The ERE Wheaton Scale

Simple living, extreme early retirement, being wealthy, ...
7Wannabe5
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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Actually, one could argue that interest on credit card debt is likely just flowing to billionaires who already engage in philanthropy at their margin, so it’s only an issue of who has the decision making power.

AxelHeyst
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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by AxelHeyst »

nomadscientist wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 8:56 am
So, from my perhaps flawed perspective the focus of the table seems to be on 2 [minimize monetary trading].
I don't think that's the focus of the table. It feels like the progression from WL1 to 7/8 involves the near-elimination of desired household spending. AKA "the amount of money these people think they need to spend in order to maintain their lifestyles/basic needs". Spending plays such a predominant role in the journey to WL7/8 because its a process of unlearning. Most of us have spent our entire lives being programmed with the centrality of money. The ERE path, from one perspective, is the path of decentralizing money in one's focus/mindset. This is different than minimizing monetary trading, but the action of minimizing monetary trading up to ~7 is (perhaps) necessary to internalize this decentralization.

[Edit: minimizing monetary trading is a necessary step for those people who have been programmed with the centrality of money. If you somehow managed to avoid being programmed with the centrality of money, say if you were raised by barefoot hippies, if you're that "Rewild University" guy's kids, or have simply been a dirtbag your whole life, you don't need to unlearn fiscal centrality. There may be other things you need to unlearn, or perhaps the process of adopting systems thinking will be very rapid, or whatever. Your Wtable will look different.]

Note the focus on L9 includes "avoiding foolish inconsistencies". One foolish inconsistency would be maintaining an insistence on the centrality of money [edit: e.g. by refusing to use money, even a great deal of money, to achieve some live player / infinite game goals. It's similar to how the opposite of a religious zealot is *not* a militant atheist; they're two sides of the same coin, and both exhibit a similar kind of immaturity.]

Imagine that up to WL7, when you think of the flows through your life web, some of those flows have the symbol "$" attached to them, and you affix a certain set of values and judgements to the fact that those flows are money flows. You might attach the value "bad" or "minimize these!" to those money flows.

Once you level up, though, you drop those value judgements. You don't make too much distinction between the conceptualized notions of what money is, and you just see flows, neither good nor bad because of what the flows are of (time, money, social capital, synergistic relationships, whatever), but in how they serve to stitch your particular web of goals together. Sometimes you use green thread, sometimes you use red thread, sometimes you use white thread. Part of the ability to de-value the flows is because you're actually seeing the impacts, benefits, side effects of the use of any kind of flow - you no longer have to use simplistic hueristics for flows (maximize free time! minimize u$e of money! but why though?) because you're grokking the whole ecosystem (metaphor) at a higher level.
Last edited by AxelHeyst on Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

7Wannabe5
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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@AxelHeyst:

I agree with most of your analysis, especially as it pertains to recognizing upside/downside of any/every flow.

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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by jacob »

Indeed, it's very hard to communicate this [table] stuff without sounding like a condescending jerk or a haughty asshat. (But I'm wondering whethe the effort is worth it. Taleb seems like he might have made his peace with it.) There's also an art to communicating the learning process when facing the headwinds of the common paradigm of "the customer of always right", "I'm entitled to my own opinion", "I'm not a child anymore", "best value for money", "push product", "accrete customers", "how does this increase my productivity", "please serve me", and many others.

Using the principle of charity and taking into account that I realize that I'm not saying this in the nicest way possible nor in a way that preserves the social dynamics on the forum but hopefully in a way that preserves a constructive dialogue ...
  • @daylen's earlier post matches where I personally see WL9 and also a particular instantiation (OO language) of what I see WL9 being about although there could be other ways. Misinterpret it at your peril. The table illustrates that in the most general way I can imagine. This is because I (me) see WL9 in partial fog(*) and because I leave further exploration open for things to develop in a rather open-ended way once Plato's Cave has been exited: We gotta figure out a new game for those who want to live outside the cave because currently none are known---colonialism pretty much killed off/out/away those humans who knew how to live like that. Likely this new [beyond neolithic] game will carry some remnant of the "finite games" inside the cave; but I expect WL10 to have solved for that. So read his post for the closest thing you'll have on WL9 for a while ...
  • @AxelHeyst and @BookLoverL grok the table like I intended and also how I execute the meta-strategy of how/when/what to communicate on a personal level as well as the spirit of which the table was constructed. So thank you for seeing me or my message or both and bridging my communication style. And the starfish thank you for the grease-work. My work is primarily for me and others like me. I'll describe the trail in abstract constructs as I move through it. I'll leave enough of a bread crumb trail(blaze) for people to follow more easily, but I'm not gonna build a 5-lane highway or run a tour-bus for tourists. That's for others to do if they want to. If my trail is worthwhile, someone will eventually build it out.
In the lieutenant metaphor, they said what I said but better/more understandable. I just wanted to underline it; that it's what I intended.

