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Why it’s OK to root for present-day San Francisco to fail even if (especially if) you’re from here


A gated community. A city that is becoming uniformly wealthy, out of reach and out of touch. Too much reclaimed wood. Too many high-backed chairs. Teardrop light fixtures, everywhere. Soulless where there used to be a soul. Blank screens where there used to be imagination…Some shitty tapas place called Bask (get it, it’s Basque!) where there used to be Clown Alley. Whatever it is, San Francisco (and its football team) is fucking terrible, but not yet beyond repair.

By Andrew Pridgen

There’s a moment in Alex Pelosi’s compelling new HBO docSan Francisco 2.0 when the camera pans over to the crumbling concrete-and-rebar remains of Candlestick Park. Like a spaceship that crash-landed decades ago and has been marveled at, pulled apart and now ignored—the stadia sits there slowly merging once more with the horizon.

A resident of neighboring Hunter’s Point—a woman who is one of the thousands of long-time San Francisco denizens who currently faces eviction in the name of progress—laments the closing of “her” stadium. Seagulls swarm overhead like vultures as cranes remove the ramshackle homes and graffiti’d storefronts she grew up amongst. Crews work double time to replace the old with temporary-looking shelters. Ikea-ized versions of aspirational Dwellmagazine-ready structures—all right angles, plate glass and “eco-friendly” composite materials.

Candlestick Park, looking every bit the dystopian scorched earth backdrop—a discarded set from a Neill Blomkamp film—was a brilliantly stark reminder of where the city is going in its continuing crusade to whitewash over the dark corners—or at least its murals. The statistics are depressing: 2,500 residences involuntarily vacated per year (and climbing.) If you click one link today, click this one for the PowerPoint on wrongful or forced eviction put together by SF’s Anti-Displacement Coalition.

The overriding concern, which former mayor Willie Brown summed up in the doc is: everything, including this generation of “young geniuses,” gets old. And nothing ages worse than technology.

Pelosi’s doc draws a parallel between the current infestation of bro coders and Valley wunderkinds and the guy with an advanced degree and thirty years work experience living in squalor in the Tenderloin as a ward of the state—no income, no prospects and no one returning his calls. Too young to retire, too old not to be discarded. Every boom has its bust and though San Francisco, like yesterday’s ingenue succumbing to Botox®, will find a way to reinvent itself—or at least plump out its lips and stick out its hips—is going to be anchored with a massive midlife crisis in less than two decades as the artisanal cocktail swilling, photos of reclaimed wood walls and chalkboard menus posting, left- or right-swiping innovators of tomorrow find themselves more bloated and outmoded than the gas guzzling car model that shares their same birth year.

A city is a fragile ecosystem and when you move out the creatures who do actual work—the beavers who engineer the dams, the egrets who build their nests… and fill the waters with young and hungry crocodiles, it’s only a matter of time before all the resource is dried up, sucked away and the carcass is discarded. And when you fuck with something so fragile as a small city’s biosphere, the real side effect—the evaporation of its delicate soul—is the only reasonable outcome.

I was reminded of this while watching the San Francisco 49ers continue their dismal march though the 2015 campaign cowering at home over the weekend to the fan-owned, still-relevant Packers. At this point, less than five weeks into the season, the once most-decorated and proud franchise in all of sports has been reduced to a child squirming in his seat refusing its vegetables.

In some ways, suffering through a 49er game is an exercise in persistence—thinking about these old 49er faithful balking at re-education made me smile. Resist! Most of Generation One: The Kezar-and-Brodie sect who happened to hitch their wagon to a winner, have died out or at least aged out of the desired demo. But there are some, perhaps I am one of them, who grew up during that gilded era and still have enough sepia-toned memory—mostly about how happy our dads were for a few hours every Sunday when the rest of life, well, was pretty much a grind—to sustain at least moderate interest. Either way, my grandfathered nostalgia and I were told to back off Warchild when that first golden shovel kissed the ground in Santa Clara to build the tax-payer and Goldman Sachs-funded Erector Set of corporate-friendly inequity in the shadow of the Google campus.

But, something else bothered me when I attempted to watch the 49ers Sunday. I realized, they’re just not interesting anymore. The glass menagerie stadium isn’t welcoming. The head coach is a pitiable slob, a patsy of Oswaldian proportions. The players are disaffected and drab. The ownership is uncharismatic and detached. There is absolutely zero there there.


