Are There No Witches?

“The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.” A well-known quote from the critical observer of political folly – Orwell. We are in such a situation now.

Even though Mother Nature invented sex billions of years ago and made it the basis for reproduction of life, now, at this brief fleeting nanosecond of history, we have legions of pseudo-academics, politicians, media hacks, teachers, and all the other unproductive pustules on the body politic trying to tell us that Mather Nature was wrong. Reality is not in biology, genetics, cellular structure, determining men and women, or even indeed in the history of millennia of cultures and civilizations, from the Ancient Egyptians and Sumerians, through to the Romans, Aztecs and all the Western and modern world, but in the delusional rantings of men who think they can become women or perhaps “identify” as cats or toads.

This would be fine if they stayed in their mothers’ basements and ate their food off the floor, but their real objective, aided and abetted by the degenerate political class, is to spread their delusions and depravities to our children—not only that, but to demand that the rest of society that is still sane to bow down to their evil idols.

The trans-mania is not a point of view, or a political opinion, but a worldview, a weltangschauung, a creed, and is thus not open to compromise or debate. This is a fundamental property. A certain political personality (whose name escapes me) noted that:

…the philosophy is intolerant; it cannot content itself with the role of one ‘party beside others,’ but imperiously demands, not only its own exclusive and unlimited recognition, but the complete transformation of all public life in accordance with its views. It can, therefore, not tolerate the simultaneous continuance of a body representing the former condition.

When the force of faith is behind it, reality matters little.

The trans-mania, and the entire glorification of sin that adorns its ugly idols, is such a worldview. And it has to be totalitarian. In his essay, The Prevention of Literature, which is mainly about the effects of totalitarianism on writing, Orwell says,

…Totalitarianism demands, in fact, a continuous alteration of the past, and in the long run probably demands a disbelief in the very existence of objective truth.

We have reached that point that Orwell so feared. The most basic biological and scientific truths about the nature of, not only human beings, but almost all the animals on Earth, is being denied by a diabolical priesthood of deceit, babbling on endlessly that the evidence of our own eyes and ears is not to be trusted.

Our history is being distorted and even language itself is being tortured to be devoid of meaning so that the mindless political drones, aided by their journalist and media succubi, can shepherd their brainwashed masses towards their sexless, conformist future.

It is not clear how far this will go, but the organized lying, propaganda, and persecution of dissidents in Canada, the US, and the West in general, does not bode well. One would expect, as in former more sane times, that the intellectual strata of society would at least be standing up for the freedom of conscience. But, no! Again, as Orwell lamented, …

…The direct, conscious attack on intellectual decency comes from the intellectuals themselves.

Just look at the state of universities in the West today—factories of ignorance, rather than centers of learning. How can you believe that men can turn into women? Doublethink—Holding two contradictory views at one and the same time. Doublethink is an essential part of the totalitarian mind-set. When doctrine has to be changed overnight to accommodate today’s fanaticism, how better to grease its progress than to deny the actual existence of objective reality?

This is not a question of differing political views, but a question of will it be even possible to hold political views (or scientific opinions) when your life and rights can be whisked away by arbitrary powers? This was done to the truckers in the Freedom Convoy, and it’s being done to people who expose the COVID lie machine. These are all real questions that are not being addressed by any of the Uniparty groups (Liberals, Tories, Democrats, Republicans etc.)—they only reflect varying facets of the globalist blob that controls almost all discourse in the West.

None of this can be changed by being ‘nice’ to them. They must be told directly that they are liars, degenerates, and destroyers of civilization. It’s going to be tough, but it must be done. In the words of the old Revivalist hymn:

Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone;
Dare to have a purpose firm,
Dare to make it known.

Rebel Yell

What if there were no witches?

Well of course there are no witches, you say! No one in their right minds believes that witches exist. No one believes that people are conversing with the devil to get power over others. No one believes that people will sell their soul to the devil for worldly gain. So obviously there is no point in extracting confessions through torture because witches do not exist, right? Nor for that matter does the devil. (Despite what some might like to think about political leaders).

I use this thought experiment to draw attention to the European witch craze of the early modern period 1600-1700 because it relates to a comparable problem of modern society. Though the penalties may differ, the modern equivalent of the witchcraft craze is all around us.

