Eclectic Spacewalk #0 - Hello World!
"Tripping over the Truth" allegory, What is Eclectic Spacewalk? How? & Why?
|Nicholas McCay||Jul 1, 2019|
Table of contents:
Hello world! — (12 minute read)
“Tripping over the Truth” allegory — Ethical questions of tactics on a certain messy, smelly, but quite natural & widespread problem.
What is Eclectic Spacewalk? — Broad & diverse range of Earth philosophies viewed from outer space
But How? — Change the world by updating humanity’s value system(s).
Why? — Issues such as Artificial Intelligence, Genetic Engineering, Climate Change, and other existential threats to Earth go beyond any one political, economic, or social system.
Two book excerpts from a “subscriber’s only” post - Down to Earth by Bruno Latour & Team Human by Douglass Rushkoff
Top 15 “Thought Leaders” Audio podcasts
Top 30 “Thought Leaders” Video channels
Reading Time: 12 minutes
“Tripping over the Truth” allegory
Before we begin on our Eclectic Spacewalk journey, I would like to tell you an allegory about “Tripping over the Truth.” This will be a blatant cliche of a literary device to draw, you the reader, in closer. You will then be “primed” for the information I am about to bequeath thee.
Let us commence with the curiosity!
Back in 2000, an Indian-born agriculturalist Kamal Kar pioneered a behavior change strategy called Community Led Total Sanitation, or CLTS, that was being used for the first time in Bangladesh. The new approach was to try and combat the sanitation issue of open defecation aka human poop everywhere. The focus was using shame and disgust as the driving force for improvement, but the approach was questioned by critics, rightfully so or not. (As the people being “shamed” were usually without resources and poor.) Amanda Glassman, Director of Global Health Policy at the Center for Global Development, says the research shows "that lives are saved, that disease is prevented, that kids are healthier and live through childhood. That we know for sure, and then the question is, are the tactics worth it." Glassman says there are definite ethical questions, but "it's unethical to let children die too."
“The "walk of shame" — a tour through a neighborhood led by a Community Led Total Sanitation facilitator — draws on the powerful force of social pressure in tight-knit communities. Other CLTS methods include visceral demonstrations of bacterial contamination. One strategy is to show how flies in contact with open feces invisibly contaminate drinking water by touching a piece of human hair — representing a fly's leg — to a pile of stool, dunking the hair in a cup of water and asking someone to drink from the clean-looking but obviously contaminated water.”
This is such a great story for numerous reasons, but the big take away is that biases are sometimes so ingrained in the human psyche that the person literally does not know what they are doing or why they are doing it.
The villagers “tripped over the truth” and the fact that flies were contaminating their food after coming into contact with their feces aka their & other’s poop. Yikes! That must of been a heavy moment for all involved, but arguably needed to be done for a better community of humans. Or did it? Think on that as we continue.
I want to take the above story, change it a bit, and use as a catalyst for humanity’s future moral growth through changing it’s value systems. I want to help people, and humanity as a whole trip over their own truths by using awe, education, and connection to their fellow humans as the driving force. And to notice the “water.” That is exactly what I want Eclectic Spacewalk to be for each and everyone of you!
“Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems.” ― Epictetus
Tripping over the Truth with Eclectic Spacewalk
Whether you are a generalist, or a specialist, or one who likes to put on both caps - like I do - there is something for everyone to learn. We live in the greatest time in the history of humanity, let’s start acting like it!
Eclectic Spacewalk = Broad & diverse range of Earth philosophies viewed from outer space
Asking poignant questions, following the brightest minds in every field, compiling the information from a totality mindset (to better help all decision making processes and those that make them), and continually learning from the causal connections of mind/the environment & their understanding of each other - has become my: WHY?
The bottom line is: we have to work together in our collective humanity to make this experience better for anyone and everyone. Yes, even those not here right now. (Including righting the wrongs of our collective past & it’s pain that billions have suffered from, as well as our descendants who inherit the world we give them). Personally, I am trying to do this through my curiosity of how the world works. Eclectic as an adjective means: “deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources,” and when you add Spacewalk, then you have a Point of View deriving from at least Near Earth Orbit looking down - or even better from the Moon - looking down on Earth.
But, I like the philosophical definition the most! It is a perfect distillation of my goal as a human being: “denoting or belonging to a class of ancient philosophers who did not belong to or found any recognized school of thought but selected doctrines from various schools of thought.” I am constantly learning and updating my way of thinking, as Eclectic Spacewalk is the mechanism from which I draw everything together. I hope you join in with your own way of Eclectic Spacewalking!
Eclectic Spacewalk will be a weekly newsletter about the different heuristics, ideas, and modalities of thinking we can employ as individuals and as collectives of humans. These tools will allow us to see our reality critically, and thus hopefully make it a better one for ALL.