Only then I realized, that’s exactly the same feeling I have when I set foot on the familiar but completely unattainable soil of today’s San Francisco. It’s no longer The City. It’s not the fog-lined streets Herb Caen described as a woman putting on her slip and sneaking out in the pre-dawn shadows of Sunday morning. It’s not the foghorn quieting conversation over cocktail hour. It’s not finding comfort in all the similarly octagon-tiled bathroom floors of Pacific Heights. It’s not the steam rising from the manhole covers, straightening out the wrinkles in your slacks as you hit the ground running off Muni, late for a 9 a.m. Monday meeting.

It’s not that I still don’t have to swallow hard when admiring the majestic sundial shadow cast by Coit Tower over North Beach at dusk. It’s not that I can’t sneak into the Tonga Room and still feel, quite literally, the numbing effects of a drink consumed from a hollowed out pineapple take effect and transport me to a time when businessmen enjoyed three Martini lunches at Tadich and got their shoes buffed next to Shorenstein in the basement of the B of A building. When Giants games could be heard on the radio, cracks of the bat ricocheting off the the office buildings on California and ascending to Nob Hill and above. Where the Brown twins (Marian and Vivian) and their matching dresses, hats and hair ambled around like they were living in a snow globe. You have to look hard, but in the serpentine back alleyways of the Mission and the skunky street corners of the Haight, it exists. Some of that San Francisco, my City, hasn’t been demo’d yet. It’s still there, barely.

And The City shall survive, barely—even if a bit of that goop and grime of Dashiell Hammett’s de-colorized imprint is sitting at the bottom of a safe in the basement of the old mint, I believe it can outlast the current infestation.

I’m not so sure, however, I can say the same about the employers of the gremlin-in-the-pool spawn generation. Those companies, hellbent on turning a carefully crafted and marketed collection of zeros and ones into a surrogate for actual, real human interaction, inherently are flawed.

They are devoid of a conscious, of value—be it social, intrinsic, communal or monetary. When the hoax of coming together through technology is revealed—when everything shiny about how we insulate ourselves present-day in flimsy but formidable individual digital fortresses begins to fade; when the reality that machines and apps alienate, make arrogant noise, create an illusion of commentary, feedback and thoughtfulness where once there was actual dialogue, then what?

Once we (re)discover that a him or a her is more than an account and password and headshot, that we can put aside our devices in exchange for experience—where do we go? What will happen to the thousands of businesses that started without a sustainable revenue model when this round of funding dries up and this stock market plunges? What will happen to recycled ideas of recycled ideas? What will happen to the single-letter vowel-laden quippy business names? Who will ping in the break roomcommunal work space if nobody else is there to pong?

Do I root for the demise of San Francisco 2.0 as vehemently as I root against this version of its home football team? Absolutely. It’s something I used to question, used to feel guilty about. Like am I that kind of sick individual who waits for tragedy and revels in delivering the bad news, just so I can see a reaction; just so I can take comfort in the fact that it’s not happening to me?

The answer is no.

I’m just ready for the party to be over. I am ready for The City to shut its eyes with the room spinning. Wake up late with a hangover. Take a quick shower. Wash off all the makeup and glitter, wipe the steam off the mirror, give itself a good hard look and say, “enough.”

Photo: Salesforce


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My Wife Asked me if the Gun Control Laws in Chicago Were New Because of All of the Gun Violence.

A logical question, so I did some research.  This is what I found:



Gun Control

Since the early 1970s, Chicago and its suburban municipalities have taken a national lead in enacting firearms control legislation. Citizens’ groups such as the Committee for Handgun Control, formed in 1973 and renamed Illinois Citizens for Handgun Control in 1982, have worked together with city politicians and police to pass some of the nation’s toughest gun control laws. Mayor Richard J. Daley was outspoken in his stand against gun rights activists, testifying before U.S. House subcommittees on gun violence in 1972 and creating a special court to process gun crimes. In response to rising gun violence by the end of the 1970s, several Chicago aldermen began exploring the idea of a freeze on handgun registration.