I don't think WL8+ language is all that comprehensible until one has mastered multiple fields to a high ("coordinating/creative") level which should have happened by WL7. I don't see any reason to make it comprehensible before that either. What would be the point? See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPvftqB-WXk or wait for a work-in-progress presentation which elucidates this further.

I just don't see any easy way to understand deeper perspectives w/o doing the work personally. Sorry, there's no "black belt in one year" or sampler-classes to be gotten from me.

(*) It's the compass course of my heading.

Overall, I don't want to lay out doctrine but I also don't want what I say to be misunderstood. Nor do I want to defend or explain the same things all the time. I hate repeating things over and over and over. Pedagogically, I'm differentiating between the eager students (see Confucius's Analects) and the "this sounds intriguing but I can't be assed to put in any effort myself so if you could please make an extra effort to convince me ..."

Sorry, no, but there's a triage process going on.

I tried "going wide"/mainstream in 2011. The mismatch in impedance was like a Texas powergrid failure. Hah!? Result: I shut down the blog and went into a hidey-hole for 6 months to get the WL1s to go away again.

BWND
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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by BWND »

The changes to the table and the discussion has jolted me out of creeping complacency. Has anyone else found the same?

I’ve been thinking about how the discussion on this thread fits with the problems of specialisation as described in the ERE book and illustrated in graph form.

Once the table was established and settled for a few years it became possible for the various parameters to be learnt ‘by heart’. I’ve seen references to the table being ‘gamed’ or viewed mechanically in a score keeping type way.

Is it possible the mindset of the specialist has been applied to the ERE WL table? It’s certainly possible it has been in my own case i.e. the parameters were established externally (to many users) and codified. The specialist mindset then sets about bulldozing upwards by playing the rules of the ERE game. Of course what happens when the parameters change is that understanding and competence falls away significantly. We even reached the stage that a few changes at the upper levels sparked existential questions along the lines of “where the f**k are we going?”. Rapidly diminishing understanding and competence of a world many here spend a lot of time living in and thinking about can cause a crisis - cue mass panic*

What this has done is forced me to take a little stock of my own internal systems for thinking about my own systems and this ERE path, if that makes sense.

What wouldn’t make sense is that every time the frontiers move or the map changes that everyone sits down and waits for Jacob to phone in with new directions for everyone along the different roads.

Chop wood and carry water has to happen at every level and everyone has to do it.


*For a little comedic relief, have we had the Kuebler-Ross five stages of grief played out here?

Denial - Jacob how could you? There must be some mistake :?
Anger - This makes no sense change it back or else :evil:
Bargaining - If you change it here and here then I’ll be happy :(
Depression - I was never going to reach Level X anyway :cry:
Acceptance - Oh well, I suppose I’d better get back to chopping wood and carrying water. 8-)

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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by IlliniDave »

BWND wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:01 pm
The changes to the table and the discussion has jolted me out of creeping complacency. Has anyone else found the same?
Yes, but active complacency. Despite being an introvert I still have the normal human need to have some sense of belonging on occasion. I worried for a good bit about trying to fit in and be a better ere-er, but a second attempt at wrestling with Jacob's table resulted in the micro-epiphany that my goal probably lies on a different map, or at some far edge of the ere map where it just says "Here be Dragons" or contains illustrations of sea serpents or other indicators that only fools tread there. :)

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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by BWND »

BWND wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:01 pm
The specialist mindset then sets about bulldozing upwards by playing the rules of the ERE game.
I should add that I mean this in the box ticking way. Fundamentals are still fundamentals and why re-invent the wheel if some systems accelerate you that you can take off the shelf.