Transgenderism is the latest mania of collective delusion sweeping society.

A very few people of mature age believe they have been born into the wrong sex (as if that were a possible or meaningful statement). They engage in sexual reassignment surgery.

The idea spreads and takes new forms. (Which requires a history of its own).

Some body decides that, in their sovereign and autonomous will, people have a right to declare themselves male or female and further, and, because this assertion is in tune with the spirit of the times, laws are passed that oblige all others in the universe to recognize the right to change “gender”, despite the bearers of this new bundle of rights displaying the inevitable marks of sexual development as a former male or female, as the case may be.  Ideology or self will trumps not merely biology, but all previous social conventions. Obvious genetic males invade women’s sports and, thanks to having passed their earlier years as a genetic male, break previous women’s sports records. Thus their performances prove the genetic consequences of testosterone  while simultaneously society insists they are female, so denying the reality of genetic consequences.

Moreover, parents apparently have the right to determine that their children, before the ages of puberty or consent, are “transgendered”, and have the right or even obligation to have their sons castrated and dosed with female hormones and surgically altered to mimic the sexual apparatus of a female, however inadequately. These children have never reached the age of consent. They are not allowed to vote or drive a car. Yet they have been compelled to undergo radical alteration of their biological natures for the sake of  gender ideology, or as some may prefer,  the right of a person to affirm their identity under any and all conditions.

At the same time laws are passed, custody judgments are rendered, and regulatory agencies rule in such fashion as to make it impossible or illegal to draw attention to the obvious facts of sex that might prevail over the self identification referred to as “gender”. Conformity is imposed upon society. Speech is controlled. To permit  biologically based arguments against transgenderism otherwise is an impermissible affront to the evolution of our understanding of human rights. Being, in blunt terms, the right to castrate or spay your children and seek to change their sex by invasive surgery and continuous lifelong dependence on drugs to maintain the illusion that people can change their genetic nature to conform to gender ideology.

I know I have presented this in the crudest possible terms because future generations  of man (if they are to exist at all) will look back on this age with the same distaste and inability to understand as we look back on the European witch crazes if the 16th and 17th centuries.

The analogy does not hold in all respects, I grant you. Instead of murdering witches we surgically and chemically castrate them. Instead of condemning them, we celebrate their autonomy of will to become who they truly are. Instead of believing in supernatural entities like the devil we believe that people have rights (other forms of metaphysical entity) to affirm their identities at almost any cost imposed on the rest of society.  We are forced to abrogate immemorial customs that have governed the relations between the sexes, and  people are compelled to violate the plain evidence of their senses.

Yet the essence of the matter is the same: society has become deluded on a massive scale. There are no witches, and never were. Likewise there are no “transgendered” people, and never shall be. No one is born into the wrong sex. The term “gender” as applied to sex is a neo -Marxist null category, an empty set, pure cant.  Gender is what you apply to nouns in French and similarly gendered languages (le ou la; der, die,oder das). Gender is a construct of the mind, sex is a construct of billions of years of evolution. One is an epiphenomenon of contemporary craziness, the other the basis of life.

The transgender cult believes that society is on the cusp of recognizing new rights of self affirmation and seeing them recognized by social convention and law. To the contrary, society in contemporary North America is going mad. And a lot of apparently sane people are among them. But there are no witches, just as there are no transgendered people.

Many people are deluded into believing they are Napoleon or Jesus Christ or other culturally specific figures. I imagine the looney bins of China are occupied by many who think they are Mao Tse-Tung ot Chinghiz Khan. We put them on drugs and confine them if necessary. But if I declare myself a female, when I am a male, I am celebrated for my bold self affirmation. We should look on such people with the  compassion we have for the mad. Yet contemporary society is rife with enablers affirming that the transgendered delusion is not merely a fact but the newest form of civil right.

It is the enablers of this pernicious nonsense who owe themselves a long talk in the mirror. Madness is not confined to the actually insane, it appears. Otherwise rational people actually find it convenient to believe in transgenderism, the latest phase of progressive moral posturing.  Nevertheless, they are factually and morally wrong, and they will do a great deal of harm before they recover their senses.


“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.”

