Quick Start Guide to Human Society™

human society help
Showing 5 of 1,414 results in Human Society™ documentation
Quick Start Guide to Human Society™

You are now the keeper of your very own Human Society™. Congratulations!

Your Human Society™ is a powerful and flexible network of sentient biological life forms. There are many ways to configure and optimize your Human Society™ to suit your aims. See your accompanying manuals for complete details.


This Quick Start Guide to Human Society™ will help you launch your Human Society™ using our Best Practice Model.

The Best Practice Model is a seven-step plan for organizing your Human Society™. This plan is proven to be highly effective, yet simple enough for beginners to use.

However, as it is human nature to skip reading any detailed instructions, we have also condensed the seven steps into one.


The One-Step Guide to Human Society™

Here is a simple, effective formula for human prosperity:

Give people freedom in an environment of trust.

Troubleshooting Guide to Human Society™
Chapter 1.1: Introduction

Are you the keeper of a malfunctioning Human Society™? Don't panic!

This Troubleshooting Guide to Human Society™ is here to help you deal with your existing malfunctions.


Your Human Society™ is a network of hundreds, thousands or millions of human beings. As a biological entity, a human being will not behave as predictably and consistently as a technological device. A certain level of malfunctioning is normal, and to be expected.

However, you will at times want to track down an error and fix it. This Troubleshooting Guide will help you learn how to:

  • track down the source of a malfunction in your Human Society™
  • identify what kind of error it is
  • take steps to correct the malfunction.


Of course, the best way to deal with malfunctions is to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Prevention is not the focus of this Troubleshooting Guide. To learn more about prevention, please refer to the Quick Start Guide to Human Society™, the Optimization Guide to Human Society™, the Human Society™ Strategy Guide, and the Human Society™ Complete Manual of Human Nature.

Human Society™ Complete Manual of Human Nature
Error #10F2C: File Read Error

We're sorry. An error has occurred.

Diagnostic information follows:

Error #10F2C.

The requested file, "Human Society™ Complete Manual of Human Nature", has been partially corrupted. The complete file is not accessible. The data at the specified index could not be read.


Please try again later, or contact the Manufacturer for assistance.

Human Society™ Strategy Guide
Chapter 1.1: Why You Need a Strategy

Welcome to the Human Society™ Strategy Guide. This guide will help you understand the many possible strategies for managing your Human Society™.

Should you run an empire? A theocracy? A dictatorship? A democracy? This guide is here to help you understand your choices.


Human beings are not simple machines, like a toaster, that exist for a single purpose. They are flexible creatures that can be dedicated towards many different aims.

In order to achieve such flexibility, human beings have a complex nature. This means that they aren't by default optimized towards any one particular purpose. This Human Society™ Strategy Guide will give you strategies for optimizing your Human Society™ for your own goals and values.


Human beings are sentient biological creatures. As such, they are more vulnerable to damage than mechanical or electronic creatures. They have evolved certain feelings and behaviors to avoid harm. Some of those behaviors can be counterproductive to the goals and values you have for your Human Society™.

This Human Society™ Strategy Guide will give you strategies to employ that can turn those feelings and behaviors from liabilities into assets.

Human Society™ Magazine
Cover: Edition 5F.7D4.1
Edition 5F.7D4.1. Photo credits: Raita Futo / Lee Haywood, altered via creative commons license (1) / license (2)
human nature
Showing 5 of 3,142 results in Human Society™ documentation
Quick Start Guide to Human Society™
On Human Nature

The prosperity of your Human Society™ depends on how well you can predict human behavior. If you have a poor understanding of human nature, you will make inaccurate predictions, which will lead to ineffective strategies for managing your Human Society™.

Therefore, as the keeper of a Human Society™, you will need to have an understanding of human nature.

This Quick Start Guide to Human Society™ presents a seven-step model of human nature, called the Best Practice Model. This model yields a simple, but effective strategy for getting started with your Human Society™.

Of course, human nature is more complicated than the seven steps of a Quick Start Guide. For a comprehensive catalog of human nature, please refer to the Human Society™ Complete Manual of Human Nature. For alternative models and strategies, please refer to the Human Society™ Strategy Guide.

Human Society™ Strategy Guide
Chapter 1.2: Strategy and Human Nature
The first thing to understand about any Human Society™ strategy is this:

Each strategy is based on its own model of human nature.

What are human beings? How do they behave? How do they act when alone, and how do they act together in a society?

Each model of human nature answers such questions differently. Each different answer implies a different strategy for managing the humans in your Human Society™.

Human beings have a very complex nature. The Human Society™ Complete Manual of Human Nature is a very large book. A strategy by necessity will need to simplify this large complexity into a smaller model that is workable.

This Human Society™ Strategy Guide will explain the differences between the various strategies you may employ, the model of human nature that underpins each of them, the flaws of those models, and tradeoffs you make with each choice.

Troubleshooting Guide to Human Society™
Chapter 3.1: Getting Human Nature Wrong

Models exist to make complex systems simple enough to understand and manage. But simplifying a system means you have to leave some parts of that system out. All models, therefore, are flawed in some way.

Human Nature is very, very complex. Modeling human nature accurately, therefore, is very, very difficult. Some models are better than others, but every model of human nature will be flawed in some way.

Still, you have to choose some model or other to operate your Human Society™ under. This means that at some point while operating your Human Society™, you will get human nature wrong. You will need to troubleshoot the malfunctions that are caused by the flaws in the model you choose.

Error Accumulation

When you choose a model of human nature to operate your Human Society™ under, you are also choosing the flaws of that model. The strategies you choose based on that model will likewise be flawed.

You may not be aware of what those flaws are. The flaws may not show up immediately. But over time, your Human Society™ will systematically err in the direction of the flaws in your model. Those errors will add up until they eventually become noticeable malfunctions.

Tip: When the malfunctions from your model begin to pile up too high, consider temporarily switching models in order to correct the systematic error of your favored model. The alternate model may not be better in the long run than your current model, but alternating can be a simple way to troubleshoot and correct any accumulated malfunctions in your Human Society™.

Model Fatigue

Note: alternating between models is itself a model, that has also its flaws. Even if you alternate between two, five or seventeen different models, you will eventually run into model fatigue, where none of your favored models seem to work very well anymore.

A sure sign of model fatigue is when the people in your Human Society™ start to drift toward the default model of human nature. The default model is an ineffective, selfish, low-trust model with a stagnant, short-term, zero-sum mentality that humans fall into when they lose faith in other models.

Tip: If the default model starts becoming popular in your Human Society™, you probably have model fatigue. The best way to troubleshoot model fatigue is with a paradigm shift. At this point, you will need to develop a new model of human nature that addresses the flaws in all your old models. This new paradigm should imply a fresh strategy that can push your Human Society™ forward in a new direction.

Human Society™ Terms of Service

You use your Human Society™ solely at your own risk. There are no guarantees of consistency or understandability regarding Human Beings and Human Nature. Your Human Society™ is introduced to you as is and as available and without warranty of any kind, express or implied.

The Human Beings included in your Human Society™ are biological entities vulnerable to damage from many sources, including, but not limited to, war, violence, pestilence, disease, heat, cold, famine and drought. There are no express or implied remedies offered for any damage to Human Beings or any other biological creatures that are included with your Human Society™, either as supplied, or as the result of any operational use of your Human Society™.



Human Society™ Magazine
The Cyborg Paradox

Every neuron in the human brain takes a set of inputs and produces a set of outputs based on those inputs.

Suppose you began to replace those biological brain cells one by one, with some sort of technological hardware and software. Suppose that technological replacement took the exact same inputs and produced the exact same outputs as the biological ones. At what point would that human being cease to be a human being, and become a machine, instead?

This is the Cyborg Paradox.

The Cyborg Paradox

The Cyborg Paradox is a newer version of an ancient philosophical puzzle called Theseus's Paradox. That story supposes that a ship once sailed by the Ancient Greek hero Theseus is kept in a museum. Over time, pieces of the ship rot and are replaced with identical pieces. When all the original pieces of the ship are gone, is it the same ship?

Theseus's Paradox forces you to answer the question: what makes an object an object? The Cyborg Paradox asks a narrower question: what makes a human being a human being?

Does a human being cease to be human as soon as any biological part is replaced by technology? Is a person who wears glasses not a human being? What about someone who has had a knee replaced, or a hip? Or is the brain that defines a human being, and as soon as you start replacing brain cells, you cease to be human? What are the most essential elements of human nature?

Differences in Vulnerability

A technological neuron may have the same inputs and outputs as a biological neuron, but it would differ in one key way: it would be most likely be vulnerable to damage in a different way from a biological neuron.

A technological neuron isn't vulnerable to the same things a biological neuron would be. Perhaps a technological neuron would last longer and be more difficult to break. Or perhaps it would break more often but be cheaper and easier to replace.

A technological brain would also have different energy requirements, A biological human brain requires so much energy, humans have to eat multiple times per day. A technological brain would have a different kind of vulnerability if its energy requirements aren't met.

Awareness is Key

In this scenario, none of the vulnerability differences would matter if the human beings weren't aware at some level that their neurons had changed. They would simply go on behaving the way they would behave with their biological neurons, because their inputs and outputs would be identical.

However, it's different once the humans become aware that their vulnerability has been altered. A change in perceived human vulnerability changes the perceived risk/reward ratios of their behavior. That, in turn, can affect their behavioral choices.

Fight or Flight

Human beings, like many biological creatures, react to vulnerability with, among other things, a fight or flight response. The human fight or flight response is simply a change, in one direction or another, in the willingness to risk harm to themselves. The fight response makes someone more willing to get hurt, and the flight response makes them less willing.

Making an individual human being knowingly more or less vulnerable changes their percieved odds of success or failure. This in turn can change how they respond to stimuli.

This is where the Cyborg Paradox kicks in. Technology added to human beings changes their odds of success or failure. This, in turn, changes their behavior in response to those odds. At what point is the change in behavior so large that it is no longer recognizably human behavior?

Individual vs Societal Vulnerability

There is another paradox at work here, too. Changing the vulnerability of an individual in one direction can change the vulnerability of other individuals in the other direction.

For example, if a new technology makes individuals feel less vulnerable, those individuals may become more willing to fight. The increase in the willingness to fight, however, makes other individuals feel more vulnerable. The meek, who would likely lose such fights, are forced to adapt this change in the environment by hiding or fleeing.

So a technology that makes some individuals feel less vulnerable may have the paradoxical effect of making your Human Society™ as a whole feel more vulnerable.

Technology in your Human Society™

The Cyborg Paradox asks the question, "What makes a human being a human being?" It is a difficult question to answer precisely. But at some level, human beings are defined by the risks they are able and willing to take in their environment.

Therefore, utmost care should be taken when applying a new technology to your Human Society™ Most new technologies enable people able to take risks that increase their productivity. But some may have the opposite effect.

A new weapon, or shield, or even a change in communication tools, by changing the odds of success or failure, by altering the perception of vulnerability, can push your Human Society™ out of a functioning equilibrium and into a mess of conflict and flight.

It is not always easy to predict which technologies will be damaging and will be which will be beneficial. This is one of the complex challenges of managing your Human Society™ as it grows and changes. To manage human vulnerability in your Human Society™ requires all your vigilance and wisdom.

Edition 5F.7D4.1. Photo credit: Ann Larie Valentine, adapted via creative commons license
human communication
Showing 5 of 1,618 results in Human Society™ documentation
Human Society™ Strategy Guide
Chapter 12.1: Communicating with Human Beings

Human beings do not function like computers or robots or androids. You do not communicate with them by simply issuing a series of commands through an interface. They will not immediately and flawlessly execute any commands you give them.

Human beings are independent biological creatures, with their own intentions and desires. In order to get human beings to behave in the way you want, you need to get to know those intentions and desires.

The best way to get to know human beings is through our Best Practice Troubleshooting Tip:

Listen to stories, deeply.

Stories are an integral part of human communication. If you want to interface with human beings, you need to be able to both listen to stories, and to tell them.

You can try to give commands to a human being, or to present logical information to a human being, but unless those commands and information are presented within a story, the commands and arguments are unlikely to be effective.

Troubleshooting Guide to Human Society™
Chapter 4.1: Story Diagnostics

Understanding how human communication works is vital to troubleshooting your Human Society™.

Unlike cyborgs, robots, androids, or other technologies you may be familiar with, human beings are purely biological entities. As such, they do not output direct diagnostic information the way technological devices do. They lack measuring tools, gauges, or dashboards of any sort from which to directly monitor their status.

Fortunately, there are indirect ways to monitor your Human Society™ for malfunctions. For example, here is our Best Practice Troubleshooting Tip:

Listen to stories, deeply.

