Amerika

Are humanists the new “flat earthers”?

Of all philosophies available to us, there’s one that underscores just about everything we see each day. That philosophy is humanism. Developed in the Enlightenment as a secular outgrowth of Christianity, it is now the dominant assumption, shared in common by hippies, anarchists, corporate businessmen, big media, government and disillusioned underachievers on the internet alike.

Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.

International Humanist and Ethical Union

This rapidly translates into “Humanism: the idea that humans are more important than reality.”

Here’s why:

Prozak’s Law: All philosophies decay to their simplest interpretation by a group learning them through the words of others.

This means that the idea of placing humans as our first priority means humans quickly replace nature, logic, etc. as priorities. Humanism becomes our oldest impulse, which is to hide in denial in our big brains, and by changing our perceptions and not the world around us, feel better. What human failing doesn’t fit into this category? Hubris, alcohol/drugs, laziness, egomania, etc.

We all know what flat-earthers are — but a challenge has been issued in that regard:

Climate change deniers are “ridiculous” and akin to “flat-earthers”, according to Sir Nicholas Stern, who advised the government about the economic threat posed by global warming. The respected economist compared climate naysayers to those who deny the link between smoking and cancer or HIV and Aids in the face of mounting scientific evidence.

The Guardian

I am a philosopher. We are scientists who deal in abstract logic based on pattern comparison. We recognize that for the most important truths in human life, there’s never going to be a “smoking gun,” because they are too many layers removed from the physical. But we are scientific about how we explore these abstract patterns, which is what separates us from many religious and dogmatic types.

I am going to show you that humanism, which becomes the idea that each human has an inalienable right to live however they want free from criticism by the rest, is the cause of our decline and that we are all flat-earthers while we support it. And 99.99% of us do. It’s simply a bad illusion that gained traction because it’s popular because it’s easier and more ego-affirming than the more complex truths out there.

Stern is calling those who deny global warming “flat earthers,” adding to a list of insults comparing them to Holocaust deniers and others. Flat earthers of course were those who insisted the earth was flat when the evidence suggested it was round. I’m from a third camp on global warming. To my mind, the evidence suggests:

  1. Global warming is not an accurate term; global climate change is occurring, with both human and “natural” factors. However, it’s up to us to fix it and mitigate its effects.
  2. Global warming is a surrogate used by all environmentally-concerned people for the general, wholesale, indiscriminate, for-profit consumption of our earth and its resources by humanity.

Now, if I were a conservative, Conservation would be high on my life of priorities. But other than George Bush pardoning the oceans, not much has happened along those lines lately.

If I were a liberal, I’d be struggling. Liberalism is the party of humanism because humanism makes everyone equal, and so enables to the underdogs to prevail against (by clear evidence of their own failure) their oppression by larger social forces. However, telling people they can’t cut down that forest, buy that happy meal and throw the trash on the freeway shoulder, own whatever large truck they want, introduce another 11 babies to their impoverished nation, move anywhere they want, etc. is not very liberal, but it is very green.

This is why global warming is a big football: conservatives see it as liberal, and fight it, and liberals use it to argue that first-world nations should “reduce emissions” when the real problem is overpopulation. What causes overpopulation? Philosophically speaking, humanism does: the idea that each person who is human is entitled to do whatever they want because, hey, they’re human! And humans come first.

Humanism, or humans come first, is interpreted through the individual in a kind of utilitarian-individualism hybrid: whatever human individuals want to do, they can. This is why modern liberal democracies inevitably invent consumerism and call it capitalism, then refuse to deny anyone the right to tearing down a forest and making from it a fast food restaurant because it’s that guy’s shot at the dream of being wealthy, and he had the money to do it. This is why libertarianism is not the whole answer, nor is anarchy, nor is capitalism; on the other hand, it’s why socialism drowns itself in too many people who do nothing, because they will if the rewards are equal not stir themselves from doing whatever is most convenient.

