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The Cancer Continues
Thomas Hawthorne has been heavily engaged in the fray over in the comments section of the last post on this subject, and seems to be at least attempting to argue issues (though not very well), so I'll do him the courtesy of addressing his arguments, such as they are. I'm spending a lot of time on this, and dealt with it in my Fox column last week, because I think that it's a very important topic.
I should note that there is no ability for people to edit their posts in the comment section, and Thomas noted in a follow-up that there were many grammatical and spelling errors in the following. It is duly noted, and no more will be said on the subject--I'm more interested in the substance. The only time I comment on others' writing style is when it's in a post criticizing my writing...
WOW!!! What a reaction!! Thank you for proving my point that you guys would rather call names like children than debate.
Note that this is from the same person who variously accused me and others of being, among other things, "extreme militia types," "conservatives," and (horror of horrors!) "Republicans," with zero evidence.
For the record, I am not now, nor have I ever been, any of those things. I wish people could develop a more sophisticated sense of political ideologies than simply left-right.
"Marxist scum?" I have to remember that one. First Barb, I never said you were Hilter. The reason why I used that because YOU said exploitation was not bad....but it is. How could you not believe that?
It is not, unless you're using some narrow definition of it that makes it so by that definition.
When I look up the word "exploit" (verb form) on dictionary.com, the first definition is: "To employ to the greatest possible advantage: exploit one's talents." Only the second definition deals with unethical or selfish behavior. Now perhaps Mr. Hawthorne believes that it is bad to get the most out of one's ability, but I hope not. For instance, when I stick a solar panel on my roof, and power up my granola oven with it, I'm exploiting the energy of the sun. I would presume that he doesn't find that unethical or evil. We are simply proposing to do the same thing in space.
I am ALL for human advance. But how can colonize another planet when we can even take care of this one? Anyone pleae explain this logic.
Yes. You see, in logic, we have these things called premises. We also have things called a syllogism. Your argument is broken on both counts. Your premise ("we cannot take care of this one") is false. We are quite capable of doing so, and in fact aren't doing all that bad a job of it. Go read Lomborg for more details.
But even if, just for entertainment and the sake of the argument, we granted your premise, your conclusion would still not necessarily follow. You're missing another premise in order to make it a valid argument, to wit: an inability to properly steward one planet necessarily implies an inability to do so on all planets. There's no reason to suppose that this is so.
For instance, this might be an extraordinarily difficult and complex planet to manage, and others might be easier. Or since we're starting clean on the new planet, we have ample time to learn how to manage things before they get out of control, particularly considering all of the lessons learned from this one.
And actually, there's a third unspoken premise--that we are going to settle only on planets. Many people believe that it makes more sense to simply build floating cities out of debris in the solar system (asteroids, comets, etc.) What would be unethical about that? How could we be said to screw up something that hadn't even existed until we constructed it? Unless, of course, you believe that asteroids and other space rocks have rights...
Second Rand, you give me planet that can support HUMAN life....Mars? When you get there go ahead a take you helmet of and breathe in that wonderful air.
You don't seem to have understood my point. There are many places on earth that we cannot survive without technology (e.g., extremely high latitudes). An unsheltered human being will die in short order in a settlement on the Bering Sea. Yet people (e.g., the Inuit) have been living there for centuries, perhaps millennia.
Why? Because they employ technology. We can do the same thing on Mars, or even in free space. And eventually, we could even terraform Mars so that we could come out of the domes, and take off our helmets. I simply fail to see the relevance of the ability of a naked human animal to live in an environment to the ethical considerations of moving there.
Unless, that is, you believe that the Inuit should pack up and leave as well, and go and sin no more. If so, please explain why.
Third J. Walsilesky, it's our right because WE say so? Who are we? What makes us great enough that we have absolutely no restraint and clarity to blindly go and do whatever we want.
Who else will decide?
