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permaculture does not include metaphysics  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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Permaculture is about science and environmental ethics.

And definitely includes earthworks.

There is mention that this is dominantly an American problem.




 
Diego Footer
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Damn! Look how young Darren Doherty looks!

I am still amazed that this purple PDC video has received this many views. 350k views. Unfortunately a lot of people will only (or did only) see this video and be turned off to permaculture because of it.


 
Dale Hodgins
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I consider many non scientific dogmas to be silly and dangerous. Their purveyors do us all a disservice. I really like James Randi. I've watched him challenge charlatans on several occasions. He never disappoints.

Here's a Ted Talk

http://www.ted.com/talks/james_randi.html

An excerpt --- " The rotting of the human mind, the business of believing in the paranormal and the occult and the supernatural -- all of this total nonsense, this medieval thinking -- I think something should be done about that, and it all lies in education. Largely, it's the media who are to blame for this sort of thing. They shamelessly promote all kinds of nonsense of this sort because it pleases the sponsors. It's the bottom line, the dollar line. That's what they're looking at." James Randi
 
Sarah Chapman
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I am a total purple breather myself, or as someone else in one of the podcasts called us rainbow breathers which I happen to like. Yes, just like any other institute doing their best to create certification standards, why wouldn't they stick to the permaculture material in their certification classes? Massage schools don't teach woodworking to build your own massage table, but if I have an interest in woodworking there's nothing that says I can't build my own functional massage table for my practice. They don't have to be mutually exclusive for the small niche interested in both metaphysics and permaculture.

For many people who believe in permaculture and metaphysics I think there is NO separation, both things are so connected that it can be difficult for us to see when one needs to be in the spotlight and the other to be behind the scenes. I don't think everyone realizes the respectful thing to do is to stick only to PDC material when taking a PDC course or if they become teachers and want to teach from a metaphysical perspective, market it that way and state clearly that is not part of the PDC certification. But no one, not even my hero Paul Wheaton, is perfect - gasp! It's really too bad that Paul seems to have had some bad experiences with "purple breathers" as he talks about in some of the podcasts. Assholes can be assholes no matter what subculture they identify with, it doesn't mean that whole group is full of idiots.

I very much believe in earthwork (and LOVE running heavy equipment), I just may commune quietly in my own way to honor the earth and ask it's permission before I make changes. I also give my animals essential oils and massage and then ask their permission to take their life to bless our table and nourish our bodies before butchering them. Those things make me happy and satisfy who I am on a soul level, but I'm not running around telling everyone else they have to do the same things. I've not yet had the opportunity to attend a PDC or meet Paul Wheaton, but when I do I feel like no one would have any idea that I'm a rainbow breather until I share that information, and if I did I very much get the feeling that I would be the outcast sitting at the lunch table all alone. Yes, this is a permaculture site so let's stick to that, but I don't quite understand all the strife and hostility towards the metaphysical community.

I had a hard time hearing all the questions in the video but I do believe the point about Americans being so competitive had nothing to do with metaphysics; while it could possibly be more predominant in America, that was a later subject in the video and America was not mentioned during that discussion.

Thanks!!
 
paul wheaton
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I think purple isn't the problem. The problem is when people say that without the purple, it isn't permaculture.

As for me, I have deeply enjoyed some purple events. And I suppose there is a bit of purple in a lot of the things I do. I am merely weary of the hostility from the purple warriors. I enjoy this clip showing the official word that permaculture is without purple.

And, yes, I think it is lovely for people to enjoy purple and enjoy permaculture. It's just not okay to use purple as a weapon on non-purple permaculture people.


 
Sarah Chapman
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Dale Hodgins wrote:I consider many non scientific dogmas to be silly and dangerous. Their purveyors do us all a disservice. I really like James Randi. I've watched him challenge charlatans on several occasions. He never disappoints.

Here's a Ted Talk

http://www.ted.com/talks/james_randi.html

An excerpt --- " The rotting of the human mind, the business of believing in the paranormal and the occult and the supernatural -- all of this total nonsense, this medieval thinking -- I think something should be done about that, and it all lies in education. Largely, it's the media who are to blame for this sort of thing. They shamelessly promote all kinds of nonsense of this sort because it pleases the sponsors. It's the bottom line, the dollar line. That's what they're looking at." James Randi



Wow. Really? If I want to believe that I am so much more than the part of me that is focused into human form, Source, and other things we can't see, I don't see how that's bothering you, rotting the human mind, or doing anyone a disservice. It's worked out fantastic for me so far (and many others!). Not everything is roses and sunshine, but I have created a life I love that is flowing perfectly for my experience in human form and it doesn't feel like nonsense to me.

