The Diamond Oracle - Verifiable Trust and Planetary Survival
15th December 2018

Chris King

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Essential Question

Almost every sane human being will tell you that their most central concerns are to provide for the future and for a future world in which their loved ones and especially their children and grandchildren can have a viable world to survive. Yet we are currently entering into a situation where none of us have any real confidence that the world will be here in a fertile and verdant form capable of sustaining the future generations, because of what we are currently doing to planet Earth as a species.

How is it that something so basic that human peoples have throughout our evolutionary emergence held it central to our sense of meaning and fulfilment has become an unattainable dream we all feel helpless to do anything about?

Unravelling this Gordian knot is the key to our survival and the survival of the diversity of life itself. It is the one thing we all need to regain to make sense of the world in which we find ourselves, without which we are helpless and adrift, hoping for some kind of miracle in the face of impossible odds.

Here is a possible answer to this question and a short clear route to regaining our autonomy and capacity to take responsibility for our futures and the caring, power and understanding to help it actually happen.

The Evolution of Human Trust

Since the dawn of human culture some 150,000 years ago, humans have been evolving astute tests of human character, to figure out who are our reliable friends and partners, and who may spin us deceptive tales, or let us down, or exploit us at the critical moment.

We are a social species and the main strategic risks to our survival and successful reproduction have for a long time been members of our own species who we can only withstand by our keen social intelligence to understand who might betray us when the chips fall and who might try to seduce our partners leaving us to care for their offspring rather than our own.

The Bushmen, who form, alongside the Forest Pygmies, one of the oldest sustainable human cultures, with a record going back 150,000 years, spend long nights talking about their human relationships around the camp fire just as the women have endlessly discussed their social comings and goings and the tales overheard by others on the grape vine.

Thus the sexual selection of falling in love, good mate selection and resourceful partnership, which is the foundation of the human family, are balanced by astute social selection of who we trust and place faith in, from our close experience of the character of those around us, who we know closely over a period of time. This forms an original virtue of astuteness complemented by astuteness on the part of women, in reproductive choice - who to become intimate with and get pregnant to in the affinities of sexual love and tenderness.

There have always been defectors and freeloaders, who in addition to cheating on the sly, may use violence and intimidation to take advantage by attacking vulnerable parties, stealing their resources or abducting their womenfolk, so the prisoners' dilemma of cooperation and defection has always been with us.

Some of these issues have been handled by moral notions, such as not to murder, steal, or commit adultery, but the key to human survival is not moral prescription, but dealing with the people around us by verifiable trust from good knowledge of the character of those with which we personally associate.

While our judgment of good character has a deep evolutionary basis, we also have means to make quick emotional assessments in real time, by gut reaction and these can be subverted, based on innate fears, or being seduced by immediate tangible rewards, so that we can become unintentionally exploited.

The Fall into Patriarchal Civilisation

As society grew from small bands with personal knowledge of one another to large urban societies, individuals gradually lost the capacity to make autonomous decisions based on verifiable trust in good character, and became increasingly controlled by moral edicts, enforced by social power structures, which almost all of the individuals had no real control over. Astute judgment still operated in family and local personal affairs but became eclipsed by other imperatives, including control of female reproductive choice, obedience to the state and religious doctrine.

Agriculture and animal husbandry enabled the development of large production economies which precipitated a population explosion, though with reduced health and dietary quality, gradually pushing remnant gather-hunter cultures into the periphery and claiming most of their natural habitats. During this phase, the human reproductive sex ratio crashed from the natural 1 reproducing man to 2 women, due to wider variance in male procreation, to a cataclysmic 1 man to 17 women due to inter-clan male homicide and accumulation of vast harems by male potentates, with 1 in 200 men on the planet still sharing Genghis Khan's Y-chromosome.

Male elites gained control of power through military coalitions, while priesthoods disseminated moral imperatives on the basis of religious beliefs that served two clear purposes, firstly enabling societies to become dominant over their neighbours and competitors by inhibiting intra-social strife, often by draconian forms of punishment, and secondly by controlling female reproductive choice, through dire penalties, from stoning for adultery to female genital mutilation, to ensure the next generation served the male elite's paternity interests.

As these societies "progressed" their religions moved from totem deities of agricultural fertility and civic identity to utopian forms of universally imposed belief, such as monotheism, whose apocalyptic eschatologies laid claim to a divine destiny encapsulated in holy war and a final clash between the forces of light and darkness, in which the entire natural world had now become a mere flawed and discardable husk, subject to moral culpability in the face of the will of God. We then witness a succession of empires conquering one another by a variety of means, from economic domination to genocidal warfare.

