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Here is a list of recent additions to our site. If you’re new here, head on over to our Introduction for a quick orientation.

Flexible cooperation with strangers

To the best of our knowledge, only Sapiens can cooperate in very flexible ways with countless numbers of strangers. This concrete capability — rather than an eternal soul or some unique kind of consciousness — explains our mastery of planet Earth.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2017 Oct 15


Help! Help! The Robots are Coming!

By Herb Bowie

Many pundits today are predicting a future of robots equipped with artificial intelligence so powerful that they will essentially render great swaths of humanity obsolete. Let me just make a few points concerning such imaginings.

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Blog Post   |   2017 Aug 23


Discovering that I am Nobody

We are all aware, if we have ever tried it, how empty and ghostly is a life lived for a long while in absolute solitude. Free me from my fellows, let me alone to work out the salvation of my own glorious self, and surely (so I may fancy) I shall now for the first time show who I am.

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Quotation by Josiah Royce   |   2017 Jul 30


The wonder remains

Philosophy begins in wonder. And, at the end, when philosophic thought has done its best, the wonder remains.

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Quotation by Alfred North Whitehead   |   2017 Jul 29


Loss of Fertile Land Fuels Looming Crisis Across Africa

Climate change, soil degradation and rising wealth are shrinking the amount of usable land in Africa. But the number of people who need it is rising fast.

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News Item   |   2017 Jul 29


Hands that must work

We have hands that must work, brains that must think, and personalities that must be developed.

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Quotation by Lauretta Bender   |   2017 Jul 18


Our American Identity: Where To Next?

By Herb Bowie

Like many of my fellow citizens, I’ve been struggling in recent months to understand exactly what it means to be American these days – to identify the central elements of our collective identity that still bind us together as some kind of unified whole.

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Blog Post   |   2017 Jul 13


Earth's sixth mass extinction event under way

Researchers talk of ‘biological annihilation’ as study reveals billions of populations of animals have been lost in recent decades.

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News Item   |   2017 Jul 10


Remember the Population Bomb? It's Still Ticking

Lesotho’s experience since the 1970s is an even stronger case study of what happens when development plans ignore the reality that such efforts can be a recipe for exploding human numbers.

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News Item   |   2017 Jun 15


In Defense of Balance

By Herb Bowie

When I founded The Society for Practical Utopians, I based it on a fundamental set of beliefs, divided up into principles and values. And the very first value, the one given preeminent position, is balance.

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Blog Post   |   2017 Jun 12


Push Outward

Search for what is good and strong and beautiful in your society and elaborate from there. Push outward. Always create from what you already have. Then you will know what to do.

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Quotation by Michel Foucault   |   2017 Jun 07


Couldn’t everyone’s life become a work of art?

What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is related only to objects and not to individuals, or to life. That art is something which is specialized or which is done by experts who are artists.

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Quotation by Michel Foucault   |   2017 Jun 07


Art is a lie that makes us realize truth

We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.

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Quotation by Pablo Picasso   |   2017 May 24


Living happily ever after

Living happily ever after is not the end of a fairy tale. It is the common purpose that all life seeks.

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Quotation by Bob Mandel   |   2017 May 22


It is foolish to view realism and idealism as incompatible

I consider myself a realist. I have certainly seen my share of the world as it really is and not how I wish it would be.

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Quotation by John McCain   |   2017 May 08


Imagination is not a means of making money

In America the imagination is generally looked on as something that might be useful when the TV is out of order. Poetry and plays have no relation to practical politics. Novels are for students, housewives, and other people who don't work. Fantasy is for children and primitive peoples.

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Quotation by Ursula K. Le Guin   |   2017 Apr 21


You are going to have to make it different

I once addressed, on a Christmas day many years ago, on behalf of the United Nations, an audience of about two thousand school children in London.

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Quotation by Jacob Bronowski   |   2017 Apr 21


Excitement from Art

The excitement we derive from a work of art is mostly the excitement of seeing connections that did not exist before, of seeing quite different aspects of life unified through a pattern.

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Quotation by Anthony Burgess   |   2017 Apr 21


Moral Sawdust

At some period in this person's growth, certain brain tissues had died and turned to moral sawdust.