It's great if that's not for you, I'm sure you have many other fabulous things that you bring to the table, but I still do not understand why there's so much hatred for us "rainbow breathers" just because we're different from you. And I'd love to go on a rant about how we're all one human race and seeing each other as "different" is what perpetuates strife and war, etc., but I should totally stop there..
 
Sarah Chapman
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paul wheaton wrote:
And, yes, I think it is lovely for people to enjoy purple and enjoy permaculture. It's just not okay to use purple as a weapon on non-purple permaculture people.




Agreed! It would be great for us to all get to that place where we're not trying to one-up or assert our beliefs onto others. Thanks Paul.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Sarah - thanks for so eloquently stating your position! Great analogy.

For me, permaculture is a design science which helps restore eco-systems and bring lands and people back into productivity and health. What happy, productive people choose to do in those environments is completely up to them and, as in permaculture, diversity is the key to resiliency. So yes - while I feel like the metaphysical should not be a part of the PDC curriculum, a lot of people who are drawn to permaculture are also purple, create great projects and contribute much to the movement. And there are some who give it a bad name. Happens in every movement.

Although I identify as a "free thinker" and possibly one of the least "purple" people I know, it doesn't stop me from enjoying and/or appreciating purple-ism from time to time. Frankly, don't we have enough ways of defining (and becoming offended by) our differences? Do we need another one?
 
rowan james
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For many people who believe in permaculture and metaphysics I think there is NO separation, both things are so connected that it can be difficult for us to see when one needs to be in the spotlight and the other to be behind the scenes.

I'm going to go with the "NO separation" - and that is my experience, that there is no separation, that the way I treat the natural world around me is with respect, because I feel a part of this world, not apart from it.

that being said, I don't bring my "purple/rainbow" wherever I go, and certainly not to anywhere that it would bring an unnecessary *eyeroll* my direction!

I think there are many types of awareness, and those who are confrontational "purple breathers" are not much different to proselytizing religions, or any other belief system - those who are fanatic about it, and feel they must share when they see others "in error" are a particular type of person, possibly insecure, possibly because the knowledge is new to them & they like to hear about it over & over to feel secure in their new beliefs. who knows exactly the "why" - but not everyone who believes - anything! - is the same as another who believes. I try not to tar all with the same brush, and take each person as they present themselves. (admit to varying degrees of success there)

I very much believe in earthwork (and LOVE running heavy equipment), I just may commune quietly in my own way to honor the earth and ask it's permission before I make changes. I also give my animals essential oils and massage and then ask their permission to take their life to bless our table and nourish our bodies before butchering them. Those things make me happy and satisfy who I am on a soul level, but I'm not running around telling everyone else they have to do the same things.


THIS. those things make me happy and deeply satisfied too, and I need tell no one - they are my personal expressions of gratitude or otherwise, for my interactions with "nature" and all around me. I enjoy personal rituals, and I feel better when I take a few moments to acknowledge what is around me.

because there is no separation. well said Sarah!

 
Craig Dobbson
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I think that in some cases there might be a reason to suggest that metaphysics gets in the way of permaculture. What I mean is that when you try to explain something that you don't understand by slapping some woo woo on it, you close a door that could lead to real physical knowledge. By saying you have a metaphysical answer you stop looking for what might physically cause the thing your observing. Think about all the things that we would not know about biological systems if we just said "Ummmmm, crystals and good vibes...(or god(s) did it) yeah that's all the reason I need".

I also find it particularly upsetting when the warrior class of woo woo buyers blindly follow some false pseudoscience to the point of religious tyranny. I don't ever see a result from all the effort they make that can't be explained in real physical scientific terms.

That being said, I support everyone's right to practice life as they wish such that they're interests don't conflict with mine.
Best wishes
 
paul wheaton
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I know that the current PRI teacher cert stuff says that if an instructor advertises a PDC as being taught by a PRI certified teacher, then the class MUST be purple-free.

