'We Are as Gods and Might as Well Get Good at It'

Commemorating the Whole Earth Catalog 50 years later.


As the first issue of Reason was thwack-thwack-thwacking off a mimeograph machine in 1968, a very different but spiritually related publication was also coming hot off the press. On the face of it, the two publications had little in common. One celebrated its cerebral nature in its very title while the other was a clearinghouse for information on how to not just hand-weave your freak flag but fly it proudly over some barren patch of a hippie Eden. But Reason and the Whole Earth Catalog in their own ways pointed toward a future in which individuals are, like it or not, more empowered in and more responsible for every aspect of our lives than ever before.

Joanna Andreasson

"We are as gods and might as well get good at it," reads the Whole Earth Catalog's statement of purpose. "So far remotely done power and glory—as via government, big business, formal education, church—has succeeded to the point where gross defects obscure actual gains. In response to this dilemma and to these gains a realm of intimate, personal power is developing—power of the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested." As Catalog founder Stewart Brand told Reason's Brian Doherty in 2010: "This was in an era when JFK was saying, 'Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.' We were saying, 'Ask not what your country can do for you; do it yourself!'"

The Last Whole Earth Catalog

Like a comet streaking across the sky, the Catalog burned brightly but briefly, lasting in its original form only until 1971. (Related magazines, sequels, events, and anthologies continued to arrive for decades after.) During its initial run, it sold 600,000 copies; the issue dubbed The Last Whole Earth Catalog won a National Book Award in the "contemporary affairs" category. The ethos of the publication was represented by the cover art, a picture of the planet—the "whole Earth"—from space. At a peak moment for domestic and Cold War tensions, with wars, famines, and other catastrophes happening all over the world, Brand explained, the title and imagery underscored that we were ultimately all in this together.

The Last Whole Earth Catalog

The Whole Earth Catalog was, first and foremost, an actual catalog. The editors would list items they considered "1) Useful as a tool, 2) Relevant to independent education, 3) High quality or low cost, 4) Easily available by mail." In a valedictory essay in the final issue, Brand freely cops to being inspired by "the L.L. Bean Catalog of outdoor stuff…and Mr. Bean's service to humanity over the years." The charming result is somewhere between a classic Bean catalog (a pair of Bean walking pants that zip off into shorts made it into The Last Whole Earth Catalog), the cornucopian feel of Sears' Christmas Wish Book (which seemingly featured G.I. Joes, Barbies, and sports-team merch of every kind ever made at a time when most stores carried no variety at all), and the J. Peterman catalog lampooned on Seinfeld (all items are reviewed by staff and the margins are filled with idiosyncratic offerings, including handwritten notes from Ken Kesey, essays by the agrarian poet Wendell Berry, and more).

The Last Whole Earth Catalog

Brand's own comments on Paul Ehrlich's now-discredited The Population Bomb (he calls it "the best first hard look" at the supposedly inevitable overpopulation crisis) bump up against his recommendation of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged ("This preposterous novel has some unusual gold in it") and give a sense of the breadth of the worldviews represented. There's info on all the manuals and machines the aspiring communard could ever want, whether to purify water, make Bulgarian-style (?!?) yogurt, or give birth at home in the same log cabin you and your old man built yourselves. Books and pamphlets about how to not get arrested at rock festivals and political demonstrations are featured; so is Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom, which is reviewed positively alongside Angus Black's A New Radical's Guide to Economic Reality, which called for a 20 percent flat tax and whose "plea is clear: less government today, even less tomorrow." Also on sale: the complete works of Buckminster Fuller and Marshall McLuhan, the influential popularizer of geodesic domes and whiz-bang futurism and the media theorist who in many ways prophesied the internet. "Understanding Whole Systems" was a full-blown category in the catalog—betraying Brand's education as a biologist trained in the late '50s, when researchers were first thinking about concepts like feedback loops and integrated analysis—alongside such sections as "Land Use," "Community," and "Nomadics."

The Last Whole Earth Catalog

Despite its brief run, the Whole Earth Catalog inspired many different people, publications, and organizations, including Apple (it's where Steve Jobs found his famous dictum, "Stay hungry. Stay foolish."), Wired (early editor Kevin Kelly was a former editor at the Catalog), the "Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link" a.k.a. WELL (a pioneering online community co-founded in 1985 by Brand), and The Long Now Foundation (dedicated to "foster[ing] responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years"). The popular website Boing Boing, whose subtitle is "a directory of mostly wonderful things," is a descendant of the Catalog; one of its founders, Mark Frauenfelder, is involved alongside Kelly with Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities, yet another Whole Earth emanation.

The Last Whole Earth Catalog

"The main problem with fame, or any kind of success, is the insulation it packs around you," writes Brand near the end of The Last Whole Earth Catalog, explaining why he decided to stop at the publication's zenith of popularity and critical acclaim. "There's a difference between intention driving us on and mystery pulling us on. Mystery will always educate and correct. Intention can go off the end of its own limb."

The Last Whole Earth Catalog

Brand, who turns 80 in December, now splits his time between The Long Now Foundation and Revive & Restore, an effort dedicated to "building the 21st-century genetic rescue toolkit for conservation" to save coral reefs, horseshoe crabs, Asian elephants, and other living things from degradation, depopulation, and worse. Its most visionary ambitions include "de-extincting" animals, such as the passenger pigeon and the wooly mammoth, that long ago went missing. Because he believes in genetic modification of crops and organisms, and in the increased use of nuclear power to reduce greenhouse gases, Brand, who helped to inspire the first Earth Day, has become a pariah among some of his old crowd.

