as the first openly gay person to address a Republican convention"

I heard about this, but didn't get the whole story. *Now* I understand why he gets to be both gay and a speaker at the Republican convention—he's a billionaire.

"Materialism is like the proverbial drunk looking for a lost item under a lamppost . . ."

What is it about drunks and lampposts? They make for such pithy quotes. Like this one:

He uses statistics the way a drunken man uses a lamppost: for support rather than illumination.

About your analogy, materialism is a metaphysical hypothesis, while Newton's physics is a scientific theory, so they are not comparable. There are various kinds of materialism and some of them are compatible with psi and the afterlife. Metaphysical hypotheses are really irrefutable.

On the blood transfusion, I did not know that, and I agree with you.

Oh--one quibble, Michael.

" . . . today's "deep ecologists," who want to undo most or all of the advancements of the scientific era and revert to a pre-technological lifestyle. "

I hate to see a school of thought that's been so valuable to me put into such a simple box and cavalierly dismissed.

Wikipedia says:

"This philosophy provides a foundation for the environmental, ecology, and green movements and has fostered a new system of environmental ethics advocating wilderness preservation, human population control, and *simple living*." [emphasis mine]

While I don't claim to know what's in the hearts of most people who call themselves deep ecologists, I can tell you about this one. I have no desire to do away with all of science's advancements.

But "simple living"? That's a phrase with a beautiful ring.

Brilliant. Simply brilliant!

In the sentence "Adults who haven't accepted this reality are stuck are not really adults in the full sense." you need an "and" after "stuck".

Michael, here's the Platform of the Deep Ecology Foundation. Is any of this radical? Do you disagree with it?

The Deep Ecology Platform

1. The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: inherent worth, intrinsic value, inherent value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.

2. Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves.

3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs.

4. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.

5. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease.

6. Policies must therefore be changed. The changes in policies affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.

7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent worth) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between big and great.

8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to participate in the attempt to implement the necessary changes.

—Arne Naess and George Sessions (1984)

"Is any of this radical? Do you disagree with it?"

It's radical, and I disagree with it. #5 calls for a substantial decrease of the human population. How is that going to happen? Death camps, forced starvation, nuking the undesirables? How do we decide who lives and who dies? Who gets to decide? What kind of people sit around fantasizing about genocide? Why are such fantasies objectionable when neo-Nazis indulge in them, but admirable when far left academics offer them?

The rest is worthless pap, but I assume it's meant as cover for some variety of Marxism. That's usually the end game for this kind of stuff.

However, I don't intend to get into a big thing about deep ecology. I don't really care about it, except as an example of nonsense. Feel free to substitute another example that's more appealing to you. There's no shortage of insanity in the modern world, particularly in intellectual salons.

Juan said:

"About your analogy, materialism is a metaphysical hypothesis, while Newton's physics is a scientific theory, so they are not comparable."

Since "Newton's physics" is not just a single theory but relies on the combined impact of many theories and assumptions, I think "metaphysical hypothesis" is just fine. There *is* no science that exists without certain philosophical underpinnings, though scientists are often loathe to admit that.

Don't forget that Newton himself felt sure that behind the scenes was a God who set the whole machine in motion!

Today's god-like figures have names like "selfish genes" or "singularities": creator-entities whose origins are never fully explained—nor can they be, even in principle—and are therefore metaphysical assumptions whether recognized or not.

Another brilliant post Michael. I thought that Thiel character was a bit creepy at the RNC before I learnt of his blood fetish. The pitfalls of materialism indeed.

Michael said:

"Death camps, forced starvation, nuking the undesirables? How do we decide who lives and who dies? Who gets to decide? What kind of people sit around fantasizing about genocide?"

Fantasizing about genocide? Hard to believe you and I are reading the same platform! Could it be they're thinking about something as modest as financial incentives for those who choose to have fewer children?

Just how do you read genocide into a document that stresses "The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life" and "richness and diversity of life forms"?

"I assume it's meant as cover for some variety of Marxism."