Charles MacKay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

From Jonathan Kay in Quillette

“Genderwang is something completely different. It’s a quasi-religious ideological movement that demands public acceptance of the claim that all humans are infused with a soul-like ether known as gender identity—a spirit whose nature trumps the objective reality of biological sex when it comes to policymaking and even interpersonal relationships. Genderwang channels the magical thinking of Christian transubstantiation by demanding that acts of verbal attestation and other sanctified rites serve to literally transform men into women and vice versa. It also casts small children, even toddlers in diapers, as savants whose unfalsifiable pronouncements in regard to their “true” gender identity must be affirmed by doctors as holy writ.”


“One of the most constant characteristics of beliefs is their intolerance. The stronger the belief, the greater its intolerance. Men dominated by a certitude cannot tolerate those who do not accept it.” ~ Gustave Le Bon

further reading:

The European Witch Craze of the 16th and 17th centuries, by Hugh Trevor-Roper


Biologically engineered weapons against humanity

(20+) Facebo


Go to the link. Someone, I do not know who, is testifying before the European Parliament, as to the origins and development of the infectious disease that was engineered over the course of decades to infect human beings. Coronaviruses were engineered by government funded science to mutate faster than vaccines could vaccinate against them. The entire COVID plague was a deliberate plot to increase Pfizer profits, and accustom us to governmental overreach.

COVID was a manufactured bioweapon. Its deployment was a deliberate violation of biological weapons treaties. And the culprit included Fauci, Pfizer, and various US agencies, among others.

The video is 21 minutes long and will affect your thinking profoundly.

Getting our machines to be politically correct

Everyone knows that society chooses to believe things which are manifestly not true. Like, for instance, various false ideas of race or ethnicity that we pretend to believe to keep the public peace. Yes, the only valid explanation of why 11% of the US population commits 56% of murders is the legacy of racism. While at the same time race is a social construct and has no significance. You know the drill. We are adept at believing one thing in some circumstances while adapting our behaviour so as to keep alive. Double think.


Thus I notice the embarrassment of AI developers when they cannot prevent their AI machines from saying or writing politically incorrect things. The Wall Street Journal reports today (Google Launches Bard AI Chatbot to Counter ChatGPT) that

“Bard comes with a disclaimer at the bottom of the site that reads: “Bard may display inaccurate or offensive information that doesn’t represent Google’s views…..

Google executives said Bard would sometimes also produce inaccurate or fabricated information, a problem common to large AI models that researchers refer to as “hallucination.” As one example, Google said Bard provided the incorrect scientific name for the ZZ plant when asked for examples of easy indoor plants. It also said large AI models could sometimes replicate biases and stereotypes present in the physical world.”

Watch the cascade of euphemisms here. “Biases and stereotypes present in the physical world”. What is a bias present in  the physical world? A mental approach – which is what a bias is – confirmed by the facts of the physical world?  What is a stereotype?  An attribute that applies to the an object,  person or phenomenon that may not endure but is provisionally valid.

In short, the authors of AI have not yet managed to cause their AI to lie successfully or persuasively about certain facts, persons or phenomena. So Google issues a legal warning ““Bard may display inaccurate or offensive information that doesn’t represent Google’s views.”

I am reminded of the problem of Egyptian water clocks. The ancient Egyptians believed that time ran slower in the hot hours of midday. Getting their water clocks to flow more slowly during the hot hours of midday was a considerable technical challenge. Notice that technology in both cases, AI and water clocks, is made to conform to pre-existing cultural ideas.



The Tyranny of Merit

Michael J. Sandel, the author of The Tyranny of Merit: Can we Find the Common Good, has written something excellent. It is a rapid review of the facts of  and justifications for income inequality, and an equally cogent review of the philosophers and economists who undermine the idea that merit has anything to do with economic success. Sandel has done a great deal of homework. He neatly encapsulates the core thoughts of a number of thinkers; one can educate oneself quickly in the subject matter.

The issue is relevant because everyone talks as if merit were the way to justify income inequality , from Obama to George Bush. Yet, as we have seen, the masses are in revolt against the liberal free trade world order and especially the qualified and presumably meritocratic experts who administer the processes of government. Think Brexit, Trump’s 2016 victory or the Dutch farmer’s revolt.

