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Redundant Simplistic Conclusions Presented in Long-Term Generalities
on December 9, 2013
The basic premise of this book is that world culture is going through a metamorphosis, like a catepillar turning into a butterfly. In this case the catepillar is the "controller" culture of top down authority. The supposed Chrysalis Effect is the inevitable rise of an "integrative" culture made unstoppable by the internet and the worldwide free flow of information.
The book is filled with problematic conclusions drawn from questionable cites. As an example of the problems I see in much of the book, he says "In recent years, for example, pharmacologists have been paying more attention to the way animals in the wild maintain a balanced diet and heal themselves when ailing- recognizing that animals, who have lived for countless millenia in their habitats, know better than we do which foods are healthy, which are poisonous, and which are medicinal." His statement raises questions for me about its logic rather than showing how an integrative culture is taking over. If animals know better which foods are healthy, how is that knowledge passed on? Does he think animals know or can sense when they have a specific ailment, for instance cancer, and treat themselves appropriately? Are those foods necessarily healthy for humans, obviously not, but the implication is that they are. And haven't humans also been living in their habitats for countless millenia?
As another example of his simplistic conclusions he says, "Gated communities-a growing phenomenon in America-are starved in a different way, walled off from the enrichment that comes from being around people who aren't clones of oneself. Homogeneity is stagnation. Evolution depends on the juxtaposition of differences." I am no great fan of gated communities, but I also realize that the people living in them are no more clones of one another than people living in any other neighborhood. He seems to be obliquely arguing against many peoples' natural inclination to associate with people whom they have things in common with and doesn't address why that might be bad. I would counter that homogeneity and and stagnation can be positive and lead to continuity. I further question that evolution depends on anything. Is evolution for evolutions sake some new good to be promoted?
I read this book shortly after Slater's book The Pursuit of Loneliness. I highly recommend that book for its critiques of American culture, but I don't put much stock his predictions as a cultural prophet. That book was written over forty years ago, and while the cultural critiques still apply, the imminent changes he predicted still seem a long way off.
Similarly, in the Chrysalis Effect, Slater speaks in long-term generalities which are meaningless. For instance, he says "And the fact that war is so much in the news today doesn't change the fact that, from a long-range perspective, war is on the way out." But, from a long-range perspective hasn't war always been on the way?