From those 8 points you jump to Marxism?

Look again at number 7:

"7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent worth) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living."

To me, stressing that as the *main* change required hardly makes this philosophy seem threatening.

Michael, I expected you might be dubious of some of these points. But truly, your response startles me.

Okay, I take back part of what I said, I just found this:

"Arne Naess himself is sympathetic yet critical in his attitude towards socialism. He
notes in Wisdom In The Open Air that: “Green politics supports the elimination of
class differences locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.” (p.91) Naess brings a
class perspective into his writing. Yet this “revolutionary” perspective is rarely seen
in mainstream North American deep ecology writing. Bill Devall, for example,
misleadingly reminds us in a published essay called “Deep Ecology and Political
Activism” that “Political revolution is not part of the vocabulary of supporters of the
deep, long-range ecology movement.” (See Dharma Rain: Sources of Buddhist
Environmentalism, p.386.) For those of us outside of Norway who are anti-
capitalist and support the deep ecology philosophy, and link this to concrete action,
the ideas of Kvaløy, who takes Marxism very seriously, deserve attention. These
ideas can feed into an already existing deep ecology constituency or social base for
ecocentric thinking seen in the theoretical tendency left biocentrism, which is open
to Marxist influence where it is relevant."

So I see that some deep ecologists may feel the pull of Marxist thought. And I suppose in some basic respects—like an abhorrence of wealth concentrated in the hands of a few—so do I.

But genocide? Death camps? That seems totally out of left field.

"Since "Newton's physics" is not just a single theory but relies on the combined impact of many theories and assumptions, I think "metaphysical hypothesis" is just fine. There *is* no science that exists without certain philosophical underpinnings, though scientists are often loathe to admit that.

Don't forget that Newton himself felt sure that behind the scenes was a God who set the whole machine in motion!"

It is true that science has metaphysical assumptions, but it remains true that the Newton's physics is a scientific theory, not metaphysics.

Newton's theological ideas are independent of physical theories.

" Pish posh — morality is a fable told to keep the masses in line".

Yes, I've known several people educated at top English Public schools ('private schools' to you Americans) say they were indoctrinated with the same basic philosophy of life.

Just an observation of no great import. :)

How much blood does it require? If it doesn't need ALL of the young person's blood or really big amounts on a frequent basis, it could technically be possible to let everyone undergo the process. Just desperately impractical.

BTW, what does anyone think of this?:

I'm completely amazed that some people should want to live forever. As my fitness and faculties decline, slow dying seems hugely unappealing and death is something I look forward to, whether consciousness continues or not. Death is natural! I can see why folks used to throw themselves into battle when they saw the feebleness and suffering of old age. As somebody said, you have to be brave to be old. Recently somebody also said they'd like to punch God in the face for the decline we experience in the last third of life. Obviously, I can't remember who, because I'm getting old, heh heh.

One may recall that China had a one child per couple policy in an attempt to reduce their population. In some cultures, that may be a reasonable way to reduce the population. It doesn't require death camps, forced starvation or nuking anybody. It just requires personal responsibility from each individual for the continuing viability of a culture. And, if advances in medicine continue to be made, disease will not be the villain that culls the race.

At some point in the earth's history, the human population will need to be reduced or everyone will be starving and living in their own excrement. This is the way that over population of any species goes. - AOD

See, Bruce, I knew they were Marxists without even researching them. It's gotten so I can smell 'em.

Death camps and genocide have often followed Marxism (Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot), even when the explicit goal was not a "substantial reduction of the human population." No reason to think these technocrats would be any different.

AOD, China's barbaric one-child policy was both a moral outrage, requiring mandatory abortions of healthy babies, and a social disaster, leading to a dangerous imbalance in the ratio of males to females. The policy has now been abandoned.

However, this entire topic is irrelevant to the real point of the post, which concerned materialism and frantic efforts to avoid death.

Hitler was right wing. Just a point worth considering.