In 1981 the suburb of Morton Grove became the first municipality in the United States to ban the sale, transportation, and ownership of handguns. When a federal judge upheld the ban, the village attracted national attention. The National Rifle Association began a campaign in many states to push for legislation that would preempt gun regulations by municipal governments. The campaign was unsuccessful in Illinois. In 1982, Mayor Jane Byrne and the city council began to hold hearings on an ordinance proposed by alderman Ed Burke banning the further sale and registration of handguns in Chicago. Receiving strong support from Byrne and her allies, and coming in the wake of the assassination attempts on President Reagan and Pope John Paul II, the ordinance passed. All residents who purchased and registered their handguns prior to January 1982 were allowed to keep their weapons. Chicago became the first major city to enact a handgun freeze in United States history.

Soon other suburbs began passing gun control legislation. In the fall of 1982, Evanstonbanned handguns. In 1984, Oak Park became the third municipality to ban handguns. The following year, Oak Park became a battlefield for national forces, as both the National Rifle Association and Handgun Control, Inc., poured resources into a referendum on repealing the ban, which failed narrowly. The impact of the Chicago freeze was felt far away, as Mayor Diane Feinstein of San Francisco began her own campaign for similar legislation. Highland Park began restricting handguns in 1989.

In 1992, led by Mayor Richard M. Daley, the Chicago City Council voted to ban assault weapons. Contests over gun control continued in 1998, when the city and Cook County filed a lawsuit against gun manufacturers.

“Suburban Voters Get Direct Shot at Gun Control.” Chicago Tribune, March 15, 1985.
“Town Takes New Aim at Enforcing Gun Ban.” Chicago Tribune, May 12, 1985.
On Target. Newsletter of the Illinois Citizens for Handgun Control. Spring 1982.



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Chicago Shootings Reach 2,349 This Year — Someone Shot Every 2.8 Hours


Someone in Chicago has been shot every 2.84 hours this year for a total of 2,349 shootings during the period of January 1, 2015 to October 6, 2015, according to crime stats published by the Chicago Tribune.

This year, Chicago is expected to eclipse the 2014 milestone of a shooting every 3.38 hours in 2014 with a total victim count of 2,587.

Chicago ranks as one of the most regulated cities in the nation for gun control. Concealed carry is almost nonexistent. To purchase a gun or ammunition requires a Firearm Owners Identification card in the entire state of Illinois, and additionally, a Chicago Firearm Permit – which is required to possess a firearm in Chicago.

Not only are the people heavily regulated in Chicago, but guns are also heavily regulated. Any long gun with a grip protruding from the stock or a firearm with a telescoping stock is prohibited and classified as an “assault weapon.”

Magazines are limited to a 12-round capacity.

Even a spring-powered pellet gun with a muzzle velocity of 700 feet-per-second is classified as a “firearm,” although it does not use gun powder, the component that puts the “fire” in “firearm.”

A stun-gun — a non-lethal device with no projectile — is considered a deadly weapon and cannot be carried for self-defense.

Chicago, for all intents and purposes, is a “gun-free zone.”

But all the state and city regulations associated with firearms in Chicago have failed to produce a safe city, and these are the policies that President Obama and Secretary Clinton wish to extend to the rest of the country.

While saying that “criminals go out-of-state to places where it is easier to obtain guns” is often used to push gun control, it illustrates that criminals ignore gun laws in every state and that onerous access to Second Amendment rights on law abiding citizens doesn’t stop crime.

Clinton’s campaign platform includes a call for federal legislation mandating background checks on all private firearms transfers and sales. Clinton also wants to repeal the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.” That law protects firearm manufacturers from lawsuits for negligent use of firearms.

President Obama, through is spokesman Josh Earnest, has announced, “The president has frequently pushed his team to consider a range of executive actions that could more effectively keep guns out of the hands of criminals and others who shouldn’t have access to them. That’s something that is ongoing here.”

Per the president’s policy, Chicago has taken every action “that could more effectively keep guns out of the hands of criminals and others who shouldn’t have access to them.”

Yet the shootings continue to rise.


Tags: Chicago gun laws, Gun control
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A False Choice Between Farms and Fish


Diverting precious water from California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is misguided — and the Senate must stop it from happening.

Growing up on his family’s pear ranch in the rich delta headlands a two-hour drive east of San Francisco, Brett Baker spent idyllic days roaming the orchard, picking wild blueberries, and fishing the fertile marshes and streams of nearby Steamboat Slough.