Technological Revolution and Planetary Ecocrisis

Eventually, we arrive at some important turning points, such as the birth of science and democracy in Greece, the emergence from the dark ages in the Renaissance, the scientific and industrial revolutions and the spread of representative parliaments to many countries, forming a cradle of collective decision-making, in a world otherwise driven by despotic power structures.

At the same time, the scientific and industrial revolutions gave birth to an increasingly technological society with unrestrained capacity to lay waste to natural habitats and exploit their resources, both naturally productive and mineral, accompanied by an ever-increasing demand for energy to power the engines of transport, production and military might.

The capitalist ideal of venture capital exploitation, disregarding any comprehension of the tragedy of the commons, led to the rape of the planet - a massive global exploitation of all the Earth's natural resources and diversity in a winner-take-all first-come first-served expropriation of Earth's habitat and its geological, biological and genetic resources, that had taken 500 million years to accumulate.

Long-term investment in Earth's abundance became replaced by patriarchal short-term economic and political horizons with no regard for the long-term conservation of resources characteristic of female reproductive investment. Emphasising the patriarchal basis of capitalism, human inequality now lies on a steep J-shaped curve unparalleled in natural systems, except in the context of male reproductive contests for sexual advantage.

Democratic politics has become corrupted by adversarial two party populism devoted to discrediting, or annihilating, the opposition, again characteristic of male reproductive combat, particularly in first-past-the-post and electoral college systems, accompanied by rampant corruption of power and gerrymandering of electorates, strongly influenced by big business interests and lobbying by unrepresentative strategic interest groups, disadvantaging the underprivileged.

With the invention of the digital computer, we entered the informational age, where we have, in a sense, become a global village, but despite the near-universal access to all forms of human knowledge, the world-wide-web is marred by extreme vulnerability to government censorship in many countries, fake news, conspiracy theories and unverified claims that tout and repeat outright lies with the specific intention of subverting our capacity to confirm or deny verifiable trust and undermining our judgment of good character, by exploiting our subconscious fears and our capacity to become seduced by immediate material rewards.

Unraveling the Gordian Knot

So the answer to this existential crisis is to re-establish our evolutionary sense of true faith - verifiable trust in good character. Our faith in a relationship depends in it being one with a party of verifiable good character. Blind faith is not true faith. We need to consciously know that the party is of good character to invest true faith in the relationship. The flip side of faith is betrayal. Hence verifiable trust is necessary on both sides in the prisoners' dilemma of life.

We have always been living with social conflict. There will always be a spectrum of different viewpoints about how to proceed, because we are all living in a prisoners' dilemma of cooperation and defection in an enclosing planet. By making the transactions more transparent and fair, verifiable trust can create a climate of opinion and a real avenue for making major future decisions protective of the planet's future, which require long-term investment and planning to succeed. It can do this without, either taking sides in a possibly violent social revolution on the one hand, or on the other, suffering inaction about climate and habitat, threatening our future in a hard landing.

Verifiable trust does this both by engaging new forms of collective decision-making where critical long term decisions can be addressed and by exposing political leaders, social institutions and decision-making processes to accurate astute scrutiny. The free press has a central role to play in this.

The achievable way to be able to get from here to there is by making the waters transparent again through re-establishing verifiable trust. It doesn't matter if you are a Republican or a Democrat at heart, because both want their grandchildren to survive and prosper. It is not dividing us by whether we are a counter-cultural renegade, or a pillar of society.

The test is an acid test and a fair test, but it also has some very difficult and uncomfortable things to say about current human institutions.

Casting the Diamond Oracle

A key way of understanding the diamond oracle is to see what it has to say about key specific social processes critical to human survival:

1. Politics and democracy: Populist politics and politicians, as well as totalitarian leaders, manifestly fail the trust test. As a currently intoxicating example, the 'real' Donald Trump follows an explicit strategy of lying relentlessly to construct an 'alternative facts' rewriting of real events, which he deflects accurate assessment of by claiming the free press is fake news. Political parties likewise gerrymander their electorates to ensure their party wins against the popular vote and are then maintained in power by the very partisan citizens their corruption has given a false electoral mandate to. First past the post elections result in tyranny of the majority and electoral college votes enable this to become a tyranny of the minority. Democracy is the best option we currently have of a bad bunch of power structures, as Winston Churchill noted, We need to ensure that democracy also protects diversity and is transparent to verifiable trust.

2. Social networking: This means that Twitter also fails the test because Trump usesTwitter to deceive with no direct reality checks. Twitter is constructed in a way to transmit text bytes without transparent ability to challenge the claims made. The tweeters and followers relationship promotes a one way stream. This failure applies to all current social networks, including Facebook, which has become renowned for allowing manipulation of public opinion for political ends through fake identities. Social networks urgently need to evolve into design forms where the global village can make astute verifiable tests of good character, both of associates and political leaders.