\\"At some point in the earth's history, the human population will need to be reduced or everyone will be starving and living in their own excrement. This is the way that over population of any species goes." - AOD//

Or we get hit by a big asteroid or comet that wipes out 98% of the Earth's human population and then start over. It's not out of the range of possibility. And then there are super volcanoes, and plagues, etc. I was reading the other day about if some kind of ray from a supernova hitting the Earth and bathing it in gamma rays would essentially sterilize the Earth. That would be the end of all life on Earth bigger than a microbe at the bottom of the ocean. Lots of stuff can take us out. In fact it's probably inevitable.

Hitler was a National Socialist, Julie.

The word "socialist" in the party name wasn't a typo. Hitler's strategy was to appeal to both ends of the political spectrum. He reached out to the angry nationalists who resented Germany's defeat in the WWI. Simultaneously he reached out to the socialist activists who wanted to take over the economy.

A similar metric applies to the Italian fascist movement. Mussolini was originally a socialist before recalibrating his message to appeal to both left and right.

Apologists for socialism note that Hitler and Mussolini fought against socialist parties and wiped them out. This is true, but the differences were not ideological. It was a fight to the death among rivals for power.

Incidentally, modern populist movements like France's National Front and the Trump campaign also combine far-right jingoistic nationalism with leftist big-government economic policies. Sort of photo-fascism mixed with socialism lite.

Apparently people really, really want to talk about politics. Generally I use Facebook for that. But if that's the direction in which you want the blog to go, I can oblige. These days I find current events more compelling than parapsychology anyway.

No, Micheal, that's a misnomer. Hitler was, in fact, extreme right wing. If you take extreme left wing and right wing far enough they become the same kind of dictatorship.

Have I mentioned here before a book called, 'Life and How to Survive it', by Robin Skynner and John Cleese? :)

Art wrote, "Lots of stuff can take us out. In fact it's probably inevitable."

That may be true, but it's not really relevant to a political manifesto that calls for a major reduction in population. The deep ecology guys aren't advocating an asteroid strike, something they have no control over. They're advocating the implementation of a program, the details of which are left carefully unstated, which will result in a massive die-off.

I would have a little more respect for these people if they would at least say what they mean, instead of using weasel words.

No misnomer, Julie. Just the historical facts, as I've gleaned them from bios of both Hitler and Mussolini. The latter began as a socialist and invented fascism as a way of rebranding himself, but without altering his basic message. The only change was the addition of ultra-patriotic nationalism. Hitler's guiding obsessions were racial purity and hatred of the Jews. He adopted socialism, fascism, or any other position that would help him attain power so he could destroy the Jewish people and create a race of Aryan supermen.

If extreme left and extreme right ultimately merge, then why is the result "far right"? Couldn't it just as easily be far left? More logically, wouldn't it be, in fact, just what it actually is: a mixture of far left and far right?

I think it was Betty Davis who said, "Getting old is not for sissies." - AOD

I'm just amazed this "brilliant" billionaire Peter Thiel thinks blood infusions would actually make him immortal. Aging involves many, many things, and isn't well understood even by scientists. He reminds me of the "Bloody Countess," Elizabeth Bathory, circa the Middle Ages, who believed bathing in the blood of young people would keep her young forever.

If major life extension is going to happen, it will probably involve various transplants of major organs and arteries. But the one problem would be the brain of course - would people like Mr. Thiel be willing to lose all of his memories and his personality?

But I totally agree, what a selfish and immature thing to wish to do.

Michael said:

"See, Bruce, I knew they were Marxists without even researching them . . . Death camps and genocide have often followed Marxism"

I didn't agree that deep ecologists were Marxists. I just said that some of Marx's ideas appeal to them, as they surely must to anyone with an ounce of compassion.

In the Wikipedia article on deep ecology, which contains criticism of the group, there's not a single mention of anything or anybody remotely connected with marxism or socialism.

In any case, I'm disappointed to see you bring up a philosophy that's been so important to me, one you know nothing about, drag it through the mud, and then defend your actions.

