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We Are Not Saved

We Are Not Saved is a podcast covering Eschatology. While this concept has traditionally been a religious one, and concerned with the end of creation, in this podcast that study has been broadened to include secular ways the world could end (so called x-risks) and also deepened to cover the potential end of nations, cultures and civilizations. The title is taken from the book of Jeremiah, Chapter 8, verse 20: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.
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Now displaying: 2019
Dec 24, 2019

A recent debate on the dangers of pornography, and whether government should restrict things more or whether people just need to "parent better" plus an article about "total sexual freedom" causing the collapse of a nation within three generations are all tied together into a discussion of how to deal with more subtle eschatological concerns.

Dec 14, 2019

The title pretty much says it all, but in case you don't know what an Eschatologist is, an eschatologist is someone who studies eschatology. And eschatology is "a part of theology concerned with the final events of history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity. This concept is commonly referred to as the 'end of the world' or 'end times'.

In my discussion of eschatology I intend to broaden the definition both horizontally (to include secular concerns) and vertically (to include not merely the end of the world, but the end of the nation).

Nov 30, 2019

In 1985 Neil Postman published the book "Amusing Ourselves to Death". The central claim of the book was that TV had replaced the superior epistemology of the printed word with an inferior version focused entirely on entertainment. Now TV itself has been replaced as the dominant medium by the internet and social media. What epistemology has it brought with it, and is it better than TV or far, far worse?

Nov 21, 2019

After getting significant pushback I revisit my evaluation of Bryan Caplan's argument for open borders. I continue to maintain that if the average GDP of the US drops by half that some low-skilled workers will be caught in that. Even if many people end up benefiting. I bring in Garett Jones' argument against Caplan along with Caplan's response.

Nov 13, 2019

In the book War! What is it Good For? by Ian Morris, he speculates that the world has been built on the back of productive war. But what happens when empire building is out of fashion and nukes make war impossible even if it wasn't. Is it possible that after using war to achieve unity over the course of thousands of years, that it will stop working just at the moment it seemed possible we might unify the whole world?

Nov 6, 2019
  1. The Technology Trap: Capital, Labor, and Power in the Age of Automation By: Carl Benedikt Frey
  2. Gandhi & Churchill: The Epic Rivalry that Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age By: Arthur Herman
  3. All Creatures Great and Small By: James Herriot
  4. To America: Personal Reflections of an Historian By: Stephen E. Ambrose
  5. War! What Is It Good For?: Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots By: Ian Morris
  6. The End Is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments, from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses By: Dan Carlin
  7. Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics By: Mary Eberstadt
  8. Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration By: Bryan Caplan
Oct 30, 2019

A collection of ways in which atheists misunderstand the strength of their position (or rather the lack their of). 

  1. The difference between gathering evidence on the existence of something like Bigfoot as opposed to gathering evidence on the existence of God.
  2. Their ability to imagine things which in all respects meet the definition for the existence of God. They just don't like the God proposed by religions.
  3. Pascal's Mugging and the oversimplification of religious belief.
Oct 23, 2019

Nietzsche said that God is Dead, and that people had not reckoned with with the consequences of that. Additionally he and other's predicted that people could not be good in the absence of religion. This has proved to be incorrect, there are plenty of atheists who are good people. But how has civilization fared. Is it possible that Nietzsche and the rest were just premature in their pessimism? That the current culture war is so fierce because we don't have a common set of values to negotiate around?

Oct 11, 2019

Moderation is an underrated value. To achieve it we need to not merely push for moderation, we need to push back against whichever side which has become too extreme. This is the pendulum, and it swings back and forth. If we value moderation we seek to keep it as close to the center as possible, while also avoiding violent swings from side to side. Doing so requires arguing for both sides of an issue depending on which is ascendant. 

Sep 27, 2019

I have heard some people, even in the comments of my this podcast, claim that we shouldn't worry about the current level of political unrest because there's nowhere for the violence to start. That we don't see the sort of large scale violence we once saw in the past. I think they're wrong I think there will be bloodshed, and the question this episode looks to answer is where does it start?

Sep 21, 2019

I recently read American Carnage, the story of the development of the Republican Civil War and the events which led to the current political crisis. While reading it I was struck by a question, not why is this happening now, but rather why isn't it always this way?

I think I have the answer to that question and it involves nationalism, wars, immigration and most of all the sayings of the Pashtun. 

