Skip to main content

Is It Just Idiocracy?

OK, I am furious, so furious that words can't pass through my throat that dried up from anger. You'd expect me to take an easy path and lash out at President Trump. But this would too self-serving and wrong.

Let's rewind a little. Idiocracy is a 2006 American science fiction comedy film that tells the story of two perfectly average people who take part in a top-secret military hibernation experiment, only to awaken 500 years later in a dystopian society where centuries of negative genetic selection combined with advertising, pornography, commercialism and cultural anti-intellectualism.  The stunning outcome is the really, really dumb people with lifestyles that are devoid of common human attitudes we take for granted today.

Today, we think that one should be educated, develop independent judgement, and be able to reach conclusions that are based on facts and logic.  One should know something practical, like how to water plants or hold a wrench.  One should understand the difference between good and evil.  One should hold political leaders responsible for their actions and not be willingly duped into dumb submission.

Fast forward 10 years to 2016, and an Idiocracy-style regime took root in Washington DC, in my dream country, the United States of America. It took a short brilliant election campaign with a little help from the Russian friends to dupe those without to vote for Mr. Trump who has it all, except for education and moral compass.

President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho (left), sorry, I meant President Donald John Trump (right), is a TV star. He governs by slick TV appearances building up those tense expectations in us, the lesser idiots, and then releasing them like Starbucks 500 years hence (please see the movie) by telling us how he values America.

Here is a quote, call it a tweet, from President Camacho:
Shit. I know shit's bad right now, with all that starving bullshit, and the dust storms, and we are running out of french fries and burrito coverings. But I got a solution.
Does this tweet ring a bell?  If not, please see this.

Idiocracy is derived from two Greek words, idiotes and demokratia. Idiot is a word derived from the Greek ἰδιώτης, idiōtēs ("person lacking professional skill", "a private citizen", "individual"). In Latin the word idiota ("ordinary person, layman") preceded the Late Latin meaning "uneducated or ignorant person." Democracy comes from the Greek word δημοκρατία, dēmokratia, and means the "rule of the people" a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. Democracy requires active participation, not just sleep-walking with a smart phone in hand and earphones that shout out the wind and those pesky birds.

The fascinating book Demography of Roman Egypt, reports the results of Roman censuses of the Egyptian population carried out every 14 years or so for tax purposes. The surviving meager samples were taken between the early first century and late third century A.D. These censuses identified atechnos (men with no skills), idiotes (men incapable of independent judgement) or argos (the bright, shining men). Thus identified citizens of mostly two municipalities were few in numbers, and likely were not indigent unemployed but rather were men of leisure, living off accumulated wealth, just like the Trump family.  I leave it to you to pick a Roman census category you'd assign to the Trumps. In summary, being an atechnical idiot, common nowadays in the U.S. because of the disappearing education at all levels may be new, but being identified as one has a long history.

But I digressed.  It would be improper to call Trump the king of fools, because he is not. Two other bad things happened before the time of Trump.

First, inequality has dramatically increased in the U.S. Since I travel a lot, I can assure you that the ever bigger swaths of my shiny country resemble poor, neglected and hopeless undeveloped countries. This abject poverty and lack of hope have been growing over the last thirty years, ever since Reagan unleashed the "market forces" on the unsuspecting, naive Americans. But Reagan's lies were just the beginning. The American elites then went on a rampage of lies and into self-denial to cover up the ever-deepening injustice and alienation of the millions of fellow citizens. The world was flat then, as Thomas Friedman would explain to his feel-good liberal readers. It is injustice, not general poverty, that fires up revolutions.  In the good old times, the working class would raise up violently, but today workers are atomized, alienated and impotent.

And then the second bad thing happened. There came an amoral, unscrupulous conman and hustler, brutish and boorish, but good with 75 crude words and violent images. He knew how to play on desperation like a virtuoso plays a violin. And thus the conman got elected by the desperate, abandoned and angry people, who bestowed all their hopes on a walking lie.

But Mr. Trump the liar remembers that he needs to keep alive an illusion of truthfulness so that "his" people continue to believe in him. He also understands all too well that the rest of the political and financial world is as corrupt and lying as he is. Only they never speak openly about how morally bankrupt they are and cover up their misdeeds in beautiful literate words. Our brutal liar tears into them like a hungry wolf into a lamb, and exposes the hypocrisy and cynicism of the civilized and cultured, but otherwise corrupt politicians around the world, and especially in Europe.