By the time this review is published, the Whole Earth Catalog will have held its 50th anniversary celebration in San Francisco. Brand was a member of the Merry Pranksters back when they were staging "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Tests" at Grateful Dead shows, so he knows a thing or two about throwing a party. When the original Catalog closed up shop in July 1971, the staff staged a wild gathering at San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts. Brand, dressed in a monk's robe, distributed $20,000 in increments of a few hundred dollars to people who wanted to start radio stations, magazines, communes, and other interesting-sounding projects. "There was so much demand for our catalog," he told a reporter for The Christian Science Monitor, "that we hope when the supply is stopped the demand will force other people to create more diversified catalogs in their own areas."

The Last Whole Earth Catalog

That prophecy certainly came true, especially if you factor in the rise of the internet, where there are more rabbit holes to fall down than bunnies will ever live on God's green Earth.

Given their common birth year, it's worth pondering the sometimes-overlapping trails blazed by the Whole Earth Catalog and Reason. Their founders certainly followed different paths: Brand became a serial start-up guy, not for businesses but for think tanks, nonprofits, and big ideas, even as the catalog became its own sort of magic relic that continues to inspire; Reason patriarch Lanny Friedlander did a stint working with the genius designer Massimo Vignelli (who among other triumphs created in the early 1970s the version of the New York City subway map still in use) but then fell out of creative work and lost contact even with his early libertarian comrades.

Yet looking back, the Whole Earth Catalog's critique of "remotely done power and glory" and Reason's vision of empowering the individual through reality-based, rational analysis ("logic, not legends") are part of the same DIY spirit that energized the best elements of 1960s counterculture. And a certain optimism about the future underwrote both publications. We are as gods—demigods, maybe—and 50 years on, we're still trying to get better at it.

NEXT: Reason: An Oral History, 1968-2018

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  1. Then ask yourself, is your Gods ideology riddled with logical flaws and legal bandaids?

    What you want is a foolproof ideology like mine.

    Valuing, accepting and sharing the truth, reality, as demonstrated by the evidence of logic and science in all matters, for all issues will result in right decisions that promote life and progress toward evolution.

    For any conflict, finding the simplest unambiguous question representing it will immediately yield the truth resolving the conflict.

    This ideology of truth, reality, is really the basis of all rational behaviour. Denying it defines irrational behaviour.

    1. Wow, that sounds cool! I wish some things (that we fight about way too much) could be simply resolved. Here below I list 3. Please apply your logic / ideology and resolve, 1 or more of them, I am curious to see what you think…

      ‘1) Are we tribes or individuals? I can see it both ways, but as a libertarian-type person, I do clearly favor individual rights over “group rights”. But… charity for instance… Coerced Government-Almighty-driven charity, or private charity? When the leftist points out that the poor kid with no shoes (who is featured in the newspaper) suddenly get 100 pairs of shoes donated to him, and the poor kid NOT featured in the paper, gets no shoes… Then I can see that “public charity” evens things out a bit. We ARE individuals, and we ARE members of tribes! Balance this one for us?

      ‘2) Abortion? Need I say more? Allowed, not allowed, how long into pregnancy?

      ‘3) More-open borders v/s more-closed borders?

      1. I can give it a try:

        1) Coerced charity isn’t charity. Avoiding one poor kid getting a hundred shoes while 99 others don’t isn’t necessarily a job for government. Better communication could solve it, e.g., “Here’s a poor kid who had no shoes. We just got him a pair and he is doing much better. Loook to see if you can do the same for a poor kid in your neighbourhood.

        2) Apply some common sense. A mass of cells is not a baby, but that bulge at 7, 8, or 9 months with a face and a heartbeat is not a mass of cells. Both my best friend and her sister were born over 2 months premature and turned out fine thanks to incubators. Mistakes happen, birth control fails, and there are rapes. Fix a problem within a few weeks or a couple of months. If a woman is dithering with a decision for 9 months, she may have too many issues to be a mother anyway.

        3) It’s the 21st century! If you have knowledge and skills to offer and someone wants to pay you, you should be free to go anywhere, be it to do coding, design robots, or pick fruit or pour asphalt. But if you want to move to do absolutely nothing and just live on charity, save your money to pay your own way because others don’t owe you a living. Also, being in another’s country is like being a houseguest: be more polite than you would back home. No one likes rude or obnoxious guests.

        1. I agree with you on all points. You have common-sense balance. I wish these attributes were more common…

          1. Seconded.

        2. +eleventy

        3. For sake of argument-

          1) It is essentially a call for community as government, which; okay, but should community fail in its self-governance mandate, why should people be disallowed from using government to address that concern? I mean if you fail to look to see if you can do the same for another poor kid, you’ve abrogated your responsibility as government. If you can’t even manage better communication why should you be trusted?

          2) If a mass of cells is not a baby, what liability should a IVF clinic have? Further, if a bulge at 7 months is not a mass of cells, should the female be (forcefully if need be) constrained from any activities which would most likely do harm to the bulge (alcohol being the most obvious)? Exactly how far do you want to extend this protection?

          3) As coerced charity isn’t charity, if there is none, then there should be no problem with open borders, no? Likewise, if the majority have agreed to what ever law, be it taxation or otherwise, they should be able to deport the offender who isn’t pulling their own weight?

          1. If a mass of cells is not a baby, what liability should a IVF clinic have? Further, if a bulge at 7 months is not a mass of cells, should the female be (forcefully if need be) constrained from any activities which would most likely do harm to the bulge (alcohol being the most obvious)? Exactly how far do you want to extend this protection?

            Why should the clinic have any responsibility outside that of the contract for services it has with the patient?

            Way back, Penthouse magazine published a short story about a future where every pregnant woman was assigned a state case worker to oversee the pregnancy in exactly the terms you describe. The implication being that the woman would lose control of her own body merely by becoming pregnant. She would be nothing more than a host with limited rights.

            I think it does raise some interesting moral questions since I would argue against late term abortion on the basis that the child is as they would be if they were born prematurely; a viable human being. At some point a fetus reaches that point. The point may be somewhat arbitrary, but that’s no different than many such things like age of consent.