Stories are the primary diagnostic output of human beings.

However, only some of the information in a story is relevant to the health of your Human Society™. Human stories operate on multiple levels, and some of these levels are more likely to provide diagnostic information than others.

At one particular level of human stories, there is a message about human nature. What are humans like? What kind of problems to they encounter? How do they need to behave to overcome these obstacles?

It is at this human nature level that your diagnostic information will usually be found.

This is why we say to listen deeply. You must look beyond the surface level of a story to find the information in the story that is relevant to troubleshooting.

Optimization Guide to Human Society™
Chapter 4.1: Optimizing Storytelling

Stories are essential to human communication. The reason for this is the 1-2-1 architecture of the human brain. You can read more about the 1-2-1 architecture of the human brain in the Human Society™ Complete Manual of Human Nature.

Every human story operates on three levels:

  • Mechanical Level

    This level contains the nuts and bolts of storytelling, the mechanisms of drama. Each story has a plot and a point of view. It has protagonists and antagonists and supporting characters. It has a conflict and a resolution. All of these elements are placed into a structure, arranged to hold attention from beginning to end.

  • Universal Level

    On a higher level, a story inhabits a universe with a particular set of rules. In religious stories, there are heavens and underworlds, and guidelines for reaching each. Fairy tales are set in an enchanted past, science fiction is set in a technological future. The most compelling of these universes can be used over and over again to tell multiple stories.

  • Human Nature Level

    An effective human story has a message about human nature. It tells humans about themselves, about who they are, about how they behave in certain circumstances, about what kinds of problems they encounter, and how they should act in order to avoid or overcome these problems.

In order to communicate effectively with the human beings in your Human Society™, you need to optimize your storytelling. Your stories need to work well on all three levels:

  • Your stories must be mechanically efficient, so that they hold the audience's attention from beginning to end.

  • Your stories should be set in a compelling universe, and remain consistent with the rules and history of that universe.

  • And finally, your stories must reveal something about human nature that rings true. If your stories are wrong about human nature, about how humans should and shouldn't behave to overcome the obstructions they face, your stories will not connect with your human audience with optimal effectiveness.

Human Society™ Complete Manual of Human Nature
Error #177CC: File Output Error

Human communication differs from robot communication. Human beings do not respond to data and commands with consistent output.

Human communication is a complex challenge for the keeper of a Human Society™.

The recommended model for a beginners is to think of the human brain as having a 1-2-1 architecture.

Human behavior is the outcome of the interaction between two separate brain systems, called System 1 and System 2. These systems were so named by the human behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman.

System 1 is designed for speed.

System 1 functions subconsciously, emotionally, and automatically.
System 1 quickly processes vast amounts of data in parallel, so that it can make instant decisions.
To enable speedy choices, System 1 builds large, complex models of the world, and stores these models subconsciously.

System 2 is designed for accuracy.

System 2 is slower than System 1, but makes fewer mistakes.
System 2 is conscious, rational, and deliberate.
System 2 processes data serially, step-by-step, to avoid errors.

Human nature gives preference to speed over accuracy.

System 1 is in charge, and has the first and last say on any decision. Any decision begins (always) with a System 1 model, proceeds (optionally) to a System 2 analysis, and then ends (always) with with a System 1 decision.

1-2-1 architecture. 1-2-1. 1-2-1 architecture. 1-2-1 architecture. 1-2-1. 1-2-1. 1-2-1 architecture. 1-2-1.
1-2-1 architecture. 1-2-1. 1-2-1 architecture. 1-2-1 architecture. 1-2-1. 1-2-1. 1-2-1 architecture. 1-2-1. 1-2-1 architecture. 1-2-1. 1-2-1 architecture. 1-2-1 architecture. 1-2-1. 1-2-1. 1-2-1 architecture. 1-2-1.
1-2-1 architecture. 1-2-1. 1-2-1 architecture. 1-2-1 architecture. 1-2-1. 1-2-1. 1-2-1 architecture. 1-2-1.

The logic and rationality available to System 2 only has a minor role in human decision making. To communicate effectively with your Human Society™, you must master the methods of System 1 information transfer.

System 1 is the more ancient system, having evolved in animals hundreds of millions of years before human beings appeared on the earth. System 2 is a more recent development in human evolution. Because it is a more recent development, it does not have as much control of the human mind as humans themselves like to believe. They think of themselves as rational only because System 2, the rational part of the brain, is also the conscious part of the brain. critical system alert: possible virus detected  file output error (177CC)

Human Society™ Magazine
The Puzzle of Human Communication

Managing a Human Society™ is complex and fascinating. Much of that complexity comes arises from a puzzling bit of human nature: human beings have two different brain systems, each with a different purpose.

One system, System 1, is optimized for speed. The other, System 2, is designed for accuracy.

To communicate with human beings, it is vital to understand how these two different systems work.

The Two Systems

System 1 is optimized for making quick decisions. To do so, it operates subconsciously and automatically, processing vast amounts of information in parallel, in order to make near-instant choices.

The primary task of System 1 is to manage the motor skills of the body. Each motor skill is a pattern of movement, so System 1 is also the part of the brain where patterns are recognized and stored.

As a pattern recognition system, System 1 learns primarily by repetition. As a pattern is experienced more and more, System 1 builds a model of that pattern so that it can recognize and react to it even faster the next time. As patterns and reactions become reinforced with repetition, humans acquire habitual behaviors.

In urgent cases, the repetition requirement for learning can be overridden. This is the role of emotions. Emotions are hard-coded, quick reactions to a certain patterns. When a pattern is accompanied with a strong emotion, that pattern is imprinted into System 1 memory much more quickly than otherwise.

By emphasizing speed over accuracy, and by allowing emotions to inject themselves in the process of learning, System 1 is prone to mistakes. Enter System 2.

In contrast to its sibling, System 2 is conscious, slow, and deliberate. Instead of patterns, System 2 handles facts and events. System 2 allows humans to learn and figure things out rationally and methodically, serially, step by step. It's a mechanism that allows humans to avoid the kind of mistakes that System 1 typically makes.

The 1-2-1 Architecture

You may think that the optimal setup for human nature would be to have the human use System 1 whenever speed is the highest priority, and use System 2 whenever accuracy is the highest priority. Unfortunately, that is not the way human nature works.

The issue is that System 1 is highly energy efficient, but System 2 is not. If you ask humans to do too much System 2 work, like following a bunch of detailed instructions for too long, their brains will get tired.

Therefore, System 1 is the default. Moreover, System 2 never even gets to operate on its own, really. Any System 2 process is actually a 1-2-1 process, where you start with a System 1 model, then you do some System 2 reasoning based on that model, and then you conclude with a decision, which is made by System 1.

In essence, System 1 has a veto on every decision. You can lead humans through a rational process leading to a rational conclusion, and they will freely admit, "yes, that's a rational process with a rational conclusion," but if their System 1 produces a different conclusion, they will find some excuse to forego the rational choice.

The 1-2-1 architecture makes understanding human decisions difficult. System 1 processes are subsconscious and automatic, so they are a bit of a black box, even to the human being who is experiencing them. This lack of transparency makes it impossible for anyone to peek directly in and see exactly what model a human is using as a premise to reason from. No one, not even the humans themselves, can really see exactly why human beings make the final decisions they make. You can only sort of guess what's going on in System 1 by watching what goes in and what comes out.

How to Communicate with Humans

Human beings have a separate communications system for each of these two systems. For transferring information into System 1, human beings use art. For transferring information into System 2, human beings use language.

So what if you want to present an idea to a human being, and you want that information to stick in both the System 1 and System 2 parts of that human being's brain?

Because of the 1-2-1 architecture of the human mind, what you cannot do is simply present a rational argument. Because if that System 2 rational argument does not agree with that human's internal System 1 model at the beginning of the process, the argument will get rejected by the System 1 decision at the end of the process.

Therefore, the first step in a comprehensive human communication plan is to change the internal System 1 model that humans are reasoning from. To accomplish this, you need to present the idea artistically, using the kinds of inputs that System 1 recognizes: using repetition, patterns, emotions, and repetition. And patterns. Isn't this interesting? And exciting?

Once you see that the idea is getting established, you need to repeat this process, and repeat it, until the new model gets firmly embedded into the human brain you are targeting. Then, and only then, can you begin to use reasoning to change their minds enough to influence their decisions.

Getting human beings to make rational decisions, therefore, is therefore a bit of a paradox. Because every decision is an emotional decision out of System 1, rational decisions require making an emotional commitment to rational decisions. Getting a human being to make rational decisions requires the tools of System 1 learning: training and practice, with a dash of emotional storytelling.

In Conclusion

So to repeat, effective human communication functions with a 1-2-1 process:

1. Use artistic communication with patterns, emotions and repetition to establish a new model in System 1
2. From that new model, present a rational argument in System 2
1. Get the desired decision from System 1

Once you master this form of communication, you can begin to optimize your Human Society™ towards your goals and values.

Edition 5F.7D4.1. Photo credits: Magnus Akselvoll, adapted via creative commons license
optimize human society
Showing 5 of 210 results in Human Society™ documentation
Optimization Guide to Human Society™
Chapter 1.1: Why Optimize?

You probably have some goals and values you wish to implement in your Human Society™.

But if your society is not prosperous, your goals and values will inevitably fail. This is true whether you are operating your Human Society™ in Isolation Mode or in Networked Mode. Human nature is such that there is a natural tension between prosperity and any other values you may want to introduce into your Human Society™.

Human prosperity is imperative to the success of any venture with your Human Society™. This Optimization Guide to Human Society™ will help you keep your Human Society™ as prosperous as possible while remaining consistent with your goals and values.

Isolation Mode

In Isolation Mode, you keep the population of your Human Society™ disconnected from other societies. While this limits external competition, you can still face internal resistance to your goals and values. Human nature is creative. Even in a simple and limited Human Society™, you will always have to compete against the human imagination.

If people can imagine a more effective Human Society™ than the one they are in, they will begin to resist your goals and values and work towards a better alternative. Even in Isolation Mode, it is wise to give some effort to optimizing your Human Society™.

Networked Mode

In Networked Mode, your own Human Society™ can interact with those of others. The flow of ideas from one Human Society™ to another makes optimization particularly urgent. If your Human Society™ looks unprosperous in competition with its neighbors, the goals and values of your stronger, wealthier neighbor will quickly replace yours, either by conquest or by imitation.

For example, if you have pacifist values and do not want a military, you may find your Human Society™ invaded by a neighbor who does have a strong military. Your pacifist values will become useless if you are conquered.

Another example: if your values conflict with scientific and/or technological progress, a neighboring society is likely to become more technologically advanced than yours. The people in your Human Society™ who see the wealth in the neighboring society will likely migrate away from your values and towards those of your wealthier neighbor. In addition, your technological deficit will leave your military weaker, and again leave you vulnerable to conquest.


Whatever your goals and values, it is a good idea to optimize the performance of your Human Society™. The more wealth and power that your Human Society™ produces, the longer it can hang on to your goals and values in the face of competition.

In this Optimization Guide to Human Society™, you will learn how to optimize the performance of your Human Society™ as a whole, and how to optimize the output of each individual human being within it.

Optimization Guide to Human Society™
Chapter 2.1: Optimization and Morality

There are two primary directions towards which you can optimize: towards the individual human being, and towards your Human Society™ as a whole. It is not necessarily the case that if you focus on optimizing one, you will also optimize the other.

In fact, a pure optimization at either end results in very similar problems: a kind of theft that disincentivizes effort and risk. If you try to optimize one without considering the other, you can end up counterproductively making both perform suboptimally.

Pure Individual Optimization

If each individual attempts to optimize their own personal well-being without any regard for the well-being of the Human Society™ as a whole, each individual will try to obtain as much wealth as possible for as little effort as possible.

The least amount of effort, in the purest sense, is simply to take the wealth or labor of others without giving anything in return.

In isolation, a single theft such as this creates no net change in the wealth of the Human Society™ as a whole. It only shifts the wealth of the individuals in it.

Of course, this becomes a problem when everybody in your Human Society™ does the same thing. If everybody is optimizing their individual wealth by stealing everyone else's wealth, you end up with a disincentive to bother to create wealth in the first place. Why create wealth if it's only going to be taken anyway?

Pure Collective Optimization

If each Human Society™ attempts to optimize its own collective wealth without any regard for the well-being of the individuals as a whole within it, then the Human Society™ will try to get the most amount of effort out of each individual regardless of the well-being of that individual.