@Jacob, you've just said "I just don't see any easy way to understand deeper perspectives w/o doing the work personally." I definitely get that. I know the feeling of being on your side of the relationship from my own employed role and it's exceptionally frustrating. To not just give the info isn't a sadistic thing of wanting to be "in the know" at the expense of others - if it was possible to plug in Matrix style and upload it life would just be a whole lot easier and you'd save a lot of time. The problem is that it isn't possible.

@IlliniDave I'm loving the old style map imagery :lol:

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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by IlliniDave »

Regarding my most recent prior post, I think I've gained a little more specificity in my thoughts. Going through some old emails I came across a prior colleague's farewell message and that got me thinking about my own upcoming notification. It seems that solving difficult problems and completing challenging tasks often forges kinship between people. And that's one of the things I've enjoyed throughout my stint in industry. Even though from the perspective of employers we're individually just a 1 each, Engineering Unit; that's usually not how it is on the ground between people.

In hindsight I probably went into autopilot and took the murkiness some of us perceived in the ereWL table as a clue that understanding it from the generalist/prospective sojourner perspective was more-or-less a problem to be solved, like a puzzle. In the end the misunderstanding made it a square peg/round hole endeavor (i.e., the table's purpose is something else). So when I mentioned belonging it was in the sense of participation in a meet-a-challenge cohort rather than something like a little kid that just wants to tag along with the cooler kids because they are cooler.

Anyway, I suspect the topic will arise on the forum someday down the road, and I'm likely to cogitate about it some more when it does. But for now I need to finish frying the fish already in the pan (worry about my own business).

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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by nomadscientist »

FWIW I was nowhere implying that Jacob is off the scale in terms of thought or something like that, only that his intent is obscure. An interesting and smart guy to be sure, but still a guy living an ordinary lower middle class lifestyle in a mid-West USA city (as he has described himself in the past) with the skill being to do so for much less money than thought typical.

Yes, interesting. But not some Buddha.

I know several people personally who have far more divergent lifestyles and outlooks that Jacob, and these people are all very willing to describe what they're trying to do, and well able to describe what they're trying to do. Note not necessarily explain every technical detail of how they do it to every passing stranger, but their broad outlook? Of course. On the other hand, they're generally less capable than Jacob and their technical details are less interesting. I.e. the technique is what separates them, or at least what puts Jacob ahead (if anything).

IDK what Jacob is trying to do. This is not some "twenty years to become a blackbelt in deciding what you want from life" thing. The actions and statements are just incongruous and the statements obscure. If Jacob wants to minimize personal ecological impact, he wouldn't live in a city and own a car. Quite a lot of people live in a rural area and do not own a car, and live off own produce. Maybe they spend more money than Jacob, because they didn't set themselves a goal of "show the internet how few individual $s can go out", but surely live with less impact, and more robustness. I know such a community near my own place (not exactly the boonies, BTW). I think a lot of people do.

So my questions are not motivated by trying to piece together this amazing feat of living in a suburban house that I'm too dumb to understand, but to get the motivations guiding the future developments of the lifestyle by a master of technique.

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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by jacob »

nomadscientist wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:33 am
So my questions are not motivated by trying to piece together this amazing feat of living in a suburban house that I'm too dumb to understand, but to get the motivations guiding the future developments of the lifestyle by a master of technique.
The past proceeded in two steps.
1) See if it's possible to live WELL on an amount that would be sustainable as well as equitable. (The $7k/year challenge which has been described in several podcasts.)
2) Describe this in a way (financial independence) that would be appealing to the masses in a form that would render adopters resilient towards 21st century change. (The ERE blog/book, myths and the future, hedged approaches, and all that.).

For future developments and step 3, see daylen's post above. I'm not sure I'm going to do this within the context of ERE. Newbies will just end up more confused. I have not written much about this in public. There may be a future presentation on The Stoa about this.

You might think of (1) as proof of concept, (2) as creating ingredients in the form of "renaissance" people, and (3) as putting them together in a new societal recipe.