            [continued below…]

            1. […continued from above]

              So if a fetus is a viable human being one month premature then it must possess all the rights of a newborn. Or must it? The fact that it’s being hosted in the mother’s body changes that somewhat. The mother has rights, just as a parent does over their child, and the child is subject to the parent’s authority, and they can’t appeal that unless being abused.

              But is drinking alcohol or smoking during pregnancy the same as letting your toddler drink beer and smoke a pipe? Unless you want to go down a rabbit hole of state oversight far in excess of anything ever imagined, then I think it pays to see these things as an evolution of rights. A fertilised egg has no rights but a 20-week fetus has the right not to be aborted. A child has limited rights, its parents being considered benign dictators, but an adolescent has full rights and may exercise them independent of its parents.

              1. Why should the clinic have any responsibility outside that of the contract for services it has with the patient?

                Because no contract is comprehensive enough to address every contingency, so the issue is then to be resolved by law and the courts, and those at least require a philosophical framework to even comprehend the issues at hand. So would I be correct in assuming the philosophical framework is that is is just a mass of cells? And what other law can be derived from this framework?

                Further, forcing your toddler to drink beer or smoke a pipe I think falls under the rubric of abuse, so in this evolution of rights at what point does it apply to the fetus, if at all? Haven’t you assigned the state to oversee the pregnancy at least by proxy in verifying the age of the fetus?

                Also, using a controversial law (age of consent) to justify another controversial law is a pretty shaky justification.

                This is little more than a punt.

                1. Every contingency of what? This is regular contract law What does a mass of cells have to do with it per se? The function of an IVF service is fertilisation and implantation. It might as well be plastic surgery, or landscaping services.

                  “Haven’t you assigned the state to oversee the pregnancy at least by proxy in verifying the age of the fetus?”

                  At the time a woman seeks an abortion the age of the fetus is ascertained to ensure legality. But that’s not the same as assigning a personal regulator to her as you describe. Not by the longest shot. It’s nothing more than a ticked box on a form.

                  “Also, using a controversial law (age of consent) to justify another controversial law is a pretty shaky justification.”

                  Age of consent is a controversial law? Only to an anarchist.

                  1. Storage of the cells for one thing. There is also correct identification (be a shame if someone else’s eggs where implanted in you), ownership in case of breach of contract, paternity and confidentiality in case of donated sperm, etc. Not to mention have you seen the lawsuits that results from regular contracts like surgery?

                    But to you, all those are akin to planting the wrong shrub. Moving on…

                    Well, I suppose you could cut the fetus in half and count the rings, but beyond that “ascertaining” the age of the fetus is non-trivial. with experts disagreeing, which is why it is denoted as a range. If 20 weeks falls within the range, do you check the box or not? Leave it to the provider to make the call? The state? Who oversees and enforces it? And is all this gnashing of teeth over legal verses illegal abortion amounts to little more than a checkbox?

                    Age of consent is usually justified by claiming minors do not have the mental capacity to make (read- ones we approve of) determinations in matters of sex, heavy metal, and keeping the hell off my lawn. Except the best research now states the decision making functions of the brain aren’t fully formed until mid-to-late 20s.

                    Let’s watch as you beat a path towards anarchism.

                    1. What a hyperbolic chap you are.

                      You still haven’t shown how an IVF service is in any way a special case regards contract law. Storage of the cells? The cells are stored according to the terms of the contract between the parties concerned. If they are not stored thus then one party has a case against the other. Ownership likewise: according to the contract. If you’re stupid enough to use IVF services that don’t have a set of clearly-defined terms and conditions, then expect to find yourself at the mercy of a court.

                      Catch up. These services have been operating for a very long while. Untold contracts have been created, perused, signed, fulfilled, violated, and adjudicated upon. Yet you pretend this is some undiscovered country. It’s not.

                      Not just hyperbolic, but ambiguous. Are suggesting there be an age of sexual consent in the mid-20s, or that there be none at all?

                    2. Ahem.

                      Every. Single. One. of those instances are now a part of contracts because -repeat after me- no contract can account for every contingency and was ultimately decided by the courts, and will continue to be decided by the courts as new contingencies arise. The question was framework to understand the issues. I think you mentioned landscaping…

                      Nope, I never argued for age of consent laws. You did. Now let’s see you justify unwanted involvement of the state in the personal affairs of others in a non-hypocritical, consistent manner that is supported by something more than random musings from your behind.

                      Actually, don’t. You bore me now.

                    3. Another evasive and dishonest anarchist.

                      Adults fucking children is always a tricky one, isn’t it? But you can’t just come out and say that if a 10-year-old consents to intercourse with a 50-year-old, that’s just the way it is.

                    4. The meaning of consent includes the ability of the individual to give consent.

                      A drugged, or semiconcious person. What does consent mean. It is a subjective judgement. Volumes already written on this. There will never be a bright line.

                      So what is adult age and who dececides that. A three year old person is not like a thirty year old.

                      Again no clear way.

                      The libertarian way is to always focus on the individual.

                      That is the lighthouse in the fog.

                    5. “So what is adult age and who dececides that. A three year old person is not like a thirty year old.”

                      So are you another evasive anarchist? Because you’ve said nothing of substance.

                      No clear way? Well, I guess it is OK for adults to sleep with children. Or give them drugs, or do anything they are currently forbidden to do, as long as the child gives consent.

                      Are children capable of giving consent to these things or not? If not, then how do you protect them in the absence of an objectively-applied legal structure?

      2. Without first finding the simplest unambiguous question that represents the issue, finding the truth that resolves the conflict is like playing pin the tail on the donkey.

        Simply looking for consensus is even less accurate. Lots of people agreed with Hitler.