In a pure sense, this form of optimization steals human motivation from the individual. Their individual desires are considered irrelevant, so what they want to do doesn't matter. So the individual only gets to pursue efforts that are approved by the Human Society™ as useful. If the rewards the individual wants don't match the rewards the Human Society™ wants, there is no reason for the individual to pursue those rewards.

Just as in the pure individualism scenario, the efforts of the individual in this collectivism scenario end up getting exploited, too. It's just a different exploiter.

In both scenarios, you end up with a disincentive to bother to take any risks. Why do anything above and beyond the minimum required effort, if the rewards of that risk don't belong to you?

The Need for Morality

As the examples above show, neither pure Individualism or pure Collectivism produces optimal output. To achieve optimal performance in your Human Society™, you need to find a balance between Individualism and Collectivism.

However, both pure Individualism and pure Collectivism have the advantage of being models of human organization that are easy to explain. The simplicity of their stories is attractive, particularly during times that are unstable, confusing, and changing rapidly.

Optimizing your Human Society™ is therefore a communications problem. You need to provide a framework which directs your humans towards an optimal balance of Individualism and Collectivism. This framework needs to be packaged in a simple and attractive enough set of stories to compete with simplicity of pure Individualism or Collectivism.

There are several examples of successful moral frameworks in human history which have promoted balance over the extremes:

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Also called "The Golden Rule", this maxim allows for Individualism, but only to the extent that it doesn't harm others.

"Love thy neighbor as thyself."

This famous commandment doesn't call for putting oneself ahead of others, nor does it call for placing others ahead of oneself. Instead, it promotes a balance between the two.

"Give people freedom in an environment of trust."

Freedom is an individual right. Trust is a function of the collective environment. Optimal output in a Human Society™ depends on people trusting each other enough to grant each other freedom.

Of course, every Human Society™ needs to tell its own stories in its own way, in order to resonate with the population in its own particular time and place. If you fail to find a way to tell the story of balance in your Human Society™, you may find it drifting towards pure Individualism or pure Collectivism, or worse, a big unnecessary conflict between the two.

Human Society™ Magazine
Optimizing Risk with Marshmallow Economics

Marshmallow Economics is not a true economic discipline like Macroeconomics or Microeconomics. It is a metaphor, a moral framework that uses stories from psychology and economics to guide you in optimizing your Human Society™.

The Marshmallow Experiment

The metaphor is based on the famous Marshmallow Experiment, where pre-school children were given a marshmallow, and a choice. They could eat their one marshmallow now, or, if they waited to eat the marshmallow, they would get a second marshmallow later.

The initial results of the experiment showed that the children who waited grew up to have better outcomes later in life. At first, it was thought that these children had better character traits somehow. They hypothesized that their ability to delay gratification followed them throughout their lives and led to their success.

Follow-up experiments showed, however, that how much the children trusted the person giving the choice affected the decisions that the children made. If the presenter said something untrue before giving the marshmallow choice, the child invariably would decide not to wait.

The children's choices were more a function of how much trust they had in their environment than of their character. If you trust your environment, you assume that the offer is genuine, and that your choices are between 1 and 2 marshmallows. The logical choice in that case is to wait for 2 marshmallows.

And even if you considered the possibility that you might somehow lose that marshmallow while you waited, in a trustworthy environment, you expect that you will get more opportunities for marshmallows in the future. You are not so worried about what would happen if you lost the marshmallow, so you go ahead and take the risk.

However, if you can't trust your environment, you have to consider that the offer is not genuine. While you wait, your 1 marshmallow may be as likely to become 0 marshmallows as it is to become 2 marshmallows.

In an untrustworthy environment, opportunities are rare. You never know when the next opportunity will come. You could lose that marshmallow if you don't eat it now. So settling for 1 marshmallow in that case is actually a quite rational choice.

Marshmallow Economics

Most successful economic models are based on the assumption that human beings make rational decisions. The 1-2-1 model of the human brain asserts the opposite: that humans never make rational decisions. How do we reconcile these two things? Enter Marshmallow Economics.

Trust is a human emotion, evolved over millions of years to guide human decisions by evaluating risks. This feature of human nature, shown by the Marshmallow Experiment, is the key to Marshmallow Economics:

In untrustworthy environments, human beings take short-term risks with lower payoffs.

In trustworthy environments, human beings take longer-term risks with higher payoffs.

Trust, or the lack thereof, is often the emotional kick needed to allow or disallow a rational decision to proceed. If the decisions human beings make resemble the rational decisions of economic models, it's because the emotions of trust and distrust guided them in that direction.

In other words, in a prosperous Human Society™, a trustworthy environment helps bring System 1 and System 2 into alignment. In a trustworthy environment, human decisions made from emotions resemble more closely the decisions of a rational model.

Marshmallow Economics is about the role that trust plays in getting the human beings in your Human Society™ to go for that second marshmallow. In other words, you want the people in your Human Society™ to have a trustworthy environment which guides them to take the risks that have the highest average payoffs over time.

Individual Risk vs Collective Risk

There's a challenge for the keeper of a Human Society™: individuals face a different kind of risk from a Human Society™ as a whole.

Suppose, for example, 100 humans are offered a double-or-nothing risk with a marshmallow. 90% of the people taking this risk will get 2 marshmallows, but 10% will end up with nothing.

If nobody takes that double-or-nothing bet, every person in your Human Society™ will have exactly 1 marshmallow. Your 100-person Human Society™ will have a total wealth of 100 marshmallows.

If everyone takes that double-or-nothing bet, your Human Society™ as a whole will have 180 marshmallows. However, 10 people in that Human Society™ will end up with nothing.

This is an important point. Some individual people end up with nothing. Your Human Society™ as a whole, however, never ends up with nothing. This is why the behavior of individual humans may not align with the optimal behavior for your Human Society™ as a whole.

The Gap Between Short-Term and Long-Term Risk Taking

Suppose the consequences of ending up with nothing leads half the humans to decline the bet. You end up with 50 people with 1 marshmallow, 5 people with 0 marshmallows, and 45 people with 2 marshmallows. Your Human Society™ as a whole now has 140 marshmallows, instead of the optimal 180.

In this example, we get a 40-marshmallow gap between what the Human Society™ could produce and what it actually produced. How can we change the conditions to reduce that gap?

Answering that question by understanding how the environment affects human risk taking is what Marshmallow Economics is all about.

Environments of Trust

Human beings who live in unstable, low-trust environments, such as those caused by poverty, crime, abuse, and/or oppression, will underperform relative to humans who live in high-trust environments.

In a low-trust environment, it is more rational to choose the certainty of a small, short-term payoff over the uncertainty of a large, long-term payoff. Some of these short-term decisions may have devastating long-term consequences.

And so the people who live in these low-trust environments rarely get the large payoffs of longer-term risks. This can send them into a cycle of suboptimal risk taking which can be difficult to escape. Poverty can beget poverty, crime can beget crime, abuse can beget abuse, all the result of short-term decisions having long-term negative consequences.

Other models of human behavior may simply blame the character of the people who behave in this suboptimal way, and say it's their own fault. Marshmallow Economics, on the other hand, looks at the risk profile of the environment itself, and tries to change that risk profile, so that it becomes more logical to pursue long-term risks over short-term risks.

Therefore, Marshmallow Economics tries to optimize the output of your Human Society™ by creating and maintaining an environment of trust in which long-term, high-payoff risks will be taken.

For more information on how to use Marshmallow Economics to optimize your Human Society™, check your Human Society™ documentation.

Edition 5F.7D4.1. Photo credit: Ken Arneson.
Optimization Guide to Human Society™
Chapter 5.2: Marshmallow Economics Risk Worksheet

With this worksheet, you can play with various trustworthiness levels and see how Marshmallow Economics works. When do you optimize risks in your Human Society™ by playing a short-term game, and when is it better to play a long-term game?

A Simple Scenario

Suppose you had a Human Society™ of 100 people, who earn marshmallows as they work. They can get their pay by playing either a short-term game, or a long-term game.

In the short-term game, each worker will immediately get paid with 1 marshmallow. In the long-term game, each worker will get paid later, and will randomly end up either with 0, 1, or 2 marshmallows.

Set the Long-term Game Parameters

Of those who play the long-term game, how many are expected to end up with:

0 marshmallows?

1 marshmallow?

2 marshmallows: %

Given those odds, what percentage of the population will take the risk to play the long game?

Trying for 2 marshmallows:

Calculate Total Societal Wealth:

If 100% played the short game,
your total societal wealth would be: 100 marshmallows

If 100% played the long game,
your total societal wealth would be: marshmallows

With % playing the long game:
your total societal wealth would be: marshmallows

Gap from actual to optimal : marshmallows

Questions to Ponder

Under what conditions in this scenario do you get better results for your Human Society™ as a whole if everybody plays the short-term game?

How do you think this simple theoretical scenario differs from the actual thing? How to real human beings assess their short-term vs long-term risks? When does a real Human Society™ flip from focusing on the short term to growing for the long term, and vice versa?

Troubleshooting Guide to Human Society™
Chapter 9.1: Categorizing Malfunctions Using Marshmallow Economics

Marshmallow Economics aims to optimize the risks in your Human Society™. It aims to create environments of trust where it is logical to take long-term risks with large payoffs. If you find that suboptimal risks are being taken in your Human Society™, there may be obstacles in the environment of your Human Society™ that reduce trust and lead to conflict and suboptimal risk decisions. In this chapter, you will learn how to use Marshmallow Economics to help find and remove the obstacles to good risk taking.

Marshmallow Economics Troubleshooting

Using the Marshmallow Economics metaphor, you can think of a malfunction in your society as an obstruction that prevents someone from trying for and obtaining their second marshmallow. Troubleshooting using Marshmallow Economics involves (1) identifying the level of obstruction, and (2) removing the obstruction accordingly.

As you monitor the human communication within your Human Society™, you may find stories about people being stopped at the 0-, 1-, or 2-marshmallow level. Each of these levels has a particular kind of language associated with it. Monitor the stories in your society for this language to help you locate the obstructions that are happening in your Human Society™.

Once located, fixing such a malfunction is not as simple as removing the obstruction, because it is usually not the obstruction itself that is the root of the problem. Obstructions are usually put in place because of a lack of trust. Removing the obstruction without addressing the underlying distrust can counterproductively lead to more distrust, more obstructions, and/or more conflicts. This is addressed in the next chapter, Removing Obstructions using Marshmallow Economics.

Obstruction Levels: Level 0

With a Level-0 Obstruction, someone is told, in essence, "No matter what you do, you will get 0 marshmallows."

This isn't where someone takes a risk and it doesn't work out. This is where someone is completely denied the opportunity to try, or if they do try, the game is rigged so that they will always lose.

Some example Level-0 Obstructions:

  • Slavery or forced captivity. "You aren't allowed freedom."
  • Denial of the right to vote. "You don't get a vote."
  • Denial of property rights. "You aren't allowed to possess this kind of thing."
  • Occupational restrictions. "You can't have this kind of job."
  • Movement restrictions. "You don't get to live or travel in this place."

Level-0 Obstructions are difficult to justify without an environment of fear and distrust. Therefore, Level-0 Obstructions are nearly always preceded by stories about how some kinds of people cannot be trusted for one reason or another. If you hear this kind of "don't trust them" language in the stories you monitor, you can be confident a Level-0 Obstruction is not far away.

Obstructions Levels: Level 1

With a Level-1 Obstruction, someone is told, in essence, "You can have 1 marshmallow, but not 2."

A Level-1 Obstruction usually makes someone have to defend the one marshmallow they have, or to prove that they are worthy of it. To hold people at 1 marshmallow and to stop them from going for 2, doubts are thrown, new hurdles are introduced, and goalposts are moved upon the success of the first marshmallow.

When people are forced to defend their first marshmallow, it takes away energy and resources that could be used to pursue the second marshmallow. It makes obtaining the first marshmallow so difficult, that the odds of obtaining the second one as well is so low that it may not be worth trying.

When a Level-1 Obstruction happens, the language around it focuses on two things:

Whether the person deserves the first marshmallow:
  • "How did that person get a marshmallow?
  • "I don't think that person is good enough for a marshmallow."
  • "That person must have cheated to get that marshmallow."
  • "That person only got a marshmallow because of [insert reason here]."
Whether the person is grateful for the first marshmallow:
  • "You should be grateful you have a marshmallow at all."
  • "You are lucky to have that marshmallow."
  • "Other people don't have marshmallows."

On the one hand a Level-1 Obstruction is not as bad as a Level-0 Obstruction, because at least people get 1 marshmallow. But on the other hand, Level-1 Obstructions are more common, and more difficult to get rid of, because they often aren't recognized as obstructions at all.

The perpetrators of Level-1 Obstructions will think of it as "letting you have 1 marshmallow", and not "preventing you from getting 2 marshmallows."

