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The Venus Flytrap - Oversimplification

Chapter 6.
Because it is simplifying too many things.


6-01 Summary) Jacque Fresco doesn't seem to mind about trivial matters. Most of arguments he uses to back up his logic lack scientific preciseness and strictness. He sometimes treats problems that cannot be treated as identical to be identical. He draws excessively bold conclusions from few simple facts.

6-02 The Venus Project is an outcome of such hasty thinking. He has never given any thought about detailed problems that may arise during the transition period, despite the fact that they are most important. His tendency to make hasty plan and have optimistic view about everything is rather bureaucratic than scientific. He claims to devise a rational plan through science, but he is actually following the past mistakes of Kim Il Sung and Mao Zedong.



6-03 In 1958, Mao Zedong the leader of China directs extermination of sparrows. The reason was because sparrows disrupted agricultural production by feeding on grains. Various scientific institutions began to concentrate their research on harmful effects of sparrows on agricultural products, and adults and children in farms endeavored to catch sparrows. Sparrows almost became extinct in China within one year, and the 'Sparrow War' seemed to bear its fruit.

6-04 However, farmers did not become as plentiful as the amount of grain eaten by sparrows. As sparrows disappeared, its natural enemies like pests showed explosive reproduction. This resulted in a historic lean year. In the end, the leadership of China had to airlift 200,000 sparrows from the maritime province ruled by Soviet Union. The policy that neglected complicated circulation of the ecosystem turned out to be a complete failure.

6-05 Jacque Fresco and his supporters as environmentalists won't do this, but it does not mean there is no lesson to be learnt from this incident. The assumption that agricultural production will increase by eliminating sparrows since sparrows eat grains is plausible in a way. However, the planners in planned economy must be aware of such fragmentary thinking.

6-06 He claims to use scientific methodology, but we're uncertain as to how liberal he is from such fragmentary thinking. He argues to blindly remove laws without considering another function of laws to limit power of the national government, and he argues that democracy must be abolished since elected people are incompetent. If something has side effects, it should disappear. He has never seriously reviewed the consequence of his measures.


6-07 We are going to find out how rash and fragmentary his scientific methodology is. But before that, I would like to emphasize that this is not just an individual problem of Jacque Fresco. If we were to say there is a problem in Jacque Fresco, it is same as saying that planned economy can be successful if the plan is devised by a much wiser planner. I am trying to say something slightly different. There is no planner wise enough to make planned economy successful.

6-08 Mutual dependency of modern industries is so complex that someone may compare it to the ecosystem. However, leaving out extreme cases like 'Sparrow War', most of human attempts to interfere in the ecosystem failed. Today, few people think it possible to take a measure on the ecosystem while accurately predicting its consequence. 39)

6-09 Today, we intervene in the ecosystem for specific purposes. However, complete planned economy of Jacque Fresco is essentially different. It is like locking up all animals in zoos and separately breeding them to protect species, determining how many deer are to be eaten by lions and how many by leopards. There is no supply of food from outside except for grasses collected in meadows to feed herbivores.

6-10 There are several undeniable advantages of such measure. It can prevent accidental death of animals and inefficient energy use. It may be able to evolve species in the ways we want. (Please do not call me a eugenicist because I said this!) Nevertheless, we do not expect such project to become successful. The reasons are more complicated than direct and clear advantages obtained from such measures.


6-11 Those who support the theory of ecological zoo argue that it is a scientific method to protect species and accelerate their evolution. They will offer its direct advantages as the basis of this argument. Evidences that its opponents need to present are more complex and indirect. People supporting the theory of ecological zoo can simply regard them as non-sense.

6-12 Or they might argue that the problem can be resolved through substantiation and experimentation. Trivial problems can sometimes occur from ignorance about the ecosystem, but such trivial problems will be considered as resolvable using the trial and error method. They never think that so many trivial problems can occur at once that the exact cause of failure is unknown.

6-13 There is no doubt that the structure of mutual dependency among modern industries is extremely complex, though it may not be as complex as the ecosystem. What made this complexity possible was decentralization and automatic adjustment of decision making in the market, not the central command. Division of labor was intensified to flower the modern civilization because division of labor did not have to be created consciously. The modern civilization was possible since people accidentally found the method of extending division of labor far past the scope of conscious plan.

6-14 Modern industries have a much more complex structure compared to 1960s. This difference in complexity may be much greater than difference in the ability to process information using computers. Besides as shown in Chapter 4, computers are not helpful in resolving the most important problems of the transition period. Stalin and Mao Zedong also emphasized science and technology. How good of a planner is Jacque Fresco compared to them?