        Here is how it works.

        Your question “are we tribes or individuals?” Is already pretty unambiguous. Of course we are both. Nobody survives without others. If you do not reproduce, your living genetic history dies with you. We need others. Others need us.

        Your question “is abortion right or wrong” is more ambiguous. The unambiguous question “do all innocent humans have the right to live uncoerced regardless of their age?” yields the right answer.

        Evidence of science proves that the fetus is a distinct living young human. Reasons to murder are individual ambiguous conflicts that need to be represented unambiguously prior to resolution.

        Your question “should borders be open” is the most ambiguous. I suggest that the unambiguous question is ” if anyone has the right to coerce anyone else’s choice of residence?” The answer is obvious.

        When people find social reasons to coerce, those reasons represent additional ambiguous conflicts that first need to be resolved as unambiguous issues.

        1. The unambiguous question “do all innocent humans have the right to live uncoerced regardless of their age?” yields the right answer.

          Evidence of science proves that the fetus is a distinct living young human.

          The fetus is not distinct from its mother. It is dependent on its mother. You might as well claim your hand is distinct from your arm. Fine, amputate your hand and your arm will do just fine; abort a 2-month fetus and the mother will likewise do fine but see where that distinctiveness gets the fetus.

          We can all ask self-serving questions with circular reasoning and then claim them as rational and unambiguous. All you’re doing is begging the question and employing tiresome language to hide the fact.

          1. The science of DNA fingerprinting proves that the DNA of a fetus is distinct from the mother from conception. That is how we identify different people.

            Unlike that which belongs to the body of one person which all has the exact same DNA.

            1. And what does that definition of distinctiveness have to do with the morality of abortion? You’re defining a human being as that which has distinct DNA from the mother. Well, my cat would have distinct DNA from the mother, too. My cat is not a human being. Is a blastocyst a human being? A zygote? They must be.

              You’re still begging the question. What has distinct DNA got to do with the morality of abortion?

              1. distinct HUMAN DNA

                The fetus is distinct from but dependent on the mother.

                Do we allow mothers to kill dependent children in other situations?

                1. Why do you think that alters the question?

                  Is a blastocyst a human being? A zygote? At which point does the collection of cells become too human to abort?

                  If the morning after pill is murder, just come out and say it. Or stipulate where human-ess begins and why.

    2. Anyone that thinks he has a foolproof ideology is suffering from mental illness.

      1. Yes, I have devised a little saying…

        “Never trust anyone who proposes to solve all of the world’s troubles with a 16-word slogan.”

        There now, my slogan has 17 words! Can you trust me, or not?

        1. Well, Misek’s has only 14, so he’s probably trustworthy.

        2. I’d ask you first, “what makes you believe that to be true?”, before I discerned your rationality or lack there of.

          1. I believe that overly simplistic “solutions” cannot capture the complexity of it all, and have a bad history of being tied to scapegoating. “Blame the witches”, “Blame the Jews”, “Blame gay people”, “Blame illegal sub-humans”, etc. If we are to have a simplistic ideology, it must be EXTREMELY flexible! A one-word ideology of “love” fits the bill. Love your fellow humans, other creatures (excluding intestinal parasites and disease organisms), the Earth, the environment, the human future, etc. … But do not even TRY to make a long-long laundry list of exactly HOW everyone is supposed to practice “love”! It’s a fool’s errand to try and spell out the details for everyone in all situations. “Always let your conscience be your guide” works also.

            Some short slogans work nearly universally, it is true! They need to be flexible and benevolent! Other than that, short slogans should have only STRICTLY LIMITED applications!

            These are my “value judgments” rather than “facts”. Disputes between conflicting “value judgments” are not amenable to strictly factual and logical resolution.

            1. Opinions not based on the simple concept of truth are indeed like assholes.

              Yours is a self fulfilling prophecy.

              1. Science does not define truth. It gives useful probability at best.

                Turtles all the way down.

                1. Science and logic absolutely do define truth. That is their purpose and the recognition of this fact defines rationality.

                  1. OK then use science and logic to prove that…

                    Pleasure is better than pain.

                    The long-term good is superior to short-term good at the cost of long-term pain.

                    Life is better than death.

                    Construction is better than destruction.

                    A broken egg is an acceptable cost of making an omelet. What if the egg contained a living embryo of an endangered species of bird, but I was starving? Who decides which is more important, me eating or the species of bird, and who decides, and how?

                    Is the following a fact: The above issues-questions involve basic ASSUMPTIONS (not facts) that are used in logic, to determine findings?

                    Keep in mind this: When you assume that peace is better than war, some will disagree with you. Some parts of NAZI ideology believed that war was good for the health of the race-nation.

                    1. What you call assumptions are just ambiguous opinions because you haven’t bothered to eliminate the ambiguity.

                      For example, what is the criteria you use for “better”. Then thelogic and science will have a chance to apply.

                    2. Pleasure is better than pain.

                      Please eliminate the ambiguity, for this or any of the simplest of the above assumptions.

                    3. If you or anyone else wants to elevate science or logic (or even the evidence of our senses), all of which I do highly respect, to positions higher on the pedestal than they really deserve, I would urge you to look at mathematics. This is the “most rigorous” of all of the sciences, even more rigorous than pure physics. Even there, in each and every one of the branches of mathematics, one MUST start with accepted assumptions, upon which the proofs are built. The assumptions can NOT be proven or disproven? They just “work well”, that is all.

                      Then, above and beyond that, there is (and has been for many years now) the proven mathematical “theory of incompleteness”, see this? The link isn’t going to work, so search for “THE IMPORTANCE OF TEACHING G?DEL’S INCOMPLETENESS THEOREM IN MATHEMATICS TEACHER EDUCATION”, for example. Even pure math cannot solve all math problems!

                      “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” – Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio.