To believe that the Paris climate agreement will change the world you need to live in San Francisco. I don't. People change the world, not the worthless reams of bureaucratize. The Paris agreement is a little more than the heart-felt declarations of an alcoholics anonymous focus group. What happened in Paris in 2015 was as useless as all the previous such agreements, starting from the Earth Summit in Rio deJaneiro in 1992. Quoting the United Nations:
The parties to the convention have met annually from 1995 in Conferences of the Parties (COP) to assess progress in dealing with climate change. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was concluded and established legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the period 2008-2012. The 2010 Cancún agreements state that future global warming should be limited to below 2.0 °C (3.6 °F) relative to the pre-industrial level. The Protocol was amended in 2012 to encompass the period 2013-2020 in the Doha Amendment, which - as of December 2015 - had not entered into force. In 2015 the Paris Agreement was adopted, governing emission reductions from 2020 on through commitments of countries in ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions. The Paris Agreement entered into force on November 4th, 2016.
The sad truth is the global capitalist amoeba must continue to devour the planet for as long as it can. China cannot anymore, because they ran our of breathable air, drinkable water and non-poisoned soil. So they are cutting down emissions over the motherland, while invading the rest of the world to export their pollution and environmental destruction to far away places, like Africa, and South and Central America. China is following in our footsteps, for the Europeans and Americans have had an intricate system of exporting our shit to the unseen and helpless victim countries for the last 600 years.

Because of Trump, some of our shit will now stick at home and soil it rather badly. I and many other liberals will be very unhappy, but for once we will pay directly for our lifestyles. Also because of natural gas and more efficient cars, the U.S. has lost some of its zeal to pollute and coal is not coming back. At least not anytime soon.

In the long run, when our zeal to pollute does come back, we will have already been a Mordor-like mining planet and I will be happily dead.

P.S. (06/04/2017) I stand corrected. I thought that the Paris agreement was merely garbage and a cynical smoke screen to do as little as possible, and preferably nothing. But people believed in it and now people make emission reductions happen regardless of the cynical politicians. What a wonderful development! The Hegelian dialectic impact of Trump may be that he will finally get the atomized Americans to organize. I can even see my old Solidarity emerging in my new country.

P.S.P.S.  (6/10/2014) It occurred to me that many readers may not know that the Paris agreement is just that, a voluntary agreement to do not more but preferably less environmental damage. Each country tries to be on their best behavior, and the only sanctions available are to shame the countries that don't do what they say they do. Yes, you got that right, we have agreed to shame the offenders. And meet in five years.  Therefore the power of this agreement is not in what is written, but what came into being outside of the governments. It is the power of the people who now say they want to inflict less damage on the Earth.

P.S.^3 (6/12/2017)  A fuller story on idiots as they were recognized by ancient Greeks.

P.S.^4 (6/24/2017) A complete list of lies by President Trump.


  1. BesselfunctionluvrJune 25, 2017 at 2:22 PM

    I wonder whether your political leanings affected your peak oil stance? Look how low oil and nat gas prices are now. And this with increased consumption. That is a supply story. And look how well LTO has produced and especiallt shale gas. Why didn't the NPR listening to elite predict that? Palin was right. Drill baby drill. Sometimes simple is correct.

    Oh and we hoi polloi in flyover country are wise to your disdain of us. But we don't want to be like you. Who wants to be effete? Who wants to be a wordy equivocator. I'll take some farm boy from Nebraska in combat next to me. Rather than the global elite weasel.

  2. Dear Besselfunctionluvr,

    Your comments are at the core of our current predicament. First let me explain myself. I am a scientist. Since you know about the Bessel functions, I presume that you understand the in science politics should die. We are imperfect creatures and the sum of our experiences shapes how we perceive reality in presumably objective ways. So who we are influences our scientific conclusions

    I grew up in the socialist Poland and acquired the deepest disdain for communism, of the sort that no one in America can understand. That's my experience. I am an independent, because both parties in the U.S. nauseate me. I am not a fly-by liberal and I do talk to very different people. Let's not make then a currently popular mistake that preludes all communication.

    Also, I have been a reservoir engineer for 30 years, and a good one, too. From my point of view, the oil and gas supply systems must last for many decades, like for over 100 years up to date. The current oil and gas sources will be impossible to maintain at the current rates for even 1/2 of this period of time. What's cheap today, will become inaccessible tomorrow, metaphorically speaking.

    But this is a subject of another blog that summarizes my latest research.

  3. Tad,

    I am looking forward to your blog on your latest research.


