Francis's Blog


February 25, 2021

We are on the wrong road, going in the wrong direction

I am going out on a limb here and make one of my sweeping generalized statements about the human species. Here it comes: we are royally screwed up by our evolutionary history.
We, as a species, have hundreds of thousands of years of evolutionary history behind us that follows its own logic. It’s like an express train with millions of tons of inertia that is unlikely to be affected by anything individual humans can do. Yet, individuals, billions of them, act on it all the time and some of it may add up.

What I have been noticing is the huge discrepancy between the small and the big effects individuals play on the overall direction of our express train we all cling to. Here is the rub: while billions of people, every second of our species’ march toward some not too distant terminus. are making the right decisions, sane and rational in their context, when it comes to big decisions, we, as a species, are hopelessly lost.

What no one has figured our yet, from the beginning of our history, is that we are on the wrong road, going in the wrong direction.

Our obsession with size, speed, power, the demented mantra of bigger, faster, stronger is by definition better, keeps pushing us in the direction of extinction. What no human agency has ever attempted to do was to examine how bigger, stronger, faster actually contributes to overall human happiness. It’s just assumed, as an absolute truth.

All these fables of Shangri La, Utopia, Atlantis, Kazohinia, Ozimord are never taken seriously enough to consider that we, as a specie, would be happier by just living within our evolutionary heritage, instead of attempting to be gods, flying to the sun like Ikarus.

We, as a species, collectively, would be a lot happier if we just lived and let each other live, instead of killing ourselves and each other for the unattainable goal of building the tallest skyscraper. A goal unattainable because no matter how tall we build, anything we can possibly build will forever be only half the size of its double and, sooner or later someone will do that and then the vicious cycle will go on until we will have finally destroyed ourselves.



January 26, 2021

Cause-and-effect chains in history

Anything that happens in nature, including human history, has underlying causes. Often more than one, often a whole slew of contributing factors. However, there are always critical causes, without which the same event would not have happened or, at least, would have been fundamentally different.

This train of thought was started by a FRONTLINE documentary called “Trump's American Carnage". In its advertising blurb it says: “Our film identifies how, for years, the country’s political leaders missed, ignored and discounted clear warnings of the violence and chaos that was to come.”

Warning signs translate into cause and effect chains. How was it possible? One level down Frontline blames “the country’s political leaders” and probably it will stop there. But the question remains: who caused the political leaders to support Trump? The answer: 70-odd million of American voters. Next question: “What made these voters embrace Trump’s “distrust, divison, anger and racism”? The answer is twofold, but without the critical one, none of it would have happened: the unbelievable level of stupidity and lack of critical thinking among Trump’s supporters. Next question: what is responsible for this stupidity and lack of critical thinking? The answer: the Capitalist economic system that has been systematically dumbing down the population to maximize profit by making people think that $999.99 is cheaper than $1000.00 – and many other tricks like that to make people react without critical thinking.

So the cause-and-effect chain in play behind the “Trump carnage” is Capitalism-dumbing down-opportunistic leaders-Trump. I doubt that the Frontline documentary will go that deep. And, without identifying the “Prime Mover”, the chain will never be broken.

Of course, the backward chain doesn't end with the Capitalist economic system, and the next legitimate question is: "what makes this system possible?", but the answer to that belongs to another blog, maybe later.



January 17, 2021

"Too little too late" and "too much too soon!"

These are the two most harmful maladies of the human species. Both of them highlight the irrational nature of the species, both point to our inability to analyze, plan and organize in a scientifically sound manner.

“Too little too late” is the easier to spot in our society. Our leaders don’t plan ahead based on danger signs, but react to the previous crises they had not been prepared for before it happened. They are always fighting yesterday’s battles, trying to prevent what had happened from “ever happening again”. However, the next crises will be different, totally predictable by the dynamics of the forces clearly visible, yet the leaders lack the imagination and the ability to systematically and rationally analyze the data all around them.

“Too much too soon” on the other hand, while seemingly opposite to the “too little too late” syndrome, comes from the same lack of imagination and ability to analyze and plan ahead. It manifests mostly in the area of technological innovations when they introduce, helter-skelter, totally unnecessary and, at the same time, not properly thought through design ideas, like the software system in the Boeing 737 MAX plane that killed hundreds of passengers by overriding the captain’s instructions to the plane, because the software “knew better”. One of the biggest shocks to me in recent times was the realization that there is no mechanical connection between my brake pedal and the brakes of my car – when I press the pedal, it will submit my request to the software to activate the brakes.

The more safety features they introduce to modern technology, the more dangerous they become. I remember, years ago, a busload of children were killed by an oncoming train because the doors popped open by some mechanical malfunction when it was crossing the railway tracks and the software immediately stopped the car, overriding the driver’s frantic efforts to get off the tracks because it was ‘unsafe’ to drive with the doors open.

Of course, the primary reason for both of these maladies is the profit motive fundamentally embedded into the Capitalist system where the mindless competition forces companies to release products before they are properly thought through and then, try to prevent the exact same thing happening again, instead of thinking ahead and trying to prevent the next one clearly visible just around the corner.

With the “too little too late and too much too soon!” attitude our species is on track for the fast approaching extinction, after which trying to prevent the next big one will be a moot point.