Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CLXII

Steve Bull (https://olduvai.ca)
5 min readNov 13, 2023
Mexico (1988). Photo by author.

Reality is an Inconvenience to Beliefs

Today’s brief Contemplation was prompted by The Honest Sorcerer’s latest article that looks at the latest energy ‘breakthrough’ (seems there is one every other week) and how it’s going to save modern civilisation, our species, and the planet.

In this globalised world where virtually every economic transaction has become finacialised, and one cannot for long survive without some type of revenue stream (because we have lost the skills/knowledge to live apart from our complex and monetised energy-averaging systems), it seems to me that everything has become a racket — in terms of a fraudulent scheme.

And ‘energy’, being the most fundamental of ‘resources’ for life, has been fully captured by the multitude of racketeers — as has all the revenue-generating/-extracting aspects of our sociocultural existence.

War. Politics. Food. Health. Education. Resources. You name it.

These are all being leveraged by our society’s ruling caste, grifters, and wannabes to generate revenue. And attracting investment capital with some technological/innovative ‘breakthrough’ works because of our ongoing (if very misguided, primarily due to recency bias) belief that human ingenuity and technological prowess can solve all ‘problems’ — predicaments without ‘solutions’ don’t exist.

As I more deeply explore the story-telling nature of our species and the psychological mechanisms at play during this communication process, it is becoming clear that it matters little — if at all — that the narrative being shared aligns with physical reality or not. We believe what we want to believe and all it takes is that the tale we are being told needs to be ‘plausible’, provide us with a sense of agency (especially self-efficacy), reinforces our self-esteem, reduces our cognitive dissonance, is believed by many in our social circle, and is being told by a ‘trusted/authoritative’ source.

Dave Pollard, who writes here, has put forward a ‘Law of Human Beliefs’ (see his latest here) that is quite relevant to this observation:

Pollard’s Law of Human Beliefs: We believe what we want to believe, not what is actually true. We want to believe in happy endings, simple answers, the inevitability of progress, self-control, karma, responsibility, destiny, miracles, a proper order of things, the power of love, and infinite human capacity and agency. Most of us want to believe in a higher power that can step in when we falter. We want to believe what those in our circles of trust believe (even if it’s crazy, gaslighting or propaganda). So we tend to seek sources that reinforce those beliefs and ignore those that undermine or unsettle them. Our hopes and expectations are determined by those beliefs. Our worldview is the sum of those beliefs, hopes and expectations, and bears no necessary resemblance to truth or reality. This invented reality is the only way we can make sense of a world that is impossible to grasp, to understand, or to ever really make sense of.”

Our denial of reality is strong and often, if not always, cannot be overcome. We go to all sorts of lengths to rationalise and justify our belief systems, regardless of evidence/facts that challenge them.

And as Ajit Varki has postulated in his and Danny Brower’s theory on the origins of the human mind,

“The human ability to understand and consider our own mortality without being consumed by fear seems natural to us. In fact, it appears to be just one manifestation of a peculiar human ability to ignore, rationalize, or outright deny obvious realities, and even to believe in multiple or alternate realities at the same time…

Even when we do acknowledge such realities, we tend to indulge in magical thinking, behaving as if these statistics apply to everyone else, but not to ourselves. Many humans also ignore or even deny scientific and societal realities such as biological evolution, anthropogenic climate change, human “overshoot” with nonrenewable resource depletion, gross degradation of our environment, massive expansion of national debt, ballooning healthcare costs, covert or overt racism, and so on.”

(See Rob Mielcarski’s site, un-Denial, for a lot more on this subject.)

Biogeophysical limits — meh, it’s not reality; it’s just another conspiracy theory by those tinfoil hat-wearing ecofascists. Please disregard all that ‘collapse/overshoot’ nonsense and carry on with your consumption and dreams of perpetual growth on a finite planet…oh, and please send us any investment money while you’re at it (and/or encourage your government to) so we can solve those predicaments the nutcases keep yammering on about.

If you’ve made it to the end of this contemplation and have got something out of my writing, please consider ordering the trilogy of my ‘fictional’ novel series, Olduvai (PDF files; only $9.99 Canadian), via my website or the link below — the ‘profits’ of which help me to keep my internet presence alive and first book available in print (and is available via various online retailers).

Attempting a new payment system as I am contemplating shutting down my site in the future (given the ever-increasing costs to keep it running).

If you are interested in purchasing any of the 3 books individually or the trilogy, please try the link below indicating which book(s) you are purchasing.

Costs (Canadian dollars):
Book 1: $2.99
Book 2: $3.89
Book 3: $3.89
Trilogy: $9.99

Feel free to throw in a ‘tip’ on top of the base cost if you wish; perhaps by paying in U.S. dollars instead of Canadian. Every few cents/dollars helps…

https://paypal.me/olduvaitrilogy?country.x=CA&locale.x=en_US

If you do not hear from me within 48 hours or you are having trouble with the system, please email me: olduvaitrilogy@gmail.com.

You can also find a variety of resources, particularly my summary notes for a handful of texts, especially Catton’s Overshoot and Tainter’s Collapse: see here.

Recently released:

It Bears Repeating: Best Of…Volume 1

A compilation of writers focused on the nexus of limits to growth, energy, and ecological overshoot.

With a Foreword and Afterword by Michael Dowd, authors include: Max Wilbert; Tim Watkins; Mike Stasse; Dr. Bill Rees; Dr. Tim Morgan; Rob Mielcarski; Dr. Simon Michaux; Erik Michaels; Just Collapse’s Tristan Sykes & Dr. Kate Booth; Kevin Hester; Alice Friedemann; David Casey; and, Steve Bull.

The document is not a guided narrative towards a singular or overarching message; except, perhaps, that we are in a predicament of our own making with a far more chaotic future ahead of us than most imagine–and most certainly than what mainstream media/politics would have us believe.

Click here to access the document as a PDF file, free to download.

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Steve Bull (https://olduvai.ca)

A guy trying to make sense of a complex and seemingly insane world. Spend my days pondering our various predicaments while practising local food production...