Author Archive

PJ Steps down

In somewhat unfortunate news, Peter Joseph, the creator of the Zeitgeist film trilogy and The Zeitgeist Movement is stepping down as the public figurehead of The Zeitgeist Movement.

He announced this in response to a post on the International Forum (3rd post on the 2nd page). The in which Jacque Fresco (most say misguidedly) condemns Peter Joseph and says that The Zeitgeist Movement doesn’t know anything and have no plan.

Update : There’s been an interview with Roxanne Meadows regarding The Venus Projects perspective

Video of Jacque which triggered the stepdown

PJ’s post :

So, in consideration of this, with respect to Jacque – I will no longer be actively publicly representing TZM or TVP.
I could address his hasty statements directly, but I am not going to do that to myself as it’s simply sad.

This falls on the heels of a level of personal exhaustion and general life frustration which requires personal time anyway.

I will continue to orient a radio show rotation of new speakers, content and help with event days and the many other project based issues in the background… I will also continue to personally finance the global movement’s work…but I want everyone to know that I am removing myself as a forefront spokesman… a figure I never wanted to be, in fact. A position which has neg affected my personal and mental health a great deal, to be frank.

So, this is good grounds to see how many out there can lift themselves to high levels of communication. I have also informed TVP that all major press will be turned over to them so they can make sure “their” message is “accurate”… as apparently mine isn’t.

At the end of the day, let it be known that I don’t care about TZM or TVP or “Jacque Fresco” or “Peter Joseph” as entities to be perpetuated.

I care about a new, working social system only and I will not stop with that pursuit in the long run.

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Factors Affecting Behaviour

Update: Dr Robert Sapolsky has done a TED talk which puts these factors of human behaviour into great context, focused around the timeframes with which they have an effect. Check it out

Below is an edited comment of what I posted to
For the last few years I’ve had an active interest in Human Behaviour.
I’ve spent hundreds of hours hours reading books, watching recorded uni lectures (in psychology, neuro-biology and the like), some awesome TED talks, audiobooks, white papers, general social analysis and lots of conversations. From all of that I’ve noticed there are a range of factors affecting peoples behaviour.
In approximate order they are :
  1. Situation [Role] – The current situation the person is in. e.g being in a prison vs being at an office, a pool party or walking past a house on fire. Special mention should be given to ‘normal’ social situations and crisis situations.
  2. Environment [Resources] – Beyond just the situation, this is what resources someone has access to, e.g if you can already hear the fire fighters sirens, if it is dark and the guards aren’t looking, or if there are nice windows with trees to look out at when stressed.
  3. Habits [Triggered/Automatic Responses] – Habits are usually those things which you do without really thinking about anymore. BJ Fogg lists this as the BluePath, doing a familiar behaviour from now on. An example might be brushing your teeth before you go to bed. At some point you had to learn the habit, but now you do the behaviour almost instinctively.
  4. History [Knowledge and experience] – How/Have you been trained to deal with the situation? Have you been in a similar situation, what did you do and did it work?
  5. Perspective [Time, Beliefs] – What is your Time Perspective (past positive/negative, present headonistic, deterministic, future oriented, afterlife). What is your religious and moral beliefs. Do you align yourself to an emo, punk, hippy, military or some other stereotype? This is very similar to the cultural expectations, but regarding the specific sub-group to the general culture.
  6. Culture [Expectations] – What the general expectations are for a person in that situation and environment. If your sub-group hasn’t specified what it’s stance is, then what is generally considered morally justified? Stopping CPR on the random homeless guy on the street after 4mins might be seen as fine, whilst stopping CPR after 20mins on a child who’s drowned in a pool might cause outrage.
  7. Emotions [Mood] – Was the person happy or sad at the time?
  8. Hormones [Emotional propensity] – If you are a teenage male you are likely to have a surge in testosterone which will amplify the likelyhood of aggression (assuming the situation is one that involves violence or aggression). This can be thought of as shortening the ‘fuse’ so to speak. Pregnant women can be particularly susceptible to stress and may become even more irritable due to lack of food than normal… Drugs can also have a similar although usually more profound but short lived effect.
  9. Pre-natal [How birth affected you] – Humans are far more susceptible to conditioning during birth than most people realise. When your mother was pregnant with you, if she was heavily stressed then it can have negative consequences. If she was obese then you are more likely to be obese { }. A child after birth also needs the right amount of care and attention. They need to be held and touched and talked to.
  10. Genetics [Physical propensity] – There is barely a 0.5% difference in genetic material between humans and we are only 4-6% genetically different from apes. Our DNA is 90% similar to cats. Given such similarity it is generally said that genetics can cause a propensity for a particular behaviour or physical attribute, but it is the environment which which has the most impact. { }

