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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Preserving Humanity

Let's say that we knew for a fact that in 200 years a large meteor or other heavenly object was going to strike Earth and blow it to smithereens and that there was nothing we could do to prevent the impact and that all life on Earth would die, including all humans on the planet.

What action should we, collectively, take if faced with this information?

My answer: we should collectively take no action at all.

I seem to be in a tiny minority who thinks that. Most others, it seems from my observations, would want to deploy a substantial part of humanity's resources to colonizing other planets (via Instapundit) in order to preserve humanity.

Why? I don't get it, being a "Dust in the Wind" kinda guy.



What is so important about the survival of this DNA based creature call homo sapiens? It seems that we're kinda nasty, brutish, and some of us are short. All currently living people will already be dead at the time of impact. Why should they make sacrifices for those unknown in the future? Does it objectively matter if we go extinct in 200 years or 200 million years? If so, why?

21 comments:

Harry Eagar said...

Yeah, why vaccinate? Why compel seatbelts? Pure food laws are for sissies.

erp said...

Odd you should mention vaccination Harry. Your cohort has made them voluntary for entering school children leading to all kinds of mischief, like Pertussis outbreaks and probably other things not being reported. I had to get a booster shot before I could see my new granddaughter in Sam Francisco last year.

Seatbelts? What he [the author], found was that contrary to conventional wisdom, mandating the use of seat belts in 18 countries resulted in either no change or actually a net increase in road accident deaths.

The same thing was true of the effects of the national 55 MPH speed limit we endured for an eternity of years thanks to that cretinous socialist Richard M. Nixon.

FDA? Beyond a disaster. They have caused far more damage and spent far too much of our money doing it than probably any other government agency. Just take the ban on DDT which caused the deaths of millions of people. Their nutrition guidelines are worse than parodies. Various and sundry foods and drugs have gone from bad to good and back again several times during my lifetime. Best things for our well being would be to cut it and all the other nanny-state agencies and programs out of the body politic.

Clovis e Adri said...

Hey, Merry Christmas to you all!

I take the opportunity given by the date to try an answer for your question:

---
All currently living people will already be dead at the time of impact. Why should they make sacrifices for those unknown in the future? Does it objectively matter if we go extinct in 200 years or 200 million years? If so, why?
---

We can take the other side of this coin and, instead of the doom scenario, think about its opposite.

Let's say that we knew for a fact that in 200 years a sort of singularity will happen. Mankind will achieve technology that will surpass our wildest dreams of magic, to the point of conquering death, pain and no one ever will be short.

More than that, it finally finds an answer to its most ancient questions. It unlocks all the secrets of the Universe, God and the Infinite.

The caveat being that, to achieve so, all its previous generations (including our previous, present and the few next ones) need to keep struggling and suffering, both with nature and our own nastiness.

To which I give back to your the questions: All currently living people will already be dead by then. Why should they make sacrifices for those unknown in the future? Does it objectively matter if we go Nirvana in 200 years or 200 million years? If so, why?

erp said...

Q. Matter to whom?

Bret said...

erp,

Matter objectively, in which case I don't think there's a "whom" involved.

Bret said...

Clovis,

My answer is that we should not make any sacrifices to hurry the singularity. And no, it doesn't matter if we achieve Nirvana in 200 years or 200 million years or never, in my opinion.

Yes, that's another side of the coin, but no, I don't see why anyone would care to make the sacrifice.

Bret said...

Clovis,

Note that when I wrote "we" above, I meant "we" as in collectively forced. If some folk, possibly even myself wanted to work towards that point, then I wouldn't want to stop them either.

Peter said...

There is an academic on a leftist site I sometimes frequent who would not only agree with you, he would do so enthusiastically. His background is radical animal rights/deep ecology and his basic thesis is that, objectively speaking, life sucks and humans are a blight. He argues that the only rational course is to support policies eradicating humanity. He is brilliant, learned and, to my mind, quite mad.

What fascinates me is how artfully he upsets the regulars, who are proudly secular and leftist, and how incompetent they are at challenging him. Although, like Harry, they love to fulminate at the evils of religion in all its manifestations, they also wish to safeguard their sunny optimism that life is good, humans are basically or (at least potentially) noble and good, and that the whole show is worth preserving and fighting to protect. His existential pessimism upsets them profoundly.

