Sunday, 14 December 2008

Science is a Freedom


These days, many people have been taught to fear that scientists are "destroying the world" or are engaged in a conspiracy (with a variety of faceless entities, such as "big Pharma") to enslave ordinary people and make them serfs, of whatever it is out there.

There are two points here:
Some of them are confusing "scientists" with "psychiatrists" and these have been two divergent species ever since the latter profession chose to follow Freud. A scientist either tests his own conclusions or allows someone else to test them, a psychiatrist only ever tests or questions someone else's assumptions, never his own. Even making that statement has caused all the psychiatrists reading this to assume...

Science is not an anti-nature thing, nor an anti-human thing. It is simply a formalized expression of something very fundamental to our natures, and at the deepest level, it is allied to what we call "justice".

Science comes from the very beginning of Humanity's emergence, not as a species (because there was more than one "species" that we'd recognize as being as human as we are) but as something slightly more than that. It isn't even what distinguishes us from other primates, because there's an echo of the scientist in what many wild primates, not to mention ravens, do in order to survive.

Consider a hunter-gather, traditionally called "Og" or perhaps, nowadays: "Ray Mears".
When he gathers fruit and berries in order to survive, how does he differ from a bear?
The bear stands upright (when required) and systematically gathers as much as he can, from that which he recognizes, by instinct or experience, to be good. From a distance, it is difficult to distinguish him, by his actions, from Mr Mears.

Well, the bear gathers as much of the good stuff as he can and eats as much as his stomach will stand (which tends to be a great deal.)

Mr Mears gathers as much as he thinks he can deal with, either by eating, or by processing the fruit and berries so that they might be transported, stored, or serve some function other than simple nutrition. He knows all sorts of ways of doing these things. Not simply because he has learned them from older generations of Mears, but because he himself, like all his ancestors, has been curious all his life, and that curiosity, guided by the facility of reason, has allowed him to invent and experiment with, new ways of using things that he can gather. This helps Mr Mears to survive and prosper, because he can find ways of processing food that is not good to eat immediately it is gathered, and which the bear must leave alone. It allows him to take food with him when he travels, or to store it by means other than eating it and growing fat.
That is all science is: a combination of curiosity and reason that is so important to our survival, since so unimaginably long ago, that it is part of our natures, perhaps the very core.

If our curiosity and reason are suppressed, we do not feel happy, we do not even feel well. Even the psychiatrists (or at least the forensic psychologists) will admit that sadists and pathological liars are often only millimetres apart. The cruelest thing you can do to someone, is to force them to accept something, which their reason wishes to reject. The pathological liar does not seek to tell plausible lies: he delights to manipulate, or coerce, people into accepting things which no reasonable person, a safer distance from the liar, would accept. That does not mean that the victim, who is forced to acknowledge the lie as truth, is not a reasonable person. It means that great violence is being done to their power of reason -and that power of reason has become, over millenia of human struggle, more important to their identity than their lives.

Being commanded by a liar to believe something that our reason rejects, is the greatest violence we can suffer. This is the primeval point where justice and science are the same thing. Like primitive atomic particles and forces just after the big bang, they grow apart and into very complex and distinct things, but in their origins, justice and science are the same: the core of our being.

Freedom is the freedom to look at things, to wonder about them, to imagine how they can change, to try it and see. That is science, but it is also how we tell good from evil, guilt from innocence, wisdom from folly.

If we regain our power of reason, and reject those who are telling us what we ought to think, we are already free in the sense that matters most.

The photograph is of a Westland Lysander. Designed to observe battlefields, it was also used to take secret agents to and from Nazi-occpied France during world war two. Nazism was a system of lies and coercion: pathological lying, formalised and inherently sadistic. On numerous occasions, agents fleeing the Gestapo, would have to run after a Lysander as it briefly touched down and taxied into position for an immediate take-off; grabbing the bottom rung of the fixed ladder, which you can just see in the photograph, below the RAF roundel, meant the difference, not just between physical safety and danger, but also between being able to keep their own power of reason and being forced to surrender it, under interrogation, to the Nazis.

Medawar doesn't seek to make a casual comparison between the Nazis and the modern anti-science movements, such as the Animal Liberation Front. There is a direct and real equivalence, suggested by all of his experience of the past thirty-odd years and tested, time and again, by his curiosity and power of reason. Gentle Reader, it isn't scientists who threaten your freedom, happiness and well-being, it's the liars.