Brett Baker (Photo: NRDC)

Fish and fruit remain near the heart of Brett’s life even now, especially when he serves his wife and their young daughters fresh-caught smallmouth bass with a dollop of homemade pear chutney. “Just a diced Bartlett pear, some fresh homegrown tomatoes, a little bit of onion, and a jalapeño pepper,” he told me on a recent sunlit day, amid the pampas grass, cottonwoods, and pepper weed of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Not too surprisingly, Brett, a sixth-generation pear farmer with a biology degree, soundly rejects the false choice between farms and fish that some policymakers in Washington, D.C., want to force on the people of California. “It shouldn’t be farms versus fish,” Brett said. “Both need fresh, clean water.”

That’s exactly why the U.S. Senate needs to kill H.R. 2898, a pernicious bill the House passed in July, which pits big agricultural interests against wildlife habitat and all they support. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has scheduled a hearing on the legislation October 8. This bill needs to be rejected.

The bill would misdirect delta waters, starving marshes, rivers, and streams. It would gut essential protections for fish and other wildlife, threatening thousands of fishing jobs that depend on healthy salmon habitat. It would shunt aside California’s own environmental safeguards. And it would derail an effective program to restore the San Joaquin River, which once hosted the state’s second-largest salmon run.

Little wonder President Obama has threatened to veto this misguided legislation if it makes it out of Congress. It shouldn’t survive the Senate. Here’s why.

California is listing through its fourth year of epic drought, the region’s worst in centuries. And it’s exacerbating a long-term problem. In dry years and wet, the state uses more water than its rivers and underground aquifers can sustainably provide. How big is the gap? Enough to cover the entire state of New Hampshire with water a foot deep.

Our response, though, can’t be to divert even more precious water to corporate agricultural interests, leaving even less for fisheries and wildlife. If we’re smarter about how we use water in California, the state will have all it needs.

Wise management means using recycled water to irrigate landscapes and crops. It means capturing stormwater in urban areas, replacing turf grass with native and drought-tolerant plants, and upgrading plumbing fixtures and appliances with a new generation of water-saving gear. And it means investing in more efficient irrigation systems and techniques for the agriculture industry, which accounts for 80 percent of water use by the people of California.

Farmers like Brett Baker know how well all this can work.

He remembers splashing around in the flooded orchard during irrigation time as a boy. In his teens, though, his family installed sprinklers that target the root systems. The pear trees get all the water they need, but evaporation has been cut roughly in half, reducing overall water use by roughly 15 percent. That means real savings for the family orchard — and real benefits for the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and all it supports.

On a cloudless late August day in the delta, a great blue heron glided low over the cattails, a reminder of the rich bounty of wildlife the region struggles to support. The delta connects the headwaters of two of California’s biggest rivers — the Sacramento and the San Joaquin — to the San Francisco Bay and, from there, the Pacific Ocean.

The delta relies on seasonal rains and annual snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the east. But it’s clinging on to survive as the result of decades-old dam and diversion projects that send too much of the delta’s water to the almond, produce, and fruit farms to the south and, further still, to the urban centers of Southern California.

That leaves the San Francisco Bay suffering a perpetual shortage of water. In good years for rain and snowfall, about half of the water is diverted away from the delta. Even more is diverted when precipitation is short, as in drought years like this one.

The diversions all but dried up the San Joaquin River decades ago. Following a 1998 NRDC lawsuit, though, California developed a plan to restore the San Joaquin and the salmon, sturgeon, and other fish that depend on its flow. We’re making good progress and need to stay with the program, not abruptly change course midstream.

We don’t need bad legislation like H.R. 2898, which would take us in exactly the wrong direction. “Water really is the lifeblood of California,” says Doug Obegi, a senior attorney with NRDC’s water program. “When we use water more efficiently, we’re helping to make sure that we can sustain our economy and save these special places and wildlife and the communities that depend on them.”


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Gov. Brown signs nation’s toughest equal pay law

Jerry Brown

by Patrick T. Fallon –

​Women who work in California now have the strongest equal pay protection in the nation, after Gov. Jerry Brown signed new legislation into law in Richmond on Tuesday.

Women who work in California now have the strongest equal pay protection in the nation, after Gov. Jerry Brown signed new legislation into law in Richmond on Tuesday.

It comes amid rising concern about a wage gap — a recent study by civil rights group National Partnership found that women in the state who worked full time made a median 84 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2013.

Now, women workers will be allowed to sue under pay discrimination laws if they can prove a man at the same job in the same business establishment makes more for no discernible reason.

The new law eliminates a “same establishment” requirement for workplaces, which didn’t necessarily allow women to compare their salaries to that of men working at the same business.

