‘Grocery Pains’: the cognitive impact of impending catastrophe

12 01 2009

What do you think the social effects of reports like this are?

Do they inspire? If so, what–change, disillusion, anger, nihilism? Apropo a chat with JT and the Zizek vids below, when the scale of a projected crisis is this large, what’s the natural human response? Can we cognitively handle data like this in a productive way? If so–how?

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3 responses

16 01 2009
jordantam

Another interesting point to consider is whether or not large-scale and possible apocalyptic predictions, even if accepted as true and likely, leaves people more concerned or overly concerned to the point of inaction, despair and hopelessness. Can such a message or strategy to motivate care about societal challenges be counterproductive?

17 01 2009
GerBear

I’d like to re-iterate JT’s concern, but add more cynicism to it. I know a few people who take up the me-first philosophy in spite of its consequences as they hear reports like this. The reason? “The world’s going to hell anyway, we may as well get what we can while we can.”

28 01 2009
lopez

Going further, i think you could make the argument for us humans having a built-in tendency to simply not worry (and, as a result, not bother thinking about solutions) to problems so large they seem paralyzingly complex/irresolvable at first. We’ve evolved to see correlations between our behaviour and our enviroment… if an issue is so large or abstract that there’s no clear, *visceral* correlation there, it can be pretty hard to convince ourselves that we can, let alone should, do anything about the situation. To my mind, this is where the role of (inevitably agenda-driven) science-informed policy institution can be helpful (beyond peoples’ gut reactions) …. all that said, perhaps we’re putting far too little faith in *people*, as such, and are missing the socializing effects of vested interests who do not view large-scale socioeconomic change positively (essentially, the whole pre-21st century economic-political complex) …

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