Different circumstances will mean the resulting behaviour is influenced by the factors above in differing amounts. Whilst normally the situation and environment will be the most influential  a strong enough culture and belief can over-ride that. If you want to change peoples behaviour you need to work out which are the most important factors involved or which other factors can over-ride those and you can try to change or at least deal with them.

An example is the selfish-gene concept. That humans are simply a mechanism by which genes can make a copy of themselves. Whilst this may be the default behaviour of people it is not the absolute only factor which affects our behaviour. Another important thing to note is that the concept of our ‘kin’ or family is very important in many cases. Who are people that we should help and be around, versus those that are against us. Our understanding of kin has grown larger over time, from immediate family to village, group (e.g religious group or work colleges) to nations and at the present rate will soon encompass the world. Doing so helps reduce the violence within our species. We will likely need to expand kin to include other animals and should we meet friendly alien entities it may have to include even them.

I do have a question. Are morals another factor which affect behaviour? Or are they a product of a combination of the above factors?

For a quick overview of social thinking, including the Stanford Prison Experiment, check out the video below :

If you enjoyed the above then some resources that may be of interest include :

More in depth resources :

Name : Human Behavioral Biology by Dr Robert Sapolsky.

There’s plenty of other resources. If would like like more please comment below or email

NB : Added Habits above History. Because habits can be done without thinking they are more than just memory recall they almost like muscle memory.. if you could call it that. – 7th Jan 2012

Note : Knowing that there is a different way of doing something and changing peoples values and mindset is one of the most important but usually hardest steps when moving forward.

Tangible vs In-tangible and understanding peoples perception of the world

The information presented below is based on observations which I (Michael Kubler) have gathered over the last few years along with an understanding of the biology of human behaviour, psychology, motivation, and predictably irrational behaviour.

Note : By categorising different types of people it can be harder to see the subtle differences between the categories, however the knowledge below can hopefully help you understand why some people are more open to ideas than others.

People come in lots of different shapes, sizes, and types. Depending on their environment, their friends, family, experiences, genetics, and hormones they are also likely to exhibit different types of behaviour.

When I am trying to get to know someone there are a number of different types of categories you can think about which can help you tailor your concept or message to them.

  • Open Mindedness
  • Market Segment (Bell Curve)
  • Tangible/In-tangible
  • Time Perspective
  • Hunter vs Farmer
  • Consumerist mentality
  • Ways of Learning

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Innovation (and the Monetary system)

There are a number of types of Innovation.
Incremental innovation, Incremental Innovation with Side Effects and Transformational Innovation.
  • Incremental innovation — Small changes which have small outcomes. Moving things closer, making things a little bit faster.
  • Incremental Innovation with Side Effects — Small changes which have a dramatic effect. e.g growing of opposable thumbs, or the internet being made fast enough to view videos.
  • Transformational Innovation — Completely re-designing the way things are done. e.g Changing from Hunter/Gathers into Farmers (agriculture and eventually civilisation), or organisms evolving out of the water and breathing air.
There will usually be a transformational change, followed by a period of incremental innovation (progressive enhancement), and eventually another transformational Innovation, and so on.
A video explaining this concept in far more detail is Douglas Merril’s talk on Innovation at Google [50mins] (unfortunately not a very high quality recording, let me know if you find a better one).

