On the 23rd of September, it was reported that the animal rights group "PETA" had sent a message to the management of Ben and Gerry's Homemade Inc (an American icecream company) to the effect that they must abandon the use of cow's milk in their products and, instead, use human breast milk to make ice cream for sale on a commercial basis. Any suggestion of PETA's (a law-abiding institution, so it says) is habitually backed up by the threats and violence of the Animal Liberation Front, the Animal Rights Militia, "Earth First!" and the Earth Liberation Front, all of which make a virtue of breaking laws in what they deem to be a good cause.
Medawar's previous post "Science is a Freedom" stated that the cruelest thing you can do to someone, is force them to accept something that their reason wishes to reject.
PETA have previously campaigned for children to drink beer instead of milk, now, ice-cream makers are supposed to accept the theory that it's "healthier" for commercial icecream to be made from "donated" human breast milk.
They also strive to make people believe that cows milk makes people unhealthy (despite the historical evidence to the contrary, see especially "The Englishman's Food" by J.C Drummond and Anne Wilbraham (Jonathan Cape Ltd) which shows how many diseases were banished by the improved availability of fresh dairy products in English towns from the 18th century onwards.) Cows are now also to be blamed for global warming, with the idea that pastures can be converted into croplands.
The last time pastures were systematically converted into arable lands as a matter of public policy on any great scale, was in the Mid-Western United States in the early years of the 20th century. By the nineteen-twenties, this had caused the greatest ecological disaster in American history: the "Dustbowl". Because permanent pasture has a deeper root system even than most forests, it can withstand cyclical droughts in a way that arable land and even forestry plantations, cannot. Nearly all of the pasture lands which PETA would like to see converted (to growing soyabeans, presumably) in the USA, Canada and Argentina, are subject to cyclical droughts every twenty or thirty years. So, you can get away with arable farming for a decade, maybe two, and then you have a disaster and a sterile moonscape that won't grow anything in a hurry, even when the rains return.
Reason tells me that getting children to drink beer instead of milk, is very bad for them.
Reason tells me that dairy products, far from being dangerous to human health, are actually essential to avoid problems such as rickets and many opthalmic ailments.
Reason tells me that the commercial exploitation of human breast milk for ice-cream, is a deliberate lunacy which is being put forward for the following reasons:
Pathological liars are not compelled to tell plausible lies: they are compelled to force people to accept things which are not plausible, things which their reason wants to reject. Pathological lying is a species of sadism: they do it because the irrational lies which they force people to accept destroy the core of the victim's being. It is a way of stealing someone's sanity by force. Your reason wants to reject the idea of women being bullied into "donating" breast milk to icecream makers, so that pastures can be ploughed for soya production? Well, tough: PETA wants to make you accept the idea, precisely because it makes your reason scream with pain.
Then the whole concept deliberately reverses the position of woman and beast: women are, if anything less than beasts in PETA's eyes. And not only that, they want to force humanity to accept that status. Like the Cathars of Medievil Europe, successfully brainwashing people to sign over their wealth to the Cathars and then starve themselves to death. That, too, was an institution based on pathological lying.
It is ludicrous, but it is deliberately ludicrous. They cannot express their contempt and hatred for humanity in reasoned concepts, so they put forward ludicrous ones, instead, and then set about making people "believe" the most ludicrous of lies. Pathological lying of this order, is linked to the deepest and darkest forms of sadism.
Be very afraid of the sort of mind that can put this sort of idea forward, not quite in a spirit of seriousness, but in a spirit of mocking contempt for the human race. Here is something a thousand times more dangerous than any Islamist's hymn of hate, because it is born of hatred, not for any regional, ethnic or ideological grouping, but of hatred for the human form itself.
You might want to laugh out loud, but it's a statement of intent: when the people behind PETA rule, we will all have to publicly affirm our acceptance of this kind of madness, or we will suffer very violent consequences indeed. They laughed at Hitler, in 1923. By 1933, they were all shouting seig Heil! like the best of them, in case they got singled out. So, laugh at them for now, but get ready for the fight.
Thursday, 18 December 2008
Sunday, 14 December 2008
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.
Saturday, 13 December 2008
This blog is intended to deal with issues involving both science and human freedom.
"Medawar's" central belief is that freedom of inquiry is as important to the human condition as the freedom to protest or state political beliefs.
Indeed, most of our current concepts of political freedom stem from two roots:
the work of religious innovators and dissidents; for example, John Bunyan, who had to fight for the right to preach and pray as their conscience and intellect demanded -and those scientists who had to fight for the fight to study and theorize as their intellect demanded.
The modern world is full of forces which seek to suppress not simply our "political freedoms", "civil rights" or even "human rights", but the very basic right of curiosity and the use of reason which led to all of these.
Enemies of the basic right to curiousity and reason range from neo-nazi groups, such as the "November the Ninth Society" via the Animal Liberation Front, to Organised Crime and other entities which appear vague and shapeless, not to say nameless, to the majority of people, but which have a real and negative impact on some people's lives.
The Orange Dahlia, above, has been chosen because it's intensely beautiful, but it's the product, not solely of nature, but of nature and man's curiousity and reason working together. That makes it a symbol of everything which many extremists and little Hitlers are trying to suppress.
More posts will follow, but this sets out the stall!