To suggest that these people "sit around fantasizing about genocide" is a truly bizarre response to my quibble with your essay.

Stalin, who was no cupcake, was a socialist. I don't know why Hitler gets more bad guy publicity than Stalin other than the US/British left is socialist and probably would like to forget what their ideology historically led to. Mao was no cupcake either and really, really, really was a socialist in the purest sense. He killed a lot of people. Ditto the N. Vietnamese with their penchant for silencing opposition by execution (you know, anti-utopians like history teachers).

That said, I don't see why population control has to necessarily be about killing people. It could just involve lowered birth rates, universally.

oh and Vampires suck.

This is going to be my last political comment on this thread.

Bruce, a Google search for deep ecology + genocide turned up lots of hits. Here's the only one I bothered to look at:

The profile discusses an influential Finnish deep ecologist:

"He advocates eugenics, genocide, and abortion as possible means to combat overpopulation. He describes the Stalinist and Nazi massacres as 'massive thinning operations,' but ones which have 'not overturned our ethical norms.' He has suggested that big cities should be attacked by 'some trans-national body like the UN,' with nuclear weapons or with 'bacteriological and chemical attacks.' Linkola has described humans as a cancer of the earth, and he desires that the human population 'be reduced to about ten percent of what it is now.' ...

"In May 1994 Linkola was featured on the front page of The Wall Street Journal Europe. He said he was for a radical reduction in the world population and was quoted as saying about a future world war, 'If there were a button I could press, I would sacrifice myself without hesitating, if it meant millions of people would die.' ...

"He is also strongly in favour of deindustrialization and opposes democracy, which he calls the 'Religion of Death,' believing it to be an agent of wasteful capitalism and consumerism. He considers the proponents of economic growth to be ignorant of the destructive effects which free market policies have had over the past two centuries."

This info is not hard to find. Fantasizing about genocide? Check. Hatred of humanity? Check. Rejection of capitalism and democracy? Check. Rejection of science and technology? Check. Wishing for the end of civilization? Check. Actually visualizing himself as the agent of human extermination? Check.

Now, in my darker moods I might also wish for the extermination of the human species, but I wouldn't mislabel it as idealism, nor would I maintain this mindset for more than a few troubled hours. Still, if this kind of thing floats your boat, go for it. Just don't tell me I don't know what I'm talking about when obviously I do.

I'm done with this now.

This may be one of the best summaries of materialistic "vampires" I've ever read. When I was in my teens, I thought immortality was an awesome concept, but now that I've turned 30 and watched elderly relatives die - some to mercifully quick diseases, others to the horror of Alzheimers - I'm now convinced that we should be focusing on improving quality of life, rather than extending it at all costs, as well as knowing when to let go and let nature take its course. But as you point out, Michael, there are people who will pay any price and do anything to extend their lives, even if it harms other people. And if they fund and spread the idea of personal immortality, or extending life to insane lengths, the consequences to our species would be catastrophic.

In a way, though, I actually pity these people. There are materialists who can face the end with grace and dignity because they've found meaning in their lives, like all of us can, and should, but it's the selfish, and those who have no meaning or purpose to their lives beyond fame, money, wealth, or power that are in the greatest need of help.

Michael said:

"Bruce, a Google search for deep ecology + genocide turned up lots of hits. Here's the only one I bothered to look at:"

Cool. I just googled Hillary Clinton + genocide and got 595,000 hits. She must be a deep ecologist.

Google foolishness aside, I just saw this:

"While not necessarily the norm, there is clearly a misanthropic strain within the more extreme wilderness visions articulated by some deep ecologists"

I can believe that.

Now tell me, Michael: of what philosophy, religion, or school of thought can it not be said that there are extremists who reflect badly on the group as a whole?

Great post and sick De Palma ref. :)

It all reminds me of the premise of "Immortality, Inc.," the premise of which is that immortality doesn't actually happen to everyone, and the rich rig the system to do various things, such as continue life in a younger body (which was ripped off [I surmise] for the immediately forgotten 2015 movie "Self/less") or buy immortality from someone else.