I think this is a smart way to fly. This way, some curmudgeon farmer could take a PDC and not feel like it comes with a religious/spiritual package.

Further, I think the need for this arose out of PDCs being taught and there is an implication that permaculture includes the instructor's religion.

 
Daniel Shields
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Metaphysics is the area of philosophy dedicated to questioning the nature of being. It encompasses fields like Ontology and Cosmology.

When did New Age folks co-opt the term and change it to mean psedoscientific silliness?
 
Matthew Nistico
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I for one am relieved that there is an "official" ruling on this question, "straight from the horse's mouth," as it were. Thank you, Paul, for sharing this video!

When asked to define or explain permaculture, I always call it a "design science." I feel that this is a better way to characterize it - is in more accurate - than by describing specific techniques, and a MUCH better way - as in less likely to be off-putting - than by evoking the "purple" essences ascribed to it by many. I've known some seriously purple permies - as in flaming neon purple! - and they were lovely people, and I do NOT believe that their spiritual perspective on things is mutually incompatible with permaculture. But I do believe such a perspective is separate and apart from what permaculture is about at its core and how it should be taught. I'm glad to learn that Mollison intended it to be this way.

I love the way Lawton puts it: we have enough of a challenge without taking on the "un-proven sciences."
 
Chris Kott
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Metaphysics, by that definition, can include any amount of pseudoscientific silliness, as long as as it's aim is to explain some aspect of the nature of being.

Perhaps it would be wise to avoid inflammatory language if there is no further point to the post than to instigate argument.

-CK
 
John Saltveit
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We are talking about the nature of science and what it means to be a human being. Science includes very well established patterns, probable relationships, and the ability to say that some relationships have some evidence but that the ideas are not conclusively established. As human beings, we need to go on with our lives every day. We include some things that are established and some not completely established, but probably outcomes. Some people freak out when you do something not completely established, or as I call it, an experiment. Some people work very hard to deny any cultural, spiritual, emotional, or intuitive aspects to their lives. That doesn't mean that we have to chop off that part of our beings if we are going to work with others. It is important to wade gently into the waters of culture, emotions, community, storytelling, and sense of purpose, and be open to others' points of view. To deny these aspects outright to anyone putting on a PDC is to limit permaculture to a very narrow technical area that will soon be forgotten. People don't join movements to find technical secrets. They want to be part of an attempt to make the world a better place with other people. Biodynamic gardening works because they are willing to consider subtle forces. If we are unwilling to look at subtle forces and human interaction, we will soon be left behind and a narrow footnote of the past, like Henry George and the movement of the single tax. Remember that? I didn't think so.
John S
PDX OR
 
Matthew Nistico
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John Saltveit wrote:...John S
PDX OR


"PDX OR"? Just curious
 
Matthew Nistico
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Chris Kott wrote:...Perhaps it would be wise to avoid inflammatory language if there is no further point to the post than to instigate argument.

-CK


Well put. Mollison and Lawton made a very important point in this interview, and I think Paul is making a very important point by posting it here and inviting this discussion, and those points are NOT just about bashing purple people for the sake of it.
 
John Saltveit
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PDX = Portland
OR = Oregon
John S
PDX OR
 
Daniel Shields
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I apologize if any hostility was perceived in what I said. My intent wasn't to inflame debate so much as to clarify definitions. I just always find it strange when people use Metaphysics as synonymous with New Age. When I think of Metaphysics, I think of Heidegger's Fundamental Ontology rather than crystal healing. I agree with Lawton's sentiment either way. Neither Heidigger nor crystals have a place in a PDC.

It may be true that New Age philosophies might include stances on metaphysical questions, but that is not the same as New Age being equivalent to Metaphysics.

In any case, I didn't mean to be dismissive of peoples world views. I surely have all manner of beliefs that others would find ridiculous. I think one of the many beautiful things about Permaculture is that it allows people to carve out a space of their own to live the lifestyle the like. I encourage people to host classes on whatever ideas and practices delight them on their respective farms, but hope that as Permies we can all agree that the PDC is not a place to proselytize.
 
Chris Kott
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A word to the wise, then: When seeking to not inflame debate, it might be a good idea not to refer to others' beliefs as silly, especially as a sweeping generalisation, including anyone under the relatively wide banner of "New Age."