                    4. Maybe you can’t understand what it means to be unambiguous. Look it up.

                      To eliminate ambiguity, criteria, parameters need to be clearly defined.

                      Regarding which is “better” pleasures or pain you need to state the criteria for “better”.

                      If the criteria is “feeling” the the definitions of pleasure and pain yield the immediate answer.

                      If the criteria is injury diagnosis, then pain is “better”.

                      Science and logic.

                      If it’s whatever “you” like, then be honest and it will be true. Logic.

                    5. It’s true what you say about inducing a little bit of pain during diagnosis, to figure out the root of the pain, for long-term healing.

                      Now you know “cutting” is a real “thing”; some people who feel existentially void (or some such blather, or self-hatred, who knows) cut themselves… Sometimes even fatally.

                      If my beloved sister is doing this, shall I intervene, or not? If I hate my sister, shall I intervene, or not? How shall I intervene, and how shalI I not intervene, and who decides? What are the limits to me trying to tweak her “free will”?

                      “If it’s whatever “you” like, then be honest and it will be true. Logic.”

                      I’m not sure I follow… Sounds related to the old hippie vibe of, “If it feels good, do it!” Which is where “society” is at in the here and now, as modified by a butt-load of Government Almighty bureaucrats who “feel good” to push us all around, so they do it!

                      So how do you apply your logic to self-harm as described above, and how do we improve the mushy, murky, cloudy ways in which politics are conducted today? How do we get selfish, short-sighted, lying, self-righteous power pigs out of power?

                    6. Exactly.

                      You are expressing the ambiguity common to all conflict.

                      Only by eliminating the ambiguity and expressing all issues in an unambiguous form do we immediately recognize the truth, upon which justice and resolution is based.

                      Ask tough unambiguous questions and hold people accountable for their answers, value truth, Justice and reality accepting no less.

                      Failing to do so enables corruption and conflict.

                      This is my foolproof ideology.

                    7. I’ll grant you the value of clear questions… But that is a LOT harder than some people think! (The business of asking the right questions, of course).

                      Some questions are nonsense (we don’t even know how to ask the right question). Sample stolen from Thomas Sowell, who didn’t make very many jokes: “Does algebra contain the vitamins and minerals that we need?”

                      When we are so ignorant or mis-informed or ideologically blinded as to not even be able to ask questions that are clear and make sense, we have a LONG road in front of us! And I would postulate that this is the case, worse-so than many people think!

                    8. Harder when you don’t even know to do it.

                2. There is what is.

                  Science can assist in seeing it.

                  Most people don’t bother.

                  Most accept even science on faith.

                  1. Welcome to the church of Misek.

                    Lol just kidding.

                    The recognition of the truth, reality belongs to us all. Knowledge is power.

        3. Easy.

          The answer is 42

    3. What you want is a foolproof ideology like mine.

      I would, but the Jews are using their Jew powers to control my racially enfeebled mind. If I can borrow a lead helmet for a bit I might be more open to logic and science and rational behavior.

    4. And yet you’ve already shown how logically flawed your ‘ideology’ is in these very pages.

      1. I was offhand curious, so I Googled…

        https://reason.com/archives/201…..ng#comment has a good history of arguments with various people v/s the foolproof ideology thing here…

        When I grew up, the college-professors-type would often say, in arguments, “that is just a value judgment”, not a fact. I don’y hear it so often any more, but yes, there’s some validity there, in keeping facts v/s value judgments separate in our minds. The example trotted out in the previous arguments (one of them) linked to above was, “I feel hot, you feel cold; shall we turn the heat or AC up or down”? Logic and facts there are no solution to the problem…

        1. Would it not be logical to adjust clothing to “feel” more comfortable before resorting to war?

          1. Yes, war is an absolute last resort, in my “value judgment”.

            OK, you escaped heat v/s cold, let’s try another one…

            My value judgments tell me that the naked human body and public love-making (when done freely by both partners) are a beautiful expression of Love in the Cosmos, and I (and my partner) like to engage in publicly-visible love-making, ON MY OWN PROPERTY.

            My neighbors are offended. They demand that I be punished.

            Resolution? Strictly facts-and-logic-based?

            1. The unambiguous question “should anyone be allowed to break the law anywhere” yields the right answer.

              1. Then black people in the old southern USA should have sat in the back of the bus until white people just suddenly noticed that such laws were unfair? Massive civil disobedience is always wrong? If 51% of the voters decide that “green people” are not allowed to eat, and the laws are passed, then green people are required to starve to death?

                Laws are wrong sometimes! Methinks your oversimplified calculus has missed something!

                1. Oh if you think The law is wrong you can try and change it but until it is changed you will be punished for breaking the law.

                  1. Which explains why all the antifa members are now in jail for vandalism / assault ?

                    1. It’s a pretty good indication that some unambiguous questions need to be asked about the process we use to create, change and enforce laws.

                  2. Oh punished.

                    Heh. Come here and punish me for illegal enchiladas.

      2. Where is your evidence of that?

        If you could find any, which you can’t, you would be proving my ideology.

  2. Why do so many people try to save the corals? They don’t need our help. They’ve been around for millions of years, through sea level changes that dwarf even the IPCC’s worst lies. The sea rose 400-500 feet just 10-15000 years ago, for Pete’s sake — another few feet by the end of this century would be lost in the noise, and even the IPCC says that is extremely unlikely.

    Leave the damned corals alone — they can take care of themselves.

    1. It is worse than that. Saving the coral by government action is a violation of the (personal letter based) US Constitution. It “establishes” the Judeo-Christian precept that God established man to be in charge of the universe (Gen 1:28,29), rather than the scientific Darwin theory which includes extinction.

  3. The Trump-effect has truly gone global:

    Muh Normz!