The fact that this book exists has led me to question why that possibility isn't considered more: i.e., that immortality might be for some but not all. I personally reject the premise based on my understanding of how the Afterlife "works."

Re the political stuff:

1. I think the most fundamental elements of fascism and Nazism were nationalism and authoritarianism. Some historians say that Hitler just really didn't care that much about economic theory, and I think that's the case. One reason he may killed Ernst Röhm in the Night of Long Knives in 1934 was that the brownshirts were "like a beefsteak": brown on the outside and Red on the inside (another big reason was the SA was rivaling the armed forces for control). But just because Hitler didn't care that much doesn't mean that there were no socialist aspects of Nazism. It was a mishmash. I don't think either Michael or Julie are wrong, actually, since Nazism wasn't an ideology that adhered to coherent principles very well.

2. I can also see both Michael's and Bruce's sides on the Deep Ecology issue. The trouble with the Deep Ecology platform, as is true of most political platforms or manifestos, is that it is written so as to emphasize ideals. It sounds *nice*. I don't disagree much with those ideals either. But then Michael rightly smelled Marxism. Because those ideals sound like the kind of ideals Marxists put forth to sound *nice*! And my position on Marx is one that seems obvious to me but I haven't seen elsewhere: he was incredibly good at analyzing problems but incredibly bad at proposing solutions. He and Freud are also probably the two people most culpable for the rise of atheism in the 20th century. Marxist political philosophy is so toxic precisely because it incorporates atheism, in my view.

Actually, Blood Simple is a Coen brothers movie, Matt. But kudos to you for seeing that it was a movie reference (to a pretty obscure indie pic).

Regarding how much blood would be needed, the rats did best when they were permanently tied together so that the younger one's blood was continually transfusing into the older one. If humans tried this, it would be like the war-boy using Max as a "blood bag" in Mad Max: Fury Road. One of the practical problems with this whole idea is that it's not clear if merely getting regular transfusions would work; continuous supply might be necessary. Yecch!

Matt said:

"But then Michael rightly smelled Marxism. Because those ideals sound like the kind of ideals Marxists put forth to sound *nice*!"

Matt, the idea that deep ecology is a front for Marxism is absurd. Here are three books I enjoyed back in the 90's that arose from the movement. How much Marxism do you smell here?

• The Dream of the Earth (First published by those California radicals: The Sierra Club)

• Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered

• My Name is Chellis and I'm in Recovery from Western Civilization

"Marxist political philosophy is so toxic precisely because it incorporates atheism, in my view."

The Dream of the Earth was written by an American monk, someone who's been described as an eco-theologian.

Matt, please stop speculating along with Michael for a moment and follow those links. Then tell me with a straight face that Marxism is just oozing from the descriptions and reviews.

"Actually, Blood Simple is a Coen brothers movie."


"If extreme left and extreme right ultimately merge, then why is the result "far right"? Couldn't it just as easily be far left? More logically, wouldn't it be, in fact, just what it actually is: a mixture of far left and far right?"

Think of a straight line from extreme left to extreme right bent into a circle where both ends meet. Hitler and Stalin were mirror images of each other. However, the WW2 Nazis were regarded as extreme right here in the UK as is the British Nazi Party today:

"Almost all of their contemporaries would classify them as extreme right.
1). They were violently hostile to all center-left and far-left political parties for their entire existence as a party.
2). They formed coalitions with the traditional right in both electoral politics (the colation government that made Hitler Chancellor) and in bureaucratic politics (their uneasy detente with the German army, which becomes more of a co-option of the army as time goes on.
3). They were violently nationalist, and anti-internationalist , compared to the internationalism of the contemporary left.
4) As the 30's wear on, they form alliances with other far right governments.
5) They oppose class struggle, a central tenet of Marxists, Democratic and Bolshevik alike.
Basically, they are right wing because they define themselves in opposition to the left, even if they differ with traditionalist conservatives.
Note: note that I define their position in the spectrum based on contemporary politics, not ideology."
(Source: Hitler: Hubris&Nemesis (2 volumes) Ian Kershaw)

Yeesh. Well, now I have a great idea for some horror writing.