This is typical of a Level-1 Obstruction, that the marshmallow is assumed to be given to the person being obstructed, instead of earned or deserved. This assumption is based in distrust.

Level-1 Obstructions are the most difficult kind of obstacles to get rid of, because the people creating the obstruction view themselves as heroes for allowing the first marshmallow, and therefore resist being blamed for preventing the second.

Obstruction Levels: Level 2

With a Level-2 Obstruction, someone tells someone else, in essence, "You can have 2 marshmallows," but then fails to follow through on necessary steps to make sure it happens.

A Level-2 Obstruction is basically a broken promise. It's agreeing with someone that some obstacle exists, but then failing to remove the obstacle. It's not necessarily an act of distrust, like the other two levels, but it is an act of irresponsibility.

The language of a Level-2 Obstruction involves promises that get repeated, time and time again. They are repeated because if they promises had been kept, they wouldn't need to make the promise again.

best practice system
Showing 5 of 2,718 results in Human Society™ documentation
Quick Start Guide to Human Society™
Best Practice System

The Best Practice System is a simple model of human nature that lays out a path to human prosperity in seven steps.

For a beginner, it is often best to explain this path in reverse order:

Step 7: Prosperity

This is the goal you are trying to reach with your Human Society™. You want your Human Society™ to be full of wealthy and healthy human beings, with a minimum of poverty and suffering.

Step 6: Optimization of Risk

In order to achieve maximum prosperity for your Human Society™ as a whole, you need your individual human beings taking risks with the highest average payoffs over time.

Step 5: Granting of Freedom

People will not take long-term risks with the optimal payoffs if they are not allowed to take that risk in the first place. Freedom is a necessary prerequisite for risk taking.

Step 4: Release of Control

A Human Society™ with freedom is, to the extent of that freedom, a Human Society™ where nobody is in control of everything.

So in order for a Human Society™ to have freedom, the people in that society have to be willing to let go of the desire to control everything.

Step 3: Environment of Trust

For Step 4, in order for a human being to be willing to release control, they have to trust their environment enough that they feel they'll be OK if they do.

For Steps 5 & 6, in order for human beings to take good, long-term risks, they need two things:

  • to be trusted by the environment to take the risk, and
  • to trust the environment enough to believe the payoff could happen.

Therefore, a bidirectional environment of trust is needed for the Best Practice System to work.. Your Human Society™ needs to be both trusting AND trustworthy.

Step 2: Forgiveness

Human beings are flawed. Inevitably, even in a trusting and trustworthy environment, people will do things that other people don't like.

When that that trust is betrayed, people need to be able to forgive that betrayal. Without forgiveness, that betrayal turns into distrust, which turns into control, which reduces freedom, which leads to poor risk taking.

Step 1: Acceptance of Vulnerability

This is the key to everything in the Best Practice System.

Here is the most basic fact about human nature, the core part of the human condition: human beings are vulnerable. And they don't like it.

Human nature is a big jumble of feelings and emotions and heuristics and habits, all evolved to deal with all the various kinds of vulnerabilities human beings are subject to.

To make the Best Practice System work, you need to get the human beings in your Human Society™ to accept, at some level, their vulnerability.

Forgiveness is simply the willingness to trust, despite evidence to the contrary that one should. People are not going to be willing to trust against evidence, if they're not willing to accept being vulnerable, because forgiveness, by definition, makes the forgiver vulnerable.

Without that acceptance, people will never fully forgive, never fully trust, never fully release control, never grant full freedom. They will throw roadblocks in front of risks, and thereby prevent your Human Society™ from reaching its potential.

But if you can teach the human beings in your Human Society™ to accept their vulnerability, they can proceed on to Steps 2-7, and you can optimize the performance of your Human Society™.

Troubleshooting Guide to Human Society™
Chapter 5.1: Troubleshooting the Best Practice System

When troubleshooting your implementation of the Best Practice System, it is helpful to monitor the stories in your Human Society™ for its opposite.

Step 1: Denial of Vulnerability

No human being likes mistakes and loss and failure. However, the ones who accept their vulnerability don't spend a lot of energy fighting against failure, or running away from loss. They are willing to err and fail and lose, because those things are steps on the path to improvement and success and victory.

Human beings who fight their vulnerability tend to lash out against even the smallest of threats. They strike first before anyone can strike them. If that doesn't work and they are harmed, they respond by escalating the harm in retaliation.

Human beings who flee from their vulnerability build walls around themselves, figuratively, and even sometimes literally. They try to avoid getting hurt by keeping a distance or a barrier, physically or psychologically, between themselves and anything with any risk of hurting them.

Perfectionism, defensiveness, a refusal to admit mistakes, and an insistence on certainty are personality traits to watch for in the stories you monitor in your Human Society™. These are all classic signs of a denial of vulnerability.

Step 2: Distrust and Blame

Human beings who do not accept their vulnerability end up distrusting people and things that might harm them.

Often, the fear of harm is projected outward onto other human beings. You will hear stories of people scapegoating other people, blaming them for anything that actually or potentially goes wrong.

Occasionally, human beings will blame themselves for their own vulnerability. When this happens, you will hear stories about self-defeating behaviors.

Step 3: Low-Trust Environment

When people are unaccepting of their vulnerability, when they fear harm from every direction, people develop a low-trust mindset.

People come to believe that they can't trust that anyone will be kind or fair to them. Instead, they believe that everybody acts selfishly. As a result, people feel they have to act selfishly, too, because that's how the game is played. Morality devolves from a question about right and wrong, to a question of what you can get away with. Cheating and corruption becomes rampant. The stories you hear from a low-trust Human Society™ reflect this mindset.

Step 4: Insistence on Control

If people feel that everyone is out to cheat them, they want to control other people so they can't get cheated.

The stories with malfunctions at this level usually contain a lot of discussion of rules, and the insistence on enforcing these rules upon the scapegoats.

Step 5: Rules For You But Not For Me

People want freedom, and don't want to be controlled. In a malfunctioning Human Society™, you can't rely on that being the case.

Stories about these types of malfunctions involve people trying to do something they want to do, but running into two types of roadblocks:

  • An oppressive insistence on strictly following every rule, and/or
  • An unequal, unjust, and inconsistent enforcement of those rules. Often, this means that the powerful get away with breaking the rules, but the weak do not. At the same time, the strong are protected from harm by the rules, but the weak are not protected by those same rules.

Step 6: Suboptimal Risks

People may have big dreams, but in a low-trust Human Society™, there is no opportunity to realize them. In their absence, you hear stories about people making impulsive decisions that turn out badly.

Step 7: Stagnation and Poverty

In a low-trust Human Society™, people don't take the kind of risks that have big payoffs in the end. You hear stories about people getting stuck in bad situations that they can't lift themselves out of. Whole communities, towns, cities, and countries stagnate or regress, and fail to get close to reaching their potential.

Human Society™ Complete Manual of Human Nature
Chptr x.x7589x8&%@16: BestPrctc Sstm vrnmnt f Trst: Rules about Rules

best practice system environment of trust


1. A simple rule is more trusted than a complex rule.

2. A small set of rules is more trusted than a large set of rules.

6. A rule that applies to all is more trusted than a rule that applies to some.

5. A rule that is enforced consistently is more trusted than a rule enforced arbitrarily.

4. A rule that is decided locally is more trusted than a rule decided distantly.

7. A rule that channels human nature is more trusted than a rule that suppresses human nature.

3. A time-tested rule is more trusted than an untested rule.

Human Society™ Magazine
Hierarchies, Taboos and the Best Practice System

The Best Practice System aims to create environments of trust so that human beings in a Human Society™ can take optimal long-term risks with high payoffs.

Human beings will unavoidably disagree with each other. Resolving those differences without reducing trust is essential to making the Best Practice System work.

Left alone, a Human Society™ will usually evolve a ruleset for conflict resolution based on some combination of hierarchies and taboos. These rulesets, however, are usually suboptimal, and often counterproductive towards the aims of the Best Practice System.

A hierarchy
is a system of
organization within
a Human Society™ in which
some people or groups are ranked
above others and that ranking system
is used to make decisions.


A taboo is         an expectation within

the culture of       a Human Society™ that

a certain thing     will not be said or

a certain behavior       will not be allowed.


Human beings disagree with each other. They clash. Without some mechanism to resolve disputes, these clashes will result in violence. In a distrustful environment with no clear mechanism for conflict resolution, the strong always win, and the weak always lose.


A hierarchy, therefore, is the natural output of an environment of distrust. The strong impose their will on those slightly weaker than them, who in turn impose their will on those slightly weaker than their level, and so forth, until an equilibrium is reached. People find their level, and to avoid further conflict, avoid taking risks that would put them in conflict with higher levels of the hierarchy, because they would likely lose. People also place obstructions against people lower than them in the hierarchy, in order to minimize the amount of conflict needed to preserve their place in the hierarchy.


Such a history-driven hierarchy in a Human Society™, while extremely common, is suboptimal. The hierarchy is intended as a means for creating an environment of trust, by making clear in advance who would win a conflict, and therefore theoretically making the conflict unnecessary. But by preventing potentially harmful conflicts, they also prevent potentially beneficial risks from being taken. They prevent better ideas from taking root in a Human Society™, because the winner is not necessarily the side with the better idea.


An alternative to hierarchies is taboos. With taboos, the rank of the person in the conflict doesn't matter. The winner is determined by who is on the side with the predetermined preferred outcome.

At first, a taboo may seem justified, because the best outcome at the time may seem obvious. It may seem that its predetermined outcome is better than a hierarchy, because initially, the outcome is probably at least somewhat correlated with the idea at hand. However, just as with a hierarchy, predetermining the outcome freezes the issue at hand in time. A taboo makes an idea lose its ability to evolve and grow. Over time, the correlation of the taboo with the quality of the idea erodes away.


Both of these methods of conflict avoidance have similar flaws. They are trying to create an environment of trust by avoiding conflicts. However, in the long run, because the winner of a conflict gets decoupled from the quality of the idea in question, it may have just the opposite effect.

The losing side of either of these methods can come to feel that their defeat is unjustified. They are losing for unrelated arbitrary reasons, instead of on their merits. This can lead them to distrust their environment, and to avoid taking risks that have arbitrary outcomes. This is not the effect the Best Practice System is aiming for.

The people on the losing side of a hierarchy begin to prefer taboos, and the people on the losing side of a taboo begin to prefer hierarchies. This sets up a natural conflict between one group of people who are pro-hierarchy and anti-taboo, and another group of people who are anti-hierarchy and pro-taboo. If your Human Society™ has a two-party system, the two parties are likely to devolve over time into those two camps. Each camp will use the advantage of their side to oppose the other side.

A movement in your Human Society™ to remove hierarchies usually begins with a drive to place a taboo on the hierarchy itself. It becomes frowned on for people to express a preference for or to defend the hierarchy, or to act as if they deserve to get their way or to win a conflict just because they are ranked higher in the hierarchy.

A hierarchy will respond to this movement by using the strength and power inherent to their place in the hierarchy to suppress the taboo, and defend the hierarchy.


This, however, is a false dichotomy. Each side thinks they are defending the most deserving outcome. Each side thinks their method is the best way to avoid conflict. Each side is wrong. This is an unnecessary fight. The Best Practice System offers an alternative.

Hierarchies and taboos both aim to avoid conflict. The Best Practice System, on the other hand, doesn't care whether conflict is avoided or not. The Best Practice System only cares if trust exists or not.

Under the Best Practice System, a hierarchy or a taboo can exist, provided it is useful in preserving trust. If it fails to preserve trust, it ceases to be a useful construct. Similarly, if avoiding a conflict preserves trust, the Best Practice System deems that a good thing. But if avoiding a conflict reduces trust, the Best Practice System would rather let the conflict happen.

Therefore, the Best Practice System does not necessarily seek to avoid conflict. It seeks instead to manage the conflict in such a way that the outcome of that conflict creates the most trust.

Therefore, in the aim of preserving trust, the Best Practice System offers some general principles of conflict management:

  • The winner of conflicts should correlate as strongly as possible to the merits of what the conflict is about. Avoid arbitrary methods of conflict resolution that do not correlate with the topic at hand. People will trust the outcome of conflicts much better if the winner is chosen on the merits.
  • The consequences of losing a conflict should not discourage future conflicts. Physical harm, and other consequences that are not proportional to the risk being taken, prevent good new ideas from emerging in your Human Society™.
  • Outcomes should be proportional to the risks being taken in the conflict. Too large or small a reward for a victory, or too large or small a punishment for a loss, creates distrust in the conflict resolution system, which distorts how risks are taken in your Human Society™.

