Unmeasurable antidotes

I have a complaint about science as the current principal truth model.  For science to function you have to have repeatable experiments and you have to be able to measure things.  For many things which i think are important (revolutions and romances jump to mind) both repeatability and measurability are impossible.  There are no good metrics and they are often chronologically unique.  This does not make science in itself bad, but it certainly causes distortions, where we focus on less important things because we can “get more truth” over there.

Lack of love we can measure

Lack of love we can measure

Similarly, the mainstream promoted values of self reliance and independence have negative side effects.  The commercial interpretation of self reliance and independence is that you need to uniquely own everything you need to survive and thrive.  This leads to tremendous idle capacity.  Which leads to the accelerated degradation of the planet.

Trust me, there are lots of alternatives

Trust me, there are lots of alternatives

Some years back the globalization fans were fond of calling it a TINA proposition. There is No Alternative.  This is a catchy name for a profound failure of imagination. Globalization is the current flavor of industrial capitalism which feeds our insatiable need for stuff.  When i talk with mainstream audiences, the idea of affluent people consuming less to save the planet for future generations it goes over pretty poorly. Even the most radical of audiences think that voluntary austerity is an anti-gravity proposition.  But then i pull out my trick question.

“What if i told you that you could work less and have access to more wealth and resources (and save the world as a secondary side benefit)?  This often gets people’s attention.  Especially busy people, who are already pressed for time, think this might be a lovely solution and they want to know more.

Where can i find more time?

Where can i find more time?


The principal thing which stops people from living this more luxurious lifestyle is trust.  Because we are generally unwilling to trust other people with your stuff, everyone has to have their own everything.  And almost all of it sits idle almost all the time.  If alternatively we can trust each other, then we can share.  This is not a trivial proposition.  There is logistical leg work, like avoiding brittle sharing agreements, including scheduling and routine or catastrophic repairs.

And this is where community comes in.  More important than any of the products of our cottage industries make, communities are trust building engines.  We are not perfect, certainly and some are much better than others.  But at their core communities share things, both socio-cultural and material.  These cultures help us share and build trust.

We don’t have units to measure trust.  There is little critique of “self reliance” and it’s associated idle resources.  But there is an alternative.  If you are interested in this low hanging fruit of a better world, i would encourage you to strongly consider coming to this years communities conference. August 29th thru Sept 1, 2014 at Twin Oaks in Virginia.

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

3 responses to “Unmeasurable antidotes”

  1. keenantwinoaks says :

    Well said! I’d be willing to bet that clever people could come up with a metric for “trust.”

    • Linda Kruhmin says :

      Isn’t oxytocin the bonding chemical, for trust and belonging? (having a baby, having a pet, having a massage, etc.; not necessarily in that order….) Surely we can find an easy method to measure oxytocin!

  2. Will says :

    I am so tired of science-bashing, and I’m especially frustrated when someone as smart as you succumbs to stupid attacks on science. (1) Not all science is experimental science; in fact, experimental science only came along after some thousands of years of observational science, where people tried to make sense of the world by observing everything they could see — sometimes lots of similar events, and sometimes rare events not likely to be replicated. Note that many scientific activities, such as categorizing plants and animals to make a phylogenetic tree, do not involve measurement. (2) Nearly all scientists acknowledge that science has a domain that doesn’t include everything: art, love, religion, etc. lie pretty much outside of science. That shouldn’t make you criticize science; we don’t criticize art, love, and religion for their pathetic inability to explain most of the world. But note that there are things that once lay outside the domain of science — astrology became astronomy, psychology and sociology can now provide useful descriptions and predictions, meteorology has developed some powerful tools, and even economics has useful things to say sometimes. So, Pax, don’t be a dummy. The next time I hear you making a mindless attack on science, I’m gonna burn a lot of fossil fuel just to fly out there and smack you.

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