For the overall drive of the table, see the BookLoverL post, I quoted in full above.

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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by matchewed »

I have to agree that even if I would consider myself on a lower WL than some on this forum and have been an off again on again reader of the book and forum for almost a decade, the intent doesn't seem that obscure. I believe Jacob has been relatively clear on the intent. Back on pg 19 he quoted BookLoverL directly. Now the idea is if there is a critical mass of individuals living life with a different value system can it expand culturally?

Maybe I'm wrong but for an individual or single family unit, the WL table can be a contextual guideline to help explain or understand where you or another is.

The book and blog posts and forum are examples of how to move along a path.

If the question is "path to where?" well revisit pg 19 and consider that the path to where is just a better way perhaps? A better way of living with our immediate environment and eventually the world.

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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by Frita »

Alphaville wrote:
Sun Apr 04, 2021 9:11 am
it's not so much that people make false promises, but it's what in negotiation is known as "the call girl principle." a service (or good) is valued more before it's purchased than afterwards (hence call girls charge upfront haha)...

so if someone with no money asks me for something i own and offer to pay with some future labor... i've learned to either say "no" or " don't worry about it, just take it." otherwise i'll sell for cash at the flea market if/when i have time for it.

finding people to lend a hand is difficult. people try to get on the winning side of reciprocity. e.g. i can count on my father in law...reciprocity occurs. we don't need to keep tabs...
:lol: I love this term and shall remember it. This is the reason I prefer to buy secondhand.

Hm, for some reason I am occasionally taken in by false promises. This is probably because I want the lies to be true. Due to Call Girl Principle, my disappointment after the fact is of less (like no) consequence.

Your second paragraph describes my philosophy too. I also am good about just saying no.

Your FIL is a keeper. People like this are few and far between but prized relationships.

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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by BookLoverL »

nomadscientist wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:33 am
wants to minimize personal ecological impact, he wouldn't live in a city and own a car
I don't think it's necessarily accurate to suggest that you can't live ecologically in a city. Unless we're all expected to run full time permaculture homesteads, well-chosen city lifestyles can easily perform well ecologically - consider the people who dumpster-dive for the majority of their food and otherwise live off others' waste streams. In a city there is a lot more waste to go around compared to the countryside. And a badly-run homestead which doesn't use permaculture to improve the land could easily end up having a net-negative ecological impact on an area, if the agricultural practices being used are destructive ones.

Personally I've just moved to a city and my lifestyle has become significantly better for the environment, because I can now go places without driving (and am planning to sell my car as soon as I change jobs, though if I kept it and used it twice a year this would probably be pretty ecological). In cities there is also the potential to encourage sustainable ecological infrastructure such as walking and cycling routes, and also to improve the ecological health of the city with backyard and rooftop gardens and by making use of parks. Being environmentally friendly doesn't mean you need to go out into the wilderness - sometimes it means bringing the wilderness to you.

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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by figmenter »

I have been looking at NVC in relation to the ERE Wheaton levels.

NVC talks about universal (human) needs. We all have them and each person will develop different strategies for getting their needs met. Conflict arises when a strategy interferes with the need(s) of another person. By finding the abstract needs involved for each party, we can propose a strategy to get individual needs met at the same time, resolving the conflict.

I am using the universal needs as a tool to look at the evolution of my strategies as I progressed through the levels.

At WL below 5 my need for food was met by going to a restaurant or the supermarket. My need for relaxation was met by going to a gym and taking a yearly vacation abroad. My need for competence was met by my 9-to-5 job. My need for connection was met by my SO and a few close friends. My need for security was met by accumulating money.

At the lower levels, I observe an almost 1:1 correspondence between a need and the strategy for meeting it. Most of the strategies also required money to execute.

At my current level (between 6 and 7) my need for food is met by going to the supermarket, growing food in my backyard, allotment and community garden. My need for relaxation is met by gardening, walking, dancing, meditating, sitting in nature. My need for competence is met by doing volunteer work, experimenting in the garden, doing part-time work for multiple customers. My need for connection is met by my SO, close friends, neighbors, allotment members and random strangers. My need for security is met by the amount of connections I can make between my needs and my strategies.