Sandel echoes something that I have felt for ages: that one of the least tolerable aspects of meritocracy is the necessary concomitant: that one is sitting at the bottom of the heap because one deserves to be there. In the course of Sandel’s review of the subject, he discusses a number of important thinkers  who have seen through the meritocratic arguments.

Some of these arguments dissociate merit from income rewards in a market economy. Others point out that one inherits talents genetically and that a good brain is no more a question of merit than the inheritance of a few million dollars,

Strangely, Hayek Friedrich and John Rawls both come down on the same side: economic rewards have nothing to do with merit. From this basic assumption each draws opposite conclusions. Hayek favours a minimum of governmental interference  in income redistribution, that other, Rawls, advocate for extensive redistribution.

You may recall that Obama got into trouble when he tried to comment on this subject of economic success and just deserts in the 2012 campaign. He attempted, clumsily as it turned out, to point out that success has a lot to do with factors outside of one’s talents and efforts. The Republicans jumped upon his comments because he appeared to denigrate individual effort, whereas he was only saying that success depends a lot on circumstances not built by the entrepreneur himself.

But Sandel dive bombs Obama with greater precision, and it is worth quoting him.

“More than a slip of the tongue, Obama’s awkward attempt to describe the moral debt the successful owe their fellow citizens reflects a weakness in the philosophy of welfare state liberalism, which fails to provide a sense of community adequate to the solidarity it requires.”

I will now address the issue which is on my mind. Who or what generates or supplies the community adequate for the required solidarity?  I am not merely talking about moral debts, as Sandel does, but of the recognition of rights, which are the enforceable aspect of moral debts. My concern is other than income inequality, or rebellion against the experts. The rebellion is coming or is actually underway. And I don’t propose to address growing or shrinking income inequality. I am motivated by a concern that welfare state liberalism, or whatever you call the system of government we have  in North America, fails to provide the sense of community adequate to the solidarity it requires. Ibn Khaldun spoke of this solidarity as as asabiya, the capacity of a people for collective action. That capacity is shrinking, in part because the experts have been so wrong (COVID, global warming etc), and in a greater measure because the current thought revolution, labelled wokeness, sees the very groups that founded liberal society as uniquely unworthy of recognition or respect, and the authors of unforgivable injustice, whose removal and subjugation to yet more experts (DIE, ESG) is official policy.

The principal critique of a rights-based society – as we conceive it now – rests upon the insight that rights are recognized, they are not products of nature. Or as Tom Holland is wont to say, rights are as metaphysical a construction as angels. We recognize rights and we pretend they are derived from a God we no longer believe in. We encode rights in charters and constitutions and we have special institutions of the state, called courts and tribunals, for the recognition of rights. Kind of like institutions of the Church for the recognition of angels.

Now what do rights have to do with community? Good question. They exist in a tension that many find illegitimate or difficult to recognize. According to the absolutists of rights, the community is obliged to recognize my rights, however they are defined by courts and law. The recognition goes in but one direction, as it seems, from the society at large towards the claimant. One speaks of people having rights the way heaven is full of angels. They are recognized because we are obliged to recognize them. Institutions of society may compel my observance of your right. And those very institutions have created, expanded, and compelled recognition of your rights.

I would like to propose that, for the most part, in the modern world, it is the nation that recognizes those rights. At one time it might have been the Church or the Umma, to the extent one can speak of rights existing before the nation state. But in truth one cannot speak of rights existing before they were invented.

George Friedman gave an eloquent lecture on the subject of the relationship of the nation to rights, well worth watching, because Friedman addresses mant central concerns about who or what recognizes rights.

In his lecture Friedman argues that nations are, above all, necessary. They define who your father and other are, what language or languages you speak, and the people to whom you are most closely related. Some of these nations are ethnic, or multiethnic. Some, like the United States Canada and, I would argue, France, are political constructions that form a nation not tethered to ethnicity. Your identity is not something you invented. The nation has not invented you but has rather given birth to you.

We belong to nations, tribes, villages. Formerly we were tied into empires, which cannot co-exist with national self determination.  Liberalism  gave us democracies. And it allows us to choose our leaders. But leaders of what?  asks Friedman. Nations, he answers. The revolutions of the 19th century were for liberties, and the right to self-determine. Language, common mythologies, religions: these are the things that unite us to some and divide us from others.