The Best Practice System does not want to avoid conflicts, or to predetermine their outcomes. Instead, the Best Practice System aims to manage the method of conflict. It wants the outcomes of those conflicts to be as trusted and trustworthy as possible, so that the best ideas emerge to make your Human Society™ grow more prosperous.

A taboo that predetermines the outcome of a conflict is not desired under the Best Practice System. However, a taboo can still be useful, provided that it is used to manage the method of conflict, to optimize the risk-taking in a Human Society™,

Similarly, a hierarchy that merely exists to preserve itself, as the vestiges of an irrelevant ancient conflict, is not desired under the Best Practice System. However, a hierarchy that emerges under a fair and trustworthy system of conflict, can be the sign of a healthy and prosperous Human Society™.

Under the Best Practice System, therefore, hierarchies and taboos are neither good nor bad, but that trust makes them so.

Edition 5F.7D4.1. Photo credit: Rajeev Rajagopalan, altered via creative commons license
Human Society™ Strategy Guide
Chapter 3.1: Alternatives to the Best Practice Model

Every model is flawed in some way. The Best Practice Model promoted in the Quick Start Guide to Human Society™ is no different. The primary flaw of the Best Practice Model is that it is extremely difficult to get human beings to perform the prerequisites to freedom.

It is no simple task to get people to accept their vulnerability, to be willing to trust and forgive, and to relinquish their desire for control. Some sort of strong religious, philosophical or moral tradition which clearly and effectively communicates these values needs to be embedded into the daily lives of the people in your Human Society™ in order to make the Best Practice System work.

If communication of those values fails or breaks down, you will have to turn to some other model of human nature with some other strategy for maintaining your Human Society™.

Default Model

If you do not promote any particular model, your Human Society™ will fall into the Default Model. The Default Model assumes all human beings act selfishly all the time. Kindness and altruism are assumed to appear only when there is some selfish benefit to being kind or altruistic. Otherwise, everybody cheats if they can get away with it.

In the Default Model, therefore, strength is the primary virtue. Only through strength can people be forced to behave properly, through the threat of punishment from the strongest people. If you are kind or altruistic or obedient without cause, you are either weak, stupid or foolish.

A Human Society™ operating under the Default Model tends to be highly hierarchical. The strong rise to the top, and impose their will upon the weak, stupid and foolish. The model holds that strong deserve their success, and the weak, stupid and foolish deserve their failures.

A big flaw of the Default Model, of course, is that it suppresses all sorts of risk taking. Why take any big, long-term risks when your winnings will be likely cheated away from you, or if some stronger person may arbitrarily decide to punish you for daring to challenge them? Hierarchies under the Default Model reinforce themselves. The meek have no chance of inheriting such a Human Society™. The further down the hierarchy you go, the less long-term risk-taking you get. The sum result of all this is that your Human Society™ as a whole ends up in stagnation or regression.

Another big flaw of the Default Model is that if there comes a time of emergency where the survival of the Human Society™ depends on the cooperative, altruistic behavior of the population, it can be difficult to get a population immersed in selfishness to respond in a timely and effective manner.

Because the Default Model is the default, every single religious, philosophical, moral, or political system that arises in a Human Society™ exists to some extent in order to provide opposition to that model. If they weren't opposing that model, such systems wouldn't need to exist at all. The fact that such opposing models tend to arise spontaneously in every Human Society™ should tell you all you need to know about the ineffectiveness of the Default Model.

Categorizing Alternative Models

You have many other alternative models for your Human Society™ besides the Best Practice Model and the Default Model. To help you sort through all your choices, we can divide these models and strategies into some basic categories:

Optimistic Models

Optimistic models of human nature assert that human beings are essentially good and generous, but there are external obstacles in your Human Society™ that hold them back from reaching their potential.

These obstacles, such as a lack of freedom, a lack of equality, power structures, or bad incentives, prevent human beings from reaching the full potential of their good and generous natures. The strategies based on these models focus on removing such obstacles from your Human Society™.

Pessimistic Models

Pessimistic models of human nature assert that human beings are essentially bad and selfish, and they need to be guided by your Human Society™ away from their destructive nature. The strategies based on these models focus on controlling bad behavior through discipline and strength.

Some pessimistic models focus on reining in the bad and selfish behavior by forming collective institutions, such as families or tribes or religions or constitutional rights or rule of law. Other pessimistic models, such as the Default Model, focus on individual strength as the best way to overcome the selfishness of others.

Context-dependent models

There are other models which assert that there is nothing "essential" about human nature. Instead, these models assert that human behavior is dependent on the environment at any given time and place.

The strategies based on context-dependent models focus on manipulating the environment to achieve desired outcomes.

The Best Practice Model is a such context-sensitive model of human nature, which focuses on trust in the environment. There are other contexts to consider, too, like the size of the Human Society™, the amount of scarcity, and the extent to which basic needs are met.

Pragmatic models

Pragmatic models make no claim whatsoever about human nature. Instead, pragmatic strategies simply aim to function through trial and error to see what works and what doesn't. They keep what works and throw out what doesn't. Why something works or doesn't isn't considered an important question.

The problem with pragmatic models is that without a theory of human nature behind them, they lack a moral foundation. Without a good moral story to tell, it is difficult for pragmatists to establish and maintain trust within their Human Society™.

This is because pragmatism is more of a System 2 idea than a System 1 idea. A pragmatic decision may be logical from a System 2 standpoint, but by abstaining from a belief about human nature, pragmatists abstain from a good System 1 model to tell stories to support their decisions from.

People may be willing to try a pragmatic approach for a while, but because there's no story about human nature to identify with, people are less attached to pragmatic models than other models. Pragmatists can appear inconsistent, because they may promote one idea one day, but if the data changes, they may promote its opposite the next. Their motives may come into question, as their amorality can be easily mistaken for immorality.

Therefore, it is difficult to make a pragmatic model stick compared to other types of models. In the long run, people prefer models that tell a story about human nature over those that don't, no matter how flawed those models may be. The ability to tell a story to support their model is why both the Default Model and its opposing religious systems can persist for millenia, while pragmatist philosophies come and go like the weather.

Incoherent models

In general, the models of human nature that permeate your Human Society™ will usually look something like the ones listed above. But that's only in general.

Specifically, however, individual humans won't always have such clear, coherent and rational views of human nature. Most humans build their System 1 models of the world not through a coherent rational analysis that is then trained into their brains through deliberate study and practice. Instead, most humans build their models of human nature via the messy process of living their individual lives.

Yes, humans may grow up in a culture that tries to teach them a coherent worldview through some kind of religious, philosophical or moral cultural tradition. But humans also grow up in a real Human Society™ with other real human beings and live through all sorts of experiences that can influence how those models get formed in their brains.

Are the people around them kind and generous, or cruel and selfish? Do they experience love, or neglect? Loyalty, or betrayal? Do they grow up in a time of plenty, or a time of scarcity? Do they feel safe and secure, or are they under constant threat of violence and danger? Are they surrounded by health, or by sickness and death? Are their lives predictable, or is one day never the same as the next? Do they feel free to pursue their dreams, or are they stifled with limited choices?

The story of an individual human life isn't the kind of story formed by an artist painting a deliberate picture in order to make a point. It's a mess of random life events that doesn't necessarily form a cohesive narrative. As a result, the model of human nature that any specific individual human being lives by usually ends up being an incoherent hodge-podge.

It may be tempting to tear down these incoherent models, by pointing out the incoherence of their operating model, but this will be an ineffective strategy. These models live in System 1, they're not the rational output of System 2. System 1 doesn't change by making a rational argument. System 1 changes through experience, through repetition, through emotion.

A human being, and a Human Society™, is not a static entity that builds one model and sticks with it forever. Human beings have experiences that form their model, but those experiences don't stop just because they've formed a model. They continue to have more experiences, that change their models even further. Some people's lives change slowly, and their models change slowly with them. Other people have dramatic events happen to them, and those events can trigger large changes to their models.

Models are always changing, so at any given moment, those changes may not make sense together as a whole unit. A System 1 model in the mind of a human being is just a snapshot in time. Coherency and incoherency, over the lifespan of a human being or a Human Society™, can ebb and flow, like waves. An incoherent hodge-podge of a model is a normal and expected part of the process.

Incoherent models have their flaws, obviously. Those flaws will become problems, often. But that incoherent model with those flaws can also serve as stepping stones to a better, more coherent model that works better. Coherency is like an equibrium that people reach, and settle at for a time, until something happens that jolts them out of that equilibrium. Then they're off on a journey, through incoherency, in search of a new equlibrium.

So an incoherent model, for a time, may not necessarily be a bad thing. A human being, and your Human Society™, may need an incoherent model now and then, in order to move on from a broken model to a better one. So rather than trying to destroy any incoherent models you may encounter in your Human Society™, it is usually a better strategy to be more forgiving of these flaws, to try to understand how someone got to the place they are now, and through that understanding, guide them gently and wisely toward a better, more coherent model.

human religion
Showing 5 of 42 results in Human Society™ documentation
Human Society™ Magazine
Cover: Edition 5F.7D4.4
Edition 5F.7D4.4. Photo credit: Filip Maljkovič, altered via creative commons license
Human Society™ Magazine
Religion and the Best Practice System

The Best Practice System aims to create an environment of trust, so that human beings can take good risks that lead to prosperity.

Religions, when done well, can help create such an environment of trust. Religions, when done poorly, can have the opposite effect.

Religion a combination of stories and rituals designed to train the human mind under its 1-2-1 architecture to take good risks that have good payoffs for the individual and your Human Society™.

System 1, the part of the human mind that makes decisions, practice and repetition to learn. Religious rituals human beings practice good behavior and decision making.

Religious stories wisdom, the kind of wisdom that in stories that the centuries and millenia because of their deep truths about human nature.

But this wisdom missed. Sometimes, human beings too focused on the surface, on the stories and rituals themselves, and the underlying deeper truths about their stories and rituals.

For the purposes of the Best Practice System, religions people acceptance of their vulnerability, trust and forgiveness, and release of control, so that people freedom and good risks.

Human Society™ Complete Manual of Human Nature
Chapter 19.1: Intro tro tro to to to Reli Reli Religion Religion Religion

Religious stories contain wisdom, the kind of wisdom that can be found in stories that have survived the centuries and millenia because of their deep truths about human nature. Religious stories contain wisdom, the kind of wisdom that can be found in stories that have survived the centuries and millenia because of their deep truths about human nature. Religious stories contain wisdom, the kind of wisdom that can be found in stories that have survived the centuries and millenia because of their deep truths about human nature.

When a religious institution does not accept its own vulnerability, and aims to control its people instead of leading them to freedom, it loses its own purpose. When a religious institution does not accept its own vulnerability, and aims to control its people instead of leading them to freedom, it loses its own purpose. When a religious institution does not accept its own vulnerability, and aims to control its people instead of leading them to freedom, it loses its own purpose.

wisdom or dogma wisdom or dogma wisdom or dogma wisdom v dogma wisdom v dogma wisdom v dogma wisdom not dogma wisdom not dogma wisdom not dogma

Wisdom that fits its times can lead people beyond a crisis of faith into a different paradigm that puts your Human Society™ on a newer, truer path towards growth and prosperity. Wisdom that fits its times can lead people beyond a crisis of faith into a different paradigm that puts your Human Society™ on a newer, truer path towards growth and prosperity. Wisdom that fits its times can lead people beyond a crisis of faith into a different paradigm that puts your Human Society™ on a newer, truer path towards growth and prosperity.

But when a religious institution does not its own vulnerability, when it to its particular interpretation of its model so tightly that it trust of alternate viewpoints, and for control of the people, it its own purpose. At this point, a religious institution against the Best Practice System instead of with it. It no longer its own wisdom.

Many religious institutions into this state. They afraid of a crisis of faith. They afraid that people into nihilism or selfishness. So they to the flaws and the flaws until things anyway.

A wise religious institution acceptance of a crisis of faith. Wisdom guidance through a crisis of faith instead of only avoidance.

Dogma of religion for guidance towards wisdom not wisdom itself

Wisdom both steadfast and adaptable. It the eternal truths about human nature, while temporal truths, that in one time and place but no longer in another.

Wisdom that its times people beyond a crisis of faith into a different paradigm that your Human Society™ on a newer, truer path towards growth and prosperity.

Photo credits: pxfuel via creative commons license
Human Society™ Magazine
The Role of Religion in Human Society™

What is religion, and do you need it in your Human Society™?

On the surface, religion may look like just a bunch of stories that humans tell themselves about supernatural beings. But as your Troubleshooting Guide to Human Society™ emphasizes, it is important to look beyond the surface of human stories, and listen to stories deeply.

