The Roman Philosopher Lucius Anneaus Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE) was perhaps the first to note the universal trend that growth is slow but ruin is rapid. I call this tendency the "Seneca Effect."

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Fighting Shadow-Banning. The Seneca Blog Lands on Substack


The new face of the "Seneca Effect" blog on Substack. It is an attempt to circumvent the shadow ban imposed on the blog by the powers that be. Maybe it will do better on Substack than on the Google blogger platform, where it is now, although I am not sure: never underestimate the power of the PTBs. In any case, for some time, the two platforms, Google Blogger and Substack, will go in parallel and publish the same posts.

"Shadow Banning" (also "soft banning", or "ghost banning") is a clever way to make someone disappear from the Web, without giving the impression that he or she has been censored (*). It simply consists in making one's website disappear from the first pages of the search engines. It works: you get lost in the vast prairies of the Internet and your readers can't find you anymore. It happened even to Donald Trump when he was still president. 

The "Seneca Effect" blog underwent the same treatment. You can see it on this record from "Google Analytics.

You see that the blog was gaining popularity at the end of 2022, especially when I set up a new domain called "" Then, something happened in late December. The trend went through a reversal, going down and plateauing at about half of the level they had one year before. And it keeps going down. 

For a while, I thought that it was due to the catastrophists leaving the blog in droves when I published an optimistic post on renewable energy. That made some of them not just disagree but whipped them into a positive frenzy of personal insults against my modest person. Catastrophists are a curious bunch of people, always reminding me of Groucho Marx's quip about not wanting to belong to a group that accepts people like you as members. But, after a few months, the effect of a single post should have disappeared. But no... the blog continues to decline in terms of audience. 

Of course, the PTBs will never admit that they are shadow-banning someone. But the symptoms are clear. Just use your search engine, and you'll see that the "Seneca Effect" blog comes way back in the list of the results, preceded by other sites dealing with Seneca matters, and even by my old site, "Cassandra's Legacy," which I had to abandon more than one year ago because it had been banned (not so softly) by Facebook. Even Wikipedia does not cite the Seneca blog on its page on the "Seneca Effect," only the old, and not updated anymore, Cassandra blog. Not surprising, since they are notoriously in the hands of alien monsters from outer space. 

Only Bing, miraculously, shows the blog on the first page when you search for "Seneca Effect." I would never have imagined becoming a fan of Bill Gates!

So, life is hard for shadow-banned bloggers, and it is little comfort to be in a group that includes Donald Trump and many others (and, again, about not wanting to belong to a certain group....). Shadow banning is like one of those curses of fantasy novels that plague people forever unless they go through special rituals or difficult tests, say, slaying a dragon. But slaying the Google dragon is surely much more difficult than getting rid of Tolkien's Smaug. 

So, the only possibility to circumvent soft banning is to change the name of your site, or change platform. For the time being, I am trying a move to Substack, which seems to be less subjected to Google power and, for now, not practicing censorship. You can find the Seneca version on Substack at this link. (**)

Will it work? I don't know. For the time being, the two platforms, Google Blogger and Substack, will go in parallel, mirroring each other. And we'll see. 


One point on which I am not sure is how Substack's popularity relies heavily on monetary support for authors from readers. Maybe it is a good idea and I don't despise a little compensation for the work I am doing: after all, I take royalties on the books I sell. Also, on Blogger, I have a small advertising banner that brings me about $25 per month (!!). I keep it there mainly as a way to get a feeling of the number of people who stay on the page long enough to notice the banner. In that case, though, the advertisers pay, not the readers. But I feel a bit queasy about asking readers to pay to read my posts. If I activate paid subscriptions on Substack, I would do that only as an option for readers to show their support, but not as a requisite to read the posts. But what do you think? 

