Chris Hedges: Dystopia, Octopus Intelligence, and What Makes Us Human


Image by damn_unique via Flickr

Dandelion Salad

with Chris Hedges

TheRealNews on Oct 7, 2022

In Ray Nayler’s novel The Mountain in the Sea he explores the marine habitat of a hyperintelligent species of octopus, endowed with its own language and culture, is seized by a global tech corporation determined to harness this non-human intelligence for profit in new systems of artificial intelligence.

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Are Wars Inevitable? by William T. Hathaway

by William T. Hathaway
Guest Writer
Dandelion Salad
June 20, 2012

Stop the Wars!

Image by Dandelion Salad via Flickr

“We’ve always had wars. Humans are a warring species. Without an army to defend us, someone will always try to conquer us.”

These assumptions have become axioms of our culture. They generate despair but also a certain comfort because they relieve us of the responsibility to change.

Some politicians and pundits declare that human nature makes peace impossible, that war is built into our genes. Continue reading

“The 15% Solution,” Serialization, 10th Installment: Chapter Nine 2007: The Supremacy Amendment (33rd)

Note: The Preface and Chapters One through Eight can be found here: The 15% Solution

by Jonathan Westminster, Ph.D. aka Steven Jonas, MD, MPH
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
crossposted on Buzzflash,com
Oct. 31, 2010

This is the tenth installment of a project that is likely to extend over a two-year-period which began in January, 2010. It is the serialization of a book entitled The 15% Solution: A Political History of American Fascism, 2001-2022. Under the pseudonym Jonathan Westminster, it is purportedly published in the year 2048 on the 25th Anniversary of the Restoration of Constitutional Democracy in the Re-United States. It was actually published in 1996 by the Thomas Jefferson Press, located in Port Jefferson, NY. The copyright is held by the Press. Herein you will find Chapter 9. You can find a complete archive of the chapters published to date on (lower right hand corner of the home page, as well as the Disclaimer, the cast of characters, the author’s bio., cover copy, and several (favorable) reviews.

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Christopher Hitchens and David Berlinski Debate on Atheism, God and Religion (2010)

Dandelion Salad

Note: replaced video June 25, 2016

Note: watch it on C-Span:

Christopher Hitchens Outwits David Berlinski in debate

Atheist vs Theist Debates on May 23, 2016

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The Case For The Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God (2006)

Updated: July 31, 2012 added another video

Note: replaced 1st video Aug. 14, 2014

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church ” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sep 11, 2013 by mina pouls Continue reading

Creavolution By Gunther Ostermann

By Gunther Ostermann
Guest Writer, Dandelion Salad
Kelowna, May 28, 2010

To the Editor

Open letter to Richard Dawkins, author of The GOD Delusion.

Your book The GOD Delusion is very interesting. You debunked many things that I never believed in, but I think you have thrown out the baby with the bathwater.

Well, you’re not alone. A newspaper reported of a fifty-nine year old Anglican high school teacher who recited his favourite prayer every day on his way to work, and suddenly he just stopped praying. “I stopped because I lost my faith, I now truly loath any sight or sound of religion. I blush at what I used to believe.” He now is an avowed atheist. Sadly, he’s messed up for life, and hundreds of millions like him.

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Beyond Theism and On with Evolution: Part One by Eileen Fleming

Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
29 May, 2010

Christians cannot love their enemies and kill them, too
photo by Dandelion Salad

Theism: belief in the existence of a god or gods; specifically a belief in the existence of one God viewed as the creative source of the human race and the world who transcends yet is immanent in the world. -Merriam Webster

“Any god who can be killed ought to be killed.”- Clifford Stanley, Episcopal Priest and Professor of Theology

I “got the message this morning, the one that was sent to me” [Bob Dylan] and although the topic of the conversation with the Editor of was not on this topic, what Tim King wrote read like the voice of God speaking to me: Continue reading

Bill Moyers Journal: Dr. Jane Goodall + Roots & Shoots + The Daily Show

English: Jane Goodall attending the 18th Annua...

