Archives for category: Science

I don’t mean the end of the world as in a form of an environmental or man-made Armageddon, either through global warming eliminating the human race, or an asteroid obliterating the planet, or a series of massive volcanic eruptions making Earth unlivable. I mean the final stage of our planet, as in our sun dying, rendering any kind of life on Earth impossible. Or incinerating the planet, I can’t remember which is the case, but the idea is the same.

There are two scenarios that can come to pass if humanity has miraculously managed to last that long: either we have developed scientifically to the point that we are spread out among the stars and mankind survives, or we have not, and we die with our planet. There isn’t really a third option.

The majority of people look at this as the obvious need for scientific progress, as they believe that the continuation of our species is the preferred option. Humans as individuals cannot live forever, but we can, as a species, expand for an eternity if we make science and reason the focal point of our development. Human beings have achieved great things in the past, and it is not unlikely that we could continue to achieve them into the future if we maintain our path of rational enlightenment.

Let’s look at some of the progress we’ve already achieved. Has any of it come about without some atrocity or another? The achievements of the past, like the pyramids, the cathedrals of Europe, the Taj Mahal: these wonders of engineering that tourists of today clamor around in order to take kitschy photographs of themselves next to were all built by slaves. If you throw enough human suffering and death at something, you can create anything. These things we look at as great achievements are often created for the most superficial of reasons. The pyramids are the self-aggrandizing tombs of the rulers of the land who considered themselves gods, and felt they deserved to be treated as such in death. The Taj Mahal is a tomb for the Shah’s favourite wife. The cathedrals are testaments, not to the glory of God, but to the glory of His representatives on Earth. All these achievements, from all that suffering, for vanity.

But what about the scientific progress that leads to the improvement of society? The industrial revolution and the advent of the machine promised to reduce our workload to almost nothing, increasing both the leisure and overall health and happiness of humans across the globe. In reality, however, the industrial revolution lead to inhumane working conditions, class stratification, and the destruction of the environment.

Even today, our computing systems would be impossible without the continuation of the horrific working conditions now hidden from view in third world countries, and the polluting effects of mining the necessary toxic heavy metals, and the waste that comes with the inevitable obseletion of the electronic device, and its subsequent trip to the landfill.

If this trend continues, and we are lucky enough to survive and surpass the destruction of the earth, we would be barbaric conquerors of the universe. Pillaging each planet we came across, either oblivious or apathetic to the carnage that would follow in our wake. And for what? To what purpose do we continue to progress towards infinite expansion across the stars? Do we simply desire immortality? Are we really only Pharaohs, wishing to be gods, uncaring about the suffering it requires to get us there? Do we want to live forever simply out of vanity? What meaning is there to immortality?

Look at the life of an individual. Do we want to be the person who, in their ambition, crushes those on his way to the top, who cares not for the world around him as he blindly revels in his wealth, his achievements? What are the regrets most people have on their death bed? An article from the Huffington Post lists the top five, and the running theme is wishing that there had been more time for a truer connection with oneself and with others. The meaning of life is revealed by those who are about to lose it, and the life lived with meaning, with connection, is the one worth living, not the one dedicated to progress or ambition.

As a species, who do we want to be? Which is the preferred end of the world scenario? Do we want to be the heartless conquerors, who subjugate the universe with the hubris of our imagined divinity, or do we want to be the species that dies with our planet, content that we lived with meaning, and have accepted our fate as mortals? I would rather die with a smile on my face, knowing I had lived and loved to the best of my ability, and I would prefer the same life and death for our species as well.

I am not suggesting that the two are mutually exclusive. It is not impossible for us to achieve peace on Earth without abandoning our dreams of a scientific utopia. However, our culture is still incapable of extricating the avarice, aggression, and dominance that has so far accompanied scientific progress, and trying to fix that problem with only more scientific progress is a self-defeating process. To achieve the best of both worlds, we need to prioritize the world with connection and meaning, because that is the ideal. That is the world, the universe, worth living in.

I know what you’re thinking. Everything is science! When an apple falls from a tree, that’s science. When the morning sun crests over the horizon  welcoming a new day, the earth’s rotation and the sun’s rays refracting through the atmosphere create a beautiful sunrise: that’s science. How can somebody not believe in a sunrise? Well, the sunrise can suck it.

Science was invented when people discovered that perception was flawed. You put a stick in water, and it looks like it bends. Reality has made you look foolish by telling your brain to interpret this straight stick as bendy. Since reality likes to laugh right in our faces at how stupid we are, we invented science in order to wage unholy war against it. But first, we needed to make something up in order to create science, and what we came up with was numbers.

You see, numbers don’t actually exist. There is no evidence of numbers in nature. Numbers are a human construct created in order to understand the universe. There are ten fingers on our hands only because we created the concept of the number ten in order to explain those silly pointy things sticking out of the end part of our arms.