Seriously, if not us, who? We are the people who will go. If you believe in human freedom, that is sufficient. But perhaps you don't believe in things like that.
Fourth David, who in the world said anything about religious beliefs? That has absolutely nothing to do with this discussion! I am talking about ethics, I don't know what you talking about.
Not to speak for him, but I assume that he means that, since many of your statements lack logic and facts, that your beliefs must be based on some sort of religious faith. This doesn't mean necessarily in the sense of Christianity, etc.--it's more likely some form of paganism, and worship of inanimate objects (such as rocks on Mars), even if you don't explicitly recognize it as such.
And here lies my whole arguement. There's a great line in Jurrasic Park by Jeff Glodbum that goes something like, "they were so caught up with if they could, that they didn't think about if they should."
We have thought about it. Or at least I have. We believe that we not only can, but should.
My arguement is that since the beginning of time man has evolved in extraordinary ways. We've built huge cities, created technology that puts one person from one side of the world in direct contact with another person on the other side. BUT what about the the negative things human have done? There is more pollution in the world then there have ever been.
That's not really true, at least in all cases. For instance, the air in American cities (particularly Los Angeles) is much better than it was forty years ago. London had much more of a pollution problem in the nineteenth century than it does now.
And actually, much of it is being reduced. It will continue to do so as nations grow wealthier and can afford to do more cleanup, and as technologies increase efficiency and allow us new techniques for environmental amelioration.
Not only have we created the atomic bomb, but it has been used. The quest for the best technology created and arms race between countries that can destroy each other 100 times over with a click of a button. My point is that when people make mistakes, then tend to learn from them so they can make better decisions next time around.
Ignoring the hyperbole (no nation has that capability), I don't think that anyone here would disagree.
We have a chance to expand the human race beyond this planet which is very awesome to think about, and I am very much for it. But RIGHT NOW we live on this planet and we are doing everything in our power to destroy it.
Nonsense. If we wanted to do everything in our power to destroy it, we could do much worse. In fact, as already noted, we are actually improving things in many ways, and will continue to do so as the technology advances, as we overthrow hierarchies in the third world that keep their people in poverty, and as the world population starts to decline in the next few decades, it will improve even more.
Eventually, as we develop the capability to move out into space, and move people off the earth, it can become a large nature park and vacation location, which is the use for which it's ultimately best suited, in my opinion.
This ought to be a goal that all environmentalists can get behind. I wonder why they don't?
Not just be pollution but by wars, and extreme globalization.
"Extreme globalization"? What's wrong with globalization? It's the only means by which the world's poor will climb out of poverty.
How can we have the ego to think that we can go to another planet and blindly believe that it won't happen again?
No one said that we would. It (whatever "it" is that's bad) could happen again, but we will do our best to prevent it. But the fact that we can't guarantee that it won't happen is no reason not to attempt it. Because if we fail to go, it is a certainty that most of the known universe will remain barren of life, and that would be a tragedy in itself.
You guys choose to focus to good on the good mankind has done which is fine. BUT you also choose to disregard the negative things that mankind has done which is very dangerous.
We are not disregarding that. However, unlike you, we have faith in humanity.
Before you go into any venture, gain some wisdom.
Physician, heal thyself.
Now let me kind of wrap this up, because I have to move on to other topics. My opponents' position seems to be that I am hell bent on going out and pillaging the universe, without regard to ethics or morality, or thought. This is utter nonsense, and a strawman argument.
My only argument is that we are capable of settling the solar system, that there is, as far as we know, nothing to "destroy" or "ravage" out there, but that if we find it, we will use sensitivity developed over the past few centuries, and lessons from our earthly development, to preserve it to the best of our ability. But even if we fail, and we do have the occasional mishap, the net gain will still be positive, because we will be bringing life to places where there currently is none.
My argument is not with people who think that we should "be careful out there." I agree. My argument is with people who think that I am incapable of doing so, and that I and mine must therefore be quarantined to one tiny planet, in a vast lifeless universe.