The same failing, humanism, underscores both systems, and manifests itself in a passive aggression where we seek out those who deny us our human universal absolute right to do whatever we please, and squash them, even though often they’re pointing toward an honest truth: that we are a collective once we form a civilization, and that we must design that civilization so it has a structure that functions sensibly as a whole. We cannot both be civilized and think of ourselves as atomized individuals.

The goal of humanism, as it decays from an irrational humans-first ideology into the “you can be whatever you imagine yourself to be” stage, is to deny that any aspects of ourselves is inherent and that we have limits on our “free will.” Science, of course, thinks this is illogical:

Genes have a very strong influence over how certain parts of our brains develop, scientists in the US and Finland have found. And the parts most influenced are those that govern our cognitive ability. In short, you inherit your IQ.

Paul Thompson at the University of California at Los Angeles and his colleagues used MRI to scan the brains of 10 pairs of identical and 10 pairs of fraternal twins. Identical twins have identical genes, whereas fraternal twins sharing on average half their genes. The twins shared environments, means researchers can separate genetic and environmental factors.

The researchers found that certain regions of the brain were highly heritable. These included language areas, known as Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas, and the frontal region, which, among other things, plays a huge role in cognition.

In identical twins, these areas showed a 95 to 100 per cent correlation between one twin and the other – they were essentially the same. The frontal structure, says Thompson, appears to be as highly influenced by genes as the most highly influenced trait we know of – fingerprints.

The study was all the more interesting in that it found that not only was this gray matter highly heritable, but it affected overall intelligence as well. “We found that differences in frontal gray matter were significantly linked with differences in intellectual function,” the authors write.

New Scientist

Not only is the quality of your thought genetic, but the speed at which you think it is:

Now it seems that the quality of these connections, which is governed by the integrity of the protective myelin sheath that encases them, is also largely genetic, and correlates with IQ.

Paul Thompson and colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, scanned the brains of 23 sets of identical twins and the same number of fraternal twins, using a type of magnetic resonance imaging called HARDI. MRI scans typically show the volumes of different tissues in the brain by measuring the amount of water present. HARDI measures the amount of water that is diffusing through white matter, a measure of the integrity of myelin sheathing, and therefore the speed of nerve impulses. “It’s like a picture of your mental speed,” says Thompson.

By comparing brain maps of identical twins, which share the same genes, with fraternal twins, which share about half their genes, the team calculate that myelin integrity is genetically determined in many brain areas important for intelligence. This includes the corpus callosum, which integrates signals from the left and right sides of the body, and the parietal lobes, responsible for visual and spatial reasoning and logic (see above). Myelin quality in these areas was also correlated with scores on tests of abstract reasoning and overall intelligence

New Scientist

In other words, none of us can will ourselves into being something we’re not. The best we can do is improve what we are. But that annoys the type of person who wants to be a humanist, because they like to think the world is wide open to them, just for thinking it. They like to think they deserve to live and have a right to do whatever they can convince other people to let them do, even if the consequences for others are a disaster. In short, they want to be supported by others for no purpose other than the exercise of their personalities.

How has humanism failed? Let me count the ways.

  1. Overpopulation

    All measures to thwart the degradation and destruction of our ecosystem will be useless if we do not cut population growth. By 2050, if we continue to reproduce at the current rate, the planet will have between 8 billion and 10 billion people, according to a recent U.N. forecast. This is a 50 percent increase. And yet government-commissioned reviews, such as the Stern report in Britain, do not mention the word population. Books and documentaries that deal with the climate crisis, including Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” fail to discuss the danger of population growth. This omission is odd, given that a doubling in population, even if we cut back on the use of fossil fuels, shut down all our coal-burning power plants and build seas of wind turbines, will plunge us into an age of extinction and desolation unseen since the end of the Mesozoic era, 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs disappeared.

