The Reality Bubble: how humanity's collective blindspots render us incapable of seeing danger until it's too late (and what to do about it)

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A small anecdote on the failure to recognize obvious changes in our local environment:

Some 10 years ago I moved to a new city in a new country for work. I used the city public transportation system to get around. The busses were painted in a uniform livery of blue and white, with some minor orange accents. Except for the occasional plain orange behemoth dragged out of storage to fill in on busy rush hour lines when if some of the regular busses where out of service.

Then one day I was chatting with a new friend who had grown up in this city. And he referred to the orange city busses. I remarked that very few of the busses are orange, most are blue and white. He insisted that the city busses are orange, until we headed out and I could point to bus after bus going by, and not orange at all. And this was someone who used public transport most workdays.

Then I took to asking long term residents of the city what color the busses are. A very large fraction said orange. Like close to 90% large. So somehow for most people the busses must just be such an unnoticed permanent detail in the city environment that the change of color just never registered.

Failure to perceive reality as it is indeed.


Gore Vidal, in his novel Julian, observes:

One curious aspect of human society is that preventive measures are seldom taken to avert disaster, even when the exact nature of the approaching calamity is perfectly plain. In March when the rains did not fall, everyone knew that there would be a small harvest; by May, it was obvious that there would be a food shortage; by June, famine. But though we often discussed this in the senate and the people in the markets talked of little else but the uncommon dryness of the season—no plans were made to buy grain from other countries. All of us knew what was going to happen, and no one did anything. There is a grim constant in this matter which might be worth a philosopher’s while to investigate.


so it’s true then…


The most recent Wondermark:



I’ve just been plowing through the Larry Sanders Show, and came across a fantastic moment that I think describes an aspect of the human condition quite well:

Artie: I saw this coming.
Larry: If you saw this coming, Arty, why didn’t you say something?
Artie: If I said something every time I saw something coming we’d never get anything done.

The problem with humanity is that Artie isn’t perfect.


A possible parallel is that of data. It hardly exists but is a huge force in this world.


Ziya Tong made me interested in filmmaking since the ZEDTV days. Look forward to reading her book.

I’m working on an invention that gives you an electric shock and lights your pants on fire whenever you ignore reality. I plan to sell it on the internet.




just put it on audible already

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