The problems get bigger and the minds keep getting smaller


Paul Wallis, Sydney Media Jam CO2When you think of all the possibilities for human advancement in to a species almost worth calling intelligent, it’s a grim picture. The minds managing the most crucial issues aren’t anywhere near the kind of thinking required to solve problems and get ahead of them.

We could have had Star Trek by now or something like it if it wasn’t for the seemingly endless reduction of everything to tinier and tinier fractions of the big ideas.  The big ideas are too big for the small minds.

I wish this was intellectual snobbery at work. Sadly, it’s not. It’s observation, and the observations truly stink. It’s easy to denigrate anyone or anything on the basis of what they don’t do. It’s far too easy for my tastes. It’s also off target.

For example:

Wanderlaugh, Paul Wallis books, Amazon

My books are set in the England of the immortals, not some dreary little off license. Wonder why? No.

The subject is ending world hunger. The result in terms of actual thinking is a catfight over everything but practical issues. I’ve been watching starving people all over the world for decades, and absolutely nothing has changed.

Meanwhile, imagine the thinking required to obstruct ending world hunger. It can’t be rational, it can’t be even coherent, yet people continue to starve for no good reason. Apply this lack of mental cohesion to:

  • Pollution
  • Health
  • Education
  • Housing
  • Quality of life
  • Unprecedented levels of parasitic crime
  • Human aspirations in general

This is why we have unheard-of levels of technology and unheard-of levels of imbecility at the same time. Nothing is impossible, and yet nothing, or near enough to nothing, gets done.

In the case of human hunger, you can have sophist/regressionist arguments like:

“Why end world hunger? There are too many people. Maybe starvation will make people breed more responsibly.” This load of self-satisfied/we’re so superior (you’re not) crap can actually be considered a rational viewpoint in some areas of gaga land. The fact that population pressures have never been addressed competently at all in most countries, of course, is neither mentioned nor factored in to existing situations. It’s the starving people’s fault.

And so on. Every single damn problem on Earth is fixable, and the chances of them getting fixed are exactly zip or less.

The problem that has to be fixed first is the total lack of objectivity. Small minds have small aspirations. To be head idiot is enough. To preside over adoring morons is sufficient. To do anything, however, is likely to be a very modest attempt at meeting a random selection of “achievements”, however banal.

The randomness with which problems are seen and addressed is one of the big issues. There’s no system. Imagine a type of scientific research where bits of a subject are researched on a “whatever” basis. Consider basic human daily issues. You get fabulous deodorants, but no broad spectrum disease prevention. You get driverless cars, but no working traffic system which maximises movement.

In this case the thinking isn’t just small minds doing small things badly. There’s no thinking at all. Even the idea of systemic progress and development barely exists outside science fiction. The theory and mechanics of them are there, in everything from town planning to economics, but not much really happens.

Paul Wallis books, sydney media jam

This book is all about creative ideas. Nobody has yet died of reading it, but it’s a pretty tough call for those not familiar with working with ideas. “Passive voice”, eh?

Humanity just blunders on through a maze of avoidable disasters, and the thinking is no more advanced than the next election or next funding episode. The problems have become gigantic in direct proportion to the smallness of the minds supposedly there to solve them.

The lack of trust in government is based on this observation. Globally, most governments are despised with a contempt they thoroughly deserve.  Those who do nothing/have done nothing aren’t expected to do much. In fact, merely saying that you’ll do something is enough to give you far more credibility than you deserve.

Why such small minds?

It’s interesting, if infuriating, to note that in the past small-mindedness was seen as such. Now, it’s pretty normal. What has happened in the last 100 years or so to cause this degeneration of human thinking in to a slopfest of mediocrity?

A theory:

Environmental factors: If people are raised in a bland, sterile old kitchen sink environment like most cities, their perceptions are based on looking at very dull, unimaginative things. This lack of environmental stimulus has to have some effect, and very low levels of thinking are pretty predictable.

