Friday, June 18, 2010

Frequently Asked "Frequently Asked Questions"

I was going to title this post Frequently Asked Questions That People Seem to Think They Are The First Ones to Ask and Say "Ah Ha!" When Asking, but that title was too long. Thankfully, The Venus Project and The Zeitgeist Movement websites have their own lists of Frequently Asked Questions, but you would [probably not] be amazed at the repeated questions or "objections" I get in response to The Venus Project Challenge, so I've decided to make a separate list for quick reference, as well as point out frequently used sources that are not found in the FAQ alone. I find myself referring askers to specific video segments, additional websites, etc. so keeping an organized log of this would be useful. In the meantime, I just want to point some of them out here. As I mentioned when I introduced the Challenge, it's helpful to read the entire FAQ&A from top to bottom. Now it's getting to a point where I'm passively memorizing the FAQ numbers and video timestamps associated with certain subjects or questions asked, due to referring to them repeatedly, so I would like to share my supernatural powers with you (lol).

A common misconception when someone is referred to the FAQ, is that they assume we regard it as "The Holy Bible," and its answers are true, correct, and the final word. (Perhaps the Bible was a bad metaphor ;) In other words, "if the FAQ does not answer my question entirely, then the information is insufficient; therefore the entire concept is insufficient; it is baseless." This is not the case; the information presented on the website is true and correct, but it does not remotely cover the entire concept, nor is it intended to be "the final word." The FAQ is simply a convenient way to get people up to speed quickly, and then continue the discussion from there, without having to explain everything from scratch. I'll start with the basics; there may be more answers that apply than just the numbers I've listed here, but these are the ones that "stick out," in my opinion:

Questions related to "incentive," and what people are supposed to do all day
FAQ: 70, 71, 77, 49
Video: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Purpose Motive vs. Profit Motive)

Let's take it a step further and assume that even after everything we understand about genuine human behavior, curiosity, and the desire to excel, some people are still "lazy" in an abundant and free society... The Venus Project is still a better alternative than falsely perpetuating scarcity and unnecessary labor & resource usage, for the sole purpose of, and poor attempt at, producing "incentive."

"But what about all the 'slackers' who will consume without giving back? The answer is just, 'So what?' Why not have pity on such people who are stuck in such an embarrassingly juvenile state of mind? My mom, a hard worker, dreamed of being a slacker in a big house with servants. You know where she found her dream? A nursing home. :-( So, be careful what you wish for, slacker wannabees. :-) If a few can supply the many, then, so what of the slackers? Who cares? Why build a whole mythology around slackers? And surprisingly, there may be less slackers than one might expect, because when you have the freedom to make things your way, without a "boss", there is often a lot of fun to be had in making things. Just look at all the kids making free music for the internet these days. Or people writing web pages. :-)"
-- Paul D. Fernhout, Post-Scarcity Princeton

Questions regarding social change, and "nature vs. nurture"
FAQ: 60, 79, 84
Video: "Where Are We Now" (Part 2: Culture and the Bio-social Imperative) by Peter Joseph
Article: Bees reveal nature-nurture secrets -

Resistance of the elite
FAQ: 8, 67

Fear of technology, or our dependence on technology leading to social decay (i.e. Wall-E)
FAQ: 53, 68, 73, 74
Video: "Where Are We Going" (RBE: Research, Contributions, and Decisions) by Peter Joseph

TVP goals, productivity, abundance, and true prosperity vs. "Communism"
FAQ: 54-57

Define "high standard of living."
FAQ: 10, 63, 76

Sounds good, but without prisons or police, what do we do when someone actually is bad?
FAQ: 80-84, 59
Essay: Shame, Guilt, and Violence - by James Gilligan