(*) Shadow banning doesn't need the Internet to exist. It is a much older story. Just as a quick note, I would like to mention the treatment inflicted on the great mathematician Vito Volterra in the 1930s, as a result of his opposition to the Fascist government in Italy. He was not physically harmed, jailed, or his movement restricted. He was just ignored: gradually marginalized, fired from his position as president of the Italian Research Council, and later even from his position as university professor. None of his colleagues dared to defy the ban, and up to the 1960s, it remained politically incorrect to mention him and his work in Italy (see this article by Giovanni Paoloni)

(**) I have another blog on Substack, "The Proud Holobionts," dedicated to the ecosystem, climate, biology, and the like. It is also a mirror of the same blog on Google's blogger. 


Note added after publication: the "Seneca Effect" blog seems to be also tainted on chatGPT. The AI bot names it, but when asked to provide a link for it, it provides the wrong one. 

Can you suggest a blog to learn about the Seneca Effect?

Yes, there are several blogs and websites where you can learn about the Seneca Effect, a phenomenon named after the ancient Roman philosopher Seneca who observed that "growth is slow, but ruin is rapid." Here are a few suggestions:

"The Seneca Effect" by Ugo Bardi: Ugo Bardi is an Italian chemist and professor at the University of Florence who has written extensively on the Seneca Effect. His blog, "The Seneca Effect," is a great place to start for an introduction to the concept. He has also written several books on the subject, including "The Seneca Effect: Why Growth is Slow But Collapse is Rapid."

"Cassandra's Legacy" by Ugo Bardi: Ugo Bardi's blog, "Cassandra's Legacy," covers a wide range of topics related to sustainability, including the Seneca Effect. In addition to his own writing, the blog also features guest posts from other experts in the field.

"Our Finite World" by Gail Tverberg: Gail Tverberg is an actuary and analyst who writes about energy, economics, and the limits to growth. Her blog, "Our Finite World," covers a wide range of topics related to the intersection of energy and the economy, including the Seneca Effect.

"The Automatic Earth" by Ilargi and Stoneleigh: "The Automatic Earth" is a blog that covers economic and financial news from a perspective that emphasizes the limits to growth. The blog covers a wide range of topics related to the Seneca Effect, including the impact of resource depletion on the global economy.

These blogs and websites are great resources for learning more about the Seneca Effect and its implications for sustainability, economics, and the future of our planet.

Can you provide links for the above suggestions?

Certainly! Here are the links to the blogs I mentioned in my previous response:

"The Seneca Effect" by Ugo Bardi:

"Cassandra's Legacy" by Ugo Bardi:

"Our Finite World" by Gail Tverberg:

"The Automatic Earth" by Ilargi and Stoneleigh:

I hope you find these resources helpful for learning about the Seneca Effect!

After much prodding, the dumb thing spouted out the truth:

"It's possible that my training data may not have included the correct information regarding the link to Ugo Bardi's "The Seneca Effect" blog, or that I misinterpreted the context of the original question. In any case, I apologize for any confusion my earlier response may have caused and hope that my subsequent responses have been helpful in providing the correct information."


  1. In your last paragraph about Vito Volterra I think the word you need is "marginalized".

    1. Thanks. I used "emarginated" which is one of those "false friends" that can mislead non native English speakers. In Italian "emarginato" means "marginalized" -- but in English "emarginated" mans "notched" or something like that. We live to learn... maybe chatGPT could have helped in this case!!

    2. And one problem with mirror sites is that every time I have to make the same correction twice....

  2. el buscador de google a fines del año pasado no daba con la pagina del blog.

  3. es dificil de encontrar la pagina, sobretodo a fines del año pasado.

    1. As I said in another comment, maybe it is resurfacing? Who knows?

  4. Well Ugo, I have searched for "Seneca Effect" in Google and the blog appears in the second position. Too bad I can't attach the screenshot. In first position appears the article "Seneca Effect" from Wikipedia. And about the search results, the book "The Seneca Effect: Why Growth is Slow But..."
    With all due respect, aren't you getting a little paranoid? (Although there are plenty of reasons for this).

