Citizen Action Monitor

A full and honest accounting of the severity of our predicament will never be popular — Nate Hagens (31)

We would much rather be entertained with fantasy stories, promised technological quick fixes, or misled by fake news of contrived solutions.

No 2314 Posted by fw, June 25, 2018

To access links to all other posts in this series, click on the Tab titled “Where Are We Going? by Dr. Nate Hagens” in the top left margin. 

“Stories about flying cars and everyone in Bangladesh living as rich as people in Kansas do today because we’re so clever and technology is going to solve [our problems] – those are very popular. Realistic stories, like I’m trying to share with you tonight, are not popular. In fact, people don’t even want to believe them because it means they have to do something about it. But popular sells.”Nate Hagens

In yesterday’s post, Pt. 30, continuum 29, Dr. Hagens’ remarks lacked clarity. For instance, I failed to get the point of the “gorilla and microwave” remark, or of the ecosystem graphic. His main point was that America’s education system is becoming less relevant for the future we are facing. Less specialization and more promotion of systemic understanding is called for.

In today’s post, Pt. 31, continuum 30, Hagens worries that a full and honest accounting of the realistic severity of the human predicament will never be popular with the general public, who would much rather be entertained with fantasy stories, promised technological quick fixes, or misled by social media’s fake news.

Below is the embedded video of Hagens’ 60-minute address, followed by an 18-minute Q&A session. My transcript of Pt. 31, continuum 30, runs from 42:24 to 43:08.

Alternatively, a video of Hagens’ talk, along with a “loosely related” essay on the talk, are available by clicking on the following linked title. This version, published by Resilience.org, also includes excellent readers’ comments, including responses by Hagens.

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Where are we going? by Nate Hagens, Resilience.org, May 8, 2018

TRANSCRIPT (from 42:24 to 43:08)

[OUR CULTURE] –

42:24[Continuum 30: Popular vs Realistic] – Popular versus Realistic. Stories about flying cars and everyone in Bangladesh living as rich as people in Kansas do today because we’re so clever and technology is going to solve [our problems] – those are very popular. Realistic stories, like I’m trying to share with you tonight, are not popular. In fact, people don’t even want to believe them because it means they have to do something about it. But popular sells.

42:56 – There’s 6,000 or 10,000 views of my videos online, where Gangman Style by PSY Korean musician is 4 billion views. So we conflate [equate] the popular with realistic.

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[Resilience.org Supplement] — Popular vs Realistic – A full accounting of the severity of our predicament – on radio, television and in papers, will never be popular. It’s much more comfortable (and profitable) to be entertained, marketed and promised various contrived solutions, usually with some unproven or physically unscalable technology, or based on hard-to-detect fantasy ignoring natural science.  We should recognize that glib solutions, typically aren’t solutions.  But acknowledging that would be… distressing, and unpopular.

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About Dr. Nathan John Hagens – Hagens, 51, worked on Wall Street at Lehman Brothers and Salomon Brothers for 10 years before closing his own hedge fund in 2003 to develop a systems synthesis approach to the human predicament. At present, Dr. Hagens is a professor at the University of Minnesota where he teaches a systems synthesis Honors seminar called Reality 101, A Survey of Human Predicament. The readings and lectures cover literature in systems ecology, energy and natural resources, thermodynamics, history, anthropology, human behavior, neuroscience, environmental science, sociology, economics, globalization/trade, and finance/debt with an overarching goal to give students a general understanding of how our human ecosystem functions as a whole.

Visit Nate Hagens’ personal website at The Monkey Trap.

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