6 comments:

A_Loon said...

This is a great statement you've made, Mr. Medawars:
......"The cruelest thing you can do to someone, is to force them to accept something, which their reason wishes to reject......."

In an article 2005 in attempting to describe this condition, the only appropriate words I could imagine for the condition were hyphenated: "psycho-shock." It's interesting to note artists, musicians, writers, and scientists are probably the most freedom-demanding-respecting-loving people in the world, and all would probably find "psycho-shock" a common emotion when freedom is threatened, intimidated, compromised, or denied.

(Defining psycho-shock, others may wish to add their own definitions.)

"Psycho-shock" is believing the local deputy sheriff is honest to find he actually takes payoffs, sells confiscated drugs and has a 20-year-old mistress.

"Psycho-shock" is when you find your partner of 25 years has been cheating for 15.

"Psycho-shock" is when you find a psychiatrist is on a pharmaceutical payroll.

"Psycho-shock" is finding the politician answered the personal call of the $10,000 donor but never knew the name of the $1,000 donor.

"Psycho-shock" is finding a lawyer is paid off, and the local judge takes money under the table.

"Psycho-shock" is being betrayed, deceived or robbed by a family member or lifelong friend.

"Psycho-shock" is having no health insurance and finding a medical test at one private testing lab is $6,000.00, at another the same test is $1500.00, and the same doctor's group owns both labs.

"Psycho-shock" is knowing 45 million Americans have no health care insurance, thousands are losing their homes (while Congress bails out crooks & thieves who in turn, have $400,000 social affairs with the bail-out money.)

Chris said...

I doubt this will make your approval and will be a waste of my time but here goes...

Maybe you are right, it's not the pharmaceutical industry that lies to you its the ALF, and oh, the human rights organisations and NGOs that lie to the public.

Lest we forget, Bayer sponsored Nazi experimentation. The Nazis used Zyklon B under licence from Bayer to exterminate millions of Jews during WW2. This is a company who works closely with Huntingdon Life Sciences currently.

Pfizer decided animals weren't quite suitable when they tested there products on children in Nigeria.

Glaxo Smith Kline used orphans in New York to test experimental HIV treatments.

This is the tip of the iceberg, if you think the ALF are the ones we should be afraid of, think what lengths the multi trillion £ Pharma sector will go to in order to protect its profits.

Chris

Medawar said...

Medawar already knows that Bayer, as it existed in WW2, was corrupt as hell. The book "Five Chimneys", about Auschwitz, was written by a Romanian doctor who ended up there because her husband annoyed a Bayer sales rep by refusing to prescribe Bayer medicines. On the rare occasions when you have a fact half-right, you tend to concentrate on the wrong half.

However, that was 1942.

In 1979, the Animal Liberation front took over, by violence, premises in Angel Alley hitherto used by genuine Anarchists, of the kind who organised resistance to the France Regime during the Spanish Civil War. A minibus full of known Column 88 and Combat 18 activists came to help them, so who has the Nazi links in the modern era?

Following that takeover, the Anarchist Fortnightly began to print diatribes, utterly offensive to genuine anarchists, in favour of narcotics and paedophilia: interestingly, creating precisely the sort of "degenerate" sub-culture that Column 88 and Combat 18 exist to fight. Almost as if they helped the ALF in the first place, in order to have a monster to confront!
Is Medawar wrong to fear people whose bedfellows have swastikas carved onto their foreheads?

The Nazis may have had a lot of money from industrial sources, and anything they got from the drugs companies is utterly dwarfed by what they got from Henry Ford and Standard Chartered Bank, but their ideological objective was a post-industrial pastoral society, completely indistinguishable from that sought by the ELF, Earth First! (inexplicably popular with ex Us Army psychological warfare officers including the paedophile Michael Aquino) and such ALF luminaries as Ronnie Lee and Paul Watson.

Both of whom have stated that the world's population needs to be "reduced" by 80-90% to make this possible. This is what Himmler was after, if not Hitler, but then, it was always Himmler who did the thinking, and Speer who did the planning. Hitler just did the talking.

The difference between the ALF and the Nazis is that one wanted to use industry to achieve its goal, of a post-industrial dream world, and the ALF wants to smash industry, in order to achieve its goal, of a post-industrial dream world.