As a poster on sci.space.policy. put it, "People who cannot tell the difference between malignant cancerous growth and the sudden growth spurt of an awkward teenager are very, very scary."
Indeed.Posted by Rand Simberg at April 29, 2002 01:09 PM
Mr Hawthorne seems to be making an excellent arguement for mass suicide, if he really believes that humans are that evil. Or perhaps he would advocate the mass suicide of everyone but himself and people "enlightened" enough to agree with him.Posted by Mark Whittington at April 29, 2002 01:36 PM
I don't think that he believes that. I think that he's just very confused.Posted by Rand Simberg at April 29, 2002 01:45 PM
LOL! confused to say the least.
Confused as a French Socialist holding a sign called Le Pen a Nazi. Apparently she was never told Nazi stands for National SOCIALIST party.Posted by Dr.Clausewitz at April 29, 2002 03:04 PM
My reference to religion was to the point that thomas, like many members of the ecoleft, has beliefs with more in common with religous fundamentalism than with reasoned, considered opinions. He is allowed to use hyperbolae, baseless rhetoric, and unfounded personal attacks; any of his correspondants who question the gaps in his logic are heritics who are assaulting the person of the Messenger of the True Faith and therefore their arguements are automatically invalid.
Nice job splitting hairs with an idiotarian, which is not always an easy job.Posted by Bryan at April 29, 2002 06:01 PM
I know you aren't commenting on spelling, but the "Hilter" typo reminded me of that Monty Python sketch, with Mr. Hilter living in Northern England with "Hilmmer" other thinly disguised Nazis. Hilarious. Just thought I would throw it out there.
"He is allowed to use hyperbolae, baseless rhetoric, and unfounded personal attacks; any of his correspondants who question the gaps in his logic are heritics who are assaulting the person of the Messenger of the True Faith"
What? The Person of the Messenger of True Faith? Once again, nothing to do with my arguement. It is you who are using a religious arguement, not me.
"Mr Hawthorne seems to be making an excellent arguement for mass suicide, if he really believes that humans are that evil. Or perhaps he would advocate the mass suicide of everyone but himself and people "enlightened" enough to agree with him."
All you guys are talking about logic, BUT all your do is assume I mean something when I don't. That's not logic. I never would say "humans are evil". I am human, and not evil, so your assumption is false. You people are feeding off you own ideologies. Instead of listening to what I say, you make up what you THINK I mean.
I just want to say thanks for not taking the low road like your colleagues and presenting your "facts" very respectfully. And even though I disagree with most of what you said, I appreciate that. But there's never been a statement by me saying planets, rock, debris, gases, were some kind of holy apparition. My arguement comes from NOT knowing what's out there and NOT knowing how we are going to get there and NOT showing that we ARE capable by doing things here on Earth. If someone puts you in charge of something, and you destroy or mess it up for some reason, do you think you should be put in charge it something else? What I perceive from your arguement, no matter how bad you mess up before, it is your right to have as any chances as you want. If that were the case, criminals should be given as many chances as they want to.Posted by Thomas Hawthorne at April 30, 2002 02:04 PM
I haven't messed anything up, as far as I know. But you would lump me in with the other "criminals" (whoever they are) and tell me that I'm going to be subject to house arrest? Who the hell are you to tell me whether I can go into space or not?
Talk about egotistical...Posted by Rand Simberg at April 30, 2002 02:38 PM
I never said "don't go into space". I didn't lump you with any criminals. Criminals do wrong, you have(as far as I know) done no wrong. For someone who was actually in the space program, you DON'T deal with logic at all, you deal with assumptions. It's what behind going that I have an issue with. If I can just explain myself. I am an extreme sci-fi fan. I love all the possibilities. You just don't seem to understand that we can't just say "We're going to do what ever we what" or "we're going to do this no matter what anybody says", because that's a philosophy that is not thought through. That's what teenagers think.(and don't assume that I am calling you teenagers). And I know scientists are working very hard to do with every possible obstacle. But there are things out there which we marvel at. There are things out there we can't explain. Tell me how would we prepare for that? THAT'S ALL I AM SAYING.Posted by Thomas Hawthorne at May 1, 2002 02:12 PM
Then I'll ask again. What are you proposing? Who are you arguing with?