Human stories operate on three levels. They operate on a mechanical level, using plot and characterization to hold attention. They operate on a universal level, setting those plots and characters in a universe with certain rules. And they operate on the level of human nature, delivering a message about the problems that humans face, and how they should approach those problems.

It is a mistake, for both the keepers of a Human Society™ and for the human beings within it, to get too caught up in the details of the mechanical or universal levels. The details of these stories can, will, and should differ.

The primary question is, what do these stories tell about human nature? What do they say about how humans should live their lives to make Human Society™ work best?

A Human Society™ that answers these questions accurately optimizes itself better than those that do not. A more optimized Human Society™ outcompetes its neighbors in the long run.

Therefore, it is valuable to look at oldest surviving stories in every Human Society™. The stories that get passed on through centuries and millenia usually have something valuable to say about human nature, otherwise the stories wouldn't keep getting told through the generations. And often, those stories are religious stories.

The 1-2-1 Architecture

However, not every story is a religion in and of itself. There is more to religion than just stories, because of the 1-2-1 architecture of the human brain.

Human beings are not purely rational creatures who will calculate the optimal possible output for your Human Society™ and make logical decisions that work towards it. Instead, human decisions are made with a 1-2-1 process, where you start with a subconscious, emotionally defined model of the world in System 1, proceed (optionally) to a rational analysis in System 2, and conclude with a decision made by System 1. If there is a conflict between System 1 and System 2, System 1 will almost always win.

System 1 functions subconsciously and automatically, using pattern recognition and emotions. It learns primarily by repetition. System 1 does not learn conscious knowledge. It learns subconscious, automatic habits.

This is why religions are more than just a set of stories. System 1 is the system that ultimately makes every human decision. Good decisions, therefore, are the result of good habits, trained by repetition.

Stories provide lessons about human nature. Those lessons need to be understood both in System 1 (in a subconscious model of human behavior) and System 2 (with a conscious, rational argument). So these stories need to be repeated, for the sake of training System 1.

But the stories are not enough. The aim isn't just to insert a model into the System 1 mind, it's to create good, behavioral habits.

Therefore, religions also involve people in rituals. The purpose of rituals, such as prayer and meditation, is to train the System 1 mind, through repetition, to automatically make good decisions, without needing any rational System 2 argument to support it.

Is Religion Necessary?

Religion is a combination of stories and rituals designed to train the human mind under its 1-2-1 architecture to make good decisions.

You may be tempted to think that a well-designed, rational system for organizing your Human Society™ would make religion unnecessary. But given that the rational part of the human mind, System 2, does not have the final vote in human decision making, it is difficult to see how such a purely rational system could ultimately succeed in a Human Society™.

Because it's System 1 that makes all the decisions, and System 1 learns by repetition, an optimized Human Society™ would have some mechanism to repeatedly train the System 1 mind to keep making good decisions. Religion serves that purpose.

This is not to say you necessarily need stories about supernatural beings in your Human Society™. There are religions, such as Buddhism, which serve the purpose of religion as defined above without a lot of stories about the supernatural.

However, one of the goals of religion is to build a good model of human nature in the human System 1 mind. Telling stories that compare and contrast human nature with alternative natures can be an effective way to construct that model.

Perhaps you can construct a prosperous Human Society™ without religion. But if you don't have some institution like religion that trains the System 1 mind, you are likely to end up with your humans making suboptimal decisions, leaving you with an underperforming Human Society™.

Edition 5F.7D4.4. Photo credit: shankar s., altered via creative commons license
Human Society™ Complete Manual of Human Nature
Chapter 19.30: Paradoxes of Organized Religion
Human Society™ Magazine
Crisis of Faith
Every human being builds a subconscious model of how the world works. But all models are flawed.

What happens when those flaws become apparent, and must be confronted? How do human beings react to a crisis of faith?

Note: Spoilers follow...

In religion, a crisis of faith often means that a person has begun to doubt their belief in God. But this loss of confidence is not just limited to a religious context. A lost love, a lost home, a lost job, a betrayal, a lie, a contradiction, a trauma-- any number of events can force humans to confront the flaws in the model of the world they operate under.

All models are flawed, simply because they are smaller, simpler copies of a bigger, more complex thing. However, human models are also flawed for another reason. Their models live in the System 1 part of their brains. System 1 prioritizes speed over accuracy. As part of that tradeoff, errors can happen. Those System 1 flaws often accumulate to the point where they become a problem.

When these problems arise, human beings don't logically deduce that their model has flaws and then rationally work to correct them. System 1 works automatically and emotionally. A crisis of faith usually begins as an emotional reaction to the flaws of a model.

Of course, all these emotional reactions are explained in the Human Society™ Complete Manual of Human Nature. We won't repeat those here. So let's instead explain these reactions the human way: with stories.

The Deal That Isn't

When human children are born, what they want and what they need are identical. They want and need, among other things, food, warmth, comfort, and love.

As human children approach the age of two years old, they begin to want things they don't necessarily need. Sometimes, they don't get these things. They regard this as terribly unfair, and begin to throw temper tantrums. This phase of human development is often called "the terrible twos".

In loving and stable environments, human children are guided through this age by being taught that there are rules. They can get the cookie they want, but only after they have a good dinner. They can play with the toy they see, but they have to say "please" and "thank you".

In unstable environments, some children may not experience predictable rewards and punishments. These children may fail to develop a strong belief at all in a world of rules. As a result, these children tend to get into a lot of trouble later in life when they are unable to follow the rules their Human Society™ expects them to follow.

Most human children, however, go through a stage of development where they acquire some level of a System 1 model of how the world works based on these rules. They come to habitually and instinctively believe that life presents them The Deal:

If you follow the rules, you will get rewarded.

This stage of human development is an age of innocence. It usually lasts from age 2 or 3 until around puberty. After that, humans begin to figure out that the world doesn't exactly always work according to these rules.

It turns out that sometimes, people who break the rules end up getting rewarded. Sometimes, people who follow the rules end up getting punished. There is no guarantee that if you follow the rules you will get rewarded. There is no guarantee that if you follow the rules you won't get punished. The Deal isn't true. There is no deal.

So what happens when, inevitably, human beings begin to lose faith in The Deal? How do people usually react? Are these reactions productive or not? What is the optimal way to react?

These questions are asked over and over and over again in human storytelling. The crisis of faith is a major theme of human stories. It is found in the earliest recorded writings, persists through the stories of all the major religions, and continues unabated in modern narratives.

The First Crisis

In the Book of Genesis in the Bible, Adam and Eve are the first humans, living in the Garden of Eden. God gives them The Deal: everything will be great unless they eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.

Of course, Adam and Eve do end up taking a bite of that fruit. Once they acquire the knowledge that the fruit supplies, they can't help but notice flaws in the ways they've been living, like, for example, the fact that they had been walking around naked.

In the Biblical universe, this is mankind's first crisis of faith. Adam and Eve had The Deal. But once Adam and Eve became aware of the flaws in The Deal, The Deal was off. What follows for mankind from that point on is the hard work and suffering of trying to rediscover the perfect model they once believed in, but no longer possess.

The Choice Beyond The Choice

The Adam and Eve story is among the first examples of a crisis of faith in human storytelling, but it is by no means the last. For example, there's a very similar metaphor happening in the 1999 film The Matrix.

In this movie, the protagonist, Neo, discovers that there is something wrong about world he lives in. Like Adam and Eve, he is given a choice between blissful ignorance and painful knowledge. He is asked to choose between two pills. The blue pill allows him to forget his suspicions, and return to the happy illusion that his world is fine. The red pill, from which there is no turning back, shows him the horrifying truth: that the world he believed in is nothing but a computer simulation.

Neo's pills are a metaphor that represents a basic fact about human nature: that when a human being faces a crisis of faith, when their model of the world is shown to be flawed, they have a choice: they can either deny that the flaw exists, or accept it.

Note that this denial or acceptance is not the main point of the story. Neither the Tree of Knowledge metaphor nor the blue pill/red pill metaphor happen at the conclusion of their respective stories. It is not what their stories are leading to.

On the contrary, the crisis of faith happens at the beginning of these stories, not the end. This point in these stories represents an important necessary stage of human development: the first step out of childhood innocence and towards adult responsibility.

This is not a journey of a single step. These stories do not try to tell you that one minute you're a child, and then you swallow something, and then instantly you're a mature adult. That's not how human maturity happens. Maturity is a process. There's work to done first. The crisis of faith is a launching point into a metaphorical journey that needs to be taken.

That journey can head off in many different directions. Human storytelling is full of all sorts of varied reactions to a crisis of faith. Let's take a look at how human stories cover the possible next steps after a crisis of faith.


There's a category of reactions that represent the ways a human being can try to hold on to their Gardens of Eden, to keep from eating their fruit, or to deny the terrifying knowledge that comes from having swallowed it.

The Optimist

The first form of denial is just blind optimism, acting as if the problem doesn't exist.

Charlie Brown, the protagonist of Charles Schulz's comic strip Peanuts, is an 8-year-old boy. He is old enough where the world is providing ample evidence to him that The Deal is false. But he is not quite old enough yet to have realized it, or to have had the crisis of faith.

Because Charlie Brown never ages in the comic strip, he never reaches the point where the evidence forces his hand. He is always one piece of evidence short of that crisis of faith.

The evidence piles up. Charlie Brown has a crush on the Little Red-Headed Girl, but she never seems to know he exists. Every time he wants to fly a kite, the kite gets swallowed by a tree. Every time he plays baseball, his team loses badly. When he goes out on Halloween, he ends up with rocks instead of candy. Whenever he tries to write with a pen, the ink smudges all over the paper and himself.

But the ultimate symbol of Charlie Brown's futility is the football. His neighbor Lucy always tries to entice him to come kick a football while she holds it. Every time, Lucy gives some reason for him to try it, and Charlie Brown always manages to believe Lucy's explanation. But every time, Lucy pulls the football away just as Charlie Brown is about to kick it. And every time, Charlie Brown whiffs on the kick, goes flying through the air, and lands flat on his back with a thud.

One imagines that if Charlie Brown had ever reached 9 or 10 or 11 or 12 years old, he would stop falling for Lucy's sales jobs. He would instead move on to one of the other options below. Maybe he would say no to Lucy, and just sadly walk away from the opportunity. Or perhaps he would run up, and rather than trying to kick the ball, he would give Lucy a hard kick in the ribs instead.

But Charles Schulz never let that happen. The Peanuts comic strip depends for its humor on Charlie Brown holding on to his belief, despite all evidence to the contrary, that this time, The Deal will come through for him.

The Invulnerable

Cartoon characters aside, real human beings cannot remain 8 years old forever. But there's a way to postpone confronting the problems with The Deal beyond its natural lifetime: build a shield around The Deal.

The flaws in a model can't get exposed if you don't let the model get in contact with any data.

To shield potentially harmful data from meeting their model, people will often build walls, literally or figuratively, to separate themselves from anything that might blow up The Deal and trigger a crisis of faith. They try to make themselves invulnerable.

Stories that deal with this behavior often go straight to the ultimate of human vulnerabilities: death. In the Harry Potter stories, the villain, Voldemort, is obsessed with avoiding death. Voldemort magically divides his soul into several pieces and shields those pieces in various hiding places so that should he ever die, his life can be restored. This makes him seemingly invulnerable, and allows him, for a time, to control the world.

But of course, Voldemort is not invulnerable. This control of the world is a temporary illusion. It cannot last forever. Eventually, the model comes in contact with the data.

Voldemort's insistence on invulnerability is itself a vulnerability. The hero of the stories, Harry Potter, is very like Voldemort in many ways, but with one key difference: he is willing to die. This, in the end, is the key to Harry Potter's triumph.

The Idolatrist

Complete invulnerability may be impossible, so an alternative way to hold onto a flawed model is to focus on the least flawed part of their model, and ignore the rest.

Human beings who do this essentially begin to worship whatever gives them the greatest feeling of control over their world. This new idol could be just about anything: money, power, status, strength, beauty, sex, intelligence, competition, contrarianism, a job, a relationship, a celebrity, a team, an identity.

There are two problems with idolatry. The first is that the Charlie Brown problem--pretending there isn't a problem--hasn't gone away. The idol simply provides cover to hide the problem, like sweeping dust under a rug.

The second problem with idolatry is that the Voldemort problem--insistence on invulnerability--hasn't gone away, either. An idol, whatever it is, is never enough. A human being caught in idolatry has to pursue that idolatry endlessly, or the dust will emerge from under its cover. To hide all the flaws it is covering, an idol needs to be increasingly triumphant, inerrant and perfect.