6-15 The knowledge required by planned economy is enormous. The planners must decide what technological method is to be used for individual production projects, while at the same time deciding how much of resource is allocated to each. They must have complete knowledge about everything in order to apply science and technology in this. They must completely understand quantum mechanics, mechanical engineering, architectural engineering, statistical physics, economics and genetic engineering.

6-16 They also have to know about people's demand. At least resource-based economy in transition period is unable to supply every goods in their best quality to the bliss point. Then planners must figure out what the best way to satisfy people is in a given condition. They must know, for example, which is more preferable for people between two more mandarin oranges and a little improvement of the quality of an electron lens.

6-17 Ultimately the planners would have to know what each individual prefer among every alternative combination of goods the system can afford to give to him. If they don't, they would not be able to optimize production in consideration of people's demand no matter what computer they use. Unfortunately even if the planners use the wisest method, it's impossible for them to get this knowledge. Everyone has different preference and the preference is always changing.


6-18 Of course, market economy does not demand people with such knowledge. In market economy, price delivers information. Entrepreneurs look at prices of goods and production materials to obtain information about what is the most expensive good among things that can be produced at the same cost, or in other words, on what people consider as most valuable. As a result, resources are naturally reallocated to the most urgent places.

6-19 When a scientist or engineer invents a new process to more quickly produce a certain good, an entrepreneur would decide whether applying the process immediately is beneficial or not by looking at the price. It is not always best to choose the new process. For instance, it would be more beneficial for entrepreneurs and consumers to not use the process until technology is developed further if the process requires use of very expensive rare earth metals.

6-20 Therefore, entrepreneurs will compete to use the process only if the process is actually beneficial. This not only changes the environment of the industry producing the good but all industries. Unnecessary resources which were used in existing production process will become cheaper. But at the same time, special rare earth metals demanded by the new production process will become more expensive.

6-21 However, the overall industrial structure will quickly adapt to this new environment. A different industry that has been using metals which became expensive due to the technology newly introduced in an industry must either increase the prices of goods or look for a different production method not using the given resource. As a result of these readjustments, despite the fact that each entrepreneur does not clearly understand what the optimal resource arrangement is in terms of new technological environment and productivity, optimal resource arrangement is accomplished by the market.


6-22 The governments in many countries today devise long-term projects and plans with specific purpose. This is sometimes successful, but it is only possible because they can use information provided by price determined in free market. The tragedy of complete planned economy is in that it is impossible for the planners to receive such information through prices. This is why they easily carry out unrealistic projects and fall their nations into difficulty.

6-23 Planned production method of goods provided by those who support planned economy today is merely stopping production when there is inventory and manufacturing products when there is demand. Since this is just an imitation of corporations reducing production or price when inventory is large and increasing production when inventory is low, it would be funny if someone were to argue that planned economy can adapt to changing environment and accomplish optimal resource arrangement more quickly and efficiently than the modern market economy.

6-24 It still fails to explain what is the most appropriate among various resource arrangement methods that are competing. It does not explain the exact ratios at which resources allocated to each industry are changed when there is a need to rearrange resources as a result of technological advancement. Market prices are not perfect. The problem is that we have no alternatives to consider when we need to resolve these problems.

6-25 No theory of planned economy created by supporters of planned economy - except for the theory of labor value by Marx which is too theoretical and arbitrary for actual use - came up with an efficient method to calculate desirable ratio at which goods must be exchanged or what must be sacrificed at which ratio for another. Under such environment, who can lead to a better outcome than China under Mao Zedong or Soviet Union?


6-26 Neglecting the problem of economic calculation, Fresco was not different from collectivistic ideologists in the past that showed terrible failure. He has no specific plan. Only the objective is more specific than necessary. The ultimate form of cities is not important. It is as meaningless as a theorist in ecological zoo having a goal about future species to evolve. Specificity of the plan is important.

6-27 Did he ever think about what standards to use in distributing resources to goods with values that cannot be directly compared, such as food, entertainment, safety and transportation? Does he foresee and prepare for various problems that can arise during the transition period? What about simpler questions? Do the laws have to be abolished immediately after the revolution, or after some time? Should actual properties of individuals be confiscated immediately after the revolution or be left intact?

6-28 In fact, since the duty of the planners is so important and difficult, it would be hard to trust Jacque Fresco even if he had a plan so specific as to answer all of these questions. However, Jacque Fresco not only fails to meet this level but did not even try. Far from reviewing the consequence of each measure, he seems not to understand what measures are necessary. He leaves all the complicated decisions during the transition period to the rulers of future provisional government.