I would suggest that the tag line for this thread might be misleading. If metaphysics is indeed the area of philosophy dedicated to questioning the nature of being, then I think permaculture may be a guidebook of sorts, or, dare I say it, a Designers' Manual. Permaculture has some definite things to say about how people should treat other living things and the planet as a whole. In my opinion, it should be made clear that metaphysics isn't the same thing as the purple side of permaculture, and that a term like mysticism might be more appropriate to what is actually being discussed.

As to my personal opinion, I like the nuts and bolts. I like to know why things work because then I can decide for myself if one tool or another is appropriate for a specific situation. If I am going to spend my time in study, I want to learn the mechanics of it all, rather than learning new songs to greet the sun and moon. I might sing to both sun and moon, or God, or Jesus, or the Supreme Animating Spirit of the Multiverse, or whatever I feel like singing to, and I might incorporate literal nature worship into my permaculture, too. But I feel that permaculture properly represented speaks for itself, and that personal mystical or religious beliefs simply cloud the issue, especially if they serve to supplant a scientific answer that can help provide techniques that produce reliable, predictable results.

-CK
 
Daniel Shields
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Your point is well received, and my last message was an attempt to atone for my insensitivity. Part of why I chose to speak up is that I've been hanging out with people from the philosophy department of my university lately, which is a culture where people don't last long if they take offense at people poking gentle fun at their sacred cows. I failed to adjust to my tone to reflect my lack of this rapport with the readers of the forum. Again, I didn't intend any hostility.

I don't think my one sentence explanation got across the nuance of what Metaphysics is. Having "things to say about how people should treat other living things and the planet as a whole" qualifies as Ethics, which Lawton explicitly states is part of the focus of Permaculture. Metaphysics, rather, is concerned with much more abstract questions like "What is?" and "In what way are things?".

I certainly sympathize with loving the nuts and bolts. I love geeking out about ecology and design. Permaculture is a lot more than a means to an end for me.
 
Matthew Nistico
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@Chris Kott - I agree that yours is a much more accurate choice of terms: "purple" = "mysticism"
 
Dale Hodgins
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I knew that my earlier post would draw fire. I almost reconsidered, then I grew some and hit submit.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I am not a credulous person and I don't wish to spend my money on those whom I consider credulous. If I were to seek a teacher, I would want to be sure that they're total believers in evidence based science. I would also want a teacher who is quite bright. I'm the judge of that and I'm a rather harsh judge. I've gotten pretty good at seeming to be open to all sorts or stuff that people try to convert me to. Usually, if someone has something to share, that I think is crazy or dumb or fantastically improbable, I'm able to tease it out of them. Then a funny thing happens. Just as their "special knowledge" begins to flow, my wallet snaps shut. I recently laid on the floor of a coffee shop while 20 people watched a lady perform a sort of exorcism of various diseases. I crossed my eyes, gurgled and twitched a little. In the end, I revealed that I subscribe to the germ theory of disease for things that can be caught while on a plane and that I believe most other health problems are related to diet and lifestyle. She made a couple buck from onlookers. To me it was performance art.

Religion is something that I have never bought into and I'm done with it. I was immersed in it as a child and have witnessed many parlor tricks along with far too many wailing, blubbering, adult simps, who did not exhibit even a token amount of intellectual rigor when looking at things which they insisted that I must believe in. When I was 8, my own mother ran to the front of a big tent while she squealed like a pig, after being healed of a malady that the speaker had just produced the diagnosis for. This was horribly embarrassing. I do not see these people as my intellectual equals. To me, unquestioning belief in things implies religion, no mater what the purveyor calls it.