"[Dr. Gilligan] argues that traditional approaches to violence prevention, which emphasise punishment, actually make violence worse; and the more severe the punishment, the worse the violence grows. Violence is more likely where there is a culture of shame. Key risk factors for shame include rigid gender role stereotyping, with resulting distorted views of what is to be “masculine” or “feminine,” and entrenched social hierarchies, based on inequalities of opportunity, income, and hope... [He] concludes that we can reduce violence by reducing social inequality and other stigmata of shame. We should also stop putting people in prison except in those cases where people need a type of therapeutic restraint for the protection of others. If we do this, we should provide therapy and education for violent offenders, rather than deprivation, isolation, and more shame." -- Dr. Gwen Adshead, consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist, on Dr. Gilligan's book Preventing Violence

Questions regarding jealousy, emotions, etc.
FAQ: 83, 105

Cybernated decision-making / How would resources be distributed equitably?
FAQ: 52
Video: "Where Are We Going" (Part 2: Project Earth) by Peter Joseph

TVP is Utopian
FAQ: 99
Video: Jacque Fresco "No Utopia"
Video: The Empathic Civilization

In case anyone's questioning the validity of constantly using Peter Joseph's lectures as a source, he is not the only "source" of information in the lecture itself, which is why I use them. He presents other sources and studies within the slides, which can then be further researched of one's own accord. This is simply a convenient way of putting several sources in one place.

Now here are some TVPC FAQ's that I don't think are specifically addressed, or addressed in detail, in the VP FAQ:

Why are you "waiting" for a collapse to implement a resource-based economy? Wouldn't it make more sense to start doing something about it now? I disagree that you should wait for complete chaos; that's just nonsensical.

I agree. We're not waiting for a collapse; we're waiting for enough people to cooperate. Meanwhile, the majority of people are "waiting for a collapse" before they'll lift a finger. That's the problem. It is not that we want to wait for a collapse; it is that unfortunately we'll probably have to, because of social and cultural lag.
Video: Roxanne explains that this will be harder to do if everyone waits until a collapse, or marshall law (at 10:10)

How do we determine who lives where, and whether they get to live in isolated houses or in apartment communities?
Video: Jacque Fresco explains the logic behind his circular city designs, and the advantages and disadvantages of houses vs. apartments, etc. (at 3:15)
FAQ's 28, 44, and 45 also address housing.

How can you "educate" people into population control? You would have to "force" your education onto them, to prevent them from having too many kids.

We're not into "population control." Balancing the population with the earth's carrying capacity will become a natural part of the educational process, once the educational system becomes relevant rather than obscure. I made this analogy for someone who claimed that we would need "forced education" to "convince" people not have too many babies: We do not "force" education about safety; it is a natural part of the educational process when children learn not to play with fire because it's dangerous. As such, people become aware, not convinced, of how not to burn themselves or burn their own house down. The same type of awareness can be incorporated into learning about our earth's operations and carrying capacity, and how not to over-populate our own city or planet into a situation of starvation or inadequate housing. Not to mention, through education, having children would not be based on religious ideologies or cultural preferences, but rather, responsible decision-making and direct correlation to your life's goals. In addition, birth control and healthcare would be available to everyone.

More on this here: What about the problem of population growth in a RBE?

"In an RBE system, there is no free trade, no free market to prove a product's worth based on individual needs/desires, just production/distribution, based on the "system's" algorithms ability to determine what people want to consume... I don't believe it can predict everyone's individual needs, that's why centralized systems always fail, there's no better product test than a free market."

I think some people may be mistakenly under the impression that TVP is going to allocate nothing but prefabricated products based on "demand," when that's actually not the case. Once resources have been accounted for, the resources & tools themselves can be allocated to distribution centers for people to see different examples, demos, and even customize or build their own products. This is the idea behind open-source design. As such, the computer system wouldn't have to "know" what people want to consume, but what materials were required & most efficient for a particular line of products. In an RBE, people would have access to raw materials anyway, so if that is one's field of interest, one could develop models and designs as their contribution to society.

