Sunday, August 31, 2008


Back in Britain, from the 1960's through to 2003, there one was a series of programmes called 'Tomorrow's World'. The series showcased inventions that could and sometimes did change our lives, although sometimes not in the ways first envisaged. Some of the inventions demonstrated were a little wacky and too off beat for words and some failed spectacularly during the show's notorious 'live' demonstrations.

I was reminded of the show because I've been watching DVD's of James Burke's 'Connections', in which the ex Tomorrow's World presenter detailed the source of inventions that underpin everyday life. A sort of Historical Science show.

In episode ten of the first series, James asked a question about what we should do about the ever accelerating changes in technology and discussed the four main possible answers, citing pros and cons for each. In the end he asked whether we wanted the benefits of technology without being able to understand it or to destroy it in an attempt to go to a sort of technological "Year zero" so that everyone can understand what is going on.

As a society in the West, we have to ask these hard questions again. There is a drift towards religion for answers, and although belief is a fine thing, the answers provided by the self perpetuating hierarchies of the various religions are more to do with keeping the religion(s) in question going than making our lives better. People who do not understand technology are rebelling against it because they do not understand how things work, or how to control them, this attitude begets fear which begets closed mindedness and irrational responses.

Two classic examples of how religious type belief provide the wrong answers when it comes to science and technology are; Intelligent design, a modern reworking of Paleys Watchmaker fallacy, popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the postulation of Anthropogenic Climate Change, which when the wheels finally come off it will prove as big a hoax as Piltdown Man. Both these 'theories' require more belief than fact. Both are supported by fragile assumptions and dubious evidence; I cite the ignoring of geological facts by the 'Intelligent design' supporters, and the massaging of climate data by the supporters of 'CO2 causes Anthropogenic Climate Change'. Both factions are wrong, simply because we still do not fully understand the forces behind how species adapt or not, and our ideas of how the climate operates are inadequate to say the least, and to say our ever changing climate is all down to one trace atmospheric gas is a bit of a reach to put it mildly. As with 'intelligent design', the theory doesn't fit the ever changing facts, even if you use a shoehorn.

So why in the name of all man has ever held holy are our politicians preparing to commit economic suicide in the name of Climate Change? I'm no expert, but the fallacies are obvious to even me. We need some form of modern King Canute to set matters right.

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