Selfish Science And The Human Genome Project

Via the Daily Beast, Michael Thomsen on the new model of scientific progress:

In a time of dramatically worsening social conditions in the richest country in the world, there is something perverse about chasing scientific advancement that only the tiniest percentage of people will have access to, driven by the optimism of impossible promises.

It’s possible to view scientific advancement not as a marker of human progress but as a separatist illusion used to justify the accumulation of wealth by the few, building new speculative societies with iPhones, gene therapy, and regenerative medicine, while everyone else festers in shanty towns and militarized city slums. Does it matter if there is a cure for cancer but no one will share it with you?

In the thrilling early years of the Human Genome Project, scientists flew all over the world to study the genes of as many different races and ethnic groups as possible. When one group arrived in Peru to sample the Q’ero Tribe, community president Benito Machacca Apaza declined the invitation to participate in the study. โ€œThe Q’ero Nation knows its history, its past, present, and future is our Inca culture, and we don’t need any so-called genetic study to know who we are,” Machacca wrote.

This was not just a way of rejecting the benefits of Western technological advancement, but an acknowledgement that its benefits often exclude groups like the Q’ero, or come at their expense through occupation, resource theft and forced labor. For Machacca, science was a tool for separating a person from his or her identity in order to push them into a life of technological interdependency. In declining the offer of raising one’s consciousness at the price of future despair, he instead suggested the answer to the researchersโ€™ question was already known.

What did the Human Genome Project give us? More than two decades later there is little to show, though an intrepid beauty-product company has used genomics to create a better shampoo, and [companies] began to appear in which people pay to peer into the murk of their DNA to see if they are predisposed to one disease or another. In the end, it was discovered that only 2 percent of the genes in the human genome are responsible for coding proteins, thought to be central to life, while the other 98 percent were written off as โ€œjunk.”

Read the rest at the Daily Beast

114 Comments on "Selfish Science And The Human Genome Project"

  1. DNA remains one of the most mythologized scientific discoveries of the 20th century. SJ Gould argued that DNA was a record of evolution, not a cause. Punctuated equilibrium blatantly appears in the fossil record, but its causal force remains unexplained. Instead, we get the natural-selection-inspired just-so stories and the genetic sophistry of the Neo-Darwinists.

    There is no such thing as ‘Science’. It’s a ruse. Knowledge flows freely, because human minds cannot be controlled. Using social sanction to police the borders of knowledge, coralling speculative imagination and intrepid experimental will with an ‘immutable’ Method that requires university credentials, funding and high-tech gagetry yields the destructive unintended consequences we see before us.

    Beware the neo-atheists and other dead-world material cultist!

    • bobbiethejean | Feb 13, 2013 at 10:13 am |

      If there’s no such thing as science, then how about stop proving yourself wrong by using the internet from a computer in the air conditioned comfort of your home powered by electricity? That would be a good place to start.

      • If I use a computer I have to be enamored of Richard Dawkins ? How so?

        • bobbiethejean | Feb 13, 2013 at 1:39 pm |

          Where did I say that? I said don’t be a fucking hypocrite. If you hate and fear science, don’t use it.

          • emperorreagan | Feb 13, 2013 at 1:49 pm |

            If you don’t like America, get out!

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 13, 2013 at 2:25 pm |

            When did I say I don’t like America?

          • emperorreagan | Feb 13, 2013 at 3:00 pm |

            Don’t be a hypocrite.

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 13, 2013 at 4:31 pm |

            How am I a hypocrite? I never said I don’t like America. Argument failure.

          • emperorreagan | Feb 13, 2013 at 4:38 pm |

            America doesn’t like you either.

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 13, 2013 at 4:43 pm |

            This is the fourth time I’ve told you I don’t hate America. I don’t even know where the hell you got that from.

          • Matt Staggs | Feb 13, 2013 at 4:45 pm |

            I think you’re being trolled via non-sequitur.

          • emperorreagan | Feb 13, 2013 at 4:47 pm |

            I was originally just making a mocking criticism of the “love it or leave it”/”my way or the highway” argument that if you don’t like how I view science then you can’t use technology, then just degenerated into trolling.

            Shame on me, I was going to see how long I could go.

          • lol.. fucking trolls..

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 13, 2013 at 5:13 pm |

            Criticizing America for all that it does wrong in an attempt to better the country is not the same thing as, from a place of ignorance, claiming that science is evil and horrible and responsible for terrible things while enjoying all the benefits of science. Science is not to blame. How people use it is the problem. Humans are the problem.

          • Dem is suicide words, Bobbie Jean!

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 13, 2013 at 5:49 pm |

            The way I see it, science is just a concept and we realize it through tools. How we use those tools are what define us. Humans are often ignorant, greedy, selfish, shortsighted, and terrified of change. Sometimes we are also innovative, ingenious, clever, thoughtful, and imaginative. The victories and failures of science are really the victories and failures of humanity. I don’t understand why people react so negatively to that idea.