Interestingly enough, after answering this question, I stumbled upon this entry regarding the technological approach to post-scarcity, at

"Technology, when invented, is not spread for the good of mankind, but kept artificially scarce by patents, corporate secrecy, limited runs and planned obsolescence. This is motivated by the monetary sytem. The post-scarcity solution is to post designs of machines publicly on the Internet so that anyone with access to fabrication equipment can make them from raw materials... In a situation of decentralized fabrication and free and open-source design, once a design is posted on the Internet, it can be reproduced around the world by anyone who needs it."

From FAQ 76:
"All raw materials for the manufacture of these products can be transported directly to the manufacturing facilities by automated transportation "sequences" such as boats, monorails, mag-lev trains, pipelines, and pneumatic tubes. An automated inventory system would be connected to both the distribution centers and the manufacturing facilities, thus coordinating production to meet demand and providing a constant evaluation of preferences and consumption. In this way a balanced-load economy can be maintained. Shortages, over-runs, and waste could be eliminated."

Even if the RBE takes care of most crime or aberrant behavior, we would still have to have some type of judicial system. How would we settle personal disputes?

I struggled with the "no laws" thing myself, but I realized we must analyze what kinds of civil disputes we'd be having, in order to assume that laws & courts can even resolve them in the first place. In the resource-based economy, we could not be "jealous" of property because we will not "own" property. (Yes, we will have houses & such, but without monetary limitations, you can have the same one as anyone else.) You can have the same occupation, interests, or hobbies as anyone else. What is there to be jealous of that you cannot get for yourself? People. One could be jealous of someone else's girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, or even friend, I suppose. In which case, what can the courts do about it? I've given these issues much thought, and unfortunately I feel this is where we must "take the diaper off" and truly allow ourselves to develop socially in the way we relate to one another, instead of depending on laws and courts to tell us what's right & what's wrong. In a system with no money, who would pay the court staff (lawyers, etc.)? Who would want that role in a resource-based-economy? Perhaps the cybernated system could randomly choose individuals to settle the dispute, but then we are getting right back into "people having the power to make decisions over one another." Without police, who would enforce the decision of such courts, should someone disagree or refuse to obey? Does this mean we have to keep jails as well? It's all connected, and unfortunately it seems that if we keep one piece, we must keep it all. This subject is briefly touched on in FAQ #83: "What about crimes of jealousy?" but there is no "one" solution; I agree. It is a very complex issue, and I believe laws will have to slowly render themselves obsolete over a long period of time, as our behavior changes. The best example I can give at the moment is that of the Gaviotans in Columbia, South America. Gaviotas is a village of about 200 people that uses renewable energy sources and farms organically. They live amongst free housing, free food, and free education, and have had no weapons, prisons, police, or government for over 30 years. If an eco-village can live without law enforcement, then advanced sustainable cities of people enjoying the highest standard of living possible can certainly do so as well.

Why does TVP propose synthetic proteins?
(Addressed in FAQ 95)
The Venus Project does not necessarily advocate this, but it is mentioned because it would be an option based on personal preference. It is not that we have to do this in order to achieve a resource-based-economy, just that we could - the technology would be available. Consider that in an RBE, where there are no monetary boundaries to incentivize corporations & health departments to cut corners, food production would not be anything like it is today. More importantly, the approach of TVP is to always apply the scientific method for human concern. The first step of the Scientific Method is to ask a question, so if the question is "How can we produce an abundant amount of healthy food for the earth's population?" the answer would not be to use methods that are proven to cause health defects, unlike today, when health is often second to profit. By using the scientific method for human concern rather than financial concern we would always find solutions that do not compromise our health, even if that means sticking to 100% natural food production. In TVP, we would be able to dramatically increase the amount of genuine research that goes into this.

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For now, this summarizes some of what I've encountered most frequently in response to The Venus Project Challenge. I may add to this in the future, as I am reminded of common Q&A's, and as I acquire more frequently used sources. In the meantime, I hope this will help answer some questions for both veterans and newcomers, and maybe make finding some of the information a bit more convenient. On a side note, I've also re-organized my YouTube channel from hundreds of random Favorites into categorized Playlists, so people can find information more easily, depending on the subject being discussed.