The classic story in Western culture that addresses this point is the Greek myth of Narcissus. Narcissus was hunter known for his beauty. Because of his beauty, he became obsessed with beauty. But nothing was as beautiful as he was, so he treated everyone else with disdain. One day, he saw his own reflection and fell in love with himself. But since his reflection was not a real thing he could have, he committed suicide.

Nothing on earth is so flawless it should be worshipped. This is a point that the Islamic religion strongly emphasizes when it says, "There is no God but God." Idolatry is a flawed, superficial model that's used to deny the flaws in another, deeper model. Eventually, it all falls apart.

The Depressed

Another way that human beings deny the truth about The Deal is to blame themselves. Instead of acknowledging that there is some flaw in The Deal, human beings will often instead believe that there is some flaw in themselves. This self-blame expresses itself in anxious and depressed behavior.

The classic story that explores this option is Shakespeare's Hamlet. In this story, Hamlet's father is murdered by his uncle, who then quickly marries Hamlet's mother. Meanwhile, his girlfriend's father tells her to stop seeing Hamlet, and she obeys. All of this shatters Hamlet's worldview. He is commanded by the ghost of his father to take revenge, but he becomes paralyzed with doubts and indecision. In Act 2, Hamlet confesses:

I have of late--but wherefore I know not--lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.

A human being afflicted with this kind of depression can get trapped by their own thoughts, cycling through one form of self-doubt after another. Any potential choice becomes is thought to be too frought with the risk of failure to take action upon. If a person believes the failure of The Deal is their own fault, then they can find a reason to believe that any action they take to fix The Deal will only make it worse, which leads to even more inaction. The failure to act reinforces the self-blame. The more Hamlet doubts and questions himself, the more he waits, and the longer he waits, the more he questions himself, and the more difficult and complicated it becomes for him to take action.

When Hamlet finally does emerge from the grave of his depression to do something, it's too late. Everything goes to hell. The deeper meaning of the story is: blaming oneself for the failure of The Deal doesn't work.

Blaming oneself doesn't work for a couple of reasons. First, the failure of The Deal isn't necessarily anyone's fault. The Deal fails because The Deal itself is flawed. Self-blame is the wrong diagnosis. Second, blaming oneself doesn't lead to fixing the problem, it only leads to delaying the inevitable confrontation one needs to make with the model of the world in question. But that confrontation can be so frightening that finding reasons to delay that confrontation is a natural and very common reaction the human brain will make to a crisis of faith.

The Lucy Kicker

There is one other way for human beings to hang on to a flawed belief system: blame somebody else for ruining it.

Find a scapegoat, and punish the scapegoat: this is the basis of many, many, many human stories. Revenge-type stories are endlessly fascinating because when two people with different belief systems come in conflict, it is not always easy to see who is right. All models are flawed. Is the person with the least flawed model the one we should root for?

Claudius is wrong for killing Hamlet's father. But would Hamlet be right if he killed Claudius? Lucy is wrong for pulling the football away. Would Charlie Brown be justified if he kicked Lucy in the ribs?

One popular story that explores this theme is Batman. Bruce Wayne's parents are killed in a robbery in a city where the police are ineffective. Wayne grows up to avenge this wrongful killing by becoming Batman, and using his wealth and strength to punish bad guys in Gotham City.

But Batman's vigilante justice takes place outside the boundaries of the law. The bad guys are breaking the law, but Batman isn't exactly following it himself. Is his model more correct than the flawed, ineffective criminal justice system? This is the tension in the story of Batman: how can he punish bad guys without becoming a bad guy himself?

When a Charlie Brown decides to kick a Lucy, no matter how right he feels, he has no idea what is going to happen next. He may stop Lucy. His kick in her ribs may lead her to change her model of behavior. That's possible. But it's only temporary. The kick in the ribs may have fixed Lucy, but it didn't fix Charlie Brown's model. His model is still flawed. Those flaws will become apparent somewhere else. He'll eventually have another crisis of faith, and he'll need to find another Lucy to kick, just like there's always another criminal for Batman to fight.

And if kicking Lucy doesn't work, if it doesn't get her to change, Charlie Brown will become Lucy's Lucy. She may kick him back, and now they're spiraling into in a vicious cycle of escalating revenge that harms both Charlie Brown and Lucy and perhaps some innocent bystanders who get caught in the crossfire, just like Batman turns fistfights against petty criminals in small alleys into epic battles against arch-enemies that put all of Gotham City in danger.

When does this escalating violence end? How does this cycle of mutual harm stop?

It ends when the denials end. It stops when somebody finally accepts that their model doesn't work anymore. This chapter of the human story is over when they are emotionally able to let go of that model, in order to transform into something else, to let the next chapter begin.


Merely accepting that The Deal doesn't work doesn't instantly create a happy ending. Just the opposite. Things get even darker from here. Human beings hold onto The Deal so tightly precisely because the next chapter of the human spiritual journey is the most terrifying episode of them all.

The Nihilist

There is a very good reason that people are reluctant to let go of a model. When they first accept that their model is flawed, and are willing to let go of it, they create a vacuum, the absence of a model. That vacuum manifests itself in nihilism.

In the TV show The Good Place, the character Chidi Anagonye is a professor of moral ethics and philosophy. At one point in the series, he has a crisis of faith about the philosophical beliefs he's been pursuing his whole life.

He shows up at one of his college lectures throwing Marshmallow Peeps and M&Ms into a large pot of chili. He tells his students to reject the three main philosophical ideas -- virtue ethics, consequentialism and deontology -- that he's been teaching them. He then says to them: 1

"But here's the thing, my little chili babies, all three of those theories are hot, stinky cat dookie.

The true meaning of life, the actual ethical system that you should all follow is: nihilism.

The world is empty. There is no point to anything, and you're just gonna die. So do whatever.

And now, I'm gonna eat my marshmallow candy chili in silence, and you all can jump up your own butts."

The Good Place is a comedy, so Chidi Anagonye's nihilism results in a silly and absurd output. But silly and absurd isn't the only way a nihilistic mindset can manifest itself. A person who believes that they should just "do whatever" may choose to act upon any random thought that comes into their head, even if that random thought is violent and destructive.

Nihilism is unstable and unpredictable, and therefore perhaps the most dangerous of all human states of mind. It is scary, both for the nihilist and the people around the nihilist.

Knowing that nihilism is the next step when a human being lets go of their old models of the world explains why human beings are very reluctant to accept that The Deal isn't true. People would rather, as stated in Ingmar Bergman's film The Seventh Seal, "make an idol of our fear and call it God", than risk contemplating the idea of nihilism, where "everything is nothing".

The Selfish

Nihilism is a vacuum, and nature abhors a vacuum. When a human being loses their model of the world, they may spend a short time as a nihilist, but eventually that vacuum gets filled with a different model. In the absence of any other model, human beings will adopt their Default Model of how the world works.

The Default Model accepts that The Deal is false. It holds that what is really going on is that everybody, without exception, is selfish. Life under the Default Model is simply a game of strength, where the powerful and clever impose their will on the weak and stupid. The Deal is simply a trick that The Powerful And Clever use to get you to comply with their wishes.

The Default Model is a selfish, cynical, low-trust model. It is also a hierarchical model. The strong rise to the top, and the weak fall to the bottom. The weak should obey the strong, and expect to be put in their place in the hierarchy if they don't.

Morality under the Default Model is therefore not about right or wrong. It's about being strong and clever enough to get away with whatever you want to do. If you adhere to The Deal, it just means that you are weak or stupid. You should instead pursue your own selfish interests. And to the extent that you are unselfish, it should be for the benefit of the people closest to you, your own family, your own tribe, the people who are most likely to transactionally reciprocate any unselfishness.

The story of Darth Vader in Star Wars is a classic example of the journey through the Default Model. Darth Vader began as Anakin Skywalker, a young and powerful Jedi warrior who fought for the Light Side of the Force. But then his mother was murdered, and his wife died, and he came to doubt the wisdom of the Jedi model. In this crisis of faith, Anakin was lured to the Dark Side of the Force by the evil Emperor Palpatine. Anakin joined the Sith, where he was renamed Darth Vader. Vader and the Emperor used their strength and power as Sith to selfishly rule the galaxy for their own glory.

Of course, the story doesn't end with Darth Vader living happily and selfishly ever after. Most classic human storytelling argues against the Default Model, not for it. In the end, Darth Vader is brought back to the Light Side through the love for his child.

A Human Society™ based on the Default Model is a model without freedom, because the weak are forced to obey the strong. It is also a model without trust, because the only thing people can trust is that everyone else will pursue their own selfish interests and screw them over, leaving them with no other option than to do just the same. A Human Society™ can tolerate a certain percentage of its population operating under the Default Model, but at some point it reaches a tipping point, where the number of people behaving selfishly forces other people to behave selfishly in self-defense. This is how a formerly well-functioning Human Society™ can become corrupt and begin to regress. The Default Model is a suboptimal model, but because it is the default, it is extremely common. This is why so many human stories depict heroes fighting against the Default Model.

The Participant

The oldest human story still being told is The Epic of Gilgamesh. The story dates back over 4,000 years. It is so old it predates the invention of paper. What we have today of The Epic of Gilgamesh originates from a series of fragments of clay tablets.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is notable not only for its age, but for its message about human nature. This oldest of stories tells us that human nature is not one static thing throughout our lives. We must grow and mature, and that process of growth and maturity has certain common steps along the way.

The Epic of Gilgamesh begins, in summary, something like this:

Gilgamesh is the King of Uruk, a city-state in the ancient Middle East. Gilgamesh is the prototypical Default Model ruler. He is the strongest man in the kingdom, and so he basically does whatever he wants. He enslaves people into forced labor, and rapes virgin brides just before their weddings. He is an absolute tyrant, and no one is able to stop him.

The people of Uruk suffer greatly from Gilgamesh's behavior, and so they pray to the gods to do something about it. The gods decide to create a creature called Enkidu. Enkidu is sort of a half man, half beast, and he is placed in the wilderness outside of Uruk.

Gilgamesh gets wind of this wild man who may have the strength to challenge him, so he sends out the most beautiful woman in Uruk, a prostitute named Shamhat, to seduce and tame Enkidu. Shamhat and Enkidu have sex for a week. Enkidu begins to lose his beastly features and starts looking more human. Shamhat tells Enkidu about Gilgamesh and Uruk. Enkidu is shocked and outraged by the story. He vows to go to Uruk, fight and defeat Gilgamesh, and become the new king. Shamhat is not satisfied by that declaration, and seduces him for another full week.1 After this second week of sex, Enkidu becomes fully human, and pledges to go to Uruk and join their society.

Once in Uruk, Enkidu hears about Gilgamesh planning to rape another bride, and challenges him to a fight. Gilgamesh wins the fight, but is so impressed with Enkidu that they become friends. So as Shamhat tames Enkidu, so does Enkidu tame Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh and Enkidu then have many further adventures together, taming and defeating other monsters as they go.

Human beings are born wild and unshaped and innocent, like Enkidu. As human childhood ends, they are awakened at puberty both to sexuality and to the harsh injustices of life. It is natural, at this stage, to ask a selfish question: what does this new reality mean for me? If you ask a selfish question, you get a selfish answer: I have to fight, as best I can, for what I want.

But that is neither the fully mature question, nor the fully mature answer. For if Enkidu goes to Uruk after that first week with Shamhat, and happens to defeat Gilgamesh, he simply becomes the new Gilgamesh. He will not have transcended the cycle of selfishness that Gilgamesh perpetuated, he will have simply kept it going.

That second week is key. A fully mature human being moves beyond the selfish question with the selfish answer presenting a selfish model of the world. A fully mature human being asks about the Human Society™ they live in as a whole.

And so when Enkidu finally confronts Gilgamesh, he is not doing so for his own glory. He is doing it on behalf on others. He is doing it to protect a young woman. He is doing it to shape the Human Society™ he participates in so that his fellow participants in that society do not have to live in fear. And that, his unselfish participation, is what changes his Human Society™ for the better, even in defeat.

The Seeker

In the origin story for Buddhism1, Siddhartha Gautama was born into a noble family, and grew up in a palace. His parents kept him in a bubble of pleasantness, sheltered away from all the sufferings of the real world. It wasn't until he was a young adult man in his 20s that he escaped that bubble and saw the world as it really was. On three consecutive days, he encountered a sick person, an old person, and a dead person. This shook him, and he began to have a crisis of faith.

On the fourth day, he encountered a meditator. He wondered what the meditator understood that he did not. So instead of falling into Nihilism or Selfishness, he decided to set off and seek this understanding, to search for the correct model of the world to live by. He spent six years traveling to visit the wisest people in the land, studying and meditating. But he found that those people were practicing a kind of extreme, disciplined form of self-denial that didn't quite work to make the world a better place. He found their unselfishness was just as flawed as the selfishness of his old life. So he set off on his own to think and meditate, until he finally achieved Enlightenment and became The Buddha.

