And which deserve further research
Originally posted January 26, 2012
What is a life worth? All each of us can do for the betterment of the world is largely constrained by our funds. Warren Buffett, God bless him, is one of the least constrained in this way, and has heard the clarion call to give 99% of his fortunes to the benefit of mankind; he is destined to do a world of good.
For most of us, all we can do is all we can do. We have to continue to strive to do as much good as we can, and not be attached to the outcome.
Some people have good ideas that cannot be heard because they are ahead of their time. Stendahl, the father of the modern novel, died unrecognized and his books only became popular classics a century later. There are many such examples.
The Human Effectiveness Institute was set up to carry on my work in perpetuity, knowing that in my own lifetime my results could be limited. Without funds to carry out more extensive research into the brain, Quantum Mechanical interactions with consciousness, controlled experiments with new forms of education and so on, I don’t know if any of my ideas are right. All I know is that I will continue to try to find out as best I can, because I see promise of wide benefit if any of these ideas are right.
Jung was the first modern scientist to postulate that the intuition is a true function of consciousness capable of deriving accurate solutions to complex challenges. In our own time many scientists are studying the capabilities of the right cortex in pursuit of knowing more about the intuition. I expect in time we will discover that the intuition is a true set of algorithms and heuristic equations able to predict correct answers even though the left-cortex intellect is not able to explain step by logical step why that answer is correct.
In short, the reason I bet my life on my ideas is that they are the product of intuition. These ideas feel to me as nearing the direction of truth, even though they may turn out to be slightly to the right or left of being exactly correct. I can choose to be safe and not share these ideas, or to risk loss of face by sharing them. Given the potential to reduce suffering, it’s a person’s duty to put aside personal risk and contribute whatever ideas could be helpful to society.
Here are six ideas I expect will turn out to have some beneficial effects in the centuries ahead. We recommend whatever funds can be allocated to test these ideas further as a prudent investment in the future of humanity.
- The Theory of the Conscious Universe*. Hypothesis: the spark of selfness in each of us is actually a dub of the single consciousness that exists. Quantum mechanics would be the appropriate testbed for experiments searching for interaction effects between consciousness and matter/energy. This would be a starting point leading to experiments that expand our sphere of scientific knowledge into what used to be called metaphysics. Once given proof that we are all truly One, the implications for war, terrorism, violence, hatred, crime, fear of death, and other negative phenomena would be profound. The diffusion of such proof from intellectual circles down to the level of affecting the emotion-driven behavior of the common person in the age of Acceleritis™ would be the next challenge after finding such proof.
- The Theory of Holosentience. Hypothesis: latest evolution of the human brain is still in the field debugging stage, with the left cortex and limbic system driving behavior in an unbalanced fashion relative to under-developed patterns of use in the right cortex and prefrontal cortex. This lack of integration in whole-brain utilization has propagated the formerly backward violent culture into a technologically advanced violent culture. The inventiveness springing from the new brain parts, even used in an unbalanced manner, has caused an acceleration in question-producing stimuli falling upon the average human consciousness per day, which we call Acceleritis™. This has proceeded through three phases involving the invention of written (“seeable”) language, tools/weapons, and media. Brain research and controlled experiments in new educational interventions are the directional recommendations for research proving the efficacy of specific psychotechnological applications to increase human effectiveness, thus improving creative decision making to solve world level challenges. Such educational interventions would include forms of meditation, including what we call psychotechnology — the applied use of meditation continuously throughout life.
- Democracy enabled by Social Media. Hypothesis: the new media have finally reached a stage in which true participatory democracy is possible. All that is required is to launch and fine-tune the specific applications. Mining/crowdsourcing the solution ideas of the entire population so that the everyone can discuss these ideas intelligently and “vote” on them through Digital and all other media, could turn out to be the highest use of these media we have invented. Moderated commentary is essential in order to filter out the rancor that characterizes current political discourse, and to keep the process pointed at constructive solutions rather than blame.
- Individualized Education to Realize the Potential of all Human Beings. Hypothesis: the most valuable resource is the talent latent in human beings. If society were reorganized to practice true education, we would all benefit from far greater creative output. By true education what I mean is education that is true to the original meaning of the word, which is derived from two Latin roots, educare and educere, meaning “to draw out” something that is in there already. Our education system operates on the opposite basis of pounding stuff in that is not already in the child. The proposed new form of education would utilize batteries of tests to identify the innate talents and interests of a child. On the basis of these interests and talents the child would be helped to design his or her own work/study program from kindergarten on (with a modicum of the basics). In the old Russian and Chinese programs the testing was there to find out the child’s talents, but the child’s preferences were not considered. This created the opposite of utopia, i.e. dystopia. As George Burns said, chewing his cigar, “Do what you love to do. You’re going to be doing it all your life. You’d better love it.” Organizations would take part and begin to identify and sponsor children from their earliest contact with the new education system. If America were to institute individualized education, other nations would once again look up to us and understand our role as practical idealists striving to lead the world into a higher destiny. Combining this with true democracy through our media would put America back on the course set for it by the founders.
