What Happened? A Man Of Knowledge Happened!

Marc Chagall paints Joseph and Pharaoh. What happened? A man of Knowledge happened!The Bible reports in Genesis 41 that at a certain time, the land of Egypt experienced seven consecutive years of famine. And yet, there is no record of mass starvation. Furthermore, people from other nations came to buy grain, as the famine was regional instead of merely local.

What happened? A man of Knowledge happened!

Why was there no mass starvation? Because in the seven abundant years before the famine, someone stored a portion of the harvest each year. The mass starvation was prevented by awareness of the coming famine, seven years before it happened. How could anyone possibly know that a famine was coming in seven years? All the current signs pointed to abundance as far as the eye could see. There was a man in prison because of a false rape accusation. This man correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams as a warning of the future famine. What happened? Joseph happened!

Steps to Knowledge, the book of spiritual practice of the New Message from God, describes Joseph’s prophetic interpretation as one of the outward manifestations of Knowledge.

“Let us say that Knowledge is not the things that are usually associated with it. It is not ideas. It is not a body of information. It is not a system of belief. It is not a process of self evaluation. It is the great mystery of your life. Its outward manifestations are profound intuition, great insight, inexplicable knowing, wise perception in the present and in the future and wise understanding of the past. But despite these great achievements of mind, Knowledge is greater than this. It is your True Self, a Self that is not apart from life.” (Step 10, “What is Knowledge?”)

What happened? A man of Knowledge happened! I am thinking of Joseph because March 25 is the birthday of a man who lived in my lifetime. This man had a similar accomplishment to Joseph, but by different means.

In 1968, Paul R. Ehrlich, a Stanford University biologist, wrote a best-selling book titled “The Population Bomb.” He was one of a number of individuals who noticed a significant change in world population growth.

World population from 10000 BC to 2017. What happened? A man of Knowledge happened!

Dr. Ehrlich’s prediction of world population reaching 7 billion by 2005 was early by only six years. Dr. Ehrlich later went on to forecast that hundreds of millions would starve to death in the 1970s, that 65 million of them would be Americans, that crowded India was essentially doomed, that odds were fair “England will not exist in the year 2000.”

Why did these predictions of disaster not come to pass? Because a man worked in Mexico, India and Pakistan to increase their ability to grow wheat. Mexico became a net exporter of wheat by 1963. Between 1965 and 1970, wheat yields nearly doubled in Pakistan and India. You can read more about his efforts here, here and here. What happened? Norman Borlaug happened!

Norman Borlaug scoring wheat for rust resistance. What happened? A man of Knowledge happened!

“Knowledge activates all mental and physical abilities for good. It directs all manner of individual pursuits that are for the benefit of humanity. In the arts, in the sciences, in all endeavors, in the simplest gesture and the greatest act, Knowledge demonstrates a greater life and strengthens all of the highest qualities in individuals who are engaged with it.” (Step 234, “Knowledge serves humanity in all ways.”)

What happened? A man of Knowledge happened! I say Joseph was a man of Knowledge. I say Norman Borlaug was a man of Knowledge. They both made great contributions to their world. They both found ways to be in the right place at the right time. I desire to be a man of Knowledge. I am working on becoming a man of Knowledge. I desire to be the man of Knowledge that happened.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

Humanity’s Choices Have Unintended Consequences

Humanity's choices have unintended consequencesI have a plan to write a series of posts about the book The Great Waves of Change, the most upbeat book on global catastrophe you’re ever going to read.  My original plan was to write one post per chapter.  I got two pages into the first chapter, thought about how to write a post about the first chapter, and then decided to go lie down for a while.

The material is tightly packed, and it’s going to take some work to unpack it.  Change is coming to the world.  Humanity is, for the most part, unaware of these changes, and unprepared to face these changes.

Humanity’s choices have unintended consequences

Does the name Robert K. Merton ring a bell? No, not Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk. No, not Robert C. Merton, the Nobel Laureate economist. Robert K. Merton, the American sociologist.

Robert K. Merton's observed, among other things, that humanity's choices have unintended consequences

Robert K. Merton wrote a paper in 1936 titled “The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action” In this paper, he identified five causes of unintended consequences.

I don’t consider the first two causes, ignorance and error, to be particularly surprising.

The third cause is something he called “the imperious immediacy of interest.”  It is turning a blind eye to what might happen, because the blind-eye turner has a strong desire for his actions to turn out a particular way.  When I read this I thought “Oh, Merton is observing a particular instance of Step 5, ‘I believe what I want to believe.’

Merton observed that certain value systems contain the seeds of their own destruction.  For example, sometimes poor people work hard and forego pleasure to become wealthy, and then forget what made them wealthy.

I find Merton’s fifth cause to be particularly interesting.  He coined the term “self-defeating prediction” to describe the phenomenon of a prediction which inspires people to action which keeps the prediction from happening.  I consider the book The Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich to be an instance of this.  If we didn’t have a Paul Ehrlich, we might not have had a Norman Borlaug, whose agricultural innovations doubled the wheat yields of India and Pakistan, thus preventing the hundreds of millions of deaths by starvation which Ehrlich predicted.  Unintended consequences aren’t always a bad thing.