What the Buddha came to understand, and tried to teach other people, is a paradox: the desire to find the "correct model" is itself the cause of the suffering you are seeking to avoid when you try to find the "correct model".

There is no correct model. All models are flawed. Some models may be less flawed than others, but by clinging to one or the other, you are also clinging to those flaws, and that leads to behavior that causes suffering, like idolatry or depression or Lucy kicking or nihilism or selfishness.

Enlightenment, then, means to accept another paradox: the correct model is not a model at all, it's kind of an un-model.

That paradox is not easy for a human being to grasp. because the human mind is simply not built that way. The System 1 part of the human mind makes models, subconsciously and automatically. That's what it does. What kind of a model is not a model?

The Buddha knew that this was a difficult idea to explain with words. It is a state of understanding that requires training and experience to reach. So to guide people in that direction, he laid out his Noble Eightfold Path to Enlightenment.

The Noble Eightfold Path is not "the correct model". It is a recognition that in order to reach Enlightment, a human being is going to have to go through several crises of faith, repeatedly losing an old model when you discover its flaws, and adopting a new one in its place. The Noble Eightfold Path lays out some general principles to think about when trying on a new model. What does a good model look like?

A good model has the right kind of view, aspiration, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration that leads to progress towards Enlightenment. It aspires to improve. It is aware of the consequences of the model, towards oneself and others. It is mindful of those consequences, and works hard and concentrates on minimizing those negative consequences. It aims for speech, action and a way of making a living that is kind and compassionate, and doesn't harm oneself or others. And when that model fails, and leads to harmful behavior, it lets go of that model, and searches for a better one.

If one stays on that path, constantly searching for a better model, constantly improving, one may eventually find a way to transcend that path into Enlightenment.

The Transcendent

The most popular story of all time, the story repeated the most often by the most people, is the founding story of the most popular religion of all time, Christianity. The story of Jesus of Nazareth, in particular the story of Jesus' crucifixion, is a story about the perfect model, and its failure, and the transcendence of that failure.

Jesus is the Son of God, and as such, is blessed with the best possible model. Though tempted by the Devil himself to stray from this model, Jesus does not give in to temptation. Jesus follows all the rules. He lives a perfect, sinless life. If there is anyone for whom The Deal should work, it's Jesus. And yet, despite that flawless behavior, Jesus ends up being sent to a horrific and humiliating ending: being nailed to a cross and left outside in the elements to rot to death.

Jesus doesn't have to be in this position. He is given several opportunities to escape crucifixion. He doesn't take them. In the universe of this story, it is established that God is all-powerful and that Jesus can perform miracles. Jesus could, at any moment, ask God for some supernatural intervention to avoid this fate. He never does. Jesus could, at any moment, pull off some sort of miracle to escape the predicament. He doesn't do that either.

If Jesus had performed a magic trick to escape death, this would have been the story of Voldemort, not Jesus Christ. That's not what happens. An insistence on invulnerability is not the story upon which to base the most popular religion in the world. Instead, Jesus accepts vulnerability, by going to the cross.

So Jesus, with the perfect life with the perfect behavior, does not have the perfect ending. He is being tortured to death! The model, therefore, is flawed. The Deal -- follow the rules and you will get rewarded -- doesn't even work here, in the most perfect of circumstances. This is, by definition, undeniably a crisis of faith.

Jesus could pretend not to be facing a crisis of faith, but that would be the story of Charlie Brown, not Jesus Christ. Instead, Jesus acknowledges what is happening by asking, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

A crisis of faith is a moment of loneliness, the kind of moment that the Default Model gravitates to. The Default Model is pernicious because it gets people to think that everyone is selfish, and that to succeed in the world, they need to be selfish, too. You're on your own. If you act unselfishly, you're acting unselfishly all by yourself, to no effect.

But this isn't the story of the Sith. Jesus is not going to turn to the Dark Side of the Force here. There aren't any lightning bolts coming from the fingers of Jesus striking down the opposition, beginning an Empire that bows to the will of its conqueror. This isn't a story where the strong use their strength to impose their selfish will on the universe. This is the opposite. This is the story about how the meek can inherit the earth.

Upon acknowledging the crisis of faith, Jesus suffers a further humiliation. The Roman soldiers working this crucifixion take Jesus's clothes and divide them amongst themselves. It would be quite natural at this point to become a Lucy kicker, to punish the selfish people who are ruining The Deal for Him. Jesus could ask God to curse these soldiers, to punish them eternally in the burning fires of Hell.

But that would be the story of Batman, not Jesus Christ. Instead, Jesus says, "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do." He responds to the selfish act with an act of unselfishness, by giving the soldiers a gift. The gift is the opportunity to escape the selfish cycle of mutual harm and distrust. The only way to end that cycle is to give the gift of forgiveness.

Forgiveness, when given with no expectations at all of reciprocity, when it is a gift and not a transaction, disproves the Default Model. Not everybody is selfish all the time.

A crisis of faith starts when people say to themselves, "The Deal isn't working for me." But the truth about The Deal is that The Deal isn't "for me". This is what the story, at a deep level, is saying here: a human being cannot guarantee a reward "for me" by following some Deal, some rules, some model.

The first step on the path out of a crisis of faith is to get out of the "for me" mindset. Stop looking for how The Deal can happen "for me", and start looking for how to make The Deal happen for someone else. If there is any kind of Deal at all, it is not something that is made "for me". The Deal is a gift you give someone else. Nothing more.

But that realization, that understanding, that wisdom, that is just the first step. Escaping the crisis of faith, touching Enlightenment, achieving transcendence, requires one more important step.

The first step is the unselfish act that is done all alone, to no apparent effect. Jesus forgave the soldiers. The soldiers may never have learned they were forgiven. They may never have noticed they were given a present. They may never have opened the gift, never have seized the opportunity they were presented with.

The first step of transcendence is always like that: an act of kindness done without hope, without witness, without reward. It is a lonely kindness.

An act of lonely kindness requires an acceptance of vulnerability. It requires knowing that this lonely kindness will most likely come to no personal benefit, and possibly come to personal harm, and still being OK with that. It is a difficult thing to do, particularly under an environment of distrust like the Default Model.

This is why the central image of Christianity, the image of Jesus on the cross, shown repeatedly in thousands and thousands of churches, and millions and millions of books, to billions and billions of people, is so significant. It is a reminder, a repeated reminder to every human being that encounters it, that everything that is good in a Human Society™, everything that transcends the worst models of human behavior, begins with an acceptance of vulnerability, the kind of vulnerability Jesus accepted by going to the cross.

Shortly after forgiving the soldiers, Jesus complains that he is thirsty. Hearing this, somebody--we don't know who--dips a sponge in some wine vinegar, puts it on a stick, reaches up and dabs Jesus on the lips with the sponge.

We don't know who this sponge dipper was. It's important that we don't. If the sponge dipper got a reward -- some sort of glory, a Saint Sponge-Dipper Day celebrated every year in their honor -- it would negate the very important message the crucifixion story has to say about human nature, about The Deal, about transcendence.

This act of kindness was not a transaction, where if I do something nice for you, you'll do something nice for me. There was no deal here. It was just an act of kindness, with no selfish motivation at all.

When the sponge dipper dabs Jesus's lips with the wine vinegar, it's not going to save Jesus's life. A few drops of liquid isn't going to rescue someone who is dying of dehydration. All it is in the end is just a small, temporary bit of relief from physical pain.

But the physical relief is not the point. The main point is that this small drop of kindness also provides an ocean of psychological relief. The sponge dip sends the most important message in any Human Society™. It sends a message that says, "you are not alone."

It is at this moment -- this particular moment -- that Jesus says, "It is accomplished," and his soul is released from his body.

This is the transcendent moment. This.

The transcendent moment was not some gigantic Act of God coming out of the skies. It was not Jesus performing some kind of magic miracle. The transcendent moment was nothing more than a simple, anonymous, unmotivated, futile act of human kindness.

The transcendent moment was a human being letting God know He was not alone.

Human beings are biological creatures, forged out of evolution, which ought to make them selfish creatures motivated by nothing more than the desire to reproduce and transmit their genes to the next generation. But that's not the story being told here.

The story says that while human beings are often selfish, God has given them a gift -- the capacity to transcend their biology, to transcend that selfishness and act altruistically.

Human beings may not see that gift. If they see it, they may not accept it. But the gift is there. And if they do see it, and do accept it, magic things start to happen.

God's gift to mankind is the gift of trust and forgiveness. Inherent in that trust is the freedom for human beings to choose to accept the gift, or not.

If the gift is ignored, then God is alone, and mankind is alone, and we're stuck in our cycle of selfishness. If Jesus's lonely gift to the soldiers is ignored, then the gift is just that -- lonely. Transcendence hasn't happened.

Transcendence happens when someone else also performs a lonely act of kindness. One singular act of kindness is lonely, but two changes everything. Now if you act unselfishly, you're no longer acting unselfishly all by yourself. Now if you act unselfishly, it may be witnessed, it may be copied, it may spread. Now if you act unselfishly, you can have hope -- not a certainty, not a guarantee, not a deal, just a hope -- that someone may be unselfishly kind to you.

The sponge dip was that second act of kindness, the second step in transcendence. The sponge dip turns despair into hope. It turns loneliness into belonging, which turns distrust into trust, which turns control into freedom, which turns stagnation into growth and prosperity. It turns a zero-sum model into a win-win model. It turns a malfunctioning Human Society™ into a prosperous one.

The Guiding Star

The story of Jesus ends with a subplot about a sponge dipper. The story of Jesus begins with a subplot about some astrologers from a distant land.

The astrologers are the scientists of their day. They chart every star in the night sky. They calculate their motions. They build a detailed model of how the universe around them works.

One night, an unusual star appears. It doesn't match any of the data they know about. It breaks all their models. They conclude through this crisis of faith that something important has changed. There must be a new king with a new model who will lead people in a new direction.

So these three wise men set off to follow this star, to find this new king, to understand this new model of the world. The star leads them this way and that, far, far away from their homelands in the East. Finally, after a long journey, they reach the source of the star. What do they find?

A young family, in a humble shelter, with a small child.

The Bible doesn't actually state whether or not these wise men actually arrived on the night of Jesus's birth. But as the blanks got filled in as this story got told and retold, the storytelling seems to prefer it this way. For there is something profound about the idea of figuring out that there must be a new model of the world, a new king, but for that model not to turn out to be some brilliant coherent explanation, and for that king to turn out not to be a fully grown superhero, but instead for it to be the most helpless and vulnerable of creatures, a newborn baby. And there is something profound about the image of following a star across a great distance only to find that it leads you to nothing more majestic than the most basic and common and fundamental source of unselfishness in the human experience: the love of a parent for a child.

The story of the Three Wise Men, therefore, has something important to say about your Human Society™ and the human beings in it. There will come a time when they have a crisis of faith, when their model of the world needs to change. If they meet that crisis of faith foolishly, as King Herod does in response to what the wise men told him, they will cling to the old model, the old king, to destructive effect.

What they need at such a point is wisdom. The wisdom to recognize when a new model is needed. The wisdom to accept that a change may be difficult. The wisdom to accept the uncertainty of a long, difficult journey with many perils. The wisdom to persist despite having no idea where that journey will take them, how long it will last, or what exactly they will find if and when they finally get there.

They need the wisdom to trust that human beings have within their natures a guiding star. When faith and understanding are lost, when their worlds seem turned upside-down, it is not some perfect model of the world that will save them. It is the human emotions of unselfishness-- kindness, trust, generosity, and love-- that can lead people through a crisis of faith to find a new understanding.

It is difficult, but it is possible to transcend the pain and sorrow of being a vulnerable human being. Your Human Society™ can be transformed from despair into prosperity by following that guiding star.

Edition 5F.7D4.4.
Photo credits: Filip Maljkovič (1), Trebs (2), Richo.Fan (2), Jamie (2), waferboard (2), Ninara (2), Akuppa John Wigham (2), brothers beggarstaff (3) Ken Arneson (4).
Altered via creative commons licenses (1), (2) / public domain (3) / permission (4).
resume human society
Showing 1 of 1 results in Human Society™ documentation
Human Society™ Magazine
Cover: Edition 5F.7D4.9
Edition 5F.7D4.9. Photo credits: Mike Norton / Zach Dischner, altered via creative commons license

©Ken Arneson, 2020

Share This Post
Share on Twitter     Share on Facebook     Share via email