At the higher levels, I observe an n:m matching between the needs and the strategies for meeting them. Every need has multiple strategies meeting it and every strategy meets several needs. Only a few of the strategies require money to execute. Security now comes from within - from my ability to choose effective strategies to meet my needs - and not from without - by accumulating money.

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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@jacob:

I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on Bill Gates’ “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” and/or Kim Stanley Robinson’s “The Ministry for the Future.” I’m still somewhat favoring Greer’s “The Eco-Technic Future” although it seems to over-weight Peak Oil vs Climate Change. Especially his note on the more independent experiments running, the more likely the chance of survival at species level*. Obviously, running out of dense cheap source energy and running out of space to dump waste are sub-problems of larger problem which can also lead to running out of useful materials, running out of good manners, etc.

@figmenter:

Great link. The concept of using one resource to meet all/most universal needs kind of links money to mammon, because as infants we depend on one source to meet all our needs. That’s why the process of “differentiation” in relationship therapy also has Wheaton levels, self-validation within complex emotional relationships being roughly analogous to self-reliance within complex material environment.

*Maybe “Everybody has a sex life, but not necessarily one you would want to take part in” is somewhat analogous to “Everybody has a Plan B,...?”

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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by jacob »

figmenter wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 2:21 am
At the higher levels, I observe an n:m matching between the needs and the strategies for meeting them. Every need has multiple strategies meeting it and every strategy meets several needs. Only a few of the strategies require money to execute. Security now comes from within - from my ability to choose effective strategies to meet my needs - and not from without - by accumulating money.
For 8, one begins to consider n's and m's that are not directly relevant to one's personal system. This can be closing a loop for waste even if one could more easily put it in the trashcan. This might introduce some narrow-inefficiency as one begins to optimize for the system instead of oneself but it increase broad-efficiency. At 8, the limits of staying in one's own system also begin to be felt. There's only so much one can do playing in one's own sandbox.

At 9 one realizes that it might be possible to change the range of the parameter space. That means no just finding the ideal/internal combination of n:m but that connecting them to others who are on the same level of systems integration might increase the potential number and kinds of n and m. An analogy would be a computer that's connected to the internet allows for more apps than an isolated computer.

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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by figmenter »

@jacob, So the problem at level 9 becomes more a question of: "How do I identify individuals at the same level of systems integration?" or, reversed: "How do I advertise my level of systems integration so others at the same level can find me?"

Maybe you're not the right person to ask but I'm curious. How does that work for you within your local community?

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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by jacob »

figmenter wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 8:52 am
Maybe you're not the right person to ask but I'm curious. How does that work for you within your local community?
Not well at all. I think the [randomly chosen location, which my location is] is far away from this point. The naive approach when these thoughts first begin to materialize is to try to build or convert an existing city. See e.g. ERE City, MMM City, or Transition Towns for an example of how it proceeded further. However, these fail out because most humans are still tied into their old (Cave) patterns---day jobs, supermarkets, ... Most attempts at "community"-building at this point in time (with most people being around WL1-3) comes in the form of weakly attended town meetings, $1000 courses to learn what's in a $10 book, and various presentations that "My invention will solve everything" along with slogans highlighting "my perspective is the most important one" like "Increasing spiritualism is the key to adapting to climate change" (Attend my $500 yoga retreat).

The ambition is then lowered from local to global: Lets try to build community on the internet. This works somewhat but this also fails. Not everyone in a group or tribe is there for the community. Some are there to optimize for their own goals and will leave as soon as they got their freebies, etc.

So I'm thinking, I'm gonna lower the ambition even further ... The overall goal is to "find a way" though. It's not unlikely that it will end up as a bunch of work with a small enthusiast following but largely forgotten or ignored by the mainstream... (one of those out of print books that cost $100+ used) then rediscovered in 2050 as a "if only we had paid attention back then".

BTW should also be noted that I'm not necessarily focused on "my local community". I know this is par for the course in most places. However, seeing as I think that this is practically impossible, I'd rather focus my efforts on individuals at WL8+ and see what can be done there.