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Quotation by John Dickson Carr and Cecil Street   |   2017 Apr 20


Defending the pursuit of learning

If the pursuit of learning is not defended by the educated citizen, it will not be defended at all. For there will always be those who scoff at intellectuals, who cry out against research, who seek to limit our educational system.

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Quotation by John F. Kennedy   |   2017 Mar 26


Our privileges can be no greater than our obligations

But this Nation was not founded solely on the principle of citizens’ rights. Equally important, though too often not discussed, is the citizen's responsibility. For our privileges can be no greater than our obligations.

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Quotation by John F. Kennedy   |   2017 Mar 26


A Compact, Extensible, Open-Source Belief System for the 21st Century

By Herb Bowie

It often seems that there is little in this modern world that any two of us can agree on.

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Blog Post   |   2017 Mar 26


A bicycle for our minds

I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. Humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing about a third of the way down the list.

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Quotation by Steve Jobs   |   2017 Mar 18


The Practopian Creed

A stand-alone document encapsulating our Mission, Principles and Values.

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Core Writing   |   2017 Mar 18


Human Population Growth

By Herb Bowie

If sustainability is the most serious issue of our time, then human population growth is certainly one of the most vital tools we have for making progress in this area. Let’s look at the topic of human population growth from a number of different perspectives.

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Issue   |   2017 Mar 18


When old men plant trees

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.

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Quotation by anonymous   |   2017 Mar 16


Life is a series of daring adventures from a secure base

Human development research offers a different formula: All of life is a series of daring adventures from a secure base.

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Quotation by David Brooks   |   2017 Mar 07


Global Footprint Network

Advancing the science of sustainability, the Global Footprint Network is changing how the world manages its natural resources.

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Link   |   2017 Mar 06


The cost of a polluted environment: 1.7 million child deaths a year

More than 1 in 4 deaths of children under 5 years of age are attributable to unhealthy environments.

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News Item   |   2017 Mar 06


Thralls to group instincts

Maybe bees and ants don't mind being thralls to group instincts but people, I feel, do. And so the question that human beings must ask is, “How do I live my own life and survive, even prosper, while sharing the load of the greater culture?”

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Quotation by Walter Mosley   |   2017 Feb 26


This faith in consciousness

We are ambivalent, combative, stubborn, wildly changeable beings that have the natural schizophrenic facility to love and hate at the same time.

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Quotation by Walter Mosley   |   2017 Feb 26


Accidents of birth

Today Americans still feel that by and large, every individual is responsible for constructing his or her own fate — the classic pursuit of happiness — and there is still much debate in the United States about the extent to which, if at all, an individual's success or failure is....

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Quotation by Anu Partanen   |   2017 Feb 21


Nordic societies have simply taken the job of government seriously

Overall the secret to Nordic success is not complicated. Nordic societies have simply taken the job of government seriously. They make mistakes and have their troubles, but they keep tweaking their systems in search of improvements, and they work hard to balance the books.

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Quotation by Anu Partanen   |   2017 Feb 21


You can simply focus on raising a human being

Imagine, then, what it's like to be a Nordic parent.

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Quotation by Anu Partanen   |   2017 Feb 21


The US remains astonishingly backward when it comes to education

It's an unfortunate fact that the United States remains astonishingly backward compared to almost all other advanced Western countries when it comes to education, because in America, what predicts how well a child will do in school is not a child's aptitude or hard work, but the status of the....

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Quotation by Anu Partanen   |   2017 Feb 21


Independence, freedom and opportunity for every member of society

At the same time, the Nordic theory of love has become an overarching philosophy about how to structure a society.

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Quotation by Anu Partanen   |   2017 Feb 21


The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life

This 2016 book by Finnish-journalist-turned-American-citizen Anu Partanen offers a comprehensive comparison of American culture and governmental policies vs. those of the Nordic nations.

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Link   |   2017 Feb 21


Facts are Facts

Facts are facts; they are ascertainable through honest, open-minded and diligent reporting; truth is attainable by laying fact upon fact, much like the construction of a cathedral; and truth is not merely in the eye of the beholder.