The point of all this is that just as people and nations make choices which have unintended consequences, humanity’s choices have unintended consequences.  And The Great Waves of Change describes what some of those consequences will be.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

Tough Times Don’t Last, But Free Nations Do

Tough times don't last, but free nations do - A 1930's bread lineIt has been said many times, by many people, that tough times don’t last, but tough people do.  I offer a modified version of this idea, that tough times don’t last, but free nations do.

Someone is reading this and thinking, “Oh really now.  Exactly what do you mean by ‘free,’ exactly?”  I have a couple of different definitions for the word “free” in this case.  One of them is from the Indian economist and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen.

Amartya Sen didn't use these words, but he said tough times don't last, but free nations do

No, Ascending Knowledge is not morphing into an economics blog

In his book Development as Freedom, Sen offered five interlocking measures of the freedom of a nation. One measure is political freedoms, such as freedom of speech. One measure is economic facilities, such as roads and sea ports. One measure is social opportunities, such as education or health care. One measure is transparency guarantees, such as common public knowledge of government spending. The final measure is protective security, such as protection from criminals or pirates.

This book was remarkable for claiming and supporting the idea that nations with democracy and a free press have virtually never suffered from extended famines.  This book was remarkable for claiming and supporting the idea that freedom was both an end in itself, and the most direct route toward economic development.  This book was remarkable for being a snappy comeback to The Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich.

Tough times don’t last, but free nations do

The New Message from God has a definition for free nations. This definition of free nations comes from the book The Allies of Humanity, Volume 3.  There are some similarities and some differences between these two definitions of free nations.  I will add some commentary in brackets.

A free nation will want strong individuals. A nation that is not free will want compliant individuals.

[I’m seeing the bumper sticker “Politicians Prefer Unarmed Peasants” in my mind’s eye as I read this.  Politicians prefer unarmed, uneducated, unspiritual peasants.]

A free nation will support individual creativity and contribution. A nation that is not free will direct each person according to the design that has been given to them.

A free nation will support the discovery and the experience of Knowledge. A nation that is not free will never mention it, if it is aware of it at all.

A free nation will seek to remain isolated in the universe and to support its self-sufficiency. A nation that is not free will seek whatever wealth and power it can gain from others and thus become intertwined with the intentions and the compromises wrought with other nations.

[The word “world” or “planet” could be substituted for “nation” in this context.  If you wish to think of one of the nations on earth, the word “world” could be substituted for “universe.”]

A free nation will not attempt to gain access to other worlds to exploit their resources and to gain control over their inhabitants. A nation that is not free will do this within the boundaries of what is allowed within their region of space.

[A free nation will not attempt to gain access to other nations to exploit their resources and enslave their inhabitants.  If I knew I could not fail, I would live in a free nation, as defined by these words. I would live in a free world.]

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

Doom-mongering Is Big Business

Frozen Statue of Liberty from The Day After Tomorrow, a doom-mongering movie

During my lifetime, a number of commercially successful books have been published, saying that human civilization faces catastrophic collapse, saying that humanity faces extinction as a species from some cause or another.

Paul Ehrlich published the book The Population Bomb in 1968.  What do people remember about this book?  Do they remember that it sold two million copies (which it did)?  Do they remember that it predicted the deaths of hundreds of millions of people from starvation and famine in the 1970’s (which didn’t happen)?

The Club of Rome published the book The Limits to Growth in 1972.  This book was an attempt to mathematically model a sustainable future for humanity. Another step forward of this book was the use of computer simulations.  I read this book as a high school student.  What did I take away from this book?  Without some kind of global management, humanity would either run out of crucial resources, or die in its own poisons.  The fact that there is a 30th anniversary edition demonstrates the book’s commercial and cultural success.  As a predictive success, it wasn’t so hot.

Lowell Ponte published the book The Cooling: Has the Next Ice Age Already Begun? in 1976  It is my understanding that there have been 5 of what geologists call ice ages in earth’s history. We are 2.58 million years into the fifth one, called the Quaternary Ice Age. Inside an ice age, there are periods of more ice, called glacial periods, and periods of less ice, called interglacial periods. What geologists call glacial periods, non-geologists call ice ages. It is my understanding that we are about 10,000 years into one of these interglacial periods, called the Holocene interglacial period. How long will this interglacial period last?  I don’t know.  The interglacial period before this one lasted about 50,000 years. There have been interglacial periods in this ice age lasting as long as 100,000 years.

Al Gore published the book An Inconvenient Truth in 2006, which has gone on to be made into a movie with a worldwide gross income of roughly $50 million.  Al Gore has won a Grammy award, an Oscar award, and a Nobel Peace Prize for this work, making it quite possibly the most culturally and commercially successful doom-mongering presentation in the history of mankind.  Let it be noted that there are differing opinions as to the scientific credibility of the presentation.

While doom-mongering books have been culturally and commercially successful, betting against the predictions of doom-mongers has also been culturally and commercially successful, most notably the Julian Simon-Paul Ehrlich wager.

I’m unhappy that the flaws in all of the above books will make it harder for people to receive the book from the New Message from God about the difficult times ahead, The Great Waves of Change.  It’s not like anyone is making very much money from this, as the e-book version is being given away for free.  Eventually, I’ll get around to telling you a little more about this book.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.