A byproduct of this human creation is time. There are no days; we just live on a spinny orb thingy that occasionally faces something really bright and hot. Matter moves about, decays, and dies, and we came up with this neato little tool called time in order to measure that transformation of matter. However, it’s not actually real, it’s just a thing we came up with to explain why sometimes it’s dark and sometimes it’s light, and why when you throw enough of those dark/light thingies together, eventually you’ll die. I guess we found these explanations soothing.

The most critical aspect of science is measuring things. If there was no measurement, there would be no science. However, all forms of measurement, be they physical or chronological, are human constructions. They’re made up. They’re not real. And since they are our own fictions, the rules that we create for them will work 100% of the time because they exist within their own realm of abstract thought. 2 + 2 = 4 because our concept of the number two, and another of our concept of the number two add up to the abstract concept known as the number four. Pi works for finding out shit about circles because the circle is a mathematical construction created within the realm of numbers; ie. it doesn’t exist. It’s the equivalent of saying that Jesus Christ can be both the God and the son of God at the same time because within the realm of Christianity, those concepts make sense. God + Son of God + Holy Spirit = God. If that doesn’t make sense to you, it’s because you are not approaching it from within the realm of Christianity.

The rules of math work within the realm of math, just as the rules of Christianity work within the realm of Christianity. The mathematician will point to a single rock and say, that is one rock, and the Christian will point to the rock and say that it is a creation of the Lord and it took Him a day to do it. Meanwhile, reality will say it’s just a rock.

Scientists even know this. Any scientific theory, when applied to actual reality rather than safely residing on a piece of thesis, will necessarily have a margin of error. To calculate something perfectly is impossible, due to the fictional nature of our measuring tools, and accommodation must be made for this if a practical use of science is to be implemented.

Think of real life. You can tell a person from Siberia what warmth is, and even if they fully understand how speeding up particles will increase their temperature, they won’t actually understand until they move to literally anywhere else and experience it. Think of meeting a pretty new girl (or boy, I just happen to be a boy so this gendered story works for me). Is liking her a series of complicated chemical reactions in the brain, or is it listening to the same song over and over because it reminds you of her, and waking up each morning and having your first thoughts be of her?

A sunrise isn’t science; science is only the explanation of the sunrise. A sunrise is a sunrise. Explanations are interchangeable. Liking a pretty girl can be explained either by chemical reactions in the brain, or by Eros shooting you with an arrow. Within the paradigm of each, the rules will always make sense. It is life that is constant. It is life that is real.

Post-script: I anticipate (and genuinely hope) that science nerds will get upset over this. I’m not saying that science is a bad explanation. Science is actually a very good explanation. However, it is only an explanation, and my point is that life should take precedence over the explanations for it, because explanations all have inherent flaws within them.

I don’t actually hate science. I mean, some of my friends are scientists, so believe me when I say I have nothing against it. However, there is a Facebook page that keeps popping up on my newsfeed called, “I Fucking Love Science” that always makes me cringe.

Don’t get me wrong; science can be a great tool. We have longer, more comfortable lives because of it, and for that I am grateful. However, the amount of mindless knob-slobbering that goes on whenever Science is mentioned irritates me to no end.

My biggest gripe with the salivation over science is how it always goes hand in hand with the dismissal of religious thought. Like they are somehow incompatible, and that only science and reason can save us from the certain doom that the path of faith, hope, and love would certainly lead us.

Yes, there are certainly those who believe that religion and ideology are our only possible salvation while science will lead us down the path of sin and degradation, so those choosing science could just be fostering a bit of petty rivalry which I guess is certainly one reason to blindly worship at the tabernacle of reason. But which is the more destructive practice? I’ve mentioned some reasons that science is dumb in a previous blog that I will go over again, so if you are an ardent follower of my every word, there might be some overlap.

First let’s look at how science probably isn’t actually going to save us.

You remember how SimCity 2000 promised us fusion power by the year 2050? Maybe that’s just me. Anyway, extraordinary amounts of clean, wasteless energy would go a long way to solving a good number of worldwide issues. How many folks do you think are working on it? How many do you think are working on an ever-so-slightly faster microchip? Or a more efficient means of extracting crude oil? Or specific kind of bomb that only kills people who have a subconscious distaste for Freedom?

We live in Capitalism Land, ladies and gentlemen. And those scientists are working on things that will make money, because they’re only going to get grants from companies or governments that see some kind of profit behind it. And apparently scientists need to eat too.

If you are actively working against somebody who is making money, there is a good chance that people will actively work against you. Here in Canada we have an epidemic of scientists being muzzled by the government for the environmental work that they are doing in regards to the tar sands in Alberta. There are global warming deniers everywhere, simply because of how people with money paid off their own scientists to claim that it isn’t man-made, or that it is a figment of Al Gore’s imagination.

But Dan, you might say, This isn’t our beloved Science fucking up the planet, it’s people bastardizing the use of science for their own personal gains! Yes, I might say, Just like how one might bastardize the use of religion for their own greedy purposes, perhaps?