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Quotation by Peter Kann   |   2017 Feb 20


Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution – a # 1 international bestseller – that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”

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Link   |   2017 Feb 20


Capitalists who worship only at the feet of capitalism

Democratic capitalism is a wonderful device precisely because it maximizes the ability of individuals within society to singly and collectively pursue the ends that they find to be important and meaningful; the accomplishments of a capitalistic society are noble and grand to the extent....

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Quotation by Herb Bowie   |   2017 Feb 17


Cultural, as opposed to biological, evolution

Our capacity, through language, to manipulate the mental world and so deal imaginatively with the world of experience has been a major factor, perhaps the major factor, in giving humans the overwhelming advantage over other species in terms of cultural, as opposed to biological, evolution.

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Quotation by Edwin G. Pulleyblank   |   2017 Feb 16


A Man of Value

Try to become not a man of success, but try rather to become a man of value.

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Quotation by Albert Einstein   |   2017 Feb 15


The point of modern propaganda

The point of modern propaganda isn't only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.

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Quotation by Garry Kasparov   |   2017 Feb 05


Inequality.org

The Web’s leading portal to data, analysis, and commentary on income and wealth inequality.

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Link   |   2017 Feb 04


The Left Hand of Darkness

This is a book about an envoy from a foreign land, and a mad king; power-hungry regents and political schemers; the meaning of patriotism and the making of a traitor; about bravery and endurance; about taking in strangers and showing them kindness; about borders and border-crossings; about….

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Link   |   2017 Jan 31


Earth Sets a Temperature Record for the Third Straight Year

Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016 — trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014.

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News Item   |   2017 Jan 18


A Meaningful Life

As Nietzsche put it, if you have a why to live, you can bear almost any how. A meaningful life can be extremely satisfying even in the midst of hardship, whereas a meaningless life is a terrible ordeal no matter how comfortable it is.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2017 Jan 13


The World Empire enforces World Peace

Most countries no longer engage in full-scale war for the simple reason that they are no longer independent.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2017 Jan 13


Our Social Order Now in a State of Permanent Flux

Over the last two centuries, the pace of change became so quick that the social order acquired a dynamic and malleable nature. It now exists in a state of permanent flux.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2017 Jan 13


How Not To Be Ignorant About The World

Watch this if you’d like to be smarter than the average chimpanzee.

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News Item   |   2017 Jan 13


The Real Story About Fake News Is Partisanship

Partisan bias now operates more like racism than mere political disagreement, academic research on the subject shows. And this widespread prejudice could have serious consequences for American democracy.

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News Item   |   2017 Jan 11


At a Glance

A one-page summary of who we are and what we’re about

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Intro   |   2017 Jan 08


Another Way to Think about the US Elections

By Herb Bowie

I was recently puzzling over the still surprising victory of Donald Trump in the recent US Presidential elections, when it occurred to me that there is another way to think about this whole chain of events.

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Blog Post   |   2016 Dec 29


A Completely Free Market

In a completely free market, unsupervised by kings and priests, avaricious capitalists can establish monopolies or collude against their workforces.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2016 Dec 28


When Growth Becomes a Supreme Good

This is the fly in the ointment of free-market capitalism. It cannot ensure that profits are gained in a fair way, or distributed in a fair manner. On the contrary, the craving to increase profits and production blinds people to anything that might stand in the way.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2016 Dec 28


The Awesome Power of Culture

Millions of years of evolution have designed us to live and think as community members. Within a mere two centuries we have become alienated individuals. Nothing testifies better to the awesome power of culture.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2016 Dec 28


Christmas For All

By Herb Bowie

Here we are at the end of another year, well into what many of us call the Holiday Season.

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Blog Post   |   2016 Dec 08


Changes

This log tracks changes to the content of the site, especially in regards to the Core Writings.

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Core Writing   |   2016 Dec 05


Pledge

Are you ready to Take the Practopians Pledge?

