Saturday, October 01, 2005

Responding to Yamauchi's Paradox

Peaknik posted at The Oil Drum that he'd like some opinion on what he'd written on his own blog, so I followed him there and posted what follows:

At The Oil Drum you mentioned writing this piece, and that it would be nice to hear some opinion about what happens when your mind and your job go in different directions.

It's not just gamers or Mr. Yamauchi. I think the majority of brilliant people don't seem to acknowledge the problem of peak oil, because brilliant people are just a subset of people, and of the various personality types among people, only a small number seem to see this problem. I read somewhere that someone had looked at this and concluded that of the 16 Myers-Briggs types, peak oilers came from just two of those types. Personality-types and population proportions are two different things, but peak oil worriers are in the minority in either case.

Someone observed that people tend to reject uncomfortable truths in favor of comfortable falsehoods. It's just the way most of us are. You can see the same workings in other arenas like religion or belief in perpetual growth against limits.

Michael Shermer (of Skeptic Magazine among other things) thinks that smart people believe weird things because they are very good at rationalizing. Sounds plausible to me.

So what do you and I do in the face of all this? Have you read "On The Beach" or seen the movie(s)? What would you do if presented with the fact of impending catastrophe? Well, it's not radiation, but it sure seems to me that for various reasons the fairly near-term future is rather likely to be catastrophic. What to do when there's no real hope? Pretend or act as though there is hope and aspire to be proven wrong in the end? Why not; it's probably kinder.

Don't let me stop you, but I don't think you'd be likely to accomplish much by starting a dialog among gamers because gamers are just people, too. Some number of them are already aware or could be made aware, but I think the population of gamers would break out in similar proportion to the general population on this and similar issues. Gamers might even be worse than the general population if the Google crowd's reaction to Kunstler is a guide. "Yo, Dude, you're so, like, wrong! We've got, like, technology!"

I don't think there are any tipping points to be reached before their time here, and their time probably won't come until it's too late, unfortunately.

To each his own, I guess. As for me, I like the line from that Tom Hanks movie about being stranded on a desert island where he says something like, "You've just got to keep on breathing, because you never know what tomorrow might bring."

Guess I'd better go post this comment on my own blog now. Thanks for giving me something to write about.

Salud, amor, pesetas, y el tiempo para disfrutarlas! Steve

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