- A New Money System. Hypothesis: a smooth transition to a more optimal monetary system could eliminate world poverty without negative side effects. There is more than one possible money system. Our present money system just grew like Topsy. It was not designed based on consideration of all alternatives, or by controlled experimentation, optimization, or any systematic means. While modern banking can be traced back to medieval and early Renaissance Italy, the first records of banking activity date back to around 2000 BCE in Assyria and Babylonia, where the merchants of the ancient world made loans to farmers and traders that carried goods between cities. Banking transactions probably predate the invention of money, in that deposits initially consisted of grain and later other goods including cattle, agricultural implements, and eventually precious metals such as gold, which were stored in temples and palaces to deter thieves.** From money as symbols for cattle, to the Templars, to Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes, the random walk of events led to the present monetary system. Naturally those with the power of violent control would steer any emerging system in their own favor, whether it was the currency of exchange, organized religion, statehood, or any other system. Some of the violence perpetuated by the imbalances in brain use described above would sublimate into passive aggression through the exploitation of the masses by the rich and powerful. Imbalances in brain usage have led to imbalances in individual opportunity. Revolutions have occurred to rectify the situation, always resulting in the new leadership re-creating similar imbalances afterward, because the fundamental imbalances at the brain level had not changed. Communism was one flailing attempt at a new money system that was spectacularly wrong. This does not mean that a new money system as a concept is automatically going to be wrong. Our best economic thinkers could probably design credible alternatives and baby steps that could cautiously test these designs. Robert A. Heinlein in For Us, The Living depicts a future in which the Social Credit ideas of economist C.H. Douglas have become the norm. In this system, the government prints money not backed by gold (as is the case in America today) and extends this money to all citizens like an allowance. This differs from Communism in the freedom given to the individual as to how to spend or invest the allowance, and how to spend or invest one’s time. Alberta (Canada) started to test these ideas during the Great Depression until shut down by the courts. Nobody knows how well the idea would have worked if it had not been shut down. Today’s economists presumably could come up with even better ideas than those of a century ago. Renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs in The End of Poverty describes a path to eliminating extreme poverty by 2025 without any fundamental change in the money system, and all 191 UN member states in 2002 agreed to this plan, called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Extreme poverty is the tip of the poverty iceberg and it is possible by opening our minds to even more creative possibilities for the money system, all poverty and fear of poverty can be banished in this century.
- Cause-Centralized Marketing. Hypothesis: advertisers can increase sales and profitability by doing good works and publicizing these good works in miniprograms in place of some of their TV commercials. Cause marketing — a form of corporate public relations hinged on good corporate citizenship, doing good works/philanthropy — is today about a $1 billion annual phenomenon. This is about a tenth of one percent of the total spent worldwide each year on marketing/advertising/PR. A very small allocation and yet there is evidence that the return on investment from cause marketing and related forms of marketing such as true sponsorship is far greater than the ROI of average marketing/advertising/PR. The Cone agency in Boston has done surveys for years proving that the majority of the public will change brands to favor brands who are corporate good guys. My own work on true sponsorship (underwriting good content on TV/Digital media) shows 7X the average persuasion scores as compared to 30-second TV commercials, along with higher ROI. People are more affected by substantive actions by advertisers to improve the lives of human beings, than by claims of superior cleaning power etc. So why such a low allocation for cause marketing? The main reason is reach. Marketers know that cause marketing and true sponsorship have high impact but low reach. The obvious solution then would be to create a form of cause marketing that has high reach: replace some of the advertiser’s TV commercials with equal length units showcasing the individual human stories of people who have benefited from the advertiser’s support of good causes. This would provide high reach, high impact, and social good. A truly win/win solution. True sponsorship can also be emulated in commercial length units by means of miniprograms that touch people’s hearts, tagged with the brand’s name at the end. Changing the advertising can do more to uplift the entire culture than can be imagined. Advertising in a way is like the chatter that goes on in our minds — a form of background radiation that conditions our perceptions, thoughts and feelings. Why not channel it for the good of all — especially since the evidence points to that being the highest ROI solution anyway?
If any of these ideas makes sense to you, and if you would like to help me move it forward using a few minutes a week of your time or whatever you can manage, please let me know. I feel there is latent promise in these ideas and each needs a lot more work to bear fruit.
Best to all,
*The Theory of the Conscious Universe was the working title of my book, “You Are the Universe: Imagine That”, released in 2014.
**See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_banking for more background on the subject.