    1. It is hard to say. Different cookies on your browser may lead to different results. In my case, today I find "The Seneca Effect" in the 5th place on the first page. a few weeks ago, it wasn't even in the first page. Maybe it isl resurfacing, but I am not counting on that. And, nowadays, paranoids are those who are often right.

    2. "seneca effect" liste le blog en 4eme page. Pourtant en toute logique un nom de domaine comme devrait largement avoir la priorité... Donc Ugo à sans doute raison...
      Par contre tous les liens des 3 premières pages font référence à Ugo Bardi ce qui n'est déjà pas si mal ;)
      Et si l'on recherche "seneca effect blog", c'est le 1er lien qui apparaît...
      L'une des raisons pourrait être tout simplement que le classement est très fortement dépendant des liens qui pointent vers le blog. S'il y a peu de sites mentionnant dans leur pages, quelque soit la pertinence du blog, celui-ci ne sera jamais considéré comme digne d'intérêt par Google...

      Par contre le contraste en Bing et Google est frappant.
      Sur Bing, wikipedia est listé en 1er et le blog en second !
      Et sur Duckduckgo c'est même pire : blog 1er Wikipedia 2eme...
      Moralité, Ugo a malheureusement sans doute raison concernant Google :(

    3. On my browser, on "Bing" I see "The Seneca Effect" in the first position, and Wikipedia 2nd. Browsing is like swimming in a river, you can never do that in the same river!

  5. I think it is a good idea to move to Substack. I was just reading someone the other day who publishes on Substack who said the number of subscribers skyrocketed when he moved to Substack after years of blogging. Maybe not instantaneously but not long. I think their recommendation engine and other things are the reason.

    As far as charging, I agree with leaving it optional. If you want to encourage paid subscriptions, offer some benefits exclusive to paid subscribers.

  6. As Issac Asimov once said, "Any book worth banning is a book worth reading." Although this state of affairs may inconvenience you for a time, I would take it as a sign that you are saying things that need to be said.

    I spend a lot of time reading Substack contributors, because they appear to be completely uncensored. Moving your blog there is an excellent decision. Good luck and see you there!

  7. Hello Mr Bardi,

    I have noticed in the past that your site would not be listed on google’s first page. Only shadows of it on third party websites.

    If you make a cheap subscription option on substack, I’ll be happy to send you a couple of dollars a month.

  8. Hello Mr. Bardi,

    I have noticed in the past that does not show on google's results page. It is there only in shadows, via third party websites.

    If you offer a cheap subscription option on Substack, perhaps a couple dollars a month, I will be happy to contribute. Until now, I've only done so by buying your books.

  9. FYI, I tried it with the Google search engine on my mobile phone and the link to this blog appears first in the search list. And I also tried on the computer at my job (not loged with my Google account) and your blog is the first on the list. I'm proud you are not censored in Spain :)

    1. That does not mean much. Google knows who you are. If you have visited a site that website can appear in your search results. Algorithms don't take breaks or get tired.

      Keeping everything looking more or less normal is important. Sadly more or less works. A website can still appear shadow-banned to everyone else. Or as the truth be - not appear to anyone else.

      My website does not show up if you do a search for chasingthesquirrel at all. Period, nada! Once I was at the top of the list. TPTB are devious MOFOS. Please visit my website. I too am shadow-banned.

      Guvmints do not like doomers. Period. And shadow-banning shepherds everyone along the road to ruin.

  10. Ugo we are all trying to figure out how to use this media to share objective and sound opinions. Perhaps they are counter to whatever government you find your self in/under. That in a nutshell is the suppression of censure - I don't know what else to say. Eventually and after much wasted effort... equilibrium will win.

    LJ Oberto

  11. To be honest, I didn't read your blog as regularly lately, too much politics. I'd tell you to stick to what you do best, science and history, but I understand that you feel the need to say what you say.

