A Man Said to the Universe, "Sir, I exist!" "However," replied the Universe, "The fact has not created in me a sense of obligation" -Stephan Crane

Friday, July 30, 2004

Captain Planet, Giraffes and Know-it-alls

A friend of mine was working on an assignment for her biotechnology and ethics class the other day, and thought I would be interested in reading the papers she was using to back up her argument.  One was about the footprint we leave on the world:  all the garbage we generate, electricity used, corporations we support that go on the pollute etc.  Another was about the advances made in human knowledge (doubling every ten years apparently) and another was about Gaia (Sarong wearing lady in Captain Planet).  This is a theory of superentity in the way that we're entities.  The paper described it as we're made up of colonies of interacting cells forming organs that work together to keep us alive and within a comfortable range of conditions.  Supposedly there is Gaia, the equivalent to ourselves on a global scale. 

My first reaction was to laugh and question what drugs precisely would cause you to think that there is some sort of earth spirit looking out for us all.  And if there is one, what the hell has she been doing these past few decades?  You'd think the whole destroying the environment thing might be something this Gaia would want to look into?

On further thinking though, I changed my mind.  I laugh at the idea, but that's because I'm thinking in terms of how our bodies interact to keep us healthy, and how there isn't really a parallel with a planet.  Of course, this is really an example of how scientist turn into intellectual snobs.  Just because I think the theory is a bunch of rot doesn't mean that everyone else is going to clearly see it that way.  And my standard response of "there's nothing to support that belief" isn't going to cut much ice with those who do believe.

Combine this with an incident that happened a while ago where I was trying to explain Darwin's theory of evolution and genetics in that context to a different friend.  I was saying that your parents genes give you potential, and the environment affects that potential and the result is you.  The best individuals then go on to have the most babies and spread their potentially great genes around a little more.  After explaining all this I went on to contrast this with Lamarck's theory of evolution were a giraffe that stretches it's neck out to reach a tall branch will throughout the course of its life get a longer neck, and then will pass this on to its babies.  (haha)

She thought that was a better theory.

Just another reminder that scientists are not great at communicating their knowledge to the wider population and that's no doubt where the crazy scientist screwing with nature issues start. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Rabid Political Views

Or not...

The student newspaper was published today.  Of 46 pages there are a total of 4 that contain anything remotely relevant to those aspects of student life that don't involve drinking or sex.  The most political statement I found was in the scavenger hunt section, item 21: Weapons of mass destruction.  That's not even a good joke.

I'm not going to have any good stories to torture my kids with when I'm old and withered.