It also outlaws retaliation for inquiring about other employees’ wages, and prohibits retaliating against employees who disclose or discuss their own wages.

The new standard now makes it harder for businesses to put measurement criteria in place based on “irrelevant” factors other than gender.

“The inequities that have plagued our state … are slowly being resolved with this kind of bill,” the Los Angeles Times quoted Brown as saying at the signing ceremony at Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park in Richmond.

The bill was sponsored by Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara).


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How to survive a flood

BY Melissa Breyer (@MelissaBreyer) –

Here comes the rain again … know what to do before, during and after a flood.

Floods are the number one natural disaster in the United States, and when looking at the 30-year average, they are the number one cause of weather-related fatality with an average of 81 deaths per year.

To put it simply, it’s easy to underestimate the power of water. In a flash flood, six inches of moving water is enough to knock a person over; 12 inches of moving water can sweep away a small car. Both moving and rising water demand respect!

Few places are immune to floods, wherever it rains, flooding can occur. And many of us TreeHugger types are known to live nearby or spend time in areas that are especially prone to flooding. So with that in mind, here are some pointers to help keep you safe when a great deluge decided to do its thing.

Turn around don’t drown!
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) came up with the phrase “Turn around don’t drown” (and then registered it as a trademark) to further the National Weather Service’s (NWS) mission to help save lives. As it turns out, the CDC reports that half of all flood drownings happen when a vehicle is driven into hazardous floodwater. As mentioned above, 12 inches of moving water can take a small car; two feet will sweep away a larger vehicle. People think they can pass a puddle in the road, only to have their car stall and then … whoosh. Turn around, don’t drown!

Flash floods 101
This may sound obvious, but apparently it’s not the first thing that comes to mind for many. If there is a chance of flash flooding, move to higher ground as quickly as possible. If you’re in your car and water rises around it, leave the car and seek higher ground. (If the water is moving, however, do not leave the car.)

The NWS notes that a creek only six inches deep in mountainous areas can swell to a 10-foot deep raging river in less than an hour if a thunderstorm produces intense rainfall. During heavy rainfall or in times of flood watches or warnings, do not camp or park near streams, creeks or rivers.

Stay tuned in
During thunderstorms, heavy rainfall or other inclement weather, stay tuned to local television or radio for weather updates and emergency instructions. Here are what the alerts mean:

Flood Watch: Flooding is possible.
Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible; be prepared to move to higher ground.
Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
Flash Flood Warning: A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

Know your elevations
In the same way flight attendants point our emergency exit doors, you should familiarize yourself with high points in your area (whether ground or buildings) and especially know those that are accessible by foot.

Prepare your home
Outdoor furniture can be moved inside and important items can be moved to the highest point in your home. Electrical appliances should be unplugged (but only when you are dry and not standing in water). You may be instructed to turn off your gas and electricity at the main switch or valve, which can help to prevent fires and explosions.

Protect your pets
Never leave your pet home alone when there is a flood warning, even if your home is not directly threatened. Roads may be closed or your home may become otherwise inaccessible, leaving your pet stranded. Also, never leave a pet leashed or caged during a flood warning; the reason there is obvious, right?

Also be extra careful with pets if your area is directly flooding. If it takes just six inches of water to whisk an adult away, it takes much less to take a pet.

After a flood:

  • Return home only when authorities say it is ok.
  • Watch out for debris where water has receded.
  • Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.
  • If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave quickly and call the fire department.
  • Check for creatures that may have taken refuge or been washed inside your home; snakes, in particular, are prone to displacement. Especially check before you let pets re-enter.
  • If your property has been flooded, allow your pets to reorient when you return. Flooding can wash away scents and may have destroyed landmarks your pet uses to keep track of locations. Without those, getting lost is more likely. Walk your dog with a leash for a few days until she/he is readjusted.
  • Be cautious with paths and roadways, as they are often eroded and compromised by floodwater.
  • Avoid standing water as there may be risk of electrocution from underground or downed power lines.
  • Contact your local or state public health department for specific advice for boiling or treating water where you are after a disaster as water may be tainted.
  • Let your family know you’re safe.
  • And while it may be the last thing on your mind, remember to photograph damage to your property for insurance purposes.

