Sunday, August 06, 2006

David Deutsch on Fixing the Big Problems

Playing catch-up yet again. Here's an article from the Telegraph from November last, which is characteristic of the writer's work in that it is elegant, precise, informed, visionary and essentially optimistic. What more could one ask?


Jax said...

That ppl read it.

Carlotta said...

Yes, quite so!

Re: Mud Pud Blog Ring...I think I must be doing something wrong, but can't think what. I get to the point where it tells me that it will send me a confirmation email and that (sadly) is it. It doesn't get there!

Could I be doing something wrong?

Anonymous said...

Deutsch is inspirational and so reasonable. Amazing how his simple change in perspective can not help but lead to profound differences in thought and action - instead of trying to avoid potential disaster we should just recognise the inevitability of certain problems, and shift our focus from avoiding the problem in the future to solving the problem.

Sorry Carlotta, but am just trying to encapsulate his argument in a form I have a chance of remembering! This simple change of perspective could be so useful in so many areas. Anything from creating ways of living in a hotter or colder world down to how to improve a relationship or work out ways of getting to work on time!!


David said...

Bless 'im. David Deutsch - the Polyanna/Colin Wilson of quantum physics.

From what I've read, other animals have rudimentary (to us) forms of knowledge. And one can both be chemical scum and an amazing feat of biochemical evolutionary engineering. I know I am.

"For if it's true that our best option is to suppress carbon-dioxide emissions with the Kyoto protocol at a cost of hundreds of billions of pounds, then that's already a disaster by any reasonable measure"

Plenty of people have said similar things. It's probably that I don't understand money, but why? Why does the suppression have to cost, and why does it have to be a bad thing? The world economy is a closed system - there's no intergalactic creditor so...

Carlotta said...


re: Pollyanna, I don't think Deutsch is naive in the sense that the term can imply...just sensibly hopeful that solutions can be found.

I am also interested to know how someone could believe in two essentially contradictory theories at the same time, without some fairly new and radical re chemical scum and an amazing biochemical evolution.

The reason I am sure that Deutsch is right to think about fixing rather than avoiding problems is that the world is, as you say, a fairly closed system as it stands, and we will eventually run out of materials if we simply try to recycle and avoid the problem. We will HAVE to think about moving off the planet if we are to survive.

It is right to be hopeful that this is possible for to concede that it isn't, is not only to resign us to extinction, but is also potentially wrong. We don't know that we can't solve this problem, so we may as well, as long as we love living as much as we do now, set about looking for solutions. This isn't Pollyanna. This is a rational decision.

David said...

Pollyanna was not naive. Just insanely optimistic.

Can't disagree with Deutsch's basic thrust. Well, I could, I just can't be bothered. Huh, what's the point anyway?

I'm not too keen on leaving the country, let alone the planet.

"I am also interested to know how someone could believe in two essentially contradictory theories at the same time, without some fairly new and radical re chemical scum and an amazing biochemical evolution."

What, almost a decade of study and meditation and you want me to give away my secrets? Alright. It's Context And Perspective. It even makes a handy acronym, if you're so inclined. Though if you're ever explaining it to someone else, don't confuse it with the Common Agricultural Policy. I'll never live that down.

Anyway, have you read the Bible? George Bush has. He believes it, too. Go read Revelations, ponder on the current Middle East mess and remember Dubya will have his finger on the button for another two and a half years.

Jax said...

it could be an email issue - you're aol aren't you? do you have a none aol address that you could try? Otherwise I can sign you up and send you the code.

Carlotta said...

Hi Jax,

I only have aol...(very sad, sorry!)...Would be grateful if you could do it for me! Thanks.