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Core Writing   |   2016 Dec 05


Cultures as a kind of mental infection

Ever more scholars see cultures as a kind of mental infection or parasite, with humans as its unwitting host. Organic parasites, such as viruses, live inside the body of their hosts.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2016 Dec 04


Unprecedented growth in human power

The last 500 years have witnessed a phenomenal and unprecedented growth in human power. In the year 1500, there were about 500 million Homo sapiens in the entire world. Today, there are 7 billion.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2016 Dec 04


Authentic cultures

We still talk a lot about ‘authentic’ cultures, but if by ‘authentic’ we mean something that developed independently, and that consists of ancient local traditions free of external influences, then there are no authentic cultures left on earth.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2016 Dec 03


Most sociopolitical hierarchies lack a logical or biological basis

Most sociopolitical hierarchies lack a logical or biological basis — they are nothing but the perpetuation of chance events supported by myths.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2016 Nov 28


From a biological perspective, nothing is unnatural

Culture tends to argue that it forbids only that which is unnatural. But from a biological perspective, nothing is unnatural. Whatever is possible is by definition also natural.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2016 Nov 28


Human imagination more than biological reality

There is little sense, then, in arguing that the natural function of women is to give birth, or that homosexuality is unnatural. Most of the laws, norms, rights and obligations that define manhood and womanhood reflect human imagination more than biological reality.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2016 Nov 28


Consistency is the playground of dull minds

Just as medieval culture did not manage to square chivalry with Christianity, so the modern world fails to square liberty with equality. But this is no defect. Such contradictions are an inseparable part of every human culture.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2016 Nov 28


A Progressive Annual Tax on Capital

The right solution is a progressive annual tax on capital. This will make it possible to avoid an endless inegalitarian spiral while preserving competition and incentives for new instances of primitive accumulation....

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Quotation by Thomas Piketty   |   2016 Nov 25


Does Decision-Making Matter?

We don’t decide about life; we’re captured by life. In the major spheres, decision-making, when it happens at all, is downstream from curiosity and engagement. If we really want to understand and shape behavior, maybe we should look less at decision-making and more at curiosity.

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News Item   |   2016 Nov 25


Top 0.1% Holds Same Amount of Wealth as Bottom 90%

We all know income inequality is pretty wide in the USA, but the wealth ownership data via Deutsche Bank is quite astonishing. Note the change post WW II, and the subsequent reversion.

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News Item   |   2016 Nov 25


Sustainability

By Herb Bowie

As Practical Utopians, we want our culture to continue to evolve towards better and brighter outcomes for humanity. The biggest threat we see to this continued evolution is our ongoing exhaustion and degradation of our natural environment here on Earth.

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Issue   |   2016 Nov 23


About the Principles and Values

The Practopian Principles and Values are intended to provide a foundational set of beliefs about human nature, the world, and our place in it.

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Core Writing   |   2016 Nov 22


Myths are stronger than anyone could have imagined

Myths, it transpired, are stronger than anyone could have imagined. When the Agricultural Revolution opened opportunities for the creation of crowded cities and mighty empires, people invented stories about great gods, motherlands and joint stock companies to provide the needed social links.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2016 Nov 21


When his salary depends on his not understanding it

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

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Quotation by Upton Sinclair   |   2016 Nov 20


Deeper convictions of the heart

Does he learn anything from writing them [his songs]? Does he work out ideas that way?

“I think you work out something. I wouldn't call them ideas. I think ideas are what you want to get rid of. I don't really like songs with ideas. They tend to become slogans.

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Quotation by Leonard Cohen   |   2016 Nov 14


These principles have no objective validity

The two texts present us with an obvious dilemma.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2016 Nov 12


History is something very few people have been doing

These forfeited food surpluses fuelled politics, wars, art and philosophy. They built palaces, forts, monuments and temples. Until the late modern era, more than 90 per cent of humans were peasants who rose each morning to till the land by the sweat of their brows.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2016 Nov 11


What Seattle Doesn't Understand About Trump's Appeal

Matt Manweller, a Republican state lawmaker from Ellensburg, Washington, USA, is also a Political Science professor, and does a great job of explaining why those outside of our large urban centers feel abandoned by the liberals.

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News Item   |   2016 Nov 11


Evolutionary success and individual suffering

This discrepancy between evolutionary success and individual suffering is perhaps the most important lesson we can draw from the Agricultural Revolution. When we study the narrative of plants such as wheat and maize, maybe the purely evolutionary perspective makes sense.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2016 Nov 10


What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class

From Joan C. Williams, in the Harvard Business Review: Most complete explanation yet of why so many US voters went for Trump.