It is the nation that determines the course you take. Hence, according to Friedman, nationalism is not the opposite of liberalism, it is the essence of liberalism. The nation is the vehicle through which rights are determined and assigned.

Not charters and constitutions, but nations.

If you live in Quebec, as I do, as a linguistic minority, it is more evident that my rights to speak my language in communication with the state, or to record my legal acts in the state registries, is extended or extinguished by act of a parliament composed of people belonging to another ethnicity or nation, and definitely not sympathetic to my own.

So it seems obvious to me that rights depend on the tolerance of the national majority, and much less on the formal adjudicative decision making tribunals of government.

Thus, when we turn to English Canada, whatever can be said to remain of it, we observe a nation in the process of self dissolution, under the direction of its Liberal government. It resembles more than I would like a multi-ethnic hotel. The staff, the maintenance, the heating and cooling people, to extend the metaphor, are those who belong to the vanishing nation of English Canada, while the waves of new immigrants are conceived to be the guests who are expected to fit in as their convenience dictates to the previously existing structure, which has been vitiated by racism, sexism etc. and needs to be replaced. This may be the Liberal government’s idea of Canada. I doubt it it the new immigrant’s idea of Canada.


The essence of the matter is that the social solidarity on which the nation depends – including especially its liberal features – cannot forever endure the attempts of the Liberal party, the party of the Davos men, the WEF,  and the experts, to dissolve the nation which gives meaning and content to those rights it espouses and seeks to promote. Which is why, I think, that the rebellion against the experts by the people is actually underway, and that the coming defeat of Justin Trudeau and his party is the symptom of a much more general rebellion against the experts, the credentialled fools,  across western society. It cannot come to soon. Because, whatever you call this reign we live under, it fails to provide a sense of community adequate to the solidarity it requires.


Post Script:

On the issue of the increasing separation of the meritocrats (the self regarding credentialed elites) from the rest of the people, see this interview with Professor Matthew Goodwin.








Davos: Such a special group of people

I love these little clips from Davos where our governors gathers to suck each others cocks, metaphorically speaking. Their true beliefs and attitudes are revealed.




If you want to scare yourself, go to this webpage and calculate what a dollar used to be worth. It is the Bank of Canada inflation calculator.


How to use this calculator

  1. Enter any dollar amount. (Commas and spaces may be used.)
  2. Enter the years you wish to compare between 1914 and the current year.
  3. Click Calculate.



2002 CPI = 100.0

Data source: Statistics Canada, Consumer Price Indexes for Canada, Monthly (V41690973 series)

When my mother bought a load of good quality bread in 1960 for 25 cents, she was paying $2.44 in 2022 currency. Equivalent quality artisanal bread today costs about $5.00 a loaf.

My first annual salary of $12,500 in 1974 is now $69, 338, which is considerably higher than what the same rank in the civil service gets today. Go figure.

Darwin’s Cathedral: David Sloan WIlson or, How far does evolution spread?

David Sloan Wilson - This View Of Life

David Sloan Wilson



I feel as if I have never completely understood religion, though I am an Anglican and a believer. There are so many reasons for this incomplete understanding: rational temperament, a secular age, and a skeptical mind. Despite every modern influence, which largely act as justifications for materialist just-so stories, I have experienced mental events that are outside of the framework of  18th century Humean phenomena. I believe in God because I have done a lot of acid in my youth and felt the mystery and the outside edges of the power. I trust my experiences. These may be inadequate motives for the priest and the skeptic alike. I do not care: they are mine.

Another reason for not understanding religion is that it is like marriage: it has to be experienced. Hence pick your idea of God carefully. And to remind: Meister Eckhart said, “God is not an idea”. Hence the difficulty.

Which brings me to David Sloan Wilson’s Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion and the Nature of Society.  I have found it a slog, not because it is excessively complicated or jargon-ridden. Quite the opposite: it is clear. What he is arguing is difficult to understand, for me at least, because Wilson takes issue with two Very large Ideas of  contemporary thought at the same time.