    We are experiencing an accelerated obliteration of the planet’s life-forms — an estimated 8,760 species die off per year — because, simply put, there are too many people. Most of these extinctions are the direct result of the expanding need for energy, housing, food and other resources. The Yangtze River dolphin, Atlantic gray whale, West African black rhino, Merriam’s elk, California grizzly bear, silver trout, blue pike and dusky seaside sparrow are all victims of human overpopulation. Population growth, as E.O. Wilson says, is “the monster on the land.” Species are vanishing at a rate of a hundred to a thousand times faster than they did before the arrival of humans. If the current rate of extinction continues, Homo sapiens will be one of the few life-forms left on the planet, its members scrambling violently among themselves for water, food, fossil fuels and perhaps air until they too disappear. Humanity, Wilson says, is leaving the Cenozoic, the age of mammals, and entering the Eremozoic — the era of solitude. As long as the Earth is viewed as the personal property of the human race, a belief embraced by everyone from born-again Christians to Marxists to free-market economists, we are destined to soon inhabit a biological wasteland.

    Alternet

    The rest of the article lapses into world socialism, namely complaining about how first world nations consume most of our resources. However, they also produce most of our technology, learning, and wealth, so that shouldn’t be incomprehensible to us — after all, bodily homeostasis uses up a ton of our calories, but we don’t complain because it keeps us alive.

    However, the point remains: n people times x resources per person = total resources used. We can reduce x to some degree, but any gains in that are obliterated if another billion people get added to the pile. We’re now at seven billion, with the next stop at nine. Turning off appliances, recycling condoms, riding bicycles, drinking urine and composting old newspapers will not fix that.

  2. Pollution

    Pollution comes in two basic forms: either an excess of a known element, or introduction of poisonous elements.

    Human pollution is turning the seas into acid so quickly that the coming decades will recreate conditions not seen on Earth since the time of the dinosaurs, scientists will warn today.

    The rapid acidification is caused by the massive amounts of carbon dioxide belched from chimneys and exhausts that dissolve in the ocean. The chemical change is placing “unprecedented” pressure on marine life such as shellfish and lobsters and could cause widespread extinctions, the experts say.

    Common Dreams

    We cover pollution of poisonous elements elsewhere, but those are even more destructive: they don’t go away, and they mutate our animals and plants, with consequences we cannot predict.

    This is why we need a revolution in design science: we should not consider a machine a successful design unless it lasts for one hundred years, emits nothing more than vapor and heat, and can be repaired by a reasonably intelligent person with normal tools. It should also have “cradle to grave” designed into its lifespan, meaning that a company or agency should exist when it is time for the gadget to be retired that can recycle it completely.

    This logic can be applied to all products sold from bananas to soft drink bottles to cars and computers.

  3. Economic Growth

    What stimulates population growth? Well, a number of things. In developing nations, people breed in huge numbers to offset losses from disease and starvation. If there’s an escape valve, like people heading to a nearby continent where living is easier, that process accelerates.

    Economic growth creates those conditions. It also creates the state where every natural resource, every person and every idea has a price tag on it, which chokes the growth of learning as well as forming a spiraling out of control growth curve. As you know from analysis of the standard distribution, developing more people does not create smarter people — if anything, it recenters the average on the lower, and so minimizes smart people, making it less likely that society can avoid idiocracy and stop itself before it expands recklessly.

    “We created a way of raising standards of living that we can’t possibly pass on to our children,” said Joe Romm, a physicist and climate expert who writes the indispensable blog climateprogress.org. We have been getting rich by depleting all our natural stocks — water, hydrocarbons, forests, rivers, fish and arable land — and not by generating renewable flows.

    “You can get this burst of wealth that we have created from this rapacious behavior,” added Romm. “But it has to collapse, unless adults stand up and say, ‘This is a Ponzi scheme. We have not generated real wealth, and we are destroying a livable climate …’ Real wealth is something you can pass on in a way that others can enjoy.”

    “Just as a few lonely economists warned us we were living beyond our financial means and overdrawing our financial assets, scientists are warning us that we’re living beyond our ecological means and overdrawing our natural assets,” argues Glenn Prickett, senior vice president at Conservation International. But, he cautioned, as environmentalists have pointed out: “Mother Nature doesn’t do bailouts.”

    “We are taking a system operating past its capacity and driving it faster and harder,” he wrote me. “No matter how wonderful the system is, the laws of physics and biology still apply.” We must have growth, but we must grow in a different way. For starters, economies need to transition to the concept of net-zero, whereby buildings, cars, factories and homes are designed not only to generate as much energy as they use but to be infinitely recyclable in as many parts as possible. Let’s grow by creating flows rather than plundering more stocks.

