One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise. Aldo Leopold
julho 04, 2016
junho 28, 2016
junho 23, 2016
março 06, 2016
I often remind people of the word "orrery". An orrery is a model that works perfectly well, its use results in highly accurate predictions… within bounds of application. The difference between an orrery and a theory, is that a orrery is not causally supported by foundational understandings of the universe. An orrery is internally consistent, but externally disassociated. The classic orrery of course is the painted balls on bent wires articulating around a set of gears and cams on spindles that classical scholars produced to explain the motion the sun and moon and other celestial bodies. Obviously, such models predict the behavior of the system, but don't come near explaining the causal hierarchy that leads to behavior. planets and stars aren't hooked to huge rods. It is theoretically possible to concoct an infinite number of orreries, causally false models, to explain and model any one system or domain. Randall Lee Reetz
Por João Neto às 11:31
dezembro 29, 2015
Growth underpins every aspect of modern society. Economic growth has become the universal solution for all political, social and economic problems, from improving living standards, reducing poverty to now solving the problems of over indebted individuals, businesses and nations.
All brands of politics and economics are deeply rooted in the idea of robust economic growth, combined with the belief that governments and central bankers can exert substantial control over the economy to bring this about. In his 1929 novel The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald identified this fatal attraction: "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.
Debt allows society to borrow from the future. It accelerates consumption, as debt is used to purchase something today against the promise of paying back the borrowing in the future. Growth is artificially increased by spending that would have taken place normally over a period of years being accelerated because of the availability of cheap money. With borrowing levels now unsustainable, debt engineered growth may be at an end.
Growth was also based on policies that led to the unsustainable degradation of the environment. It was based upon the uneconomic, profligate use of mispriced non-renewable natural resources, such as oil and water.
The problem is the economic model itself. As former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker observed on 11 December 2009: "We have another economic problem which is mixed up in this of too much consumption, too much spending relative to our capacity to invest and to export. It's involved with the financial crisis but in a way it's more difficult than the financial crisis because it reflects the basic structure of the economy." The simultaneous end of financially engineered growth, environmental issues and the scarcity of essential resources now threatens the end of an unprecedented period of growth and expansion.
Policy makers may not have the necessary tools to address deep-rooted problems in current models. Revitalized Keynesian economics may not be able to arrest long-term declines in growth as governments find themselves unable to finance themselves to maintain demand. It is not clear how if, at all, printing money or financial games can create real ongoing growth and wealth.
Low or no growth is not necessarily a problem. It may have positive effects, for example on the environment or conservation of scarce resources. But current economic, political and social systems are predicated on endless economic expansion and related improvements in living standards. Growth is needed to generate higher tax revenues, helping balance increased demand for public services and the funds needed to finance these. Growth is needed maintains social cohesion. The prospect of improvements in living standards, however remote, limits pressure for wealth redistribution. As Henry Wallick, a former Governor of the US Federal Reserve, accurately diagnosed: "So long as there is growth there is hope, and that makes large income differential tolerable."
The social and political compact within democratic societies requires economic growth and improvements in living standards. Economic stagnation increases the chance of social and political conflict. Writing in The War of the World: History's Age of Hatred, Niall Ferguson identified the risk: "Economic volatility matters because it tends to exacerbate social conflict…. periods of economic crisis create incentives for politically dominant groups to pass the burdens of adjustment on to others… social dislocation may also follow periods of rapid growth, since the benefits of growth are very seldom evenly distributed… it may be precisely the minority of winners in an upswing who are targeted for retribution in a subsequent downswing".
Politicians, policy makers and ordinary people do not want to confront the possibility of significantly lower economic growth in the future. Like Fitzgerald's tragic hero Gatsby, the incredulous battle cry everywhere is: "Can't repeat the past? Why of course you can!" But as philosopher Michel de Montaigne asked: "How many things we regarded yesterday as articles of faith that seem to us only fables today?"
A recent book The World Without Us was based around a thought experiment–what would a world bereft of humans revert to. We should be worried about what a world without growth, or, at best, low and uneven rates of growth will look like.
Por João Neto às 09:13
dezembro 22, 2015
Por João Neto às 21:47
dezembro 18, 2015
Por João Neto às 11:00
dezembro 15, 2015
Por João Neto às 09:00
dezembro 08, 2015
Por João Neto às 07:00
dezembro 04, 2015
Por João Neto às 09:30
novembro 30, 2015
The world is presently overpopulated by the billions. We obtained this surplus through sheer folly and shortsightedness, a.k.a “greed”. There is a valid reason why overpopulation of this magnitude never appeared in human history before. No other civilization before ours exploited the oil reserves that were tens of thousands of years in existence, predating all human life and converted them into agriculture and global transportation system.
