Note — Jun 05, 2022

Old Thinking Will Break Your Brain

Now, for the abyss gazing part of our show, I bring you this long read by Alex Steffen. I’m not sure if it’s something in the way he writes or a hesitation/fear of what he says on my part, but I often completely agree with his facts and yet have a distinct feeling that his rhetoric might be a couple of notches over the top, the term ‘fever dream’ came to mind a few times. Nevertheless, he makes a well-stated argument that almost everyone on the planet operates from an outdated worldview which is in dire and very pressing need of an upgrade.

It’s worth a thorough read, with lots of useful insights like sunk cost expertise, spikiness, learning boldly, the importance of including kids, thoughts on triangulation, boundary policing, being serious about securing a future, and scaling through systems.

As we sink into the jackpot, interest has been growing in seeing and inventing futures, I wonder if this required reinvention of worldviews he talks about is not the next wave, or perhaps another aspect, of that. In the same way that we realised unclear futures are ahead and felt a need to understand, perhaps next we realise that not only is the future(s) hard to fathom but that our whole understanding of our place in the world and the workings of society are broken.

Those of us with active minds are constantly gardening our worldviews. We adjust our perspectives as events around us unfold, as age and experience inform our received wisdom, as we learn new facts — and as cultural change around us pushes us to think differently. Even in extremely stable and slow-changing societies, there are always some people doing this gardening. […]

We have made the circumstances of our lives discontinuous with everything that came before us. The societies we live in are now catastrophically unsuited for the planet we’ve made. Yet we still see the planet around us with worldviews formed inside of those societies. […]

Right now, rebuilding our worldviews involves a lot of labor-intensive personal exploration. Being native to now demands finding insight, not just receiving it. It demands teaching ourselves how to learn new things, when both the course of our study and the lessons to be absorbed are complex and constantly evolving. […]

Our job is not to decide the future, but to leave the future as many options as possible. The most sustainable society is the one which passes forward the best possibilities to future generations. […]

Even if we succeed wildly in spreading sustainable prosperity and restoring the biosphere, this crisis is not going calm down. It’s going to continue to get weirder and more unprecedented, to twist and rush and transmogrify our expectations. Already, the Twentieth Century way of seeing provides less and less acuity — its lenses on the world murkier and more kaleidoscopic by the day.

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