In short, WL9 is work in progress for me. This is just what I think it will look like. I can't give any solid details like I can for WL8 and down. Just hunches.

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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by Jin+Guice »

Thanks for all the discussion it's been really interesting.

All of my suggestions about changing columns of the table were jokes. I think the table serves it purpose quite well and I don't have any meaningful suggestions to make to change the table. Everything else I've written is personal commentary as I think through my own ERE journey and reflect on the table and where I think my future ERE journey might take me. I hope the commentary is helpful/ inspiring to others.

To answer my own question about what the WL are leading towards, "Emergent Renissance Ecology" (I'm still not sure what this means) or "Living a Fulfilling Life While Also Living in a Way that is Ecologically Sustainable and In Balance With the World." The second one makes more sense to me.

I like the idea that we each make our own path, which implies to some level we each have our own table (althogh thinking about even trying to start one makes me appreciate how annoying the work @jacob has done is).

I think my own heading would be something like "Lead an Interesting Life, Full of Adventure" or just "Have Fun," and then a list of what that meant to me at different times in my life. I'm no longer having fun if I'm not thinking about environmental impact, helping people and getting shit done, in addition to hanging out, shredding licks and partying.

Another question I asked is whether or not it's important to totally lose all the benefits of industrialized consumerism or to actually drive expenses to zero. It seems like the answer to this is that the goal is to remove the "money lens" or escape from the cave, which then allows one to potentially rework some parts of industrialized consumerism back into the new system.

My new questions are:
jacob wrote:
Mon Apr 05, 2021 9:13 am
After living without spending much money for a while, it becomes easier to see that the developed world's--- or rather the top 20% earners of the developed world,so about 3% of the humans in the world---obsession with money is rather weird. Hence, "money" becomes one perspective out of many and not even the most important one.
This is very interesting. What are the other perspectives you have found? These are other perspectives on how to meet economic needs or is it more than that?

That old thread on transitioning from WL5 to WL6 was very helpful to me. That's where I was then. Now I'm at WL6, does anyone who is at WL7 or above have any insight on where to focus energy, attention and thought to move from WL 6 to WL7? Personally I'm in no rush, but having some clue as to where to look is helpful/ inspirational.



Stabbing in the dark here, but it sounds like WL9/ the problem that @jacob and @daylen are trying to solve is one of influence? Once the Wheaton Table becomes optimized on a personal level (not just monetary optimization, but full systems level optimization), the focus then turns external? Is this accurate or am I off base?

You guys are already onto this, but it's necessary to examine the scope of influence. Close friends, Dunbar level, people you know but don't have personal connections with, people you can reach secondarily, your own local community, those within your own culture, and then the world. Off the top of my head those are the levels of influence and each one requires a different tactic. It's admirable to me that this movement seeks to influence the entire world and save humanity from itself. I'm skeptical of the feasibility of that goal, but it's nice to be part of something where someone is at least trying.

Rn, I personally focus on close friends who "get it" to some degree, which is why I'm interested in claryfing what's at the top of the table. These people haven't gotten to where they are by trying to undo the money lens, but all of them have, through some personal journey, come to doubt the gospel of industrialized consumerism, often in different ways. My hope is that if I can build some small community that others can copy and adapt. This leaves the door open to outside ideas/ adaptations.

Overall the updated Wheaton Table is inspirational to me and the ensuing discussion has helped me focus my ideas and goals. Thanks for updating the table and to everyone who participated in the discussion.

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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by daylen »

Jin+Guice wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 10:37 am
Stabbing in the dark here, but it sounds like WL9/ the problem that @jacob and @daylen are trying to solve is one of influence? Once the Wheaton Table becomes optimized on a personal level (not just monetary optimization, but full systems level optimization), the focus then turns external? Is this accurate or am I off base?
Active influence is not a sufficient condition but rather a supplementary one. Ideally, people are influenced by how others live as opposed to how well others sell to them. This requires some individuals to sacrifice some degree of privacy so that transparency can act as an influential "currency".

Once people are influenced there is still the integration problem involving how Pareto-independent(*) players form an inter-independent alternative to the current inter-dependent system.

(*) .. meaning not completely independent of current system but enough to consider transitions.

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