    1. You Sevo-ed the link, SIV.

      1. That’s not exactly Sevoing. Or SugarFreeing. Or anything else. It’s sui generis far as I know. Sevo doesn’t use these crazy Boomer kids’ HTML. Sevoing is having your copypasted web address break over and over every time, and not giving a shit because, fuck, you killed Nazis and saved a whole fucking planet as a teenager so how much sense would it make to sweat this shit?

        1. These days, it’s the old farts who DO know HTML. No one under 50 ever needed to learn it.

    2. Muh Normz!

      The original ToI tweet seems to have been deleted. It lead with the tiger being responsible for killing and eating 13 villagers.

      1. Is the Pope Catholic?

        Does a tiger shit in the jungle?

        Does the tiger-shit contain fragments of human bones?

  4. Human beings are indeed very powerful, easily the most powerful species to ever inhabit this planet. And that is good.

    But we are not “gods”. There are indeed limits to what we can accomplish, we can’t always get everything we want (to paraphrase Mick Jagger), and we all have a finite amount of time in this world that will eventually run out. If we forget these simple truths, we’re on the road to madness.

    1. Anything miniscule enough to fit around Weigel’s dick is nowhere near Godhead.

  5. Good piece! More people should know about this. As someone whose earth-and-nature-loving instincts have long coexisted (from childhood, long before I was anything remotely resembling a libertarian) with an even more fanatical loathing of mainstream environmentalism (in much the same way that the biggest animal lovers in practice often loathe animal rights more than anyone else does), I am very intrigued. Libertarians and conservatives, who (as one of the all-time great works of American fiction, King of the Hill, so brilliantly pointed out, and countless nonfiction studies have pointed out as well) tend to actually appreciate the earth far more than progs, should take active interest in this apparently very friendly strand of modern philosophy of planetary stewardship.

    Somewhat relatedly: I have recently been taking an interest in the potential for “free market environmentalism” to save endangered species. I have to say (and of course this does nothing to answer what priority such a goal should have relative to other potentially competing ones) I have questions about whether this would indeed be an effective strategy for anything but charismatic (or otherwise useful, in a sense unlikely to be particularly broad) megafauna (or -flora).

    1. Well, there’s a bit of stuff going on that’s easy to overlook.
      Consider the “obsessed hobbyist” or enthusiast support for various families of tropical fish, including species preservation programs and species diversity record keeping (generally locale based).
      Or orchid species grower/breeders.
      Similar groups congeal around other plant and animal families/genera. (Ornamental grasses, for instance.)
      It’s “bottom upl, not generally mega-fauna focused, and potentially effective. Some of it has been going on for many decades.

    2. Perc.org does good work! I don’t know why their books are so expensive, though.

      But you are correct, there are obvious problems with this approach, especially for migratory species of birds and fish. How would you establish and enforce property rights on something like the American shad, which migrates up to the Gulf of Maine in the millions and comes back to breed in the rivers up and down the east coast?

      As a hunter, I have also come to realize the importance of public lands. Not everyone can afford to hunt at a private reserve. National Parks are also important. This does not mean they have to be funded and managed by a coercively funded government. But, I reject the notion that in a libertarian system, all land would be private. No, public land is an important class of property that libertarian writers have rejected.

      1. I meant to say “that libertarian writers have neglected.”

      2. I’ve never hunted in my life, though I greatly want to one of these days. My impression from perusing the Web (and I do live in the East, where very little land is public; as opposed to the West where the majority of many states–nearly every inch of Nevada outside their relatively compact cities, for example–is) was that hunting on public land is kind of bum.

        Interestingly if unsurprisingly, the tendency for stricter property rights means that politically conservative states actually make things far less convenient for hunters in this respect than the prog states. At the conservative end of the spectrum, for example, you are often forbidden from even crossing through an inch of private land with your weapon to track an animal you’ve wounded that has crossed to the land beyond the owner’s. Whereas at the prog extreme, some states actually allow hunters to hunt on private land unless the owner has marked his property line or posted signage forbidding it.

        1. No doubt, public hunting is more challenging. The deer are super wary. Just go in the middle of the week and you won’t see too many people.

          1. Just go hunting with SIV instead. Kidnap him and tie him up at one end of the forest, while you go to the opposite end. All the animals (but especially the chickens) will instictively run away from him, and right towards you.

    3. Spending a lot of time in the relatively wild outdoors and interacting with it pushes one towards a more reality-based and long-term point of view. Appreciation of nature is cognitively dissonant with fad ideologies.

      PS?Your parentheses give me a headache. Get on a train of thought and stay on it.

      1. Misek has a special train just for parentheses. But believe me, you don’t want to get on it.

        1. All aboard, whoo hoo

          1. Oh I thought you said “to Palestine”.

            Tell me, how does a people brought to the brink of extinction, the vast majority of their population murdered, come back in no less than three years, to militarily steal an Arab nation and then wage no less than 70 years of war in the Middle East?

  6. “As the first issue of Reason was thwack-thwack-thwacking off”

    Let me guess, the pages of that first issue arrived all stuck together

    1. Gillespie’s from Jersey; I have a hard time believing he didn’t set us up for that one.

  7. The Godz are rock and roll machines.


  8. Still have my copy of The Last Whole Earth Catalog, as well as several issues of Whole Earth magazine and Coevolution Quarterly. And I believe I attended their 25th Anniversary party.

  9. “We Are as Gods and Might as Well Get Good at It”

    This “we are as Gods” bullshit is the foundation of every tyranny from Baal worship to the Environmental Protection Agency.

    Put this guy’s picture next to “Hubris” in the illustrated dictionary.

    Christ, what an asshole.

  10. “We Are as Gods and Might as Well Get Good at It”

    This “we are as Gods” bullshit is the foundation of every tyranny from Baal worship to the Environmental Protection Agency.

    Put this guy’s picture next to “Hubris” in the illustrated dictionary.