First, it concerns evolution in the Darwinian sense of that term. We are used to evolution being understood at the genetic or the biological level. For materialist purists like Dawkins, evolution is entirely a genetic affair, where the proteins dance to the tune called by the genes, and religion for men like him is so much mistaken balderdash.

The second level of Wilson’s arguments takes issue with a number of schools of interpretation of religion that seek to understand it in every manner except that which it truly is, says Wilson: as a system of behaviour and thought that is highly adaptive – that is, promotes fitness and survival, and which encourages in-group cooperation, trust, cohesion, and group strength. Wilson does not use these words to denigrate religion. He uses words drawn from sociology and anthropology without trying to say that these words define religion, or that secular utility of religion is its essence.

In short, Wilson takes issue with two streams of thought. One, that evolution is confined to the biological. Dawkins and Ernst Meyer would seem to think evolution is confined to the biological. We are so accustomed to this restrictive idea of evolution that it takes some adjustment to see what the issue is. I can hear David Berlinski in my head, asking in his Bostonian drawl about some broadly held tenet of modern nonsense: “really? Really?”. I recall Rupert Sheldrake talking about believing in “a radically evolutionary universe”, where even the laws of nature evolve and thus, are better thought of as habits than as laws.

Wilson inhabits a radically evolutionary understanding of reality.

Religion is a subject that depends radically on what explanatory stance is taken towards it. By explanatory stance I refer to theory: is it exploitation? A mirage? A by-product? A functional response to the free-rider problem and social coordination?

To illustrate the problem of theory Wilson cites Darwin exploring the geology of a Welsh mountain valley with a view to finding fossils.

“We spent many hours in Cwm Idwal, examining all the rocks with extreme care, as Sedgwick was anxious to find fossils in them; but neither of us saw the trace of wonderful glacial phenomena all around us; we did not notice the plainly scored rocks, the perched boulders, the lateral and terminal moraines. Yet these phenomena are so conspicuous that a house burnt down by fire did not tell its story more plainly than did this valley. If it had still been filled by a glacier, the phenomena would have been less distinct than they are now.”

To cite Einstein, “theory determines what is observed.” The study of religion is peculiarly fraught with this risk. Darwin failed to see evidence of glaciation because he had not the idea to guide him. Many a scholar seeking to explain religion is equally blind, says Wilson.

The difficulty of Wilson’s thesis (religion is adaptive in an evolutionary sense) lies in the number of foxholes of opposed ideas he has to clear out before his theory prevails. Unfortunately for the reader, the number is great, and they are resolutely defended.

The second and lesser difficulty is the name that Wilson has chosen for his ideas of evolution: multilevel selection theory. It is called ‘multilevel’ because it sees evolution occurring at the genetic, biological, individual and group levels. It might well have been more sexy to call it the “radically evolutionary theory“, which would have thrown the burden back on the materialists who see evolution as applying to the genetic level only.

David Sloan Wilson is making many proposals regarding evolution and religion in his book Darwin’s Cathedral and it is beyond the scope of this short essay to describe them all. It continues to impress me with its profundity, coherence, and sympathy for what religion actually accomplishes. Above all  – from my perspective – Wilson combats the Dawkins idea that religion is a form of mental parasite.

Wilson looks like a Presbyterian minister,  talks like a well educated Yankee, and  lives in New York state. He is a great scholar and expounder upon Darwin, yet it takes a while to understand that what he is saying is fundamentally important, possibly because he looks like he could be a cousin or neighbour. He looks so ordinary, and he asks and answers such important questions.

He has overturned the gene-centric evolutionary model. He has re-founded our understanding of religion in evolutionary terms. He has been a lone voice crying in the wilderness, and has been vindicated by the passage of time. More people should know of him and his work.


Wilson in real life talks here.

And gives a speech at UBC here.



Quotations from David Sloan Wilson:

“For me, the failure of religion to achieve universal brotherhood is like the failure of birds to break the sound barrier.”

