Monday, 20 February 2017

Joe Brewer's YouTube channel

I found Joe Brewer's YouTube channel. It is here.

Joe and I have similar interests. He and I have reviewed some of the same books. While I share Joe's hope that an evolutionary science of culture will result in positive social and political effects, I find Joe's mixture of activism and science a bit tough to swallow. My concern is that the science will get bent out of shape to serve the interests of the activism.

To give a specific example, Joe says:

Take the global ecological crisis as an example. It is now well documented that the convergent threats of climate change, top-soil losses, ocean acidification, deforestation, and ecosystem collapses are deeply intertwined with the cancerous logic of economic growth in our extractive capitalist system. There is no real separation between it and the massive poverty, extreme wealth inequality, political corruption, and all the human suffering caused by these things.
For me, economic growth is positive. These are the best days of humanity so far and things just keep getting better. We live longer, have more money, are more peaceful, healthier and happier than ever before. This has been argued by Matt Ridley, Steven Pinker and others - and they are correct. Those who think that the environment is collapsing probably spend too much time with the news. Humans are news junkies, but the news is a bad way to learn anything.


  1. He says, '... the cancerous logic of economic growth in our extractive capitalist system.' I gather he may be referring to a particularly malignant form of growth, rather than healthy development.

  2. Salimander:

    That quote scans as though it means that the system of capitalism is inherently very bad just by its nature, and like a cancer has no redeeming features. This is a myth. Just the same as thinking that the system of socialism is likewise inherently very bad. If a science of culture is to produce positive results in society, a great part of how it would do so by separating myth, from reason and objective data.

    Here is some data on how we live longer and have more income, including in the developing countries, than historically was the case (press play).;&chart-type=bubbles

    There is no place for activism in science, and that quote from Joe contains more myth too. Whether ACO2 is good, bad, or indifferent regarding the physical climate, the certainty of near-term (decades) calamity is a cultural assertion that has nothing to do with science. It is a socially enforced consensus that itself is an emergent property of emotive (and so highly selective) co-evolving memes.