There's a reason why I seldom utter the word permaculture outside of this forum. There's a whole lot of malarkey available online with permaculture in the title. YouTube has many examples of very poorly thought out talks and adds for permaculture courses. This one looks quite professional. It has a horde of people smearing one another with mud while a guy with a really neat haircut goes on about his spiritual outlook. I would never want people who know me to link me or my good name with any of this quasi religious mumbo jumbo. It might be fun to mud wrestle with some of the girls.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGURz1WE7yE

Christopher Hitchens was my brother from another mother. Here he is with Lou Dobbs. Christopher was not afraid to attack credulity head on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNvUHKv4m3w

 
David Livingston
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I enjoyed the first you tube clip but am afraid I only managed 47 seconds of the clip by Diago . Is this a record ?
Mostly I am with Dale on this one HOWEVER I dont cross over into Chistopher Hitchens fan club as I think CH makes a common mistake . You cannot prove the " truth " of the existance of God does not mean God does not exist or not it just means you cannot prove it . Its a belief thing and nothing to do with science . Like the rest of the metaphysical stuff .
In the past their was a ruler of a european country who really encourage lots of stuff that most people who practice permiculure would like; self sufficency, the importance of the soil and your local community he even had a special beehive designed to help people keep bees and that all ended very badly because he also got into dubious science and even more dubious ethics and as for metaphsyics .....

We should keep this in mind

David
 
Eva Taylor
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After reading the posts and watching the video, they don't actually say there is no metaphysical woo woo purple rainbows or little green men, they say there's no need to include it and that including it in classes could prove a barrier to learning and teaching permaculture. I believe in the woo woo, I think once you align yourself with nature it just happens. But no matter what form of woo you could should or might experience, its not something that is quantifiable enough to teach. My experience and perception of woo is naturally different than yours, that makes it special, and should be left for the fireside discussions after PDC classes. I think everyone can agree that permaculture is good for the earth, and its inhabitants and should spread- so lets give it the best chance we can to succeed by not making it a belief system and keeping it in the realm of a science that is palatable to the many instead of the few. Lawton and Mollison feel the woo, and understand that you will too if you just do permaculture, they don't need to teach it.
 
Craig Dobbson
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I read that the reason that geoff lawton wasn't in the Permie Playing Card Deck was that it would violate the tenets of his religion. Specifically that because the cards could be used in gambling, and his religion isn't in tune with that, so he decided that he'd rather not have his face on the cards. I totally understand that and respect his decision. After all... it's his face and his faith. But if I went to a PDC with Geoff and he commanded me to NEVER gamble again because permaculture includes his religious views, I would be a very sad panda. Just like if somebody at a PDC demanded that I get in the middle of one of those giant group hugs some people are so fond of... It's out of my comfort zone and being forced to adopt the practice in order to receive the scientific knowledge I came for, would be kinda lame.

And for those of the Metaphysical (supernatural) mindset, please remember that in a room full of purple people during a hug-a-thon, the non-purple person feels a little weirded out. So it's not as if this is a situation where purple isn't welcome, it's that purple isn't part of the curriculum.

Here in the US a child may pray in school all they wish (to any god or gods... or trees) but cannot be commanded to do so by any school authority. This is how we keep the church and state separate in a situation where tax dollars are at work. It ensures that no faith is included or excluded by simply saying that the state entity (school) cannot sanction preference to any one world view. We're here for facts and knowledge not faith and feelings.

I think that what is being said is that IN A PDC there is a SEPARATION OF PURPLE AND PERMACULTURE. You can bring your purple but you can't make anyone else wear it.
 
B Henderson
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Dale Hodgins wrote:I consider many non scientific dogmas to be silly and dangerous. Their purveyors do us all a disservice...


After reading this most of this thread, and I have to admit that I haven't finished my coffee yet this morning so I haven't fully digested the information, here's my stance...

I am a Project Manager by profession and gardener and cook by passion. I have discovered Permaculture within the last 12 months and I see a lot of comparisons between Project Management and Permaculture in the way that it is viewed by the rest of the world. When I tell someone that I am a Project Manager they look at me as if to say, "that's a real profession?" Project Managers are the hidden heroes of the largest of modern civilization's building projects. It's the men wearing the hardhats or the astronaut in the shuttle or the soldier with the new piece of equipment or the CEO of the tech startup that gets all the glory. Most PM's are OK with that but it is one of the reasons that the profession, in general, has a bit of a chip on its shoulder. The governing body, PMI, includes expansion of the profession to the respect level of other professions (aka law or medicine) as one of its main goals, and has a strict ethics statement to ensure that is done in the most positive light.