But we did, and we built a overpopulated world that polluted, raped, destroyed it’s natural carrying capacity to such a degree that human life itself is now threatened. We became so accustomed to this temporary ‘abundance’ that we fooled ourselves into believing it would last forever. We were dead wrong.
Por João Neto às 00:00
novembro 25, 2015
Por João Neto às 20:12
novembro 20, 2015
In other words, liberal science does not restrict belief, but it does restrict knowledge. It absolutely protects freedom of belief and speech, but it absolutely denies freedom of knowledge: in liberal science, there is positively no right to have one's opinions, however heartfelt, taken seriously as knowledge. Just the contrary: liberal science is nothing other than a selection process whose mission is to test beliefs and reject the ones that fail. A liberal intellectual regime says that if you want to believe the moon is made of green cheese , fine. But if you want your belief recognized as knowledge, there are things you must do. You must run your belief through the science game for checking. And if your belief is a loser, it will not be included in the science texts. It probably won't even be taken seriously by most respectable intellectuals. In a liberal society, knowledge - not belief - is the rolling critical consensus of a decentralized community of checkers, and it is nothing else. That is so, not by the power of law, but by the deeper power of a common liberal morality.
Of course, if your belief is rejected by the critical consensus, you are free to reject the consensus and keep believing. That's freedom of belief. But you are not entitled to expect that your belief will be taught to schoolchildren or accepted by the intellectual establishment as knowledge. Any school curriculum is necessarily restrictive. It cannot not be restrictive. My point is that the right way to set a curriculum is to insist that it teach knowledge, and that this knowledge should consist only of claims which have been thoroughly checked by no person (or group) in particular. We should never teach anything as knowledge because it serves someone's political needs. We should teach only what has checked out.[...] academic freedom consists in freedom to doubt, to inquire, to check, and to believe as you like. It does not consist in the freedom of one party or another to reset the rules for inquiry or checking. Someone who wants to insist that the theory of relativity is false and that some other theory is true is, of course, entitled to do so; but passing laws or using intimidation to make teachers (or anyone else) take him seriously has nothing to do with the freedom to inquire. It has to do with the centralized regulation of knowledge. If the consensus of critical checkers holds that evolution checks out but creationism does not, and clearly it does hold this, then that is our knowledge on the subject.
And who decides what the critical consensus actually is? The critical society does, arguing about itself. That is why scholars spend so much time and energy "surveying the literature" (i.e., assessing the consensus so far). Then they argue about their assessments. The process is long and arduous, but there you are. Academic freedom would be trampled instead of advanced by, say, requiring that state financed universities put creationists on their biology faculties or give Afrocentrists rebuttal space in their journals. Wh n a state legislature or a curriculum committee or any other political body decrees that anything in particular is, or has equal claim to be, our knowledge, it wrests control over truth from the liberal community of checkers and places it in the hands of central political authorities.
One cannot overemphasize: intellectual liberalism is not intellectual majoritarianism or egalitarianism. You do not have a claim to knowledge either because 51 percent of the public agrees with you or because your "group" was historically left out; you have a claim to knowledge only to the extent that your opinion still stands up after prolonged exposure to withering public testing. Now, it is true that when we talk about knowledge's being a scientific consensus we are talking about a majority of scientists. But we are not talking about a mere majority. For a theory to go into a textbook as knowledge, it does not need the unanimity of checkers' assent, but it does need far more than a bare majority's. It should be generally recognized as having stood up better than any competitor to most of the tests that various critical debunkers have tried. [...] Because space and time in textbooks and classrooms are limited, each of those groups will make demands at the expense of others. And that is how creed wars begin.
Let us remember, then, that the proposition "We must all respect others' beliefs" is nowhere near as innocent as it sounds. If it is enshrined in policies or practices giving "rights" to minority opinions, the damage it causes is immediate and severe. Liberal science cannot exert discipline if it cannot use its tool of marginalization to drive unsupported or bogus beliefs from the agenda. When you pass laws requiring equal time for somebody's excluded belief, you effectively make marginalization illegal. You say, "In our society, a belief is respectable - and will be taught and treated respectfully - if the politically powerful say it is." Once you have said that, you face a very stark choice. You can open the textbooks only to those "oppressed" beliefs whose proponents have political pull. Or you can take the principled egalitarian position, and open the books and the schools to all sincere beliefs. If you do the former, then you have replaced science with power politics. If you do the latter, then you have no principled choice but to teach, for example, "Holocaust revisionism" (the claim that the Holocaust didn't happen) as an "alternative theory" held by an "excluded minority"-which means, in practice, not teaching twentieth-century history at all. Either way, you have taken in hand silly and even execrable opinions and ushered them from the fringes of debate to the very center. At a single stroke, you have disabled liberal society's mechanism for marginalizing foolish ideas, and you have sent those ideas straight to the top of the social agenda with a safe-conduct.