Life models: In the past you could discover a new world. Now, you can discover a new fast food chain. Again, no challenges, no stimuli, no thinking.

A life based on trivia and intrusive problems: The change from self-motivation to force-fed, unspeakably dull lives of paying bills and dodging bullets of various kinds is very mentally time consuming. How brilliant are you supposed to be, if your next phone bill is towering over the horizon, forcing you to stop thinking about everything else.

Half-arse social models: You could be forgiven for thinking that everything is a shop window. The two dimensional nature of human life is basically a commercial. That’s supposed to create a functional society? No. It’s supposed to create the image of a society which has never existed, like a cheap visual teddy bear. There’s no life and commitment to anything in the real society, just a collection of meaningless selfies.

The illusion of personal advancement: Personal advancement has de-evolved in to a collection of possessions and status role playing. The actual people usually aren’t particularly advanced, or even interesting. They’ve been promoted from plodders to paragons, and their thinking is still that of plodders. As people, they haven’t advanced at all; they’ve simply become more smug and insular about the artificial exterior image of themselves. Add to this the Pecking Order of Peasants/ Right to Patronize ingrained in every status promotion, and you get boring, boorish bullshit artists banging their tin drums of the few thoughts they can understand themselves.

The illusion of wealth: Let’s not denigrate wealth for being wealth. It is what it is. Wealth is fun, if you happen to have it. It’s an escape from the problems lack of wealth causes, as the old saying goes. It’s also a sort of insidious personal hallucination. It doesn’t make you somebody else. Your mind, lucky you, is the same accumulation of whatever put your personality together. You can be a billionaire outside, and a pauper inside. No amount of money cures emotional, intellectual, or any other kind of internal poverty. Quite the opposite; you have to hide outside yourself to avoid the issues. You may be the life of the party; too bad about the corpse inside, eh?

(Can’t resist quoting one of my favorite stories: Nathan Rothschild had a furious visitor, a Lord Something, who barged in to his office and demanded to speak with him. Rothschild told him to take a chair, he’d be with him in a minute. Lord Something exploded and asked if Rothschild knew who he was. Rothschild said, “Take two chairs.” A good working example of what I mean.)

Inferior quality insanity: Insanity used to be interesting. Now it’s just another middle class trade. It’s predictable, if ugly, dull, if noisy. The small minds don’t even go insane with any great level of gusto or achievement. Some minds benefit from the spark of stimulus that makes them brilliant. Small minds don’t. They simply become more passionate about very trivial, very boring, things. They don’t even create their own insanity; they copy it from something else. How else do you go insane and become fanatical about tired old ideas, religions, pedantic absurdities, and theories about the sewer of hideous non-facts that make up modern life?

Not all that sorry to take a little time to build a case, but this is the real killer scenario in the saga of small minds vs problems:

Real achievement is based on real thinking. The progress from bashing rocks together to electronics and gene management is based on that process.

To advance, humanity needs people who can do that thinking. There’s no future in thinking which only goes backwards or sideways. Non-progressive thinking simply stirs up the existing sewage.

Small minds can’t, and won’t, handle big ideas. They don’t have the range or the capacity to even understand the macro issues, let alone work on them. The small thinking is more likely to run away than to deal with issues. (See the last 30 years for details.) They’re scared of the big problems and frightened of the responsibilities.

Regression always totally fails. There are countless examples throughout modern and ancient history of small-minded attempts to turn back the clock and oversimplify to the point of madness the most complex situations. None of the regressive societies has ever survived. Tyranny, maniacal fanaticism, and all the clichés of the past, have died out in a flurry of failures.

The moral of the story is simple enough: Find the minds that can solve the problems, and preferably get ahead of the problems. Stop looking for obliging idiots and start looking for thinkers. No amount of fake news, fake people and fake logic can solve what’s coming.

Paul Wallis, Sydney Media Jam, Paul Wallis books

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