    Christ, what an asshole.

    1. That’s not at all where the Whole Earth crowd was coming from. They were very big on individualism and decentralization.

  11. We are as Gods…but we wuz as Kangz.

        1. Link mis-directed. Try this one instead… It could be interpreted as racist, so just beware…


  12. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that environmentalism was somehow a leftist cause.

    Before there was an REI or a Prius, I remember when environmentalism was the province of rugged individualists, hunters, fishers, and people who were afraid the government would let corporate polluters (for a song) destroy the environment on which any real chance at freedom through self-sufficiency ultimately depends.

    Even today, your average rural “redneck” knows more about the ins and outs of solar (they depend on it) and cares more about anything that impacts the viability of hunting and fishing (they depend on it), than most any “environmentalist” suburbanite.

    An interesting phenomenon on the right–on the one hand, they’re highly sensitive to progressive lies, but, on the other hand, they seem to internalize those lies. Here’s a hint: When authoritarian socialists masquerade as environmentalists, it means they aren’t really environmentalists. And it’s not enough to call out their phony baloney bullshit. You’re also not supposed to believe it.

    If authoritarian socialists put on wings made of wires and a halo made of tinsel, 1) it doesn’t make them angels and 2) It doesn’t mean you have to start hating angels.

    1. There’s a an important distinction between environmentalists and conservationists. The rugged individualists you mention are conservationists.

      1. There are principled differences between authoritarian socialists and the rest of us.

        The distinction between “environmentalist” and “conservationist” is marketing.

      2. Exactly. If a person is smart enough to value the natural world yet be an advocate of free minds and free markets, it behooves them to employ some other word than environmentalist to describe themselves since that word has long since been tainted by the ideology of command and control.

        1. “It behooves them to employ some other word than environmentalist to describe themselves since that word has long since been tainted by the ideology of command and control.”

          How ’bout I just call the phony environmentalists authoritarian socialists–if that’s what they are, instead?

          I’ve had this discussion before with “environmentalists” who, it turned out, would rather not save the environment if doing so required them to privatize government land or cut back on redistributing wealth. They have no business calling themselves “environmentalists”.

          Me, on the other hand? The most effective solutions I see to environmental problems are perfectly compatible with private ownership, no wealth redistribution, free markets, and free choice. Why should I have to give up the term “environmentalist”? The false choice is between environmentalism and authoritarian socialism.

          Like I said, why don’t we just call the authoritarian socialists what they are and blow their cover? Why let them set the rules? Why let them call themselves whatever they want?

          1. Ken, if you want to call yourself an environmentalist, all power to you. But to “authoritarian socialists” you’ll be considered an ally, and to, say, Minarchists, you’ll be one of those dreaded… “authoritarian socialists”.

            Not that long ago I could have described myself as a liberal, and everyone would have known I was an advocate of laissez-faire in the social and economic, or at least leaned that way. I wouldn’t describe myself as a liberal today because the word’s been stolen and corrupted. I don’t care to say I’m a small-L liberal, not a big-L liberal, or that I’m a classical liberal, or employ any other such qualifier. And knocking your head against the wall trying to reclaim a word that is beyond reclaiming smacks of being more concerned with bike-shedding than solving real problems.

    2. These days, very, very few “rednecks” are so “rural” that they depend on hunting or fishing. They’re for sport rather than necessity, even way out in the country. You have to go WAY back in the holler anymore to find Beverly Hillbillies.

      1. I know people in Utah for whom having an elk in the freezer remains an important part of their diet. They wouldn’t starve without one, but within that group of friends, they split an elk between them. This is not unusual all over rural America.

        They depend on hunting and fishing the way they depend on their jobs. No, if they lost their jobs, they wouldn’t starve to death or be homeless, but so what? Instead of nitpicking on the choice of words, why not focus on the point? And the point stands.

        Rural people tend to be as or more concerned about the environment, wildlife, etc.–since they tend to be integrally more connected with that stuff–more so than typical suburban “environmentalists”, whose most intimate connection to nature may be watching elk screw on cable television.

        1. No, sorry, you were wrong. You said the “average rural redneck” depends on hunting and fishing. That is far from the case. There are very few rural people these days who are reliant on hunting and fishing.

          I agree with your OTHER point that rural people are more concerned about the environment than urban people.

          1. You’re a retard.

            1. You’re full of yourself and can’t handle being corrected.

              1. Corrected?!

                Are you saying that rural people aren’t more connected to the environment than “environmentalist” suburbanites because rural people wouldn’t starve to death without hunting?

                Are you saying that hunting isn’t an important source of food for rural people all over America?

                Retards misunderstand what other people say all the time–because they have too many chromosomes. You’re retarded for other reasons. Perhaps because you intentionally misunderstand what other people say.

                When I make arguments, they’re not intended for retards. You didn’t correct anything, you fucking retard.

                1. Would it be “incorrect” to say that “environmentalist” suburbanites depend on farmed eggs–you fucking retard?

                  1. Someone needs a nap.

                  2. Damn; don’t try getting cute with Kenny!

                  3. I do so enjoy (or would, if they were not about to control my entire state in two days) hearing these bougie prog dumbasses going on about their idiotic plastics Luddism, their alternative energy pontifications, and their love of the Earth and its creatures in general and so forth. I’m as urban as they are–more so, in fact; I’ve never gone skiing or anything–but all I have to do is open my ears to see which demographic really knows anything about the actual environment. (Again, see the brilliant King of the Hill.) I’d love to see them try to follow a second of solar geekery between two of the yokels they so enjoy disdaining.

                    But, of course, it was never about caring about the actual environment–any more than their apparent advocacy for the oppressed, to the apparent point of self-hatred, ever was about that. (Which is why the emerging counter-tribalists are such idiots.) It’s all about cheap social signalling, at minimum actual cost to themselves. And this is the main reason (well, one of them) I am always so pessimistic. I don’t see this class doing anything but continuing to burgeon in power, nor this method of social signalling doing anything to lose its appeal.