Just like with Permaculture, there are offshoots of the philosophies of Project Management, all of which can be positive and very useful when applied to the correct situation. Just like with Project Management, Permaculture is a philosophy that must be presented in the best light to be advanced to the masses (even more so with Permaculture). There are already people out there that insist that Permaculture is nothing more than organic farming with metaphysical elements, which could not be further from the truth. Permaculture, at its core philosophy, is based on observation with a scientific eye and physics, not metaphysical religion. If you and like-minded individuals want to include metaphysical thinking into the science, by all means, feel free. However, when discussing the philosophy to the outside world, we should all know our audience and adjust the message to present it in the most positive light. Many people in countries dominated by the big-3 religions with automatically tune you out when they recognize discussions that are counter to their own religion...unfortunately, they may also the vocal minority, which then spreads the untruth that Permaculture is an alternate religion (I see the same thing with the GMO argument). If we can prevent turning people off and giving them a peek at what's behind the door, they may want to open that door all the way and walk in...if we can do that, I see great things for this movement.

my 2 cents...
 
R Scott
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Diego Footer wrote:Damn! Look how young Darren Doherty looks!

I am still amazed that this purple PDC video has received this many views. 350k views. Unfortunately a lot of people will only (or did only) see this video and be turned off to permaculture because of it.



Has Darren or Geoff aged more? Bill is in a constant state post-climax (in the forest sense).

I am willing to bet many of that video's views were more for the mudwrestling than the permaculture (purple or otherwise).

Worldviews matter, but Bill put the ethics in a very agnostic way. After viewing all of the old PDC videos and the new online PDC, I couldn't tell you what Geoff's personal worldview or religion is. I call that the mark of a good applied science teacher, teaching to the ethics and principles and not his.

 
Diego Footer
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Curious where people think that biodynamics fits into this? Is that to much metaphysics and hence not purple?
 
Craig Dobbson
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I'm not sold on biodynamics. It seems to straddle that line between woo woo and very attentive gardening. I think being very attentive and adding nutrients and diversity has more to do with the success in biodynamics than some of the complex rituals and timing that it seems to require. I personally would like to see some hard experiments done with this. This could be difficult as there are so many variables to control for but there has to be some place to start... right? That said, if there is something concrete to be learned from biodynamics then I'm listening.
 
Leila Rich
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Craig Dobbelyu wrote:I read that the reason that Geoff Lawton wasn't in the Permie Playing Card Deck was that it would violate the tenets of his religion. Specifically that because the cards could be used in gambling, and his religion isn't in tune with that

My knowledge of Islam is miniscule, but Islamic Aniconism rejects images of sentient beings, so that may have influenced things.


 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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I thought that too, Leila, but his image is all over the PRI site, he's in videos, etc. Gambling is probably the more likely issue. Or not.
 
Craig Dobbson
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I don't know much about islam so I'll make a blanket statement about religions. If there were ONE true being in control and dictating laws to live by... it's doing a poor job of getting it's message across (in my opinion). There are roughly 40,000 different sects of christianity alone, so once you add up all the sects of all the different religions and world views then add in the "spiritual people"... you're talking about millions of different shades of purple. And it seems that much of it is in conflict with itself. Yet... you don't here the plants and animals arguing over who's purple is better or more real. They just go about life being them.

On a different note, a PDC should be fact based and purple free because it's an easier message to spread when you don't add religion or politics to the discussion.
 
Mike Hagar
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We have a series of self created problems on our planet that are becoming catastrophic. Permaculture is a method to realign people with the natural processes. I agree with the idea that if Permaculture is to gain the momentum necessary to reverse enough of these problems quickly enough it must reach many people within many cultures. That is the commitment of PMI and I support it. I support their stand that there should be no Fairy or God talk in a PMI PDC class that might be culturally misunderstood causing people to be turned off at a time when it is so necessary.

That said. . . the Scientific minded should be happy with a win and stop reading here.

We can look back through history and see many epoch’s where "Religion" has (d)evolved to become a source of conflict and misery. Not because of the true inspiration of the initiators, but the dogmatic “Mine is better” belief. In all cultures there is the understanding that there are things that happen that are obviously related but in ways that we don’t understand. The stars, seasons, trees, animals all seem to be co-ordinated or connected. “Spirituality” has been the area in which explore the unknown, the mysterious. Some say there is an intelligence expressed in the coordination. Some think it in only one intelligence. . . God. . . My God, not yours! Others think there are many examples of this “Mysterious” (unknown to me) so they should each have separate names. . . spirits, consciousness, fairies, mycelium, germs, etc. Some “previously unknown” mysteries and the people who talked about them were scoffed at by scientists. Primitive cultures may have called them evil spirits, then germs. Now science KNOWS that there is a complex of billions of different “Beings” cooperating (in some unknown way) in the human body. The quest for knowledge never ends. In right context this is good until ORGANIZED Science makes the same mistakes as ORGANIZED religion (my Science is better than your God).

