Sunday, June 29, 2008

Oh Snap: There's A White Guy In My Mirror!!!

"There's a strange cloud that's settled over our modern society. It's a pervasive sort of bland contempt for an ingenious collection of lenses and mirrors that can reveal a giant ball of hydrogen, helium, methane and ammonia, billions of miles away, surrounded by untold millions of ice fragments in delicate orbit, yet one which will ascribe to the most banal unknown, a life-changing, quit-your-insurance-job-and-live-in-a-tree status.

For our entire history, right up until a hundred years ago, the idea of flying carpets and magic lanterns held people's imaginations in thrall. Now that we have everyday miracles like jet aircraft and electric lights, all some people want is to return to a time when the belief in magic was common, but the everyday blessings of magic - telephones, computers, antibiotics - didn't exist. Back in the anti-nuclear 80's lots of folks drove around with SPLIT WOOD NOT ATOMS bumper stickers, and I often asked myself, how much wood have these people actually split? I've done an hour in my 20's and I thought I was going to die.

It's sad, frankly - at least to people like me. I find it terribly, tragically sad that the more successful and comfortable we become, the more people pine for a time when none of these everyday miracles existed. Outdoor bathrooms on January nights and miserable coal stoves that need to be tended hourly just to heat a pathetic half-gallon of tepid water need to be experienced to be believed - and not just in a 24 hour adventure, but continuously. Death, hunger, cold, disease, infant mortality - we have fought them tooth and nail for millennia, for what? Apparently in order to so insulate people that they can long for "ancient wisdom," return to the "holistic tribal remedies" of the past, and hold up the most primitive and achingly poor cultures on earth as being the sole repository of "authenticity," while scorning every advance that they take completely for granted.

Magical thinking is everywhere today, and it is growing. It threatens the foundations of reason, individualism, science and objectivity that have delivered this success so well and for so long. It is dangerous. If we are to continue to thrive and progress, then we need to sharpen some sticks and drive a stake through the heart of this monster, and right quick.

I'll use the term "Magical Thinking" as a pretty big umbrella to cover a whole host of creeping intellectual chicanery: superstition, wishful thinking, pseudoscience, unsubstantiated claims, assertion, mysticism and anti-science.

Like so many of our other destructive tendencies, this whole mess really started in the latter part of the 1960's."
-- Bill Whittle, proving (not surprisingly) there may be intelligent life out there - and (surprisingly) some people, who may wear tuxedos, are waaay ahead of me - on the brilliant EjectEjectEject.com.