6-29 Jacque Fresco's hopelessly optimistic personality and insincere thinking cannot be compared to Stalin, let alone Marx. As a result, I can even see supporters of The Venus Project discussing about specific measures to be implemented in his stead. How would the rulers of future provisional government to replace him be? It is mysterious as to why supporters of The Venus Project expect their future planners to be wiser than Mao Zedong.


6-30 I have already pointed out that most supporters of The Venus Project have surprisingly dreamy thoughts about conditions after the revolution. It is so obvious that we have more to lose than gain for at least 10 years even if the claims of Jacque Fresco about technology and resource are all true, yet only few are prepared to endure such sacrifice. The expectation of most people about the provisional government is ridiculously high.

6-31 The problem is that it is impossible to satisfy such expectation, even if the planners miraculously come up with an optimal plan. Moreover, most of things to be faced by the planners in planned economy are unbelievably difficult. The method of substantiation and experimentation requires numerous trials and errors at the beginning. It is doubtful as to how long the public with absurdly unrealistic demands is willing to wait for such trials and errors.

6-32 All mistakes that occur during the transition period will be blamed as incompetence of the planners instead of Jacque Fresco. In the worst case, good planners at the beginning can be driven out with criticism and mockery, only to be replaced by the evil group trying to abuse the power. Such possibilities are enough to bring an end to resource-based economy as soon as it starts unless safety measures are prepared in advance, but it was so important for Jacque Fresco to make the cities look round that he emphasized it three or four times.


6-33 About labor, the argument that people will enjoy their work is only correct in completed resource-based economy. During the transition period, we would have to produce food and daily necessities to be used by all members of the society. Time is required until mechanization is completed, even if we invest all our capacities into mechanization and lay aside construction of cities and power plants. Somebody needs to do labor during this time. However, it is simple and tedious labor that we do not enjoy.

6-34 Many labors require skilled technology. People who are engaged in such labors cannot expect to be freed from labor at the start of The Venus Project. Why do they have to sacrifice for us regardless of their intent? According to Jacque Fresco, those engaged in the most unproductive works will be freed first. This will arouse conflicts if privileges are not given to laborers.

6-35 More importantly if all labors, except for essential labors that can only be performed by specific people, are carried out by volunteers without any reward, it would be a society most beneficial for the most selfish individuals. Enjoying the fruits of other people's efforts without placing any effort is a privilege that cannot be enjoyed by any selfish individual in market economy, except for small number of capitalists.

6-36 What in market economy can make human beings more selfish than this, unless you believe in the outrageous logic that economics turns people selfish because it presumes human beings as selfish beings? How severe should personality education be to make people so altruistic in such environment? (If we were to give privileges to laborers in order to avoid this outcome, what difference is there from market economy in which laborers are paid to work?)


6-37 It is interesting to see Jacque Fresco's poor thinking reflected in his science. He points out that people's personality is determined by interaction between inheritance and environment. This is true, though I wonder whether there is anyone who doesn't know this. 40) What's funny is the conclusion he draws from this scientific fact. He believes we can create an environment in which wickedness can be completely removed from all individuals.

6-38 However, determination of human personality by interaction between inheritance and environmental factors does not mean wickedness can be completely removed by adjusting environmental factors. We cannot make the function x²+y²-36 equal to 0 only by adjusting the x value. If the y value is 8, there is no value of x that can yield 0. Unless we understand exactly how inherited factors and environmental factors interact, he cannot claim that we can completely get rid of wickedness.

6-39 In addition, there may be diverse environments that can completely remove evilness from people since individuals have different genetic markers. Even if it is possible to completely remove evilness from each individual, it does not mean we can create an environment that removes evilness from all individuals. For the function x²+y²-36, there is a value of x that yields 0 when the value of y is between 6 and -6, and the x value differs according to the y value.

6-40 Even if there is one and only environment that removes wickedness from all individuals, how can we assure that it is the resource-based economy spoken by Jacque Fresco? Collectivism enclosed within resource-based economy may be able to remove a few evils from the mankind, but it may actually bring greater evil in return. 41) Did Jacque Fresco ever provide an answer to such natural questions?


6-41 What about Jacque Fresco's claim that there will be no motivation to commit crimes when all goods are abundant? Conflicts can be created when two men fall in love with a woman. It is impossible to settle this conflict using technological method unless we make this woman abundant by cloning her. Fighting for the opposite sex is frequently found in the nature. What if such conflict develops into crime?