But now to shut you up even further, let’s look at how science is basically going to murder our faces. Yeah, I said it.

Everyone seems to think that 9/11 was religion’s fault because the people that did it happened to believe that America was fucking up their homeland, and their religion saw that as a bad thing, and then were persuaded by somebody to do something pretty extreme about it. But it never would have happened if science hadn’t invented airplanes and high rises in the first place.

Gun reform gets brought up every time a school is redecorated with bullet holes from an unruly youth, and the heated topic always mentions that if the student tried doing something with a knife then he would be stopped with much fewer casualties. How is the progression of weaponry not a huge black eye on the smug face of science? I mean, the atomic bombs in Japan killed 150 000 – 246 000 people. That was 70 years ago. Progress has been made on that front as well, and to think that no one would ever use such a deadly scientific discovery (again) is naive.

People will always disagree. Sometimes violently. If that violence becomes excessive, blaming it on the disagreement rather than the unchecked progress of weaponry is myopic.

Hey remember that global warming thing I mentioned earlier? You know what’s causing that? Oh yeah baby, it’s science. The great industrialization of the world, the high mark of scientific progress, the evolution from the uncivilized medieval period to the age of glorious reason, has basically bent over the planet for imminent penetration. I don’t want to turn this into a climate change blog because that’s not my ranting forte, but we’re screwed. Dumping into our oceans, smogging up our skies, ripping out our forests: all of these things in the name of scientific progress. Not just the pollution that comes from science is destroying the planet, but everything we need to fuel our addiction we have to rip out of the earth. We’re using up all our finite resources in such a way that we are causing untold damage to our planet. Which sustains us, by the way, so when it is irreparably fucked, it’s not like we can whistle a jaunty tune and carry on with our lives. We dead, folks, we dead.

Know how else science is going to kill us? You like eating? Science has “improved” on food by a substantial margin over the last few decades. No longer content to let our food not have poisonous chemicals on it, we now let our agriculture be sprayed with toxic pesticides among other fun and zany chemicals in order to make sure that there is an abundant enough crop to sell. Or a cow is pumped full of hormones in order to make it bigger, so you can sell more steaks off of it. This isn’t “improving” food; it’s making more money off of it. And if a few people get sick along the way, well, fine. We have too many people on this planet anyway, right? (I’m adding an interjection here: I work in a butcher shop, and I know what dead animal parts are supposed to look like. Looking at processed foods that have been scienced all to hell, I can assure you that they look nothing like the original pieces. At all. Just sayin’.)

So science is murdering us and our planet, and guess what? It’s murdering us economically as well.

The progress of information technology has accelerated greatly since the invention of the computer lo those many years ago. And the price has plummeted, with its computing power growing exponentially. That’s pretty swell, right? Except with technology being able to do more and more, that leaves less and less for humans to do. Instagram was recently purchased for about a billion dollars and it employs 13 people, whereas Kodak went bankrupt and employed 17 000 people, down from 63 000 just a few years earlier.

There is a Taiwanese company called Foxconn that is coming to America, and it is bringing along with it one million robots to put together its products.

Big companies will crush smaller ones with their access to expensive technologies that can predict consumer habits based on collected data, leaving the mom and pop shops to fall to the wayside of obsoletion.

This trend will continue for decades, with manufacturing prices plummeting along with the need of human workers maintaining the factories.

Big businesses will profit massively from this. The income disparity across the globe is already at staggering proportions, and will only continue to increase as science progresses and those on top will be able to produce massive amounts of product with minimal costs and extraordinary profits, while those at the bottom will no longer have any sort of employment. All thanks to science.

I honestly could go on. There are privacy and spying issues that science has enabled authoritarian governments to use on their populace; there is the decline of face to face social bonding which has been shown to help people psychologically; there’s that damned auto-tune ruining music…

When you think of things most likely to actually kill us, religion is so far down the list it doesn’t even register. It’s a scapegoat that is so easy to point a finger at because it doesn’t agree with our current cultural paradigm. But what if it’s our cultural paradigm of relying on science for everything that is actually the problem? We are already on the tipping point of absolute destruction, and we’ve already fallen so far, and you know what’s to blame? That’s right. Science.

Part of this was inspired by a lecture given by Dr. William Raduchel, titled “Will Technology Save Us or Doom Us?” as well as: https://www.facebook.com/IFeakingLoveScience

Also here are some links:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/muzzling-of-federal-scientists-widespread-survey-suggests-1.2128859

http://nypost.com/2013/12/05/global-warming-proof-is-evaporating/

compared to this part of the Telegraph dedicated solely to the effects of man-made global warming:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/houston-stabbing-rampage-students-tackle-knifewielding-campus-slasher-8567296.html

2 critically injured compared to 32 dead in the Virginia Tech Massacre: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/16/AR2007041600533.html

You can look up Foxconn and Kodak and Instagram on your own if you like if you want to check my numbers.