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The Anomaly Of Consciousness & Why Mainstream Science Ignores It



Western science has had remarkable success in explaining the functioning of the material world, but when it comes to the inner world of the mind, it has very little to say. And when it comes to consciousness itself, science falls curiously silent. There is nothing in physics, chemistry, biology, or any other science that can account for our having an interior world. In a strange way, scientists would be much happier if minds did not exist. Yet without minds there would be no science.

This ever-present paradox may be pushing Western science into what Thomas Kuhn called a paradigm shift—a fundamental change in worldview.

This process begins when the prevalent paradigm encounters an anomaly—an observation that the current worldview can’t explain. As far as today’s scientific paradigm is concerned, consciousness is certainly one big anomaly. It is the most obvious fact of life: the fact that we are aware and experience an internal world of images, sensations, thoughts, and feelings. Yet there is nothing more difficult to explain. It is easier to explain how the universe evolved from the Big Bang to human beings than it is to explain why any of us should ever have a single inner experience. How does all that electro-chemical activity in the physical matter of the brain ever give rise to conscious experience? Why doesn’t it all just go on in the dark?

The Initial Response

The initial response to an anomaly is often simply to ignore it. This is indeed how the scientific world has responded to the anomaly of consciousness. And for seemingly sound reasons.

First, consciousness cannot be observed in the way that material objects can. It cannot be weighed, measured, or otherwise pinned down. Second, science has sought to arrive at universal objective truths that are independent of any particular observer’s viewpoint or state of mind. To this end they have deliberately avoided subjective considerations. And third, there seemed no need to consider it; the functioning of the universe could be explained without having to explore the troublesome subject of consciousness.

However, developments in several fields are now showing that consciousness cannot be so easily sidelined. Quantum physics suggests that, at the atomic level, the act of observation affects the reality that is observed. In medicine, a person’s state of mind can have significant effects on the body’s ability to heal itself. And as neurophysiologists deepen their understanding of brain function questions about the nature of consciousness naturally raise their head.

The Common Reaction

When the anomaly can no longer be ignored, the common reaction is to attempt to explain it within the current paradigm. Some believe that a deeper understanding of brain chemistry will provide the answers; perhaps consciousness resides in the action of neuropeptides. Others look to quantum physics; the minute microtubules found inside nerve cells could create quantum effects that might somehow contribute to consciousness. Some explore computing theory and believe that consciousness emerges from the complexity of the brain’s processing. Others find sources of hope in chaos theory.

Yet whatever ideas are put forward, one thorny question remains: How can something as immaterial as consciousness ever arise from something as unconscious as matter?

If the anomaly persists, despite all attempts to explain it, then maybe the fundamental assumptions of the prevailing worldview need to be questioned. This is what Copernicus did when confronted with the perplexing motion of the planets. He challenged the geocentric worldview, showing that if the sun, not the earth, was at the center, then the movements of the planets began to make sense. But people don’t easily let go of cherished assumptions. Even when, 70 years later, the discoveries of Galileo and Kepler confirmed Copernicus’s proposal, the establishment was loath to accept the new model. Only when Newton formulated his laws of motion, providing a mathematical explanation of the planets’ paths, did the new paradigm start gaining wider acceptance.

The continued failure of our attempts to account for consciousness suggests that we too should question our basic assumptions. The current scientific worldview holds that the material world—the world of space, time and matter—is the primary reality. It is therefore assumed that the internal world of mind must somehow emerge from the world of matter. But if this assumption is getting us nowhere, perhaps we should consider alternatives.

An Alternative To Be Considered

One alternative that is gaining increasing attention is the view that the capacity for experience is not itself a product of the brain. This is not to say that the brain is not responsible for what we experience—there is ample evidence for a strong correlation between what goes on in the brain and what goes on in the mind—only that the brain is not responsible for experience itself. Instead, the capacity for consciousness is an inherent quality of life itself.

In this model, consciousness is like the light in a film projector. The film needs the light in order for an image to appear, but it does not create the light. In a similar way, the brain creates the images, thoughts, feelings and other experiences of which we are aware, but awareness itself is already present.

All that we have discovered about the correlations between the brain and experience still holds true. This is usually the case with a paradigm shift; the new includes the old. But it also resolves the anomaly that the old could not explain. In this case, we no longer need scratch our heads wondering how the brain generates the capacity for experience.

This proposal is so contrary to the current paradigm, that die-hard materialists easily ridicule and dismiss it. But we should not forget the bishops of Galileo’s time who refused to look through his telescope because they knew his discovery was impossible.


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