Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Where Mr McLeod has fun at the expense of Doomers, calling them Doombats.
My response to his post follows.
I think it is appropriate that I should follow Mr. Mathews's comments. I would like to add another category, or subcategory, actually. I see myself (generally) in the traditionalist camp, but I am more than anything a realist and agnostic on most issues of metaphysics. Doomers are not: they are True Believers.
What the Doomers do have on their side is a correspondence between their vision and linear prognostication, i.e., IF nothing is done to ameliorate the situation, THEN we're all cooked.
Once you start introducing variables into the equation, such as the curmudgeonly nurtured technologies that you favour and then combine them with the social and cultural changes I tend to advocate, then the Doomer Argument fails to predict much of anything.
Mr Mathews (with whom I have been in a running argument for the past few years on the Energy Resources Yahoo List) is a dedicated Doomer. Still, a stopped watch is exactly correct at least once a day, and he can speak the truth, and I'll quote him:
"All species, including the Homo sapiens, will ultimately suffer extinction."
And right there is his prejudice laid out for all to see: all species must SUFFER extinction. What if there's no suffering to extinction? What if we evolve ourselves into smarter, incredibly elegant, creatures with superior social and ethical instincts, and it is all handled (at first) by in vitro fertilisation and genetics, so we will literally give birth to homo futuris? How is that (outside of the specious detail of childbirth itself) a SUFFERING extinction in any sense of the word? Not that I expect such a technological solution to human extinction, but what it does show is how in one simple stroke, the Doombat attitudes of the likes of Mr Mathews are simply and completely blown away. And: such a genetic solution actually *could* happen.
Hence, defeating the Doomer Mythos is like dynamiting fish in a barrel - it's too easy. I'll quote myself from the Energy Resources List:
"(They) want to spread the end times gospel, like some ecological Jim Joneses. (They) want the drug of (Their) misery to prevail, (They so deeply desire) the addictive and explosive rush of horror one garners from gazing into the abyss to dominate the vision of others who are less inclined to gaze so deeply into the dark.
I too have spent many years looking into the abyss, probably longer than (most of these doomers) have, and I no longer see an abyss. The future is not a black hole. It is transformation. Not to something "better" - it doesn't really work that way - just something more adapted to the environment that obtains. "
And to the Doomers themselves, I would pose the followling:
"Your moral and ethical charge (as a responsible human being) is to allieviate suffering wher eyou find it. If you find yourself drawn to the suffering itself, then go to the suffering. I urge you to sell your possessions and go to Darfur or Bangladesh or on a more local basis - New Orleans or East LA or Camden NJ. Work with suffering. Work with the horror, and find some meaning in your pampered whiny existence."
Sometimes I get tired of battling Doombats, but the stakes are far too high. The struggle for a dignified survival for our species is becoming more attenuated with each passing year, and while this seemingly gives more creedence to the Doombats, this attenuation will necessarily result in appropriate and reasonable decisions being made by caring and inventive people. We can do it, because we must, and with a combination of technologies (such as you would advocate) and shifts in social and cultural systems (that I would advocate) a reasonable and dignified future can be built.
I also keep a blog on this and related subjects here:
I'll definitely link to yours - kindly reciprocate!