English: Jane Goodall attending the 18th Annual Hamptons International Film Festival at the Maidstone Hotel in East Hampton, New York. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dandelion Salad

Bill Moyers Journal
November 27, 2009

Dr. Jane Goodall

Despite dire warnings for our endangered planet, Jane Goodall says all is not yet lost — we can change course if we act now.

video and transcript: Bill Moyers Journal . Watch & Listen | PBS

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The Extinction Distinction by Steven Jonas, MD, MPH

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by Steven Jonas, MD, MPH
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
crossposted on TPJmagazine
Oct. 18, 2009

There have been five Great Extinctions in the history of Earth.  And yes, all you creationists out there, according to a great deal of scientific evidence, that is evidence that is based on observation, experimentation and reproducibility, the history of Earth does extend back just a bit more than 4-6000 years.

There have also been about 20 others, big but not so big.  The first of the Big Ones occurred at the end of what is called the Ordovician Period, about 450 million years ago.  The last Big One, the one that knocked off the dinosaurs and put the mammals on the road to dominance, occurred about 65 million years ago.  Now, it seems, we are all of a sudden facing the Sixth Big One.  What is the evidence for this?

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Teaching Creation or Evolution? Or Both? By Roland Michel Tremblay

Roland Michel Tremblay

By Roland Michel Tremblay
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
The Marginal
19 January, 2009

Let’s be controversial. When I lived in Los Angeles, there was this huge national debate about what to teach those children in school all over America: creation or evolution? It seemed that there was no place for both, as if we could not trust our children to make their own mind out of several possibilities. As if there was urgency at an early age to brainwash them into something, by presenting them a ready made set of beliefs for them to take as the absolute truth. No one should choose what should be taught. Everything should be taught. This is the sign of great nations.

I used to only believe in evolution, but no longer, isn’t this a miracle? Before you call me a traitor, let me explain. I’m not sure why creation and evolution are supposed to be at such opposite ends. In my mind there could easily have been a creation, followed by an evolution. Creation never had to be instantaneous, or do we have to take the Bible literally and creation could only have been spontaneous? And even then, is it not possible that a spontaneous creation could still show all the signs of a proper evolution? It would be a first requirement, if this reality was to make any sense at all.

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These Are the Times That Try Men’s Souls by William Cox

by William Cox
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
October 10, 2008

” –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,… organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” ~The Declaration of Independence

How many more lies must we listen to? How many more political scandals must we endure? How many more of our young people have to be grievously wounded or die in unnecessary and illegal wars, and how many more trillions of dollars in economic waste must we clean up before we are sickened enough to demand effective changes in our government?

Are we ready for a peaceful political “evolution” to safeguard our personal and economic freedoms in this country and to avoid committing war crimes against others?

In Washington’s Crossing, an excellent history of the near failure of the American Revolution in the winter of 1776, David Hackett Fischer concluded that neither Washington’s leadership nor the victories at Trenton and Princeton saved the revolution following his resounding defeat in New York City.

To the contrary, Washington’s victories resulted from the revival of spirit that arose among the ordinary people in the Delaware Valley as they began to read Thomas Paine’s American Crisis.

According to Fischer,

“This great revival grew from defeat, not from victory. The awakening was a response to a disaster. Doctor Benjamin Rush, who had a major role in the event, believed that this was the way a free public would always work, and the American republic in particular. He thought it was a national habit of the American people (maybe all free people) not to deal with a difficult problem until it was nearly impossible.”

Although we are calculating the cost in thousands of lives and billions of dollars, we cannot imagine the full extent of damage that will flow from our president’s having misled our nation into an illegal war with Iraq and our innocent troops into the commission of war crimes.

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Robert Full: How engineers learn from evolution (robots)

Dandelion Salad

TEDtalksDirector Insects and animals have evolved some amazing skills — but, as Robert Full notes, many animals are actually over-engineered. The trick is to copy only what’s necessary. He shows how human engineers can learn from animals’ tricks.

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Bush: If Darwin was right, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle (satire)


by R J Shulman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Robert’s blog post

June 9, 2008

WASHINGTON – President Bush announced today his new initiative to make sure that Creationism is given equal time in public schools when compared to Darwin’s theory of evolution. “I don’t believeicate in that Darwin’s stuff,” Bush said, “I didn’t start out as a stupid wild disorderly monkey and then become the decider of the free world, that’s just non-sensical. My Presidency was created by my father and his friends who Supreme Courted me into the Oval Office of Hail to the Chief. That proves Creationism.”

