Group Think and the Buddha

May 2005

One thing I didn’t really mention about the Death of Environmentalism essay was its section on “groupthink.” This is more or less a direct quote:

Engineers have a technical word for a system that doesn’t have any feedback built in: “stupid.”

Shellenberger and Nordhaus argue that the environmental movement suffered from a severe lack of feedback, which has contributed to its decline. I don’t know enough to wholeheartedly agree or disagree with them, but it brings up an interesting point, that even if you really think that the authors have really hit the nail on the head, even if you think that they are absolutely right and should be hailed as the new leaders of the environmental movement, that doesn’t mean that whatever they say in the future should go unquestioned.

This reminds me of a saying I once heard about the Buddha, badly paraphrased: Do not believe what I say because I am the Buddha: go and find out for yourselves. Also insert cliched Socrates quote here that the unexamined life is not worth living.

On a further related note, Siddhartha (a great Hesse book by the way) held his own in the recent poll on Point:

Deathmatch!!!! Who would win?

Gandhi: 13%

Mother Teresa: 7%

Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha): 30%

Martin Luther King Jr.: 35%

Pope John Paul II: 15%

Couldn’t help throwing that in :-)