Science has become a religion of observation, hypothesis (informed guess), experiment and proof. It has provided us with many USEFUL insights but has become dogmatic. By methodically experimenting, differentiating and evaluating (a=b), some mysteries get clarified and repeatable behaviors become useful. Some scientists start out thinking that the mechanistic approach of experimenting and proof will eventually lead to an understanding of everything. However, in science, no matter how many things you explain the more mysteries (or the “as yet unknown”) are revealed.

It seems to me that the current world problems of peak oil, pollution, depilated water tables and soils, deforestation, chemical fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, etc., are consequences of science (which leverages differentiation), not spirituality (which leverages connectedness).

Scientists created the Green Revolution. They found the “Truth” that plants need N, P and K and they rushed to the pulpit of profit before they noticed that plants need other things. Monsanto practices chemical science not spirituality. ConAgra practices economics (statistical/economic math) science, not spirituality. I am reminded of the definition of insanity. . . Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

Permaculture is a very valuable design approach aimed at providing a methodology to design in cooperation with nature. . . and nature is the WHOLE, some of which is unknown and unknowable. It is unknowable because to KNOW is to observe and that separates the Observer from the Observed. This is a phenomenon that plagues the scientific method.

When I listen to Permie favorite paul stamets (wearing his mushroom hat) talk about how Mycelium transports the nutrients needed by plants over miles. . . I cannot help but see a shaman and I cannot believe that he has come to this insight using only the scientific method without sensing the magic (mysterious) of our ecosphere, even though he does not talk about it during TED Talks. Wise move.

As a Permie, I hope that the pursuit of science does not lead us to abandon the importance of the Unknowable Mystery in our lives. Call it what you want, God(s), Nature Intelligences, fairies, molecules, atoms, quarks and strings. We must all decide what we consider the most important aspect of our Permaculture practice. Some THINK it is P, N, K and think they can prove it. Some think that GMO Corn subsidies are important to stimulate ethanol production for our automobiles and economy despite the consequences of corn prices on those who rely on it for food. Others FEEL that there is something more important. . . we just can’t prove it. . .

Via con Dios
 
Craig Dobbson
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In this case physics, but I feel just the same about all of the sciences including Permaculture.


 
Matthew Nistico
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@Craig - An excellent video, and an excellent point to make: people can have their mysticism if they like, that's fine, but it is inherently dangerous and counter-productive to try to conflate that with objective science. And you do really have to "try" to conflate the two. They don't naturally cross over. Science is not almighty, not the answer to all questions. There are absolutely limits to which questions science can answer and what types of wholes science is capable of describing in any useful way. The scientific understanding of any given age is certainly not infallible, and scientists themselves are certainly not always objective. But scientific method itself IS objective, and therefore it is fundamentally distinct from mysticism or religion or any other non-empirical worldview.

There is a local permaculture gathering/hippy lovefest I attend full of some very lovely but VERY purple people who love to go out of their way to mix together scientific (permaculture) verbiage and their own brand of woo-woo. I hear it all the time. And that's fine for them, I suppose, but I really do believe that it does a disservice to the science.

I am certainly glad my PDC was not conducted (at least, not too much) in such a manner.
 
Mike Hagar
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It is as funny to listen to Non-Woo Permaculturists talk about Woo. . . OBJECTIVELY as it is to hear Woo-Permaculturists talk about Science. The major point of difference is that the Scientists are addicted to OBJECTIVITY which separates the observer from the observed. Unfortunately beginner Woo-ists carry a lifetime of Objective indoctrination and it comes out when they try to explain how they FEEL (or intuit) the Woo.

For millennia humans have explored the unknown. Shamanism was the original science. I don't think for a moment that Native Americans were so primitively stupid as to believe generation after generation of shamen who demonstrated no effect within the physical world. They used medicinal plants, smoke, sound, neurolinguistic programming (chanting) and the laying on of hands. Certainly they had bozo's who had big talk but no real useful knowledge or skill but then we have Monsanto scientists.

