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Life on Planet Crazy

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Come take a look at life on the newly discovered planet Crazy. Inhabitants there look exactly like us and live in an advanced technological society, but the big difference is a strange time warp effect that greatly shapes their lives. Actions these beings take produce effects that are delayed by rather long times.

A sharp kitchen knife slips and hits a finger. What happens? There is no immediate bleeding. But weeks or months later there will be bleeding from that exact location.

For long holiday seasons, inhabitants consume vast amounts of fat and sugar laden foods. What happens? Nothing, not until months later when their body weights sharply increase.

A worker fails to conduct proper maintenance on a huge complex industrial machine. What happens? Nothing, not until more than a year later when there are terrible sounds as the machine literally explodes. And a number of workers hit by flying debris are briefly knocked out but then stand up and feel fine, until some months later when they suddenly drop dead.

The Crazies have become used to their time blindness as something natural and inevitable. Surprises keep coming and connecting them to causes remains mysterious.

On a larger scale, the planet’s society has used deep geo-thermal energy technologies to support their energy intensive lifestyle. The very deep wells drilled into the subsurface at many locations have frequently but unpredictably caused massive quakes and volcanic eruptions with devastating impacts, but they happen months or years after the initial deep drilling and energy extraction. Drilling is always pursued at more locations.

The Crazies simply are incapable of accurately predicting or forecasting exactly what and when harmful effects of their actions will actually occur. All they can do is focus on the immediate utility and benefits, whatever they are, from the action or behavior and blindly accept the worst outcomes whenever they occur.

But what is even more fascinating is how this remarkable planetary condition has over a long time shaped the behavior of inhabitants. Has it made Crazies far more cautious and risk averse? No, just the opposite. This phenomenon has produced a population that is inherently addicted to and accepting of risky behavior with a focus on living in the present.

That’s right. This time-warp phenomenon has not made the population more careful and contemplative. To the contrary, unable to accurately anticipate the more negative but less immediately visible impacts of their behavior, they have become routinely reckless. Their various institutions do endless research and studies trying to fathom why this cause-effect relationship is so strange, but their reckless behaviors continue as if there is no alternative. Sometimes, Crazies cannot even figure out why some terrible events happen and what could possibly have caused them because of long delays from their causation.

This sophisticated society and culture basically accepts negative consequences as isolated events and merely focuses on and rationalizes the immediate benefits of individual and collective actions. Despite considerable experience with unforeseen painful impacts hitting them eventually, the Crazies do what they want and suffer the consequences. They are by nature individually and collectively uncontrollably time blind.

Does any of this behavior on planet Crazy sound familiar to Americans? Think BP oil disaster, as well as regular explosions at industrial facilities, coal mine disasters, a national obesity epidemic, huge numbers of children dropping out of school, homeowners rebuilding in flood-prone areas, people unable to pay off their credit card debt, product recalls because of unsafe conditions, often deadly foods and prescription drugs, and uncontrolled federal government spending and borrowing as if great pain will not infect the nation. Add on the constant election of Democrats and Republicans to Congress and the White House because their lies and promises of reform are repeatedly believed despite many decades of corrupt behavior to the contrary.

It is no real surprise that negative outcomes and outright crises and catastrophes keep hitting us. Risky and often stupid actions and behaviors keep occurring as if their inevitable negative impacts are invisible.

Take solace in moaning such things are God’s will or just unavoidable. Or conclude that, in the face of missing reformed personal, corporate, and government behavior, time-blinded humans are crazy too.

To learn more about time blindness here on Earth check out the work of Jack Alpert.


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About Joel S. Hirschhorn

Formerly full professor Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, and senior official Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and National Governors Association. Author of four nonfiction books and hundreds of articles.
  • opit

    Bravo. I am reminded of something as crazy as a film about Martin Luther King not being available because it got tied up by the family. Yet it was a staple of historical educational courses giving context to societal change. Copyright has tied up what one would think of as public records, adding to the confusion spewed by propaganda organs of political parties and sealed archives of newspaper, magazines and more by removing historical context.