Reasonable Expectations

By | March 29, 2007

`Bear in mind then, that Brag is a good dog, but Holdfast is a better. Bear that in mind, will you?’ repeated Mr Jaggers, shutting his eyes and nodding his head at Joe, as if he were forgiving him something. `Now, I return to this young fellow. And the communication I have got to make is, that he has Great Expectations.’

Dickens, Great Expectations

In the upcoming current edition of FastForward Radio, Stephen and I spend some time talking about our recent discussion about The Secret, and what our views on that matter have to say about where The Speculist fits on a scale from the completely skeptical to the completely mystical/credulous. Without giving too much away about a show that’s still in production that you can just go listen to, I will just say that at this site, we are quick to entertain any idea that entertains us, but we don’t spend a lot of time on ideas that don’t have a solid basis in science and technology.

Which isn’t to say that science and technology are the only worthwhile subjects that might be discussed. The folks who write for The Speculist would probably have a lot to say about religion, for example — seeing as we are mostly people of faith — but along with politics, it is one of the two topics we generally avoid. (With a few notable exceptions.) Those subjects are taboo not because they aren’t interesting or because we wouldn’t have a lot to say about them, but rather because:

1. They already get plenty of coverage elsewhere in the blogosphere, and

2. They tend to take over, leaving little time or room for other discussions.

Anyway, there are plenty of other topics that we haven’t spent a lot of time on, except to have some fun with them. Things like UFOs, for example. We don’t write about UFOs because they aren’t particularly interesting to us; and they aren’t particularly interesting to us because we don’t think there’s much of anything there. The real world can prove much more exhilarating than imaginary substitutes. Take sea monsters: an actual sea monster captures the imagination in a way that the mythical one can’t.

Likewise, The Secret offers us a world of infinite possibility accessible by means of the fact that our minds control physical reality. That’s nice, but speaking as someone not yet thoroughly convinced that my mind does control physical reality, I am nonetheless astounded by the future of limitless possibility that lies before us. In one of the earliest entries at The Speculist, written about three and a half years ago, I dashed off a list of items that I believed we have a pretty good shot at being able to live to see. At the time, I labeled these items the “extremely good news.”

On the one hand, that’s correct. It is good news that all of these items lie within the possibility space of humanity. But on the other hand, there’s nothing particularly extreme about this list. These are just a few possibilities that lie far beyond the scope of what most practitioners of The Secret ever think about, and yet they lie well within the scope of what is attainable by humanity. These are not our Great Expectations; they’re just our reasonable expectations.

Preserving and Nurturing the Biosphere

1. Methods of production that generate zero pollutants

2. Energy sources that produce zero pollutants

3. Reversing of previous environmental damage

4. Human population levels with zero negative environmental impact

5. Preservation of natural habitat for all living species

6. The long-term survival of all living species

7. The retrieval of lost species

8. The creation of new species and new biospheres

Standards of Living

1. Eradication of hunger worldwide

2. Adequate clean water, housing, clothing, for all

3. Medical care for all

4. Access to technology and knowledge for all who want it

5. Total economic independence for individuals and groups who desire it

Indefinite Human Lifespan

1. Eradication of aging and infectious disease

2. Quick, effective treatment for any kind of cancer

3. Effective prevention/cures for heart disease, diabetes, other chronic diseases

4. Suspension of life not sustainable by current means

5. The transfer of human consciousness to new media


1. Work necessary for economic viability, not for economic survival

2. Continued blurring of line between work and play

3. Full immersion VR to eliminate distance

4. Artificial Intelligences to assist us in work


1. Artificial Intelligences to entertain and befriend us

2. Full immersion VR to simulate any experience

3. Consumer model of entertainment rivaled by producer/participant model

(Amazing how much things can change in such a short period of time. Look at item 3 in the immediately preceding category. I’d say we’re well on our way with that one.)

Stephen was taken to task in the comments section of the aforelinked discussion of The Secret for suggesting that a person’s goals should be “realistic.” But I think he would agree that everything on this list is not only realistic, but quite reasonable. With a future this bright within our grasp, who needs spooky magic powers?

  • MikeD

    I wouldn’t mind spooky magic powers… even if I only got a chance to use them at backyard picnics on the 4th of July.