    1. Maybe I should be more specific. I don't mind what you say, but I can read it everywhere. I believe that the problem is not the way East an West, North and South are treating one another, but the way humanity is treating nature. I recommend reading Joanna Macy.
      If the trees, the mountains, the rivers... still were sacred, if not only obedient men, women, symbols, books and signs of the dominant local culture were sacred, we couldn't exploit nature the way we do it, and we wouldn't hurt it so badly to get some more territory, and humanity as a part of nature could be respected as well.

    2. No problemo, Individuals can consider mountains and trees sacred al they want. Keep it to yourself, chant and burn incense at your shrine and the Power That Be will have no problem with you. None at all.

      Bad apples can destroy the world by themselves. They don't need your help to do it. Social values considering the sacred is a problem for the them, but our society is built around consumption and domination via money. The PTB need not worry.

      I listen to Nate Hagens and Daniel Schmachtenberger banter big words and systems thinking. Ugo would understand them, I can understand them. I bet you can to!. Whoop-de-do. But put the podcast in the link I give here on the FM radio playing over speakers in an American big box store, how many people in the store would have a clue about what Nate and Daniel are talking about? Can Europe really do much better?

      I don't think being smarter or more enlightened spiritually while standing back to watch the world die is the answer. I am not saying what the answer is, but I am saying what it is not. Become enlightened, good for you. How does that help the rest of us? It doesn't one bit.

    3. I guess you didn't get the point. The original sinn is not by Adam and Eva, but Genesis 1.28
      "And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."

      Spirituality without action is what Karl Marx condemned, something just to keep people quiet.

  12. Although I disagree with some of your optimism on renewables (I think too much damage may have been done for renewables to make much difference at this point), I come back here frequently. Regardless, one thing I've noticed is that Google seems to shift search results. I can search for something one day, but then the exact search the next day may return almost the same results, but in a different order. I'm not sure if it is "learning" that I didn't click certain links before, or if it is slowly directing me elsewhere. This may be just AI or it could be based on some kind of ranking by clicks.
    On the topic of AI, I've often wondered how AI is influencing us. For example, it's known that the US stock market conducts most trades via algorithms. These algorithms are emotionless and are designed to produce profits for their investments. They do not care about a fundamentals. As such, they can push a stock around as they see fit (selling or buying when they want just to make money). Now, imagine you have a company that is targeted by one of these algorithms. Once a selloff (or buying) of your company's stock begins, other (human) investors start to sell (or buy). In this sense, the AI has controlled the value of a company; it is manipulating people. The same could be happening with search engines.

  13. Catastrophists (aka doomers) are indeed an interesting cult. You are either with us or against us. ~ G. W. Bush

  14. The Domain Authority of the SenecaEffect website is low, because the website is not old enough and you do not have enough “backlinks.” Google updates its algo quite a lot, and your website’s ranking will go up and down. Also, depending on the country, ranking will be different (for me you appear at bottom of first page on Google.) it’s an SEO problem…

    1. That's perfectly true, anonymous, but it doesn't explain why a blog that was nicely growing, suddenly started declining. Sometimes a wrong post sends people away, but, overall, the blog content didn't change so much. So, I do believe there was an external intervention. And I am not the only one who experienced something like this.

    2. Does substack have metrics available to you ? I don't know anything about it, I always thought it was some kind of revenue per click site like hubpages or something. ArtDeco

    3. Not very sophisticated ones. They only tell how many people clicked on your post.

    4. And no revenue per click -- but that is normal. On Google, you can have a revenue only if you add advertising.

    5. Sounds like I should probably stay with WordPress, but their analytics aren't very good anymore, unless you add a plugin that may break other parts of the site. Sigh.

      Revenue isn't the point for the bloggers, but it certainly is for the platforms. And your "end of the world" essays won't sell much heavily advertised junk, so the platforms don't want them.