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Are we on the road to civilisation collapse?

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https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190218-are-we-on-the-road-to-civilisation-collapse

bbc.com

Are we on the road to civilisation collapse?
Studying the demise of historic civilisations can tell us about the risk we face today, says collapse expert Luke Kemp. Worryingly, the signs are worsening.

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When civilizations collapse

When civilizations collapse

Looking at the rise and fall of historical civilizations, the forces that precipitate or delay a collapse can tell us about our own.

We can define collapse as a rapid and enduring l...

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We're not immune to collapse

Societies of the past and present are just complex systems comprising of people and technology.

Although we have better technologies, we are not immune to the threats that faced our...

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A roadmap of past collapses

Although there is no conclusive explanation of why civilizations collapse, there are factors that can contribute.

  • Climatic change can result in disaster, resulting i...

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Metrics for our chance of collapse

Four possible metrics serve as indicators to see if our chance of collapse is falling or rising.

  1. Temperature is a clear metric for climate change.
  2. ...

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Measures of resilience

The collapse metrics are not the whole picture without also adding societal resilience, which may delay or prevent collapse.

  • Global economic diversity

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The past as our teacher

In the past, collapse was within a region. Today the world is deeply interconnected and interdependent, making societal collapse more treacherous.

  • The weapons available today range f...

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Responsibility and Prevention

History suggests that a collapse of our civilization, although likely, is not inevitable.

We may slow the chance of a future collapse if we reduce emissions, level inequalities, reverse env...

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Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy Theories

In the earlier times, conspiracy theories were a convenient way to cover up the inadequacies of the government, and putting a set of helpless people as a scapegoat, cloaking the misdeeds or mismana...

We Love A Good Story

The organic and unpredictable nature of conspiracy theories had led many researchers to investigate the cause of the phenomenon.

  • Successful conspiracy theories always tend to invent a great villain, have a backdrop or a backstory, and a morality lesson that can be easily understood by most.
  • Great stories are by nature more magnetic and appealing than the truth.
  • Human beings think and understand in stories. For thousands of years, fairy tales, legends, anecdotes and mysteries have helped our brains make sense of the world.

Collective Hysteria

Every society has its own, unique anxieties and obsessions, and the conspiracy theories that gain good mileage are the ones that tap into these primal fears.

Example: Many people fear vaccination of the children due to fears that the mass drive to vaccinate such a large population has some ulterior motive, like a mass medical experiment. The dodgy past record of the health care system, and the fact that the vaccination is free of charge, of course, adds fuel to the fire.

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Rules

We all feel the oppressive presence of rules. We think rules are hampering our freedom and argue that they should be broken.

It is not really the rules that are the problem, but the unjustifi...

A life without rules

Imagine living in a world without rules. 

  • Language follows rules. Breaking away from the rules of language makes us incoherent.
  • Consider the rules of sport or games, the rules of chess or football. Without the rules, chess wouldn't be chess. A game without rules is no game at all.
  • Daily norms tell us what we can and can't do and make our social interactions run smoothly.
  • Rules about driving on the left or the right, not littering, queueing are the building blocks of a harmonious society.

Anarchy

Some people would prefer a society without government, where individual freedom comes first.

However, a world that promotes anarchy is inherently unstable. Humans continually make new rules to govern and do so as quickly as old rules are overturned.

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Have a Succession Plan

Alexander the Great built one of the largest empires in history in just a few short years, and it fell apart just as quickly. As soon as Alexander died, his generals carved up his empire into pi...

Know When To Take Big Risks

Prince William Of Orange led the Dutch rebellion against Spain, then the most powerful empire in the world. To stop the advance of the more powerful Spanish army he pulled down several dikes and flooded a large portion of the Dutch countryside, contributing largely to the defeat of the Spanish.

Recognize when you can't beat your competitors and find a way to differentiate yourself.

Maintain Your Flexibility

During the Cuban missile crisis, many of JFK's advisors advised a full military invasion of Cuba. JFK held off on these plans, opting instead for a naval blockade and negotiations with Soviet leaders, all while planning for a possible invasion if these tactics failed.

Don't commit yourself to a strategic path without first evaluating all of the options available to you.

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A network is more than just a group of individuals

A network is more than just a group of individuals

In addition, a network has ties between people.

The connections between individuals are what changes a group to a network.

Social networks have a strong effect on our ideas

You may think it was your idea to keep your desk neat or speak up in a meeting, but your behavior was likely influenced by those in your network.

Once we understand social networks, we can use its power to shape workplaces for the better. You can turn an unhappy team into an innovative, collaborative one.

We naturally copy others

Your experiences in the world is not only a product of your own desires, actions, and thoughts, but also a product of the desires, actions, and thoughts of people around you.

The things that are seemingly personal to you are actually very strongly influenced by similar traits in other people. You do have agency. You can choose what to do. But you're also affected by what others are doing. Both are true.

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One of the reasons why Stoicism is enjoying a revival today is that it gives concrete answers to moral questions.

Aristotle gave us an alternative conception of happiness

It cannot be acquired by pleasurable experiences but only by identifying and realizing our own potential, moral and creative, in our specific environments, with our particular family, friends and colleagues, and helping others to do so. 

How we perceive philosophy

How we perceive philosophy

When most people think of philosophy, they believe philosophers simply argue about arguing. Philosophy is viewed as impractical and irrelevant to current issues.

In...

Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell

"Science is what you know. Philosophy is what you don’t know."

Defining philosophy

Philosophy is examining our understanding of reality and knowledge. Philosophy consists of three major branches:

  1. Metaphysics - What is true about existence.
  2. Epistemology - How we can know that it is true. Epistemology has given us science, logic/reason, economics, psychology, and other theories of knowledge.
  3. Ethics - What actions we should take as a result of this knowledge. Ethics contains concepts such as democracy, human rights, the treatment of animals, and the environment.

When you order your thoughts into a coherent belief system, you are engaging in philosophy. To criticize philosophy, you must rely on philosophy.

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Safe To Forget

As machines become increasingly capable, along with computer memory, power and space being abundantly available, our brains are in a transition phase.

Earlier we had to remember a lot, do cal...

Information In Your Head

As technology advances and the internet gets dramatically more powerful, the need to retain information in our heads diminishes.

Google and other search engines which deploy AI, work as our 'memory partners' and provide us access to most of the human knowledge.

Peer-To-Peer Memory Networks

Our ancestors had a manual 'peer-to-peer' memory network to pass on knowledge to the future generations; it wasn't reliable but worked for a long time.

Now we believe AI is better and more objective to provide us with information, which might not be the case.

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“It is not primarily our physical selves that limit us but rather our mindset about our physical limits.” 

Ellen Langer

Describing the nature of mindsets

  • Mindsets are unique to everyone.
  • Mindsets are created by experiences.
  • Mindsets create blind spots. They provide us with fragmented ways of looking at the world.
  • Mindsets are self-deceptive.
  • Mindsets shape our everyday lives. Changing our lives means shifting our mindsets.
  • Mindsets create our shared world. They are a powerful leverage point for cultural and systemic change.
  • Mindsets can be transcended, using mindfulness.

The three basic mindsets

  • The fixed mindset: Believes strengths are innate gifts that can't be developed.
  • The growth mindset: Believes strengths can be developed with effort.
  • The benefit mindset: Believes in developing strengths and meaningfully contributes to a future of greater possibility.

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