    NYT

    Friedman’s a broken clock that’s right twice a day, but here he really nails it: our concept of economic growth driving our future is borrowing from tomorrow to pay today. This is why ancient mystics found usury to be a sin. It promotes unrealistic thinking, empowers swindlers, and creates a crowd-reality that quickly dwarfs common sense.

  4. Multiculturalism

    Populations work best when everyone’s on the same page: language, customs, values, culture and heritage, all at once. That’s called pan-nationalism now, because idiots started confusing “patriotism” and “nationalism” in public, but I have a simpler term for it — the organic society. For most of human evolution, societies have been organic. Only recently have we started creating a world lumpenproletariat of mixed heritage and justifying it with humanism.

    What’s the problem with diversity, multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism, multiracialism — they’re different terms for the same thing — as it applies to life? It fragments that cultural consensus. It encourages population growth. It reduces the values systems in common that we have that enable us to oppose reckless consumerism. This is why I’m a Black Panther as much as a Lakota Secessionist, a Libertarian White Nationalist as much as a Asian National Socialist. Pan-Nationalism works; cosmopolitanism destroys, but because the latter makes the individual feel empowered, it is more popular.

    Obviously, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt are rabid, hateful paranoids — total bigots and anti-Semites — for having suggested that there are powerful domestic political forces in the U.S. which enforce Israel-centric orthodoxies and make it politically impossible to question America’s blind loyalty to Israel.

    Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair announced today that Ambassador Charles W. Freeman Jr. has requested that his selection to be Chairman of the National Intelligence Council not proceed. Director Blair accepted Ambassador Freeman’s decision with regret.

    In the U.S., you can advocate torture, illegal spying, and completely optional though murderous wars and be appointed to the highest positions. But you can’t, apparently, criticize Israeli actions too much or question whether America’s blind support for Israel should be re-examined.

    Salon

    Diversity doesn’t work. Each group has to act in its own interests; this conflicts with the interests of the whole. Can you be both a Jew and an American? Yes, but then you have loyalties to two masters. Zionism is one facet of pan-nationalism; after all, if you want to save the Jewish people, culture and religion, you need a nation for Jews and only Jews. Otherwise everyone else moves there, interbreeds with the population and brings their own ideas, and soon reduces the population to a genetic average, a cultural average, and so on. Why not preserve diversity which paradoxically requires we keep many places non-diverse? People don’t like that idea, because it implies that they personally cannot do whatever it is they want to do, and they hate limits. Hate ’em! Even though they’re inherent to life itself.

    The media will fool you on this one. Even though right now they detest anything Jewish or Zionist, and are screaming bloody murder about Israel exiling Palestinians from its territory (and just watch: that’s what is going to happen, and it will bring greater, not lesser, peace), they’re wrong just as they were wrong about George W. Bush being a fascist dictator — fascist dictators don’t leave office when their term is up. But you never see that followup story.

There is an inverse correlation between how popular something is and how true it is. If you want to be popular, deconstruct. Separate ideas from their consequences. Separate related ideas. Break everything down into tiny conceptual bits, so that you reinforce the unspoken desire of the Crowd: we as individuals want to be able to do whatever we want at any time and never be judged unfit for it as natural selection does, and we will band together into a Crowd to enforce this on the rest of you with guilt, passive aggression, and force “for your own best interests.” Sound like a positive future?

No — in fact, it’s how every ancient empire has snuffed itself out and left behind a third-world ruin. Spengler just reminded us of this; Plato told us originally. But you won’t hear that in the media because it’s too truthful, and too much reinforces the tendency of our natural world to minimize the individual for universal laws and principles, to be popular. Humanism decays to a philosophy of “whatever is popular, is true” — when we need the opposite.

When do we wake up and realize that the humanists are the flat-earthers, and that their beliefs being popular has nothing to do with their veracity, and that thus our society is a flat-earther leading itself to ruin?

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