3. Religious belief in God fails the trust test because God's good character is not demonstrable. True-faith through verifiable trust is replaced by blind faith in God's will because God is all powerful and can see us but we can't see Him. This is a false construction.True faith has to be a two-way street, not blind faith in an entity whose character is not verifiable.

4. Hard materialism fails the trust test. We establish verifiable trust through subjective conscious observation. Materialistic views which claim we are just chemical machines, that autonomous (free) will does not exist, or that subjective consciousness is not a real phenomenon, thus fail the trust test completely.

5. Nature passes the verifiable trust test 100%. We are biologically dependent on the diversity of life to sustain us, as it has throughout evolutionary time. Because nature's nature is cumulatively genetic, its character is consistent over cosmological time scales. With the diversity of life, character is demonstrable because survival is the sine qua non of nature for all of us. To suggest nature, or sexuality itself, is not a worthy partner is a fatal condition.

6. Sexuality passes the verifiable trust test for the same reason. We are incarnated as conscious sentient beings through the sexual process. Sex both provides the extreme variety that enables complex evolution to rise to climax in our own existence and sexual fertilisation and development is the very process through which individual organisms come into being. Religions which distrust sex as a sacred condition manifestly violate the trust test.

7. Business-as-usual also fails the trust test. The key here is that the framework of company law is designed to protect the investments of the shareholders to the exclusion of other central stakeholders, including employees, consumers and other affected parties. The protection of these parties is assigned to regulation, which is subject to political whim. Companies also lack any intrinsic sustainable character as they have no 'genetic' identity and are subject to both friendly and hostile takeover and complete changes of the business undertaken. They can destroy the cod fishery and then turn to prawn farming.

8. Consumer society fails the trust test because its investment is in encouraging consumption by enticing people into forms of material acquisition and dependence on luxuries which are not beneficial to their natural interests and likely to be harmful to others' natural interests and damaging to the planet as a whole. Again verifiability generally comes down to regulation e.g. over food contents, or atmospheric quality, but is uneven and critically lacking in many areas e.g. medical implants.

9. Scientific discovery passes the trust test in the fundamental sense that the scientific method is based on verifiability - the principle that an idea is false unless proven true theoretically or confirmed experimentally in an objectively replicable manner. Peer review further enhances the veracity of scientific discovery. But scientific discovery and scientific and medical technology also raise acute ethical questions which require advance transparent assessment by free society.

10. Psychoactive agents may pass or fail depending on their characteristics. Methamphetamine fails the trust test by its long term effects on peoples' lives. Natural psychedelics pass the test on a subject by subject basis because they provide direct personal experiences it is possible for the participant to validate as being subjectively meaningful and beneficial. Psychedelic substances, although used for millennia as sacraments, incurred draconian prohibitions, not because they were intrinsically harmful, but because they exposed the false and superficial nature of consumer society. Cannabis as the ganja (Ganges) of the sadhu has a similar long sacramental history.

11. The military industrial complex fails the trust test because it seeks to make shareholder profits in the pursuit of armed conflict and its operations become both violent and clandestine, sapping the economy which should be used to further social welfare.

12. Mutually assured destruction fails the trust test. Nuclear arsenals remain a principal threat of mass extinction which could be triggered in one fell swoop by accidental misadventure. Investing in the notion that enough nuclear weapons to wipe ones opponents and along with them the entire planet "off the face of the Earth" is verifiably suicidal.

13. Prescriptive morality fails the trust test because it seeks to impose a social imperative on autonomous judgment determined by the moral or legal norms, requiring punishment of offenders to defend the defined social order, rather than because autonomous verification demonstrates that this is the best course of action from most or all or points of view.

14. Human character passes the trust test because it is our overall good character over evolutionary time scales that has been the basis of successful human emergence based on this very assessment of character in others. The verifiable trust test is also the most effective at dealing with sociopathic defection.

15. Protecting the planetary biosphere from mass extinction passes the verifiable trust test because it is central to our survival, but here it is not just about trust in nature and sexuality but action to protect. The verifiable trust test requires us to succeed in protection, because, to fail to protect the planet, utterly fails the verifiable trust test.

16. Resplendence: The trust test applies legitimately to human cooperation as autonomous conscious agents to protect the fate of planet Earth and of the universe from lethal misadventure. It is manifestly verifiable that our decision-making and impacts have become the critical factor influencing the immediate fate of planet Earth and its living diversity. To our best current knowledge, subjective consciousness in the universe resides in the biota. Unlike belief in God, which requires child-like faith in a parent who takes responsibility, verifiable trust is the adult relationship of sentient beings acting together as responsible cosmological agents.