  4. Coming soon, Richard. I'll tell you a story of gas production from shales. Oil will be discussed later, as I still have to wrap my mind around the complex production from tight carbonates and mudrock formations in the Permian, in thick stacks, and with considerable water production. The Eagle Ford and Bakken are well in hand, and I will start from them.

  5. Very straight forward, honest writing. Thanks Tad!

    After I read one of comments I see wrong impression of some people and probably that is why we are in this current situation. A scientist or researcher is also a human being. Why he or she can not express own opinion even, incidentally, falls into political discussion? This is not that they should only present their scientific results and keep mum towards any other issues. A person from any profession is part of this society. This is also alarming that without prejudging we easily label a person as liberal or conservative. We simply do not want to hear what we do not like.

    1. Akand,
      Humans are ultrasocial animals, like ants or bees. Only we have complex languages and store information. Social animals create a super-organism that in turn forces most to adhere to the super-narrative.

      Therefore, there exists now a dominant narrative that follows the myth of eternal growth. The super-organism is very protective of its narrative and pushes back on all those unfortunate individuals who challenge the narrative.

      In my estimation there is less than a decade for the current narrative to die in global convulsions. Or perhaps one year or one day. I don't know. But I do know that infinite growth, which uses electrons as credit convertible to energy and matter, is impossible. And technology will not save us.

    2. One of best analogies I have ever learnt. Thanks!

  6. BesselfunctionluvrJuly 30, 2017 at 8:28 PM

    Fascinating looking at David Hughes 2011 shale criticism.

    See pages 28-33. He was skeptical of EIA natural gas projections for 2035 that were reached by 2015!

    1. I am writing up my criticism based on the detailed statistical calculations.

  7. BesselfunctionluvrAugust 23, 2017 at 1:28 PM

    Figure 13 and 15 were dramaticly wrong. LTO cause a big growth in oil. And natgas has NOT declined at 10-15%/year as predicted.

    Graph the actual production versus your figures. DRAMATIC difference in volume since 2008.

    Sorry but facts are facts. We need to be curious analysts. Not politicians or priests.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A Requiem for the Beautiful Earth

First, let me remind you that a pessimist is an optimist who shed his delusions and denial, and educated himself. Please keep this in mind, if you continue reading. If you don't, that's fine too. You will remain in your blissful bubble of denial and ignorance, which are the dominant genetic traits of most denizens of the fossil superorganism. Please understand that many democratically elected governments know very well about your truth aversion and are making best use of it.

Imagine now that your favorite airline offers a vacation package to a world-class city like the one shown below. That city is Beijing. China is the rising economic superpower that will collapse rather immediately, because there is not enough of the environment left to protect her 1.4 billion people from disease and death. But before China collapses, she will suck dry most of the world that remains. The brutal global competition for resources may precipitate a war between China and US.

By the way, a famous …

Green New Deal II - Population growth and control

In Part I of this blog, I explained difficulties with comprehending the astronomical scale of change that is awaiting us, the rich people in the developed countries, in our journey to a more sustainable, greener future of humankind.  I have also pointed out a few of the many ways people escape responsibility for the crimes against the Earth we  - you and I - have committed.  And, please, let's not blame the poor people in Honduras or Gabon for our sins, plastic in the oceans and greenhouse gas emissions.

Exponential growth.  Remember a lonely lily pad floating on an empty pond?  She multiplied daily, so after day one, there were two lilies; after two days, four lilies; then eight; and so on.  After 20 days, there were 1,048,576 lilies. After 21 days, there were  2,097,152 lilies that covered the pond, exhausted nutrients and died. Question: After which day was the pond half-filled?  You already know the answer, it was day 20.  On that fateful day, 95% of the time allotted to our li…

The New Green Revolution, a.k.a. The Grand Transition to... ?? - Part I

Jeff Bezos,Elon Musk and others have been touting the multitudinous advantages of colonizing the Moon and Mars. The scientific idiocies of these proclamations are so outlandish that I will not bother commenting on them. But, at the same time, Stephen Hawking's name has come up in the context of Mars colonization.

Dr. Nate Hagens uses Hawking's ideas about Mars colonization in his Reality 101 course at the University of Minnesota to illustrate the point that human society is composed of tiny islands of high competence floating in a vast sea of narratives.

Let me start from quoting a recent email by JDW on the subject of human escape to outer space:

"Without a synthesis which shows how different narratives relate to one another, people are free to use “verbal logic” to create properly-constructed sentences which don’t correspond to possible realities. “Verbal logic” is nearly an oxymoron, because there’s not much in the way of error-correction built into it. Anything that …