In both cases, the dream world is one with very, very few human beings in it.

One of the things which Medawar has always found noteworthy, is that Stalin managed to kill twenty million Ukrainians without resort to gas, and the Japanese camp 731 experimental station, despite using gas, plague and everything else, killed only about a hundred thousand Chinese civilians (and some Russians, too, from Manchuria) while the Japanese army at large killed thirty million civilians in China alone, just by rounding them up and shooting or bayoneting them. Something which Himmler thought was a practical impossibility, hence the Zyklon B.

The lethal thing in all cases, is the desire for a world in which groups, often large groups, of human beings no longer exist.

This is a goal of the ALF's founder and you're a fool if you cannot see that.

Medawar just knows, you're going to say that Ronnie Lee is the most gentle and kindest person on the planet, next to Greg Avery, but he wants 90% of the human race to die, and Medawar is entitled to presume that includes Medawar and anyone remotely like Medawar.

Why did Henry Ford give Hitler more money than all the drugs companies ever did? Not because Hitler was going to sell more cars, because the Nazis would have killed most of the potential customers for those cars. He did it because he, too, wanted a world with almost no-one in it.

Instead of thinking that you have only to voice thoughts which seem convincing to you, to either convert Medawar to your cause or condemn him as an evil heretic who has failed to accept the truth even when it has been revealed to him, why not wake up, Chris, and smell some of the bedfellows which the ALF has attracted.

You might get a distinct whiff of precisely the kind of global neo-nazi conspiracy which you obviously see yourself as bravely fighting.
And if you occasionally go and do battle with Combat 18 on the streets, how do you know that their leaders and yours aren't in cahoots, orchestrating the fight?

Anonymous said...

Freedom Bookshop was never 'taken over by the ALF' and Comabat 18 were never based there. What stupid lies. A group of unarmed ALFers did help fight off some tooled up neo-nazis in the 90's who attacked the premises.

Also several hunters are on the BNP membership list... who's the Nazis?

Medawar said...

Yes it was.
There was a lady who used to live there, who was thrown out by your friends and their neo-nazi pals. She made daily visits for several years afterwards, to try and reclaim what had been taken by force.

The takeover was in 1979, not 1990! Nor did Medawar EVER say that Combat 18 was BASED there*, merely that it and column 88 helped your friends take it over. But if that is too far in the past for you to have first-hand knowledge, perhaps you'd better tread very carefully when calling Medawar a liar.

Interesting to see that your friends have rewritten history, to heroically fight off the neo-nazis who helped them -a decade after the real battle!

Anything outside the faith is a "stupid lie" is it?

Try cuttings libraries for The Guardian a few years back.

Medawar can remember seeing a research farm, which bred pigs, that your "Band of Mercy/ALF" friends had torched "to set them free". In each pen, piglets cooked to death in one corner, behind the sow, who tried to shield them.

That's another "stupid lie," I suppose.
As is the fact that several Mid Beds drugs dealers and pimps also affect support for your cause, at least when it suits them to do so.

Medawar will help you, by seeking an account of what happened to the Freedom Press, from a friend of the genuine anarchists who were there originally.

*Although Medawar has never said that Combat 18 were based at the Freedom Press or Anarchist's bookshop, the anarchist fortnightly always used to be called "Freedom" which is now the name of a far-right newsheet. The party which became the Nazis, in its early days, used to publish newspapers that looked the same as titles sponsored by the bigger parties.

Medawar said...

Of course, in order to make Medawar a liar, Anonymous has to change what Medawar claims, even though an observant reader has only to scroll up the page to see what Medawar actually claimed:
namely, that the takeover was in 1979 (anonymous suggests 1990!)

Medawar never, claimed, here or anywhere else, that Combat 18 used the premises themselves, merely that they derived benefit from the ALF's takeover. Primarily, the end of what had been an effective locus of anti-nazi activism since the thirties -and the association of anarchism with "sexual deviancy", which fitted neo-nazi propaganda very well indeed!
As far as Medawar ever knew, the neo-nazis just turned up to help on that night, and then went away, never again to so publicly reveal the intimate links between the two supposedly opposite causes.

But Combat 18 BASED in Angel Alley? Medawar never had any reason to even suspect that, until anonymous denied an accusation that had never been made!

You are very good at editing Wikipedia, to cleanse the ALF's history of its worst excesses -and personalities.