What is important to note about this is how it relates to the Monetary system. Read more

The Secret Powers of Time

Professor Philip Zimbardo conveys how our individual perspectives of time affect our work, health and well-being. Time influences who we are as a person, how we view relationships and how we act in the world.

The 6 main types of time perspectives are :

  1. Past Positive – Remembering the good old times.
  2. Past Negative – Remembering the bad times.
  3. Present Hedonistic – Wanting to satisfy your immediate urges. Addictions.
  4. Present Deterministic – Thinking that there’s no reason to do anything because it’s fate. Everything is pre-determined.
  5. Future Oriented – Knowing that planning and the things you do now will help in the future.
  6. Life begins after death – Thinking that your current life is only a transitionary state and that your ‘real’ life is what starts after you die.

As you can tell, the Zeitgeist Movement is mainly composed of and interested in Future Oriented people. The people who want to make a difference to the current and future world in which we all live in.

Dr Robert Sapolsky’s lectures available on

Whilst playing with the RSS feed listing page I found out via the Arizona state chapter that the amazing lectures by Dr Robert Sapolsky are available for free on

Check out :

For those not aware, the lectures are about the Neurobiology of Human behaviour and explain how the environment, genes, brain and hormones work to affect peoples environment. It explains everything from how individual neurons work through to how the brain creates small amounts of hormones which can have dramatic effects on people. How genes give people a propensity for a certain trait but most are only triggered under environmental conditions. It has a very important focus on aggression and explains how people can reduce violence by thinking of all of humanity as their family.

If you aren’t sure about human behaviour then these lectures are probably the best scientific explanation you’ll come across, and will be the best 24x30min lectures you’ll see in quite some time.

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The Pattern Behind Self Deception

An interesting TED talk:

A TED talk on how our pattern seeking minds are prone to self deception and are most likely why we have concepts of God or larger controllers and beings. Also goes into conspiracy theorists.

Also, some interesting articles on Egalitarianism in Hunter-Gatherer societies:

As usual, these links have been updated into the suggested Zeitgeist Resources Doc.

Decentralised Oraganisations (The Starfish and the Spider)

I thought this was a really interesting article on the differences between centralised and decentralised organisations.

Personally I think that The Zeitgeist Movement is decentralised. Sure Peter Joseph is the main leader but as everyone can be empowered with knowledge of the movement there’s other people that can take take over his role.
If you watch Zeitgeist related content and contribute to the Zeitgeist Movement, Media project, or other projects, then you yourself are a part of the movement.

Each chapter is somewhat independent but regular International Team Speak (VoIP) meetups, mailing lists and other forms of direct communication mean that we can be decentralised without being disorganised. Sites like and allow for centralised hubs of information.
We’ve already seen splinter cells form such as the RBEF. A group of people who were banned from the International Zeitgeist Movement website and went off to create their own group, the ‘Resource Based Economy Foundation’. This shows how cutting off a limb (or at least a group of people) can cause the movement to turn into an offshoot.

Whilst this might mean the movement becomes somewhat splintered, it also means that like the magic broomstick in Fantasia, it’s almost unstoppable.

Power Law and scarcity

I came across some interesting articles on the Power Law of distribution.

For those not aware, a power law distribution looks like the image below :


If you can’t see the image then look at the associated Wikipedia article.
A power law is also sometimes called the 80/20 rule and is known in the media industry for the long tail effect that online video has allowed.
The power law can be used to model the number of words used in a text, the energy of earthquakes, links to a websites and much more.

As Matt Webb posits power laws arise due to scarcity.

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Ethics In Science

Pure science vs Applied Technology

Pure science is the research done to determine how things work. Things like e=mc2, double helix structure of DNA, Newtons laws of physics, calculus and even things like what the Large Hadron Collider will hopefully uncover.