The first 10 newsletters will be as follows:
The “Overview Effect”
Object Oriented Ontology
Non-Zero Sum Game
“Skin in the Game”
Four Futures of Economics
Basic Outline of Newsletter (Free & “hopefully” every week)
An Idea, Heuristic, or Modality of Thinking:
Abstract/Elevator Pitch (SHORT for learning & dissemination):
3-5 points of 3-5 paragraphs
Text: Books, Papers, PDFs
Audio: Audiobooks & Podcasts
Video: Documentaries, Features, Short Films
There will be a subscription option for those that wish to support making Eclectic Spacewalk more than part-time. This will include interviews, reviews, and other eclectic content for $5/month. I am also open to using my journalistic & research background to crowd source some deeper dive topics to subscribers.
How should Earthly society be organized to increase the happiness, fulfillment, and continuing betterment of the lives of all humans AND other life on Earth?
Change the world by updating humanity’s value system(s). Through an ever increasing adherence to objectively getting at the truth (cause & effect answers to: why anything does anything?), we can begin to see our value system(s) scaffolding structure taking mold. At the very least they need to be based on our present reality. The late, great physicist Richard Feynman said, “by seeing anew or from a different point of view - such as a Martian” you can see that things are related and where your & humanity’s thought modality biases are. Earth has to update it’s narrative to one that is concurrent with our present place as a space faring civilization during the Anthropocene epoch, along with the consilience of ALL knowledge that we have amassed since the beginning of history. That information includes - where our literal location in the cosmos is to the progression of technology towards more productive capacities and everywhere in between.
The “overview effect” is a psychological phenomenon that astronauts have mentioned as an almost transcendence like experience of seeing the Earth from the International Space Station orbital height, or even when we reached the moon and looked back at our blue marble. Almost all, if not moved by the sheer grandeur of our ball of rock, recognize the preciousness of our oasis in the death grip of space, there are no human borders - only geographic, and finally the compelling need to help EVERY Earthling. Race, gender, class, background, life form, et al goes right out the window when the sheer awe of our situation becomes apparent. This should be our starting point for any discussion on any subject moving forward. How does this affect Earth, and the Earthlings (yes, not just humans) on it?
Humanity, through our uncanny evolution in thinking, has devised technology that places us in the cosmos of space & time. Through the Hubble Ultra Deep Field photo we see that one small patch of darkness has actually ~10,000 galaxies that are only visible with sensitive instruments. Not to mention the little fact that the light we see is actually millions and billions of years old.
We time travel through the universes’ past, and can deduce some, hopefully, viable options on how it will act in the future. Living in the Future’s past. With our species proclivity to be innovative, we have also looked deeper and deeper INTO the universe to show the inner workings of the architecture of our environment. The below is an absolute astonishing photo of a single atom. The scale between Hubble’s photo and the atom photo is almost incomprehensible…Almost…
Alas, if there are two images that would sum up the goal of what Eclectic Spacewalk is trying to convey, then it would have to be these (side by side) after the recent release of the first ever photo of a black hole.
“One day after #EventHorizon announced their picure of a #BlackHole, we finally managed to image a #protein ring using #AFM yesterday - there is a factor of ten sextillion (10^22) between the scalebars of those two images.” - @StefanALWeber
I need to repeat that…
A FACTOR OF TEN SEXTILLION BETWEEN SCALEBARS! That’s a factor of 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.
We know the following about our reality:
An unknown beginning (before 380,000 years at least)
A solar system formed from a dead star’s gas clouds with the addition of heavier elements
A planet that formed in the habitable zone with a satellite (Moon) that stabilizes our it’s wobble & thus climate
Life that still had not replicated Nature’s single cell becoming multi-cell experiment until now
A creature that was a little smaller than a shrew when the dinosaurs were around
Could barely put speech together tens of thousands of years ago
Has had civilization for only thousands of years
Just recently put all this knowledge together within the last 100 years (50 really, since “space race” days)
Our entire viewpoint of reality is through our “human senses” that are hardly objective.
Literally no one has any fucking idea of what to do with Humanity’s pooled together knowledge. (We will talk about Consilience, or The Unity of Knowledge, in the coming weeks.)
Not one person, one group, one geographic region, one religion, no one has the answers, and I would philosophically argue we can never really know “the truth.”
We are incredibly curious and resourceful creatures, but we forget the belittled notion that we are still “animals.” We fail to recognize our animalistic nature because we are conscious (sort of) and have unveiled so many of natures hidden intricacies. But at what cost? To ourselves? Our Future? The above photos don’t really matter if the below photo is still something that can happen in modernity. How conscious can we be if this is the reality for some and not others? The world has more than enough for all, but not enough for the sum total of individual’s greed.
We choose to not act because somehow the incentives to help are less than at least the status quo. Or worse, they are less than the incentives for hurting people. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that is reality. I am no saint, and am absolutely part of the problem along with all of Humanity as a whole. Help me try to make a positive difference!
