[extropy-chat] Re Fight for Evolution?

kevinfreels.com kevin at kevinfreels.com
Thu Mar 2 19:56:04 UTC 2006

I think you may be a little over concerned Pete. Part of what you are seeing
is a simple matter of specialization. It may have made sense for a person
100 years ago to understand how the inside of their automobile worked since
they could likely be stuck on the road and need to fix it. The same concepts
that were in that auto were also contained in the factory machinery at the
guy's job and the farm equipment in the field. They were very basic and
didn't require any special knowledge.

Today it is a bit different. A computer tech has enough trouble keeping up
with the latest technology in computers, the latest security threats,
hardware, etc to keep them busy 24/7. They do not have the luxury or the
need for the knowledge of how a car works. Even if they did, they probably
could not fix the car on the way to the office due to the special tools and
parts needed to do the job. They pick up the cell phone and call a person
specialized in car repair.......And this person probably hasn't a clue how
the cell phone that made the call works, but his specialized knowledge in
repairing cars makes him no less important to the overall knowledge of the
human species.

Of  course you have your multi-talented pointy-head types (like most of the
people here) who have a great interest in nearly everything. But I doubt
that our numbers are decreasing. I also doubt that anyone here who knows how
a cell phone works also knows each of the specific manufacturing processes
that went into it, the processes that were used to gather the raw materials,
an understaing of the infrastructure that brought all the parts into the
plant to be made, the knowledge to work the machines as the phones are made
in the line, and the various retail strategies that went into the sale of
the phone and got it into the customer's hand. There may be a broad
overview, but that's not enough to get the job done. There are people who
are specialized all  the way through the process that make that phone happen
and without them, your dark ages would come to pass.

As for "Lost", it's very inconsistent but I find it entertaining
nonetheless. It's nice to take a break from reality and suspend disbelief
sometimes. I also enjoyed the WIzard of Oz and I have no belief that the
story line there is based in reality either. Some things are fun just
because they are nuts - take Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. My advice is
to lighte up just a bit and try to enjoy the marathon with t he specialized
people around you. :-)

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Pete Bertine" <pkbertine at hotmail.com>
To: "'ExI chat list'" <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
Sent: Thursday, March 02, 2006 1:26 PM
Subject: Re: [extropy-chat] Re Fight for Evolution?

