Sunday, January 29, 2017

Living in Alternate Universes: Are you a Jingoist, Progressive, or Treehugger?

Quantum physics suggests that there are many different universes, with our current world being embedded into just one of infinitely many other universes. Currently it seems humans on earth are breaking up locally in many different multiverses. Based on most recent history, I would group these different multiverses into three main universes. Each of these universes has its own reality, defining fact or fiction for the inhabitants of the universe. Each universe is inhabited by its own tribe, with its own belief system. The three tribes are the jingoists, the progressives, and the treehuggers. While members of these three tribes are spread out around the world, living side by side, they are living in different worlds. Members of these three tribes live in all countries, although usually members of one tribe rule a particular country. The jingoist tribe, currently on a roll, wants to recreate the national states of the early twentieth century with strong borders protected by fences and walls. The members of the progressive tribe, believers in a global world ruled by capital and technology, just got back from their annual January trek to Davos. Together with the members of the third tribe, the treehuggers, who want to conserve nature and the environment, they are currently on the defense against the jingoists. 

With the election of Donald Trump, the jingoistic tribe has gotten its clear leader. Some European representatives of this tribe are Germany’s Frauke Petry or France’s Marine Le Pen.  The jingoists believe in the “good old times”, they believe in “God and Fatherland”, they want to “#makeAmericaGreatAgain”.  They think that their country is the best, and that potential troublemakers are best kept out, if need be by force. They want a strong army and police, to keep crime at bay.  They cherish the family as a bulwark against evil from the outside world. They are very suspicious about new ideas. They will help their neighbors, but don’t think the state should generally support the weak, and refuges should be kept out. Their motto is “help yourself, then God helps you”.

The progressive tribe believes into continuous progress through science and technology.  Politicians like Germany’s Angela Merkel or Canada’s Justin Trudeau are role models for this tribe.  Among industrialists, Elon Musk, or the late Steve Jobs stand out. Their goal is to reach the Mars and live forever through clever exploitation of the advancements of science. They think that global networking is key to overcoming all obstacles, they preferably do that at gatherings such as the World Economic Forum in Davos every January.

The third tribe are the treehuggers. They believe that the world’s resources are limited, and are afraid of unabashed exploitation of nature. The also don’t trust unquestioning scientific progress such as genetically modified crops, or fracking to get access to more oil. They congregate in in Global Warming summits, and self-organize in groups like Greenpeace or the WWF. Pope Francis, inviting scientists and world leaders to Rome to discuss Global Warming, has become a champion of their cause. They don’t believe in growth at any cost.

It seems to me each of these tribes has their own strengths and weaknesses. Based on their belief that local is better than global, jingoists will compartmentalize in their nation states, so they will mix less with others different from themselves and become more homogeneous within their local echo chambers. Scientific and technical progress will come – obviously – through the progressives, but there are many examples where the progressives have gone wrong. For example, applying scientific results about increased fuel efficiency, lead was added to fuel, which turned out to be a pretty bad idea for our health. And while medicine is making huge progress, the price gauging of drugs of some progressives, where pharmaceutical companies make huge profits by lifting the price of unique lifesaving drugs from 40 dollars to 38,000 dollars in two years is just unethically mindboggling. The treehuggers finally, while they mean well, do not really have convincing answers to many global problems other than stopping the rapid destruction of the environment to preserve nature for future generations. On how to feed and take care of these future generations, they stay extremely vague.

The point I would like to make here is that each of the three virtual tribes is living in their own reality, and is defining their own truth. Law and order, family values, and God and fatherland are the undisputed foundation for the jingoists, as is unquestioning belief in progress through science and technology for the progressives, and the quest to conserve the environment while restricting growth for the treehuggers.

Through Coolhunting in social media, on newsfeeds, Twitter, Wikipedia, and online forums we can try to shed some light on these alternate realities.  When looking at news, key topics, and social networks among the key people in each of these universes, we can make these three echo chambers transparent, and try to increase awareness among the different tribes for alternate realities. You will find same examples in earlier blogposts. What is fake news for one universe, is fact for another!

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