“I am glad our President is taking a bold stand to crack these egg-head theories,” said Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, “because these are the same name-calling wacko liberal hate-mongers who took Christmas out of the schools and are trying to tell our impressionable youth that it is no longer OK to stone gay students to death, even though it is clearly called for in the Bible.”

“Bush’s Presidency is further proof that Darwin’s evolution theory has big holes in it,” said Presidential Press Secretary Dana Perino. “Monkeys are aggressive, attack their neighbors for no reason, steal from the entire group and give the stolen booty to certain friends, all while pretending to know what the heck is going on. The President has conducted his administration nothing like that.”

A Darwin’s Look into The Next Million Years by Brent Jessop

Dandelion Salad

by Brent Jessop
Knowledge Driven
March 3, 2008

The Next Million Years Part 1

Charles Galton Darwin’s 1952 book The Next Million Years [1] attempts to give a general outline of the “future history” of mankind by using the “law of human nature”. C.G. Darwin (1887-1962) was an English physicist and grandson of Charles Darwin of evolutionary fame. Despite being concerned about the over-population of the world he had four sons and one daughter with his wife Katharine Pember. The hypocrisy of this may seem odd, but the concern about over-population only refers to inferior breeds of humans and not superior breeds like himself and his lineage. C.G. Darwin was a long time member and eventual president of the Eugenic Society (1953-59) which represented the belief system held among many of the political, scientific and aristocratic elites of his day and the present.

Why the Next Million Years?

This article will examine some of C.G. Darwin’s views of what the next million years of mankind’s future history will look like. But first, why such a enormous length of a million years of future history?

From The Next Million Years:

“… in the evolution of life, how long does it take to make a new species? The answer is a million years. That is the reason for the title I have chosen for this essay – for a million years to come we have got to put up with all the defects in man’s nature as it is now.” – 78

The Laws of Human Nature

“Nevertheless for all of us it is intolerable to think of the future unfolding itself in complete predestined inevitability for the eternity of a million years. There are two things we must do; one is to know, the other to act. As to knowing, in my introductory chapter I described an analogy in mechanics, and I suggested that it should be possible to discover a set of laws, like the laws of thermodynamics, which would place absolute limits on what can be done by humanity. Biological laws cannot be expected to have the same hard outline as physical laws, but still there are absolute laws limiting what an animal can do, and similar laws will limit man not only on his physical side, but also on his intellectual side. If these could be clearly stated, we should recognize that many attempts that have been made at improving man’s estate were hopeless.

It is for others, better versed than I am in the biological sciences, to work out these laws, and it is in all humility that I put forward the basis, on which, it may be, that they could be founded. The first principle is that man, as an animal, obeys the law of variation of species, which condemns human nature to stay nearly constant for a million years. The perfectibility of mankind, the aim of so many noble spirits, is foredoomed by this principle. The second is that man is a wild animal, and that doctrines drawn from the observation of domestic animals are quite inapplicable to him. The third principle is the non-inheritance of acquired characters, a principle familiar in animal biology, but all too seldom invoked in connection with human beings. If these, and any further principles as well, or any alternatives to them, were accepted, it might sometimes be possible through them to show up the absurdities of bad statesmanship, and certainly it would be the part of a wise statesman to work within their limitations, because only so could he hope to achieve success.” [emphasis mine] – 206

“A history of the future is different from a history of the past, because it cannot in any sense be a narrative. It cannot say what will happen in anything like the same manner as past history says what did happen. All it can do is to say what things will be happening most of the time and in most places, but without being able to specify those times and those places. This it does through consideration of the laws of nature, chief among which is the law of human nature.” [emphasis mine] – 167

The Need to Change Human Nature

As a avid eugenicist, C. G. Darwin believed “improvements” in the human species could only come about through the changing of mankind’s hereditary nature.