Just like Physics, Permaculture, guitar and Woo-ism, unless you are willing to become a student, find (and honor or at least listen to and learn from) a teacher and then practice you will never master your instrument.

It is my observation that Wooists are inclusive and do not deny the values of Science in Permaculture. It is the Scientists (Objectivists) who deny the existence and value of the Woo. So until you master the objective aspects Permaculture you should not teach or criticize it. Until you master the subjective aspect of Woo you should not teach or criticize it. However as a community of human beings we should always feel free to share our feelings and ideas. This is the margin where the magic happens. . . I meant to say . . . where the synergetic effects of whole systems, unpredicted and unpredictable by observing the effects of sub-systems if considered seperately.

Observe and INTERACT
INTEGRATE rather then segregate
Use and value DIVERSITY
Use edges and value the MARGINAL
Creatively use and respond to CHANGE

This ain't just for Plants and woodstoves.
 
Craig Dobbson
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Mike Hagar wrote:

For millennia humans have explored the unknown. Shamanism was the original science. I don't think for a moment that Native Americans were so primitively stupid as to believe generation after generation of shamen who demonstrated no effect within the physical world. They used medicinal plants, smoke, sound, neurolinguistic programming (chanting) and the laying on of hands.



I think the thing to keep in mind here is that they were doing a real physical thing by making herbal remedies, providing comfort and being caring for their fellow tribesman. Those shaman who were best at accomplishing this goal, kept their jobs. All the failed shaman's were most likely viewed by their tribes in a similar way that real scientists view pseudo-scientists today. Fakes! And that is the crux of the issue here.

Let's just take the common headache for example.

Bob shows up as the shaman's place and says " my head is pounding, I need your help". The good shaman would know that there are certain plants that when ingested in certain way would relieve a headache. So the shaman procures a drink made from willow bark, raspberry and water. He also offers a quiet place to consume the drink (usually in a ritualistic way) and then may say a prayer or make an offering to the spirits. And so Bob's headache goes away, perhaps not even completely but enough to feel better.

So what did the trick? Was it the pain relieving properties of the willow, the nutrient dense and soothing raspberry or the water which helps rehydrate the body? Maybe it's a migraine headache which benefits from a quiet dark place to rest. There's also the placebo effect that is VERY strong in some cases. Just a soothing voice of comfort makes a real difference. By combining all these elements together the shaman has a better chance of being successful in his treatment and keeping his job. ( sure beats going out everyday to hunt game or collect berries)

To find the answer to those questions somebody took all the different variables, one by one and did specific tests, experiments and trials to determine which of those factors were most likely contributing to the headache relief. And wouldn't you know it year s and years later... ASPRIN. A single chemical compound was found to have the majority of the positive effect. But... Asprin tastes crappy so... add flavor and water to ensure people use it. And they do. It's not a far jump from there to a synthesized grape flavored syrup or pill that a kid will actually ingest.

What I'm saying is that where the shaman's answers fall short, a scientist will usually step up to find the missing information if it's there to be found.

As for a PDC ... Permaculture works just as good, with or without woo and no brand of woo turns out to have any more or less effect than another. So the only conclusion is that the woo doesn't matter to the design science that PDC teaches.
 
Chris Kott
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It seems to me that people are grouping opinions into the categories of "science" and "everything else." Am I the only one who finds this style of deliberate polarization manipulative and insulting?

I don't think there exists any tenet of permaculture that clashes with any religion worth the name. In fact, I have often thought of permaculture as a how-to to the part of Genesis where the whole stewardship thing came up.

I think the only place where the mystical might actually get in the way, apart from turning off people for whom the woo is a turn-off, is where it takes the place of measuring what is there to measure.

Science isn't as impotent as some seem to think. Even if there are mechanisms at work that aren't directly observable, at some point there is often indirect evidence that can point to what we can't see.

Especially with centuries-old writings, or anything translated through one or more languages, I think it's important to look past language and ideas that can have been politicized and, thus, twisted, and try, if it is our intention to make honest comparisons, to go as close to the source as we can get, and then maybe it would be possible to have meaningful discussions on the matter. Anything else is just partisanship in a two-party system.

-CK
 
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