Why is this the most pressing issue and how do we confront it?
Issues such as Artificial Intelligence, Genetic Engineering, Climate Change, and other existential threats to Earth go beyond any one political, economic, or social system. We have reached an age where things, objects, systems have leapfrogged our understanding of how to effectively deal with the problems that arise from them. Marshall McLuhan said: “World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.”
Some might say this is doom and gloom talk, but it again is our present reality. (Individuals losing some freedom/power along with gaining some freedom/power, the same is true for the community as a whole. This is nothing new, and I doubt will change anytime soon). The good part is that it is absolutely possible to change! Furthermore, we should change for the betterment potential of all life on Earth. If we effectively made the problem, then we can effectively solve it. One of my idols growing up, Robin Williams said: “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”
With issues progressing at a more exponential rate - especially the freedom of individuals using ubiquitous technology - the morals/values/ethics we put into the solutions and embed into the technology are ever more important. We also know that inertia is a son of a bitch. Once something is set, it is increasingly more difficult and requires more work to change it than the status quo to continue.
As the late great Buckminster Fuller said, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
This is my way of making new models. By getting info out there to people to build the better world of tomorrow.
We are currently operating using a zero-sum game theory toward societies, we MUST switch to operating from a non-zero sum game point of view or we will become a vaguely interesting “lost potential” doorstop in the annals of the cosmos. Join me in becoming an Eclectic Spacewalker to help make sure that doesn’t happen!
Text excerpts from a “Subscriber Only” post
An Excerpt from Bruno Latour’s book Down to Earth on: What can be done about problems at once large and so small?” - pg 93-94
“What to do? First of all, generate alternative descriptions…
For what, we must agree to define a dwelling place as that on which a terrestrial depends for its survival, while asking what other terrestrials also depends on it...The Configuration will traverse all scales of space and time.
To define a dwelling place, for a terrestrial, it to list what it needs for its subsistence, and, consequently, what it is ready to defend, with its own life if need be. This holds as true for a wolf as for a bacterium, for a business enterprise as for a forest, for a divinity as for a family…
The challenge obviously lies in drawing up such a list…
In a system of production, the list is easy to make: it consists of humans and resources. In a system of engendering, the task is much more difficult, because the animate beings, the actors that compose it all have their own trajectories and interests.” - pg 94-95
Need to inventory, survey, measure, centimeter by centimeter, being by being, person by person, the stuff that makes up the Earth or us. Have to describe the dwelling places that have become invisible. But it will have to be over time and initial period of unpacking to refine the representation of landscapes from bottom up recomposing.
“It is when we ask this sort of question that we notice our own ignorance. Every time one begins such an investigation, one is surprised by the abstract nature of the responses. And yet questions about engendering turn up everywhere, along with those of gender, race, education, food, jobs, technological innovations, religion, or leisure. But here is the problem: globalization-mius has made us lose sight, in the literal sense, of the cause of effects of our subjections. Hence the temptation to complain in general, and the impression of no longer having any leverage that could enable us to modify the situation.” - pg 96
In Team Human, Douglas Rushkoff argues in one hundred lean and incisive statements, that we are essentially social creatures, and that we achieve our greatest aspirations when we work together - not as individuals. Yet today society is threatened by a vast antihuman infrastructure that undermines our ability to connect.
“Money, once a means of exchange, is now a means of exploitation; education, conceived as a way to elevate the working class, has become another assembly line; and the internet has only further divided us into increasingly atomized and radicalized groups.”
“Engineers at our leading tech firms and universities tend to see human beings as the problem and technology the solution...Any of these technologies could be steered toward extending our human capabilities and collective power. Instead, they are deployed in concert with the demands of a marketplace, political sphere, and power structure that depend on human isolation and predictability in order to operate. Social control is based on thwarting social contact and exploiting the resulting disorientation and despair..challenges us with the possibility that thinking and memory may not be personal at all, but group activities...Thinking, feeling, connected people undermine the institutions that would control them. They always have...All along the way, cynical views of humans as a mindless mob, incapable of behaving intelligently and peacefully, are used to justify keeping us apart and denying us roles as autonomous actors in any of these areas of life. Our institutions and technologies aren't designed to extend our human nature, but to mitigate or repress it. Once our humanity is seen as a liability of a strength, the corresponding cultural drive and spiritual quest is to transcend our personhood: a journey out of body, away from our humanness, beyond matter, and into whatever substrate - be it ether, electrical wavelengths, virtual reality, or AI - we festishive at that moment.” - page 5 & 6 “We are also tying our markets and our security to the continued growth and expanding capabilities of our machines. This is self defeating. We are increasingly dependent on technologies built with the presumption of human inferiority and expendability.” - page 7
Top 15 “Thought Leaders” Audio podcasts:
Top 30 “Thought Leaders” Video Channels:
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Thank You for your time. Until next week, Ad Astra!