                    1. Once it becomes a partisan issue, it gets locked up for ages–like abortion. One persuasive definition of a real libertarian is someone who doesn’t think politicians are the solution to our problems. There are people out there doing effective things in regards to unwanted pregnancies–that have nothing to do with politicians or government. Adopting a child and giving him or her a great home is one thing you can do to persuade people that they should choose not to get an abortion–and does more than has ever been accomplished by voting for any politician.

                      The environment is like that, too. The real solutions depend on persuading people to make different choices–of their own free will. When it becomes a partisan issue, you get all these knee-jerk jackholes who become practically unreachable by persuasion. They’re like women who are so partisan on rape, they want to do away with basic Fifth Amendment protections in rape cases like cross-examination. Some of those partisans never consider learning to exercise their Second Amendment rights–because that’s so . . . so . . . Republican!!!

                    2. Suffice it to say, libertarian capitalism has better solutions to environmental problems than authoritarian socialism, and incorrectly believing otherwise can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. There’s no good reason for that kind of thinking. My opposition is to authoritarianism and socialism–not the environment. What do you think will happen IF IF IF it’s ever determined that x, y, and z really are serious environmental problems–and everyone thinks that the only solution is authoritarian socialism?

        2. “Most intimate connection to nature may be watching elk screw on cable television.”

          Wait, they have that? What channel?

          1. Animal Planet or something, right?

            They show animals hunting for food, eating, screwing, and raising their young. Isn’t that what they do? That’s been like every second nature documentary I’ve seen since Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

            Anyway, it was a turn of phrase. I guess that retard up yonder would call me a liar unless I’ve seen an actual documentary on elk screwing?

            1. Hey who wouldn’t watch elk screwing?

              My favorite animal show.

              Plizzanet Earth.


              Chizzle dizzle

            2. Sometimes I wanna get on TV and just let loose,
              But can’t. But it’s cool for Tom Green to hump a dead moose.
              My bum is on your lips; my bum is on your lips;
              And if I’m lucky, you might just give it a little kiss.
              And that’s the message that we deliver to little kids
              And expect them not to know what a woman’s clitoris is.
              Of course they’re gonna know what intercourse is
              By the time they hit fourth grade;
              They’ve got the Discovery Channel, don’t they?
              We ain’t nothin’ but mammals.
              Well, some of us cannibals
              Who cut other people open like cantaloupes.
              But if we can hump dead animals and antelopes
              Then there’s no reason that a man and another man can’t elope.
              But if you feel like I feel, I got the antidote:
              Women, wave your pantyhose, sing the chorus, and it goes…

              I’m Slim Shady; yes I’m the real Shady.
              All you other Slim Shadys are just imitating.
              So won’t the real Slim Shady please stand up,
              Please stand up, please stand up?

    3. Environmentalism used to be a bipartisan cause that used to unite both sides. You know who changed that? Reagan.

  13. Important #BlueTsunami update!

    The Senate race between incumbent Ted Cruz and insurgent Beto O’Rourke in Texas is tightening. Tonight, Jon Wertheim reports for @60Minutes on the fight that could come down to voter turnout

    I’ve been saying for weeks the Democrats would take the Senate, and Beto upsetting Cruz will be part of the reason why. I don’t live in Texas, and honestly I’ve never seen this amount of bumper stickers and lawn signs for any other out of state candidate. The enthusiasm for Beto is real, and it will make the difference on election day.


    1. “. . . on the fight that could come down to voter turnout”

      I’ve been predicting this race for weeks, that whichever one wins, it’ll probably come down to a question of which one can get the most votes.

      Now that everybody sees the electoral college for what it is (a conspiracy to deprive Hillary Clinton of her birthright, 227 years in the making), it’s about time we got rid of this right wing vote-counting horseshit, too.

      Unless Cruz loses, in which case the system works as intended.

  14. #ButtHurtLiberalPiningForHillaryForBeto


  15. Make sure you Reason staff include this gem Monday as part of your election coverage:
    SNL Lefties blast Navy SEAL veteran who lost eye

    Not only was this badass a Navy SEAL, he became blind in one eye and temporarily blinded in his other eye from an IED in Afghanistan- then woke from a coma and regained sight in his less injured eye- TO FUCKING GO BACK AND SERVE 2 MORE TOURS.

    A pussy Lefty on SNL made fun of him to cheerlead for Democrat candidates this election. This is how Lefties hate America America and what Americans do in service of their nation. To Lefties veteran sacrifices are punchlines.

    1. LC

      So show me. Be funny and make me laugh even once.

      Pussy lefty. That would be a good start point.

    2. Being a pussy lefty himself, the childlike Nick Gillespie still watches every single episode and thinks it’s great stuff.

  16. Pussy

    The very thing I have been after since I found out about it.

  17. It truly is a great thing to wake up and read this article while drinking coffee in bed on a chilly morning. I thank Nick G. for recognizing the importance of the Whole Earth Catalog and its derivatives. My self education on many many topics began with WEC. from Jane Jacobs to Julian Simon to Akwesasne Notes to anaerobic digestion. I still reference it today. The
    spirit behind WEC and Reason is inspiring to me so my thanks again.

  18. Back in 1968 or 1969 myself and one other person had letters published in WEC recommending the then-languishing book How to Lie with Statistics. The author subsequently credited the publicity provided by WEC with giving the book a new lease on life and leading to republications.

  19. Thanks admin for giving such valuable information through your article . Your article is much more similar to http://www.mkoutletfire.com/mi…..offee.html word unscramble tool because it also provides a lot of knowledge of vocabulary new words with its meanings.

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