Applied science involves taking those findings and using them to create technology.
In the case of e=mc2 it brought about the nuclear era, with both Nuclear Bombs and Nuclear Power.
If you take Newtons work on prisms and light, then that enabled a whole range of things, from cameras to being able to tell a suns composition due to the specific frequencies that it doesn’t emit (ok that last one isn’t directly a technology but more of an analytical tool).

There are two main models when it comes to research and ethics. The Linear model and the Social model.

Linear Model

This model dates back to Francis Bacon and is about the search for knowledge. It uses the line of Pure Science -> Applied Science and Technology -> Products.
It’s the more classical model and is highlighted by the thought that “science progresses best when scientists are given free reign in what to research”.
The main points are that HOW they research is still done in an ethical and caring manner, and that while the raw science shouldn’t be restricted, the technology can certainly be governed by social and ethical norms.

Social Model

The social model says that society should have a role in deciding what research is undertaken. It also doesn’t make the distinction between pure and applied science.
This model is common when talking about techno-science.

Example 1 : AI

Under a linear model research would be done in Artifical Intelligence. Datasets would be created, experiments done, and the results would be algorithms and white papers on neural networking, evolving systems, and ultimately the ability of programs to learn, adapt and change (usually with certain restrictions and limitations).
These could be used for good, such as more advanced search, computers that are more personalised and easier to use, to control vast traffic networks and reduce or eliminate congestion, or even the central Venus Project computer system Venux, allowing the replacement of government.
Alternatively they could be used by marketers to try more targeted advertising, increasing cyclical consumption and materialism. Alternatively they could be used by the military to help create autonomous robots, and other killing machines.

Under a social model the research and development would be moderated and restricted.

In the current system the military are more likely to push for AI research specifically dealing with flying aircraft and targetting detection. Whilst that research could be used to make aircraft autopilots more safer and better than actual humans, it can also be used to create UAV’s that will automatically bomb ‘enemy threats’.

Example 2 : Nuclear research

Under a Linear model researchers would be able to research Nuclear fusion and fission technology, to the point their research could be used for zero radiological waste Nuclear power plants, or even handheld cold fusion powerpacks.

Under a social model such research would likely require heavy debate amongst the public before being rejected because of it’s affiliations with nuclear weapons, and the potential military applications.

There are 3 main types of ethics when dealing with science :
1. Those relating to internal research (e.g harm to the humans and animals involved, or the intellectual property rights).
2. What research should be undertaken (especial under the social model), and with what priorities?
3. The scientific responsibility (this is harder if there is no distinction between pure and applied research).

For all the emphasis on the material benefits of science, we should not prevent recognition of it as an essential part of human culture, just like painting, literature, and music are“ – Sir Ian Wark

Tension points in Ethics include :

  • The scientists sphere of responsibility. E.g How responsible is Albert Einstein for the dropping of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
  • Risk – What are acceptable levels of risk? Who is at risk? Why are people willing to accept that risk? Do they have a choice? (E.g are they being coerced by monetary or health reasons)
  • IP rights and restrictions – This is especially an advantage for developing countries.
  • Industry funding of research – A company is much more likely to fund applied sciences which has obvious monetary reward, whilst government research is much more likely to fund fundamental pure science.
  • Criteria for selecting research projects – A lot of the selection process in regarding research projects is determined by which ones will be funded. Currently 90% of research funding is done in the 1st world, not 3rd world countries, which are the ones that actually need it.
  • Risk vs Benefit – In a number of cases the people at risk aren’t the ones who benefit, which can add extra strain to maintaining ethics.

One saying mentioned was that ‘I don’t care what you do, as long as you worry about it.

Zeitgeist Movement Specific

Personally I think that the best approach for the Zeitgeist Movement regarding ethics in science is a hybrid approach. Using mainly a linear model, but with priorities set by Venux.
Hopefully there would be very little restrictions on pure research (except maybe in the types of experiments, and possibly the amount of resources available for super large projects).

Thank you for reading. If you have any ideas, comments or concerns, feel free to post them into the comments, or email

NB : This essay was initially posted by Michael Kubler to the South Australian ZM mailing list on Sun, 22nd Nov – 2009