Our position is that we are societally mature, and that we can and should explore space, with all due respect and care. Lori M.'s position is that we are not, and that we cannot, and should not.
Who do you agree with? If you agree with us, why all the argument?Posted by Rand Simberg at May 1, 2002 02:25 PM
I do agree with you. My arguement started when Lori M. was ridiculed for her beliefs. I don't think the human race is as bad as she made it out to be. BUT I understand why she feels the way she does. Humans CAN be capable who doing great things for the advancement of our human race. But we ARE capable(as we have shown in the past) of committing atrocities against each other. You tell me how can Muslims and Christians, Democrats and Republicans, blacks and whites, can't even work together to help acheive this ultimate goal. We fight over petty issues. I understand how she feels. I think we need to prove ourselves more worthy.Posted by Thomas Hawthorne at May 2, 2002 11:00 AM
Get your head out of your fourth point of contact.
"There are things out there we can't explain. Tell me how would we prepare for that?" People used to be unable to explain the celestial movements of the Sun in relation to the Earth.... MY GOD! How did they prepare for the sunrise?! It's obvious you've no real point to any of your posts other than we should be cautious, we should be careful...Who knows what we'll find... Please spare us. Stay on the ground while your more adventurous brothers answer the questions about what's out there...
"I think we need to prove ourselves more worthy." Speak for yourself. You can stand on the Dock while us 'unworthy' sail off to our destiny.Posted by Chris C at May 2, 2002 12:15 PM
Let's not do anything until we all feel good about going. After all, we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.
Feelings have nothing to do with logic or facts!Posted by Ed Wise at May 2, 2002 12:45 PM
Yes that is my whole point Chris C. And your post proves my point. While you spew off stupid statements about the sun "rising", I am contemplating the issues very carefully, so when I DO go, I will be more appreciative of what I see and do. "Please spare us?" It has nothing to do with me, but with the unknown. Will it spare you and your cocky attitude?Posted by Thomas Hawthorne at May 2, 2002 01:07 PM
"Feelings have nothing to do with logic or facts."
I totally agree. It's not about feelings but about ethics.Posted by Thomas Hawthorne at May 2, 2002 01:17 PM
"Are we afraid of ruining the pristine Martian ecosystem?"
Has someone been channelling Larry Niven? :)Posted by Rick C at May 2, 2002 05:27 PM
"If someone puts you in charge of something, and you destroy or mess it up for some reason, do you think you should be put in charge it something else?"
In the context of this discussion, how can statements like this be taken as *other* than on a religeous basis? This statement invokes an 'extra-human' agency which determines what mankind should or should not have dominion over. This gets us into debates of theology rather than on issues of actions under the control/ability of man.
Which, of course, lies at the paganistic roots of the argument that was eloquently pointed out earlier.Posted by RonG. at May 2, 2002 06:54 PM
>>I think we need to prove ourselves more worthy.
I see your point. But what I am saying is that regardless of whether you believe in a GOD or not(I don't know), humans have an internal "feeling" of right/wrong, good/bad, ethical/unethical, cautious/reckless. If you didn't have that feeling, you would be indifferent to murder, violence and all the things we believe are wrong? I just think the attitude that people here show is a group of free-thinkers(which is good). But free-thinkers who sound very reckless(without stopping to really think about what they are about to do, and what it will take to get it done. And to those who may not agree....watch out.) As I said before, I am all for it. It sounds like a truly incredible adventure. But what I don't hear from them is an appreciation of what they have now. I don't hear "we are very excited to be attempting this adventure, but let's truly realize what we are attempting" Just "it's my universe, I can do what I want"...These humans feel that they can conqure anything......even something they know very little about..........Posted by Thomas Hawthorne at May 3, 2002 12:05 PM
No, we don't feel that we can "conquer" anything. But we think (not feel--that seems to be your department) that we can colonize space. Why do you continue to argue with nonexistent strawmen and caricatures?