Is the liberal standard for respectability fair? That, really, is the big question today. If you believe that a society is just only when it delivers more or less equal outcomes, you will think liberalism is unfair. You will insist on admitting everyone's belief into respectability as knowledge. Or at least you will insist on admitting the beliefs of people whom you regard as oppressed-affirmative action for knowledge. Personally, I cannot think of anything good about that kind of standard for knowledge. It is bound to lead to fights over who gets what. Groups will appoint leaders, and leaders will negotiate, and when negotiations break down schism or intellectual warfare will ensue; or if negotiations are successful, then certain beliefs will be locked in place by delicate compromise, and a knowledge-making system whose greatest virtue is its adaptiveness will turn sclerotic.
Por João Neto às 11:20
novembro 17, 2015
Por João Neto às 13:38
agosto 07, 2015
There is very little that you will encounter in life that has not been in some way infused with bullshit.
Not all of it bad; your general, day-to-day, organic free-range bullshit is often necessary, or at the very least innocuous. "Oh, what a beautiful baby! I'm sure it'll grow into that... head." That kind of bullshit in many ways provides important social contract fertilizer, and keeps people from making each other cry all day. But then there's the more pernicious bullshit: your premeditated, institutional bullshit, designed to obscure and distract. Designed by whom? The bullshitocracy. It comes in three basic flavors.
One, making bad things sound like good things. "Organic, all-natural cupcakes." Because "factory-made sugar-oatmeal balls" doesn't sell. "PATRIOT Act." Because "are you scared enough to let me look at all your phone records act" doesn't sell. So whenever something's been titled "Freedom-Family-Fairness-Health-America," take a good long sniff. Chances are, it's been manufactured in a facility that may contain traces of bullshit.
Number two: hiding the bad things under mountains of bullshit. Complexity. "You know, I would love to download Drizzy's latest Meek Mill diss," (everyone promised me that made sense) "but I'm not really interested right now in reading Tolstoy's iTunes agreement. So I'll just click 'Agree.' Even if it grants Apple prima noctae with my spouse." Here's another one: simply put, banks shouldn't be able to bet your pension money on red. Bullshitly put: it's -- hey! this! Dodd-Frank. Hey, a handful of billionaires can't buy our elections, right? Of course not. They can only pour unlimited anonymous cash into a 501(c)(4) if 50% is devoted to issue education. Otherwise, they'd have to 501(c)(6) it, or funnel it openly through a non-campaign-coordinating SuperPAC, with a coordinating.... [stage whisper: I think they're asleep now. We can sneak out.]
And finally, it's the Bullshit of Infinite Possibility. These bullshitters cover their unwillingness to act under the cover of unending inquiry. "We can't do anything, because we don't yet know everything! We cannot yet take action on climate change, until everyone in the world agrees gay marriage vaccines won't cause our children to marry goats who are gonna come for our guns. Until then, I say, teach the controversy!"
Now, the good news is this: Bullshitters have gotten pretty lazy, and their work is easily detected. And looking for it is kind of a pleasant way to pass the time. Like an I Spy of Bullshit. So I say to you, friends: The best defense against bullshit is vigilance. So if you smell something, say something." John Stewart @ Daily Show
Por João Neto às 18:18
junho 18, 2015
[...] Mechanistic explanations either lead to an infinite regress of mechanism within mechanism, or to mechanism-less theory, or perhaps to Wheeler’s world with its information-theoretic foundation. What is evident is that as we plunge deeply into the physical sciences, we see mechanism disappear. Yet equally problematic issues arise with statistical theories; we cannot avoid asking about the nature of the processes governing the system that allow a particular statistical theory to be applicable. In fact, when a statistical theory does reliably predict observed patterns, it is natural to seek an underlying set of mechanisms that made the theory work. And when the predictions fail, it is equally natural to examine the pattern of failure and ask whether some mechanism can be invoked to explain the failure. -- John Harte, Maximum Entropy and Ecology, pp.8--11
Por João Neto às 13:58
abril 22, 2015
Por João Neto às 13:02
abril 16, 2015
Não confio em ninguém, não me consigo prender a ninguém, tenho medo de voltar a sofrer. É um mal moderno desde que Flaubert escreveu a Bovary. Confundimos a relação com a situação. Gostarias que os deuses te passassem uma declaração abonatória, mas eles não vão nisso. A escolha é entre a alegria antes da decepção (por morte ou abandono) e a certeza do calendário.
Filipe Nunes Vicente link
Por João Neto às 11:06
fevereiro 14, 2015
Por João Neto às 13:42
dezembro 30, 2014
Por João Neto às 17:46
dezembro 21, 2014
Por João Neto às 17:57