I'm reminded of Chaplin's speech in the Great Dictator, where he notes that so long as men die there's always the chance for greater freedom.

There's also the work suggesting scientists who dominate their field can actually hold back ideas. And of course one need only glance at history to see the desperate tyranny of religious orthodoxy.

All to say I'd hate to think there was a collection of "elite" immortals holding humanity in particular stagnant patterns, forever working for their own benefit.

Thiel seems to share the same predilection as many technology elites when it comes to this peculiar Singularitarian thinking. The oddity is that these sorts of people so often lambast religious people and paranormalists for being both afraid of death and narcissistic enough to think the world "needs them around". These attacks from the people who hope to live forever and hope that burgeoning AI promises them technological immortality. I sense projection. Thiel I have no problem with though. I hope Nick Denton ends up living under an overpass.

The Deep Ecology stuff is both humorous and frightening. Humorous for its vacuity and frightening for the ease with which liberals are seduced by such tripe. Many of the points are contradictory. If human flourishing depends on exploiting natural resources (which it does, unless you want a return to hunter-gatherer culture and even then it still does) then that value is certainly not independent of the nonhuman world's usefulness to humans. And how on earth human flourishing can be compatible with its literal opposite is a mystery, unless we twist the meaning of "flourish" to an absurd degree. Typically, this philosophy is peppered with moral and ideological premises that are only compelling if you already agree with them.

This sort of pseudo-profound drivel simply reinforces liberals' own self image with buzzwords like "diversity, richness, aware," etc. It works on them because they already consider themselves paragons of virtue against whom the rest of humanity should be judged, and by whom the rest of humanity should be ruled. So whenever "big changes" need to be made, it's not liberals that will be making them and it's not liberals who will suffer the consequences. It's always other people that need to change. Liberals are already perfect, dontcha know. So they can prattle on in their ivory towers about reducing the human population rather like Dr. Strangelove talking about preserving a nexus of human specimens, because they're quite convinced they'll be exempt from the reducing. I suppose they could argue it's about altruism and "planting trees whose shade they won't enjoy," but I don't buy it for a second.

This is also why I cringe when they latch onto NDEs to further their own relentless, insufferable self-congratulation. "NDEs contain messages of universal love and we liberals are all about universal love. We're just more spiritually aware". No you aren't.

I was reminded of the Ghost of Christmas Present's admonishment of Scrooge. It applies to the intellectually and morally pretentious as much as to the wealthy. Forbear your posturing until you have discovered what the surplus is and where it is. It may well be that in the sight of Heaven (or whatever comes after) you ("educated" leftists) are more worthless and less fit to live than millions of those poor, truck-driving uneducated rednecks you waste no opportunity to malign.

"If extreme left and extreme right ultimately merge, then why is the result "far right"? Couldn't it just as easily be far left? More logically, wouldn't it be, in fact, just what it actually is: a mixture of far left and far right?"

It's just struck me that I didn't answer that question very well. Yes, there's no difference at all between the far left and the far right. I simply meant it doesn't really matter what title you give them. As far as the UK is concerned, Hitler was far right. But he might just as well have been far left.

BTW, I saw someone comment saying NDEs happen while brain function is returning and that's the cause; I'm pretty sure this is wrong, but can someone point me to some examples where it appears to have happened before that point? Fairly sure Reynolds' does. I won't go joining the other site just to challenge them, I just want to be sure they're inaccurate. (Though the other obvious questions are "how, and why does it only happen some of the time?")


I must confess my deep ignorance of deep ecology (see what I did there?)--I only just learned about it in this thread! That's pretty ignorant.

What I can say, however, is that I found the points of the platform to be a bit unnerving. I thought, "Sounds idealistic, but there's more here than meets the eye," and Michael pointed out some of the "more."

The books and thinkers you pointed out could be fantastic. That platform doesn't work for me, however, though I agree with some of it.