Sep 15, 2019

From the perspective of our system of government there are a lot of deviations currently going on. Many of them are being normalized. In the based we could correct deviations by means of amending the Constitution, but that no longer seems possible. Meaning we have largely decided to normalize them and hope that they're improvements, or at least not the kind of thing that is going to make the entire structure crash. As you might imagine I have my doubts that this is even possible.

Sep 4, 2019

This is the monthly episode where I review all the books I read over the past month. This time I'm mixing it up by doing very short reviews of some while doing longer reviews of the others. Here's a list of the books I mention:

  1. Extremes by Various
  2. The Lazy Dungeon Master by Michael Shea
  3. Blood Song by Anthony Ryan
  4. The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert
  5. Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master by Michael Shea
  6. Once Upon a Time in Russia by Ben Mezrich
  7. The Iliad by Homer
  8. Don't Sleep There are Snakes by Daniel Everett
  9. American Carnage by Tim Alberta
Aug 29, 2019

All more enlightened forms of government require certain institutions and customs in order to function. Democratic capitalism doesn't work without strong contract enforcement and low corruption for example. Is it possible that there are institutions and customs yet (or about) to be discovered and implemented which would make communism work. If so would that be enough to "save" humanity? Perhaps, but there's a lot of things working against that idea as well.

Aug 22, 2019

I recently read an article titled How I Almost Destroyed a £50 million War Plane and The Normalisation of Deviance. In this post I examine the idea of deviance and what it means to normalize it. The article most examined it from the perspective of smaller systems, but I'm interested in what it looks like if we take the concept and apply it to society as a whole.

Aug 15, 2019

Following up on a previous post I discuss the possible rise of a new civic religion, starting with some stories about how what people feel comfortable signaling support for has changed.

Historically replacing one religion with another civic or otherwise has been accompanied by bloodshed and no small amount of violence. Will this time be similar?

Jul 26, 2019

Like many people the 50th anniversary of the first man on the moon is an opportunity for retrospection, and the thing that jumps out to me and to everyone is the fact that after Apollo was over we haven't been back. What does that mean for the future of space exploration, and particularly colonization, given that if colonization isn't in our future then we're going to go extinct sooner or later and probably sooner. If we assume that something resembling Moore's Law, also affects space exploration what does that tell us about when we might reach certain celestial bodies?  

Jul 20, 2019

In a continued attempt to drill down into cultural evolution, I examine whether, in addition to cultural evolution, if there's a separate phenomenon which deserves the label memetic evolution. I conclude there is a phenomenon, but that a better label for it is "memetic accumulation" and that there are some worrying things happening with the speed and diversity of this accumulation.  

Jul 12, 2019

I recently read the book Alone, by Michael Korda. It was about the opening months of World War II, and he said that at the time the French had the reputation as the world's preeminent military power. This obviously turned out to not be the case, but in the past they had been. Is there anything where we're overemphasizing our view of the past, and overlooking that what might happen in the future will almost certainly be completely different. I think there is...

Jul 3, 2019

Books Reviewed:

  1. Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis by Jared Diamond
  2. Then It Fell Apart by Moby
  3. Fall; or, Dodge in Hell: A Novel by Neal Stephenson
  4. To Live and Die in LA (Podcast) Hosted by Neil Strauss
  5. Left For Dead: 30 Years On - The Race is Finally Over by Nick Ward and Sinead O'Brien
  6. Alone: Britain, Churchill, and Dunkirk: Defeat into Victory by Michael Korda
  7. How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth, and Karen Dillon
  8. Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler
Jun 29, 2019

We've discussed cultural evolution, and everyone knows about evolution by natural selection, but is something different happening now? Some people have said that we have transitioned to a different a third type of evolution, memetic evolution. Is this just an improvement to cultural evolution in the same way that cultural evolution was an improvement on genetic evolution? Or is it an entirely different beast? Does it allow us to adapt faster? Or does it make all adaptation more difficult?

Jun 22, 2019

It seems obvious that there are certain traditions which work to improve the survival of the culture in which they exist. It seems equally obvious that some traditions are pointless. How do we tell the difference? As it turns out it may be harder and take longer than you think. Also reason might help you less than you think. In this episode I consider four factors which might be helpful:

  1. The duration of the tradition. How long has it been around?
  2. The strength of enforcement for the tradition. How severe are the penalties for going against it?
  3. The frequency of the tradition among the various cultures. How widespread is it? Is it present in many different cultures?
  4. The domain of the tradition. Is the tradition related to something which could impact survival or reproduction?
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