6-42 When we do not have enough goods yet during the transition period, can we eradicate all crimes without laws? 42) Violence and sexual assaults can happen without private properties. I cannot believe that such crimes will be driven out immediately after the start of resource-based economy. We may be able to create specific environment that removes all evils as Jacque Fresco says, but we did not grow up in such environment. Resource-based economy in the transition period is far from the environment that completely removes evilness.

6-43 Someone might say that I am too inquisitive. However, we must ask these questions to Jacque Fresco if we were to accept Jacque Fresco's theory as science. If these questions are inappropriate, it is because his theory is closer to humanities than science. It is true. If he claims this to be scientific methodology, it would be proper to raise scientific questions.


6-44 There is a scene in Zeitgeist: Moving Forward where Jacque Fresco presumes we found another earth and discusses things we need to do. It is quite touching, but this scene best shows the fragmentary thinking of Jacque Fresco. He says, "Let's imagine for a moment we had the option to redesign human civilization from the ground up… The only difference between this new planet and our current one is that human evolution had not occurred."

6-45 He continues, "So what would we do? Well, first we need a goal right? And it's safe to say that goal would be to survive… Most people, indeed, desire to live and they would prefer to do so without suffering. Therefore, the basis of this civilization needs to be as supportive and hence sustainable for human life as possible - taking into account the material needs of all the world's people."

6-46 Also, "Next question regards our method. What kind of approach do we take? last I checked, politics was the method of social operation on Earth... so what do the doctrines of the republicans, liberals, conservatives or socialists have to say about societal design? Hmmm... not a damn thing. Okay then - what about religion? Surely the great creator had to have left some blueprints somewhere... Nope...nothing I can find."

6-47 And finally, "Okay then - so what's left? It appears something called science. Science is unique in that its methods demand not only that ideas proposed be tested and replicated… but everything science comes up with is also inherently falsifiable… we take all of this inventory and tracking data and create a system to manage it. A global Resource Management System - in fact to account for every relevant resource on the planet. There is simply no logical alternative if our goal as a species is survival in the long run."


6-48 Fresco's argument seems truly logical, but it is only as logical as answering that all water particles should move in the direction of needle to the question of how to pull water out of a syringe. If we were to answer a question asking about the method of accomplishing a specific purpose, we must first decide what variables can be controlled. Behavior of individual water particles is not a controllable variable.

6-49 We are discussing about what kind of social system should be selected to redesign our civilization on the new planet. We only have a single chance to make the choice, unless we go through revolution to start over with a new system. Therefore, we must only talk about things that can be decided at the moment of choice and should not speak about the future. We have to accept the fact that the future is merely the outcome of system we chose.

6-50 Why is there such limitation? Can't we as individuals make choices in the future as we do now? Can't we come up with specific plans about what we are going to choose in the future and apply them? These are very good questions. However, it is only possible because we are a single body that makes sequential decisions.

6-51 Specific plans are only meaningful when we can continue to make decisions in the future instead of once at the beginning. We can either hand over the right to decide everything to some dictators claiming they can resolve the problems or not. If we have to hand it over, it is pointless to discuss about the plan thereafter. Whether or not they would test their ideas by repetition and reproduction is none of our business


6-52 Thus, "What would we do?" is not a proper question. 'We' as a community of billions of individuals is not an entity that can continuously make decisions like you. 43) You should ask the following question: You found a new planet with billions of other people. You have the right to decide the social system in which we are going to live here. After making this choice, you go back to an ordinary citizen and live within the social system you make. What kind of social system should you make?

6-53 In my thought, we need a system to appoint and manage a representative to make decisions since we cannot make decisions about the society at all times. We probably need to implement democracy. Also, we probably have to create a republic nation governed by the rule of law so that the elected representative cannot abuse his power. While leaving economic activities of individuals to their own, we should probably set regulations to prevent them from wasting resources.

6-54 You may or may not agree with this conclusion. For instance, you may believe that there is a need for the mankind to perform global management resources and consciously control distribution. If so, you would have to agonize about what systematic device can allow such goal to be met. It's okay as long as you have that much of critical mind.

6-55 Go back by two paragraphs and see what Jacque Fresco is saying. You will realize that he has not mentioned anything important while rambling on and that none of his words is related to the answer we are trying to seek. If you still did not get any gooseflesh, you may think that you have not understood the meaning of this yet.


6-56 It is simple to pull water out of a syringe. You push the piston. However, this is merely a method of drawing water out of a syringe and not a method to make all water particles to move in the direction of needle. At the moment when we are pushing onto the piston, many water particles are moving in the direction opposite to needle. Operation of the piston can only increase the number of water particles moving in the direction of needle.