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News Item   |   2016 Nov 10


Making Sense of What Happened on Nov 8

By Herb Bowie

Trying hard to make sense of what happened last night. Here are my thoughts. 1. Our country is almost equally divided into two camps.

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Blog Post   |   2016 Nov 09


National parks and reserves

The supreme reality of our time is ... the vulnerability of our planet.

National parks and reserves are an integral aspect of intelligent use of natural resources.

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Quotation by John F. Kennedy   |   2016 Nov 07


No single natural way of life for Sapiens

The Heated debates about Homo sapiens’ ‘natural way of life’ miss the main point. Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, there hasn't been a single natural way of life for Sapiens. There are only cultural choices, from among a bewildering palette of possibilities.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2016 Nov 05


A staggering number of the world's children are breathing toxic air

A staggering number of the world’s children are breathing toxic air, according to a new UNICEF report.

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News Item   |   2016 Nov 04


What We Need After the Election

By Herb Bowie

It may be too early to know who will win on Tuesday, but it’s not too early to assess the major issues roiling the electorate and offer a few thoughts about what needs to happen after the voting is over – no matter who comes out on top.

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Blog Post   |   2016 Nov 03


That Magical Honeycomb of Words

...language, that magical honeycomb of words into which human reality is forever dissolving and from which it continually reemerges, having invented itself anew. The adjective in the lotus. The jewel in the inkwell. A blue dolphin leaping from a sink of dirty dishes.

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Quotation by Tom Robbins   |   2016 Oct 23


Introduction

Welcome to Practopians.com, the website for Practical Utopians! We invite you to explore our site. You’ll note that it contains several different types of content.

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Intro   |   2016 Oct 15


Having Fewer Children and Grandchildren

On the subject of climate change, I think we need to not only think of what sort of planet we will be leaving to our children and grandchildren, but start to think about leaving fewer children and grandchildren for our planet to have to sustain.

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Quotation by Herb Bowie   |   2016 Sep 17


Only Two Sources of Real Wealth

We have had to learn the bitter lesson that in all the world there are only two sources of real wealth: the fruit of the earth and the labor of men; and to estimate work not by the money it brings to the producer, but by the worth of the thing that is made.

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Quotation by Dorothy L. Sayers   |   2016 Apr 26


People with Passion

People with passion can change the world for the better.

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Quotation by Steve Jobs   |   2016 Feb 21


Developmental Levels as Evolving Social Structures

By Herb Bowie

As human society has evolved over the centuries, we have developed different types of social structures.

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Blog Post   |   2016 Jan 10


Thnk globally, act locally

Thnk globally, act locally.

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Quotation by Disputed   |   2016 Jan 05


Any Love for Justice

Well, if one really wishes to know how justice is administered in a country, one does not question the policemen, the lawyers, the judges, or the protected members of the middle class.

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Quotation by James Baldwin   |   2015 Dec 31


Background

It has seemed to me for some time that there is a space – perhaps even a need – for some new institution to emerge in the world.

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Core Writing   |   2015 Dec 16


Mission

The Practopians seek to identify and promote beliefs, principles, values and actions that will result in a brighter future for humanity.

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Core Writing   |   2015 Dec 16


Principles

This list identifies our most fundamental beliefs about the world and our place in it.

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Core Writing   |   2015 Dec 16


Values

These are the things we value most.

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Core Writing   |   2015 Dec 16


How ISIS Makes Radicals

Great piece by David Brooks in the New York Times, summarizing elements of “The True Believer,” by Eric Hoffer, written in 1951.

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News Item   |   2015 Dec 08


Ignorant and Free

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. The functionaries of every government have propensities to command at will the liberty and property of their constituents.

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Quotation by Thomas Jefferson   |   2015 Dec 01


What Science Is -- and How and Why It Works

Great short article by Neil deGrasse Tyson about the nature of scientific knowledge.

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News Item   |   2015 Nov 21


Life can be much broader

When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money.

That's a very limited life.

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Quotation by Steve Jobs   |   2015 Oct 16