But there is also the possibility of an internal revolution. This would come about if means were discovered of deliberately altering human nature itself… here it must suffice to say that the prospects do not seem at all good. There is first the extreme difficulty of making such changes, and the probability that most of them would be for the worse, and secondly, if by chance a revolutionary improvement should arise, it seems all too likely that the rest of mankind would not tolerate the supermen and would destroy them before ever they had the time to multiply. It is mainly the belief that there will be no revolutionary change in human nature that emboldened me to write this essay.” [emphasis mine] – 56

“Still for the sake of the distant future something can be attempted more profitable than has been usual hitherto. Attempts at improving the lot of mankind have all hitherto been directed toward improving his conditions, but not his nature, and as soon as the conditions lapse all is lost. The only hope is to use our knowledge of biology in such a way that all would not be lost with the lapse of the conditions. The principles of heredity offer an anchor which will permanently fix any gains that there may be in the quality of mankind.” [emphasis mine] – 208

“If the history of the future is not regarded as the automatic unfolding of a sequence of uncontrollable events – and few, of us would accept this inevitability – then anyone who has decided what measures are desirable for the permanent betterment of his fellows will naturally have to consider what is the best method of carrying his policy through. There are three levels at which he might work. The first and weakest is by direct conscious political action; his policy is likely to die with him and so to be ineffective. The second is by the creation of a creed, since this has the prospect of lasting for quite a number of generations, so that there is some prospect of really changing the world a little with it. The third would be by directly changing man’s nature, working through the laws of biological heredity, and if this could be done for long enough it would be really effective. But even if we knew all about man’s genes, which we certainly do not, a policy of this kind would be almost impossible to enforce even for a short time, and, since it would take many generations to carry it through, it would almost certainly be dropped long before any perceptive effects were achieved.” [emphasis in original] – 114

The Structure and Function of Government

What will the future structure and function of government be during the next million years?

“If transportation is easy, world conquest will be easier both for military reasons and because the more uniform culture should make the world government more acceptable.” [emphasis mine] – 193

“Widespread wealth can never be common in an overcrowded world, and so in most countries of the future the government will inevitably be autocratic or oligarchic; some will give good government and some bad, and the goodness or badness will depend much more on the personal merits of the rulers than it does in a more democratic country.” – 194

“Whatever forms the government may take, there can be little doubt that the world will spontaneously divide itself into what I shall call provinces, that is to say regions, though with no permanently fixed boundaries, which possess some homogeneity of climate, character and interests. I use the same word whether the different provinces are federated together, or whether they are what we should now call separate sovereign states. How large will these provinces tend to be? That will depend on the means of communication and transport, and so once again there arises the question of whether the fuel problem is solved wholly or partially or not at all. In the past the chief means of communication was the horse, and the countries of Europe are still mostly of a size adopted to suit this almost extinct means of transport, though some of the more newly formed ones do show a trace of the influence of the railway. None of them are really of a size suited to the motor-car or the aeroplane, or to present power production, whether by coal or water-power, which cuts right across the national boundaries.

If the fuel problem is solved completely, so that mechanical power and transportation is available in the future to a greater extent even than at present, then the provinces will be large; for example, the whole of Europe may well be one, and the whole of North America another…

Consider next what are likely to be usual relations between the provinces. It is too much to expect that there can ever be a permanent world government benevolently treating all of them on a perfect equality; such an institution could only work during the rare occasions of a world-wide golden age. To think of it as possible at other times is a misunderstanding of the function of government in any practical sense of the term. If the only things that a government was required to do were what everybody, or nearly everybody, wanted, there would be no need for the government to exist at all, because the things would be done anyhow; this would be the impracticable ideal of the anarchist. But if there are to be starving margins of population in most parts of the world, mere benevolence cannot suffice. There would inevitably be ill feeling and jealousy between the provinces, with each believing that it was not getting its fair share of the good things, and in fact, it would be like the state of affairs with which we are all too familiar. If then there is ever to be a world government, it will have to function as government do now, in the sense that it will have to coerce a minority – and indeed it may often be a majority – into doing things they do not want to do.” [emphasis mine] – 191

Civilization and a Universal Culture of Science

“Civilization might, loosely speaking, be counted as a sort of domestication, in that it imposes on man conditions not at all typical of wild life.” – 115

“Civilization has taught man how to live in dense crowds, and by that very fact those crowds are likely ultimately to constitute a majority of the world’s population. Already there are many who prefer this crowded life, but there are others who do not, and these will gradually be eliminated. Life in the crowded conditions of cities has many unattractive features, but in the long run these may be overcome, not so much by altering them, but simply by changing the human race into liking them.” [emphasis mine] – 99