> Amara:
> Very insightful!  Thank you for referring me back to the archive. I speak
> for all my Huguenot ancestors, "Catholics are behaving much more civilized
> these days."
> I do not come from an academic background.  I raise money.  I have the
> uncanny ability to latch on to trends that will become popular 7 years in
> the future.  I've done it with Netscape, finepoint.com and, now, Prefab
> Contemporary Architecture/Alternative energy.  I seem to have a special
> gene that has made me sensitive to new trends.
> I have an extensive background in Advertising. And being successful at
> raising money quickly, I know how to clobber people properly until they
> their wallets.
> I have carefully read your argument and the article you referred me to and
> must disagree.
> Forget unfriendly AI, asteroid strikes, the Greenhouse Effect, or Pigeon
> Flue... The world is in danger of sliding into another Dark Ages, from
> we will not be able to regain the heights of our current culture.
> The ignorance of today's "educated" person is staggering. I frequently ask
> people how they think cell phones work.  A frequent reply (other than who
> cares) is that they "talk to satellites." A person in the middle of a
> concrete building thinks their phone goes straight to a satellite, bounces
> off it and "talks" to their friend's phone in the same room or around the
> world.
> Try it.  Ask the cell phone question. Make up your own questions. Then go
> out and play Socrates for a few minutes every day. My point:  Up until a
> very short time ago people could see and touch the technology around them.
> This is a very elementary point, no doubt brought up many times before on
> the list.  But what has it led to?
> 1) Super powerful cults that use the media and legal system to spread
> pseudoscience and clone idiots, such as the Raelians.
> http://www.clonaid.com/news.php
> http://www.watchman.org/profile/raelianpro.htm
> http://skepdic.com/raelian.html
> My first post on this list was an attempt to dissuade Robert Bradbury from
> interacting with a Raelian.  Robert has a great sense of humor, but I'm
> sure he knew what he was dealing with unless he wanted to get invited to a
> Raelian orgy.
> 2) Detached and annoyed, intelligent and highly rational, "Sane" people
> are marginalized from mainstream society.  When I was recently invited to
> join a "Lost" DVD marathon and pointed out that the fat guy hasn't "Lost"
> any weight over the episodes, no one laughed.  When I mentioned that
> "Gilligan's Island" was based on a far more plausible concept and was at
> least funny, people got mad and paused the DVD. "You're comparing "Lost"
> "Gillian's Island?" it was demanded of me.  "Why yes, isn't it obvious?"
> "Lost is *real* it could actually happen," came the reply from a high
> advertising director.  I won't go on.  Very smart people in New York City
> think that a Jumbo Jet could go down somewhere in the world and not be
> within 24 hours.
> 3) I'm not going to list more "evidence" of the evaporation of skepticism
> and the death of reason.  My final point is that, much as I hate her, Ayn
> Rand wrote one decent book called Anthem (she should have stopped there).
> It's Science fiction really and makes the point that the idiots take over
> and the world returns to a candle lit society.  The idiots are taking
> They control the media and they make the powerful memes.
> I suggest that science fight back with the same media that the idiots are
> using.  Shows like Myth Busters are the grain around which a well
> "pearl" of professional PR driven media mediums need to be produced.
> are powerful celebrities and very rich people who will support this
> It is not philanthropy; it can be very profitable battling entropy.
> Amara, you wrote: I don't like aggressive approaches. Hammering people
> their head with one's insistence is not usually very effective either.
> People are being hammered with nonsense; let us intelligently and
> strategically inject them with reason.
> Pete
> www.petebertine.com
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org [mailto:extropy-chat-
> > bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of Amara Graps
> > Sent: Wednesday, March 01, 2006 5:40 PM
> > To: extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
> > Subject: [extropy-chat] Re Fight for Evolution?
> >
> > Pete Bertine:
> > >If the pope is now pro-evolution (doubt it, it's a papal trick
> >
> > I don't think you were on the list in November when we discussed it:
> >
> >
> >
> > I don't doubt it, mostly because I asked my Vatican astronomer friend
> > when I visited the Vatican Observatory last November. He knows it from
> > the source, so I can't do any better about factual references.
> >
> > The Pope's argument against ID is subtle, and, is useful to
> > understand:
> >
> > http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=17691
> >
> > >Seriously, what if leading Transhumanists penned a one pager and tried
> > >get it into the press with a challenge to school teachers to
> > it
> > >into their curriculum?
> >
> > _One_ pager ?
> >
> > >  Or if an exciting debate between "The body freezers"
> > >v. "The Creationists" were waged online (Discovery Channel special?)
> > a
> > >hard line taken for evolution, if it was entertaining, if walking fish
> > were
> > >blown up or driven over by Spike on an Orange County chopper, then
> > >might wake up.
> >
> > I don't like aggressive approaches. Hammering people over their head