Chel, the book I reviewed in my latest post ("The Self Does Not Die") deals with that argument in some detail and provides cases that count against it.

Thanks. Any examples regarding specific timings?

I really don't mean to nag, my anxiety's just playing up again and here is the only place I can find reliably reasonable discussions.

Matt said:

"I must confess my deep ignorance of deep ecology (see what I did there?)--I only just learned about it in this thread!"

Thanks for your frankness.

"Michael pointed out some of the "more."

I just saw the movie Trumbo. Honestly, Michael's linking this gentle, nature-loving, group with the Red Menace smacks of McCarthyism to me.

And no—don't just point to some extremists. Get to know the people and books at the heart of the philosophy.

I had a look at the links provided about Deep Ecology and read some of the associated material. I won't pretend that a few hours of examination compares to a lifetime's dedication, and confess I had never heard the term before, but I've confronted the ideology in numerous discussions with people of an environmental bent, and its frankly part of what drove me out of the environmental movement. One of the most peculiar things was the absolute opprobrium I would receive for suggesting that nuclear power was a vital part of carbon-reduction strategies, and I would almost invariably be greeted with "what about Chernobyl, what about Fukushima". (Protip: bringing up Chernobyl in a discussion about US nuclear power is a surefire way to evince ignorance to anyone who's even skimmed the topic, as if the design or operation of Chernobyl was at all typical). What I began to see were several odd themes running through the arguments, particularly the idea of a disparity, in my mind illusory, between the human and natural world. These people would marvel at a termite mound yet recoil at a skyscraper, because one is natural, beautiful, and harmonious and the other is an ugly, artificial intrusion, an "interference," if you will, even though both result from their respective builders' attempts to control their environment. Is there a difference of kind or degree here? This disparity troubles me because it leads to a sort of myopic thinking that sees human action as inherently intrusive and proposes that the only solution is human inaction, at least of a technological or industrial sort.

I also became bothered by something I see time and again, both in environmental arguments and larger liberal social and cultural narratives: the idea of the Noble Savage, that indigenous/folk/non-Western knowledge is somehow superior to modern technological innovation. There is certainly much to be learned from indigenous peoples, but I don't see why, if saving the earth is your end goal, every source of knowledge couldn't be employed to craft policy and guide action, rather than declaring technological and industrial interventions a dead end and proposing solutions derived from indigenous knowledge to the exclusion of all else. The notion that our technology constitutes an addiction or a delusion is bothersome. Certainly there have been many arguments from architects (my field, FYI) about the usefulness of indigenous and region-specific design strategies and many examples of such work (e.g. Sam Mockbee or Michael Reynolds). The issue I take is that this mostly applies to detached single family residences. Could such a design strategy be useful for an apartment tower? Is an ecologically-sensitive environment necessarily what the Deep Ecologists expect to see? David Owen argued over a decade ago that Manhattan was actually greener than most places from the point of view of per-capita energy and fuel consumption.

One thing I quite like about some of the Deep Ecology writings is that it seems to acknowledge something that drives me up the wall about current political debate. If one truly respects indigenous cultures and regional diversity, one cannot be a globalist, at least not to its full extent. Globalism ends in a planetary mono-culture whose triumph entails the obliteration of the very diversity liberals revere. Deep Ecologists, at least from what little I've read since lunch, seem to acknowledge that contradiction. The other contradiction I perceive is that, while Deep Ecology stresses respect for the value of all life, it cannot hold that all life is equally valuable, which would lead right back to the very conflicts we have now about who gets put where in the hierarchy of life value. And who gets to define the various terms employed? Who sets the parameters of quality of life, and am I obligated to accept their definition?

Hi Chelsea

The "happening some of the time" element, is dependent on people remembering that it has happened. It could well be the case that not everyone suffering trauma in the ways described experiences an NDE, or it could be that sooner or later everyone does, but that it isn't remembered. Just like some people cannot remember dreaming, even thought we all do every time we sleep.

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