In some ways, he is following the traditions of the early 20th century atheists who understood the emptiness their creed implied. When they said all is permitted and spoke of the "terrifying abyss of nothingness", they were simply taking atheism to its rational conclusions. Why bother even getting up in the morning? In those days, the rap against religion was that it was too pacific and cocooned people in a sugar-coated theological pink nursery that blinded them to their cruel, ridiculous fate. Today, secularists and rationalists talk as if life is good and can only get better if we rid ourselves of all those violent, extremely dangerous believers. There is no problem that can't be solved by rationalism and objective materialism.

There is no answer to Bret's challenge without some reference to a teleological underpinning to existence. It's very American to think otherwise and it's also very American to say one would do nothing to prevent our extinction, but if others want to, that would be perfectly ok.

Harry Eagar said...

Wasn't Bret the one who posited that an unfettered market economy would accelerate wealth to unimagined levels?

'There is no problem that can't be solved by rationalism and objective materialism.'

Not my position; but I do believe that no problem is ever solvable by believing in nonsense.

erp said...

Without subjective reality, there is nothing.

Harry Eagar said...

An interesting consequence of community control:

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/b1013fe937814697a766af4714a96ad6/israel-former-ultra-orthodox-jews-demand-basic-education

erp said...

Was the curriculum kept secret? If not, they have no beef.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

----
Yes, that's another side of the coin, but no, I don't see why anyone would care to make the sacrifice.
----
So I guess you answered your questions. Up to a point.

In both cases you fail to realize how none of those things are options. We have no choice but toil through life and ages, be it for doom or redemption. No one is "collectively forcing" you to take a new breath every second.

You may not care much for your 200 years in future descendants, but you care enough for yourself and your daughters to be in favor of at least trying something if apocalypse were now. And I beleive you very probably have at least a bit of curiosity about that singularity thing, don't you?

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "We have no choice but toil through life and age..."

But the question is whether or not an individual should toil through life and age for the collective, like a serf, or whether the individual should be able to toil for that which he or she finds important (e.g., his or her own family, friends, community, life projects, etc.)?

Clovis wrote: "...you care enough for yourself and your daughters to be in favor of at least trying something if apocalypse were now..."

Perhaps not. This post is a sort of a metaphor for global warming in case it's not obvious, and no, I have no interest in doing anything directly to work against global warming (I'm all in favor of higher gasoline taxes (to offset other taxes) and lots of things like that, but not specifically to try to work against global warming).

Clovis wrote: "I beleive you very probably have at least a bit of curiosity about that singularity thing, don't you?"

I think the singularity is BS, so no.

Bret said...

Peter wrote: "There is no answer to Bret's challenge without some reference to a teleological underpinning to existence."

Yes, that's my point. And I need to know just what said teleological underpinning is before I can become a happy serf and support the collective. Otherwise, the collective can go er, uh, well, you know....

Peter wrote: "It's very American to think otherwise..."

You mean very American Left, don't you?

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

----
But the question is whether or not an individual should toil through life and age for the collective, like a serf, or whether the individual should be able to toil for that which he or she finds important (e.g., his or her own family, friends, community, life projects, etc.)?
-----

The better question is, what difference does it make?

If you are just dust in the wind, and so is all of mankind, whether you live like a serf of others or a serf only of yourself is just as irrelevant. Or if not, why so?

Bret said...

Clovis,

Objectively, it doesn't matter at all.

Subjectively, it makes a huge difference to each individual, both in living their own life and being able to impose by force their agenda on others.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

So if a large enough mumber of fellow humans get more fullfillment by imposing their agenda on others, whatever that means, we can argue that it maximizes happiness in subjective terms, so there you have it: Why shoudn't they?

Bret said...

Clovis,

I don't think I'm making a utilitarian argument here. If anything, it's the opposite.

On the other hand, history is full of groups of humans imposing on others if the costs of imposing aren't too high. Might makes right and all that.

Howard said...

erp,

Just for you: more vaccination fun

Bret,

Even if Clovis is not being too cute, he would be misapplying utility theory.

Peter,

There is no answer to Bret's challenge without some reference to a teleological underpinning to existence.

Keep that one handy for an upcoming post.

Harry Eagar said...

I would not want to be a private in Bret's army. Not in combat, anyway.

This is an odd sort of declaration of war against religion; not one that I would endorse but if effective, welcome anyway.