> > with one's insistence is not usually very effective either.
> >
> > >Lets face it, Creationism is a meme that is in vogue.
> >
> > There's a phenomena taking place in one part of 6% of the world's
> > population,  that's true.
> >
> > >Evolution needs a better PR firm.
> >
> > I suggest to begin here:
> >
> > "Learning to Speak Science "
> > by Chris Mooney
> >
> > http://www.seedmagazine.com/news/2006/01/learning_to_speak_science.php
> >
> > ----------------
> > An excerpt:
> >
> > {begin quote}
> > What the scientific community-not just scientists, mind you, but
> > people who care about the role science plays in building a better
> > society-is realizing is that scientific knowledge itself is
> > politically vulnerable. We've seen the Bush administration's assaults
> > on science on issues ranging from climate change to Plan B emergency
> > contraception (the "morning after" pill); we're witnessing a newly
> > resurgent anti-evolutionist movement that's spreading
> > community-to-community and state-to-state. And we're frustrated with a
> > national media that seeks to hear "both sides," even on subjects (like
> > evolution) where no scientific debate actually exists.
> >
> > Coming to grips with science's newly exposed political and cultural
> > vulnerability will require scientists to emphasize a rather different
> > set of skills than they're used to privileging. Although it's not true
> > of all scientists, too many have grown accustomed to the security of
> > their labs and university communities, occasionally lamenting the
> > American public's poor understanding of science but doing little in a
> > concerted way to improve it. And small wonder: American science
> > rewards the publication of peer-reviewed research, but offers little
> > incentive for scientists to communicate and translate what they know
> > to the public. So scientists in the US have little practice when it
> > comes to crafting a message or winning a political debate, and their
> > inexperience sometimes leads to ill-advised actions that have the
> > tendency to backfire.
> >
> > Consider the scientific community's engagement (or lack thereof) with
> > the anti-evolutionist Kansas State Board of Education. When the Board
> > called hearings on evolution, the scientific community boycotted. When
> > the Board began to rewrite state science standards, compromising
> > biology education, the National Academy of Sciences denied the Kansas
> > Board permission to use their copyrighted educational material. The
> > scientific community's distrust of the Kansas Board is understandable.
> > But such actions make scientists look like haughty snobs and elitists
> > who simply refuse to engage with ordinary Americans-an already
> > prevalent stereotype that hardly needs reinforcing.
> >
> > What we defenders of science must realize, if we want to combat
> > political attacks effectively, is that we have much to learn about
> > political communication and strategizing. Ideally, and in the best
> > spirit of science, we should view the current political quandary as a
> > problem to be addressed through trial and error-empirical attempts to
> > determine what actually works when it comes to translating science for
> > the general public.
> >
> > ...
> >
> > When it comes to defending evolution, another communications
> > thinker-the celebrated Berkeley cognitive linguist George Lakoff-has
> > other useful suggestions for the scientific community. The United
> > States is, of course, a very religious country; one in which many
> > fundamentalists attack evolution but also one in which many moderate
> > Christians support it. In this context, Lakoff explains that
> > scientists ought to be defending evolution by highlighting scientists
> > who are able to reconcile evolution with religious faith. The ideal
> > messengers to reach the public on this issue, then, would be
> > evolutionary biologists who are also practicing Christians. People, in
> > short, like Brown University evolution defender Kenneth R. Miller, a
> > practicing Catholic and author of the book Finding Darwin's God: A
> > Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution.
> > {end quote}
> >
> > [me: Incidently, this last sentence highlights why I consider my
> > Vatican astronomer friend a gem. He doesn't need to justify or explain
> > himself to other astronomers because 1) all are more-or-less seeking
> > the 'big picture', and 2) he is a world-class scientist himself. The
> > precious bridge that he can provide is that he can explain to
> > fundamentalists how valuable is science. If atheist scientists wish to
> > gain the support of highly religious people, they will need people
> > like him.]
> >
> > Similarly, Lakoff agrees that scientists did a poor job dealing with
> > the Kansas Board of Education. What they should have done instead, he
> > suggests, was to launch a comprehensive national campaign to explain
> > evolution to the public, emphasizing how "converging evidence" from a
> > wide range of areas-the fossil record, radioisotope dating, genetics,
> > and many other disciplines-all independently confirm and strengthen
> > the evolutionary account. In short, the scientific community should be
> > promoting a positive message that teaches the public why evolution is
> > such a powerful scientific theory, and about how scientists weigh
> > evidence.
> >
> >
> > (see the article for all, it's a nice article)
> >
> > ----------------
> >
> > Amara
> >
> >
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