“To conclude, I have cited the past history of China as furnishing the type of an enduring civilization. It seems to provide a model to which the future history of the world may be expected broadly to conform. The scale will of course be altogether vaster, and the variety of happenings cannot by any means be foreseen, but I believe that the underlying ground theme can be foreseen and that in a general way it will be rather like the history of the Chinese Empire. The regions of the world most of the time will be competing against one another. Occasionally – more rarely, than has been the case in China – they will be united by some strong arm into an uneasy world-government, which will endure for a period until it falls by the inevitable decay that finally destroys all dynasties. There will be periods when some of the provinces relapse into barbarism, but all the time civilization will survive in some of them. It will survive because it will be based on a single universal culture, derived from the understanding of science; for it is only through this understanding that the multitudes can continue to live. On this basic culture there will be overlaid other cultures, often possessing a greater emotional appeal, which will vary according to climate and race from one province to another. Most of the time and over most of the earth there will be severe pressure from excess populations, and there will be periodic famines. There will be a consequent callousness about the value of the individual’s life, and often there will be cruelty to a degree of which we do not willingly think. This however is only one side of the history. On the other side there will be vast stores of learning, far beyond anything we can now imagine, and the intellectual stature of man will rise to ever higher levels. And sometimes new discoveries will for a time relieve the human race from its fears, and there will be golden ages, when man may for a time be free to create wonderful flowerings in science, philosophy and the arts.” [emphasis mine] – 203

Globalization Leads to Slavery

“As to the less successful members, the standard of living of any community living on its real earnings, as the communities of the future will have to do, is inevitably lower than that of one rapidly spending the savings of hundreds of millions of years as we are doing now. There will also be the frequent threat of starvation, which will operate against the least efficient members of every community with special force, so that it may be expected that the conditions of their work will be much more severe than at present. Even now we see that a low standard of living in one country has the advantage in competing against a high standard in another. If there is work to be done, and, of two men of equal quality, one is willing to do it for less pay than the other, in the long run it will be he who gets the work to do. Those who find the bad conditions supportable will be willing to work harder and for less reward; in a broad sense of the term they are more efficient than the others, because they get more done for less pay. There are of course many exceptions, for real skill will get its reward, but in the long run it is inevitable that the lower types of labour will have an exceedingly precarious life. One of the triumphs of our own golden age has been that slavery has been abolished over a great part of the earth. It is difficult to see how this condition can be maintained in the hard world of the future with its starving margins, and it is too be feared that all too often a fraction of humanity will have to live in a state which, whatever it may be called, will be indistinguishable from slavery.” [emphasis mine] – 189

Computers To Predict the Near Future

“I am imagining that some new discovery should make the process far more precise for short-term planning. This might come about, for example, through the use of new high-speed counting machines, which in a short space of time might explore the consequences of alternative policies with a completeness that is far beyond anything that the human mind can aspire to achieve directly.” – 55

A program currently underway at the Pentagon called the Sentient World Simulation attempts to do just that. From an article by Mark Baard:

“U.S defense, intel and homeland security officials are constructing a parallel world, on a computer, which the agencies will use to test propaganda messages and military strategies.”

“Called the Sentient World Simulation, the program uses AI routines based upon the psychological theories of Marty Seligman, among others. (Seligman introduced the theory of “learned helplessness” in the 1960s, after shocking beagles until they cowered, urinating, on the bottom of their cages.)”

“Yank a country’s water supply. Stage a military coup. SWS will tell you what happens next.”

“The sim will feature an AR avatar for each person in the real world, based upon data collected about us from government records and the internet.”


The next part in this series will examine C. G. Darwin’s views on the possibility of domesticating the whole of mankind. Part 3 will look into the importance of creeds on the future history of mankind. The second last part in this series will examine C. G. Darwin’s emphasis on the desirability of eugenics and ways of perpetuating “superior” genes in future generations. Finally, I will examine the difficulties in controlling the size of the world population as described in The Next Million Years.

[1] Quotes from Charles Galton Darwin, The Next Million Years (1952).

Note: I first heard about this book from talks given by Alan Watt at Cutting Through The, an individual well worth looking into.

All original material posted on this site can be reprinted freely and completely – as long as full credit and a hyperlink are provided.

A Darwin’s Look into The Next Million Years


Sentient world: war games on the grandest scale By Mark Baard