6-57 Therefore, we fall into an error if we answer this question while regarding movement of all water particles as a controllable variable. If we can control behavior of all water particles, the best method to pull water out of a syringe is clearly to make all water particles move in the direction of needle. However, you can realize that there is no such method if you think back on how to make all water particles to move in the direction of needle.

6-58 The argument that we should let many water particles to move in the direction of piston and many other particles to move in the direction of needle with more particles moving in the direction of needle seems ridiculous and inefficient under the assumption that we can control behavior of all water particles. But in fact, this is the only way to resolve the problem. We can make this possible by pushing the piston.

6-59 Therefore, Jacque Fresco is oversimplifying the problem. 44) Human society is a complex system created by many individuals, and the optimal measure applied to the complex system is different from the optimal measure for individual particles. We will learn how to correctly apply scientific methodology to human society in Chapter 9. Compared to this, Jacque Fresco's so-called scientific methodology is incredibly immature and fragmentary.


6-60 We can easily laugh at the planners of the past by looking at unrealistic and foolish projects like the poor 5-year economic development plans of former Soviet Union and China. Those who support planned economy hastily believe that we will never repeat such foolish mistakes and conclude we can come up with a much better plan using scientific methods differentiated from methods used in the past.

6-61 However, while the extremely high level of knowledge is required by completely planned economy, intelligence of the planners can never satisfy this level. Plans presented by the planners with knowledge on limited areas are reckless plans created under rash assumptions. If Jacque Fresco claims he can completely automate the fiber process in 5 years, it's not because he knows well about the fiber process. He is nothing different from the planners in the past in that he makes most of his claims based on assumptions.

6-62 Just like we mock unrealistic economic planners of North Korea and former Soviet Union today, our future descendants may laugh at unrealistic urban development plans to be devised by Jacque Fresco or planners of the provisional government. Despite the fact that he claims to use scientific methodology, Jacque Fresco and the past planners share more things in common than differences. They talk about their plans, but they neglect difficulty of the plans.



[39] The case of hairstreak in England is famous. Hairstreaks have symbiotic relationship with red ants. They cannot build ant's nest if grasses are too tall. As the number of rabbits increased, the English government spread a myxoma virus to reduce the number of rabbits. However, this resulted in extinction of red ants because they could not build their nests, and hairstreaks also became extinct. It is meaningless to blame foolishness of the English government about this case. It is easier to find the cause of a problem after it occurs than to forecast it in advance. Nobody foresaw that rabbits could have such a great impact on hairstreaks. Also, the English government - borrowing Fresco's expression - used the method of substantiation and experimentation, obtaining a precious knowledge as a result. However, the sacrifice it had to endure in acquiring this knowledge was larger than imagination.

[40] There is no doubt that Jacque Fresco is ignoring the level of audiences watching his clips. He teaches us that war is bad. The logic he uses in doing so is even more elementary. For instance, he says that war does not bring development or improvement in quality of life. Since nobody seriously believes that war brings development, his eloquence is totally useless. Of course, some of extreme social evolutionists in the 19th century actually argued that war brings development - through the mechanism of survival of the fittest. Unfortunately, Jacque Fresco's elementary eloquence is not helpful for tearing down their argument. The best objection would be that the society winning from war is not always the better society. At the time when religious wars were common, religions that can most violently and cruelly judge heathens often won.

[41] This is not a simple quarrel. In my opinion, collectivism destroys tolerance and respect for other people's opinions, spirit of independence, upright personality and decisiveness of protecting one's belief against superiors, healthy criticism to question things accepted by everyone as truth, and basic ability to empathize with individuals by loving and concerning. Look at Chapters 7 and 9.

[42] Jacque Fresco's position about this is ambiguous. He never said he would eliminate laws as soon as he starts resource-based economy. Maybe he plans to make the planners of provisional government to decide this problem. If this is true, there is one less characteristic that can differentiate resource-based economy from communism. Communists argued that laws are unnecessary in perfectly communistic society. Laws are only required in communism during early stage.

[43] Collectivists sometimes argue that this only holds true in individualistic society and not in collectivistic society where everyone has the same goal. In other words, they believe that who makes decisions is not importance because he would have the same goal as they do. This belief is what makes collectivists to easily give their authorities to dictators. It is unnecessary to say that their beliefs were always betrayed without a single exception.

[44] Of course, scientists sometimes simplify difficult problems. But in this case, they clearly know what they simplified and what limits they have, and more importantly, they try to share such limitations with other scientists. Jacque Fresco obstinately simplifies the problem and believes that the problem was simple ever since the beginning. Such immature thought is quite humanistic.