[to make a bird fly faster than sound] “you will need to discover a design breakthrough that was missed by the natural selection process….When we criticize a religion or a social system for failing to perform better or to expand its moral circle still wider, we often implicitly assume that the problem is like a broken wing with an easy solution….Improving the adaptedness of society may require appreciating the adapted sophistication that already exists.” [p.217-218]


“Much religious belief does not represent a form of mental weakness but rather the healthy functioning of a biologically and culturally well-adapted mind. Rationality is not the gold standard against which all other forms of thought are to be judged. Adaptation is the gold standard against which rationality must be judged, along with other forms of thought….If there is a trade-off between two forms of realism, such that out beliefs can become adaptive only by becoming factually less true. then factual realism will be the loser every time…..It is the person who elevates factual truth  above practical truth who must be accused of mental weakness from an evolutionary perspective.” [at p 228]


and now we go over the edge….

This is what the evolutionary theorist Donald Hoffman says in his book “The Case Against Reality” “What you see is an adaptive fiction”.  

Hoffman has taken the adaptiveness argument to its logical extreme. Evolution is there to guide us to adaptive behaviour, not to elucidate reality. The Hoffman argument treats the representations we experience in the same light as icons on the desktop. The voltage changes inside the computer that cause email to be written are forever hidden from the user. Adaptedness gives us the desktop, not the innards.

And this is the point that Stephen Pinker does not quite get in his book “Rationality”.

So many theories, so little time.





Catastrophism, Malthus, and Optimism

We are incomparably better off than we were in the past, and only concerted human effort can wreck it. We are richer than Rockefeller. Things have improved hugely in our lifetimes, and in the lifetimes of our parents and grandparents. This point of view was well expressed in a recent interview of Warren Buffet, who spoke of the enormous increase of wealth in American society and around the world in the space of three generations. Rockefeller had no flat screen, and had to go to a football stadium to see a game, nor did he have any antibiotics that cured me only weeks ago. Calvin Coolidge’s son died of a staphylococcus infection that would have been cured by a tube of non-prescription ointment.

If you want to see how much better things have got for everyone, see a video by Hans Rosling. Our ideas of human population, health, income and family size in the world are in the main obsolete by about forty years.

And yet….

Beyond the froth of electoral politics, and at deeper levels, a movement has arisen that, since the 1970s, has proclaimed a revolution against this wealth. Its success has been spectacular. It dominates governments. It has the majority of population in its grip. Highly intelligent people believe it to be based in incontrovertible fact. Policies are devised at the most minute levels to adapt to its dictates: plastic spoons are banned, grocery bags are switched from paper to plastic and back again, on lines of reasoning adapted to this theory. More than this, energy production is curtailed, pipelines not built, even when they are proven to be safe and effective, and vast tracts of land are turned over to solar panels and wind turbines which have demonstrably less effectiveness in generating energy than machines that burn fuels.

This doctrine announced itself in the Club of Rome’s “Limits to Growth” paper in  1972. Earth’s carrying capacity is limited; we are overstepping natural limits; catastrophe lies ahead unless we do something; the population pressures we humans place on the planet need to be reduced – by reducing the number of people. You don’t have to dig to deep to find a deep pessimism in this doctrine.

The blurb for the Club of Rome’s book starts like this:

“Published 1972 – The message of this book still holds today: The earth’s interlocking resources – the global system of nature in which we all live – probably cannot support present rates of economic and population growth much beyond the year 2100, if that long, even with advanced technology.”


The ideology is a combination of warmed-over Thomas Malthus (overpopulation) with a belief in central planning of the world’s economy that would cheer the heart of Karl Marx. It dominates political assumptions. It is the principal form that leftism took when the Communist system collapsed in the Soviet Union.

We have never been so wealthy, and we have never been so pessimistic about our collective futures.

This is the central contradiction of our times. Most western governments are busy harming the economies of our countries with a view to preventing climate change.  Pessimism may wreck the rising tide of wealth creation, which has been fueled by technology, energy production, and civic culture.

More than anything else, I remain a believer that things will get even better, if we only give progress a chance. The pessimists – in the form of Malthusians, limits to growthists – are now in charge. It is their day. We have federal ministers in this country who are seriously bent on wrecking the economy of the one province in Canada that pays the pensions of the rapidly aging populations of Ontario and Quebec.

For a more eloquent exposition of the optimistic view, I again recommend the recent interview with Warren Buffet by Charlie Rose. Buffett expresses the hopeful view, which I think is well justified. I don’t buy into the dark views of ecological doomists.