Oh, wait, I know. It's because you don't have any arguments to our actual positions (e.g., you basically ignored the post in which I shot down all of your contentions).Posted by Rand Simberg at May 3, 2002 12:11 PM
From our favorite passion-nut.
>> . And to those who may not agree....watch out.)
Umm, is Hawthorne claiming that he's in danger if we don't get to colonize space? I hope that he'll explain.
Or, is he simply making a grab for victimhood?
BTW - I am still waiting to hear how he's planning to stop us. Again, does he think that he's justified in anything other than saying nasty things about us and making faces? If so, what? (Remember, we're going to ignore his objections.)Posted by Andy Freeman at May 4, 2002 10:27 AM
Once again. I am not trying to stop you...I am for it. You people can't even realize this fact. I don't claim to be in danger if you colonize a life-less planet. The danger comes when I show a little bit of disagreement, I get jumped on by a bunch of people who feel I am telling them what to do. The danger is I get ridiculed because I won't act without thinking. The point of debate is to WELCOME opposing arguments.Posted by Thomas Hawthorne at May 6, 2002 08:04 AM
For starters... I completely agree with everyone(perhaps not the 'foolishness' fueling some of the sarcasm used to attack Mr. Hawthorne instead of the topic),... but regardless I say lets get the space adventure going.
However,.. one comment Rand made kind of sticks out:
"Yes. You see, in logic, we have these things called premises. We also have things called a syllogism. Your argument is broken on both counts. Your premise ("we cannot take care of this one") is false. We are quite capable of doing so, and in fact aren't doing all that bad a job of it. Go read Lomborg for more details.
But even if, just for entertainment and the sake of the argument, we granted your premise, your conclusion would still not necessarily follow. You're missing another premise in order to make it a valid argument, to wit: an inability to properly steward one planet necessarily implies an inability to do so on all planets. There's no reason to suppose that this is so."
Come on Rand, who are you kidding? You can make numbers tell any story depending upon the source and presentation. I won't disagree that improvements are not being made, but I can never agree with the "we really aren't doing that bad" remark. Granted, this is all subjective... but on the flipside do you really think we are doing all that great? I sure don't. If you do, lets start piling all the cigarette butts dumped out of automobile windows each day in Los Angelos alone into your backyard. We don't see these commuting to and from work each day, and as a result I think most hide behind the "out of sight out of mind" idea. My point: lets concentrate the diffence between "not doing that bad" and "doing great" in a place where we can get a better perspective on how bad the problem really is - I'd be interested to see if you still hold true to your opinion (or if I even still hold true to mine).
Second, pardon me for using this remark again,... but come on who are you kidding? Sure we can't just assume that since we can't take care of this planet we can't take care of another planet... However, given the path societies typically follow I'm willing to best against it (and I bet you would too).
For example... We don't assume that pedophiles are suddenly cured after jail time, and as a result we don't hire them to babysit our children.
I am hoping you were using this just to make a point,...
Regardless... should these current problems on our planet prevent us from exploring other planets? Absolutely not. However, I really do hope your theory is true and that we do take better care of the next environment - at some point we need to reach a fair blend between caring for our generation and future generations. I don't think we've made it to that point yet (but like I said - progress is being made).Posted by Matt at May 6, 2002 08:29 AM
Just a simple quote:
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.
Over thinking a problem tends to kill the inspiration required to solve it.Posted by Shane at May 9, 2002 10:52 AM
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