            Am I wrong? Am I crazy? It’s hard not to doubt myself when I have so many telling me I’m wrong and stupid and ignorant and close-minded simply because I dare defend science when I see it being wrongly accused of creating disparity or giving us false expectations about the Human genome Project which was extraordinarily important, contrary to what Michael Thomsen thinks.

          • You’re not crazy. Your self-doubts are utterly without merit. You’re completely right if you see that mistakes have to be made for knowledge to progress. I doubt that anyone on here would dispute that with you. What’s at issue here is not the ideal of science, because continually questioning one’s view of the world is a necessary part of being sentient. We don’t develop, otherwise. However, what is disputed here is how _other_ people conceive of and practice science in the world. But this problem is not limited merely to a system of understanding the world, like science, it also includes the differing ways we socially organize ourselves (such as so-called ‘liberal democracy’). Our view of the world seldom matches up with the reality that other people create as they act.

            There are effects of modern science that seem to propel it further away from its ideal of ever questioning the status quo–recall that science was formerly relegated to fringe status in the 16th century, as it directly militated against Church doctrine. Scientists were renegades. It is unfortunate, however, that the precise predictive successes of modern scientific practice seem to tempt us to act as if there are grounds to think (and act like) that we are somehow closing in on the boundaries of imagining reality. Science encourages us to think this way because of the relatively recent reliance on technology to directly observe the phenomena that we discover. The technological fruits of scientific discovery seem to feedback into a sensory dependence on further technology to fine tune our view of the world. But we confuse this advancement in technology with advancement in understanding reality. Nothing could be further from how science was first undertaken. Technology is slowly eclipsing the realm of conjecture that used to lead science. Now, we’ve reached a point where if it can’t be directly observed by instruments, it’s non-falsifiable (itself, a progress-loaded term) and therefore banished from rational discussion. This is a serious cultural problem.

            Further, the deep philosophical ethics required to advance in lock-step with the accumulation of knowledge are woefully falling behind. Understanding the natural world and manipulate it through various techniques and technologies is truly amazing, but the ethical foundation for guiding the path of this understanding is not there. I think there are various sociological reasons for this: firstly, science–with it’s heavy dependence on technology–requires significant capitalization to be carried out, but this all happens in a social environment where the rich wield the most power. Therefore, where wealth and power are concentrated, so is the practice of science, and this uncontroversially benefits the stakeholders of that wealth and power. Secondly, Ulrich Beck offers an interesting critique of science in his _Risk Society_; the argument basically goes that science is progressing so incredibly fast that it is producing problems that cannot be resolved at the level of social organization we currently have–i.e. humanity organized in cantonized nation-states cannot solve global problems of pollution and climate chaos.

            But these are only a few of the many critiques that exist of the practice of modern science. So while I think that understanding the world is a noble endeavour, it ought to be undertaken with a level of autocritique _and_ levity lest we begin to take the act of accumulating knowledge too seriously and get carried away with our own successes. There’s so much more I could type, but I’ll leave it at that.

          • LucidDreamR | Feb 13, 2013 at 4:53 pm |

            funny how those who fit the description themselves also seem to attract the same attention from others…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • Matt Staggs | Feb 13, 2013 at 4:47 pm |

            Not in my Murka!

          • Matt Staggs | Feb 13, 2013 at 4:47 pm |

            Not in my Murka!

          • using any tool created by “the attainment of knowledge” (IE every tool that has ever existed before -and after- the tool known as science was created), is in no way the same thing as “using science”

      • lazy_friend | Feb 14, 2013 at 4:03 am |

        Sorry to burst your bubble bobbie. But if you really knew the deep truth behind computers, you would know that they are not exact all the time, nor scientific, I find them to be almost magical. Computer science tries to study these variables, while trying to catalog them. Innovation comes from trial and error, not on the backbone of established absolute science. In technology, solutions become outdated almost as soon as they are discovered. Its like the secret message that will self destroy in 1,2 ,3 . Some computers seem to have a mind of their own. The science is in its infancy. There are things about computers and electronics that “just work” but we do not fully understand how and why. Seeing science as dogma, an all knowing, all powerful closed system is the problem, when in fact it should be an open system, so we can make sure that experiments don’t have a different result over time. Since we are travelling faster than a bullet trough space, different sectors of space affect us and electronics in ways we do not fully understand. I spend all day with computers and sometimes they act like they have a mind of their own, and we do not fully understand why. I like the scientific method, don’t get me wrong, but it has to be repeated constantly for it to have the audacity to state absolute facts. Computers are always changing, we have seen things they did before and are doing now but not what they will do in the near future. Enjoy the tradition of science but don’t let it become a prison. To truly defend science, one needs to put on a lab coat and do some science, don’t just be a cheerleader. If you are feeling angry and defensive about a cause dear to your heart all the time, you are doing it wrong. True science is constantly looking for the new hotness, not the wisdom of yesterday. Wisdom seems to be static and basic, like the elements; fire, water, air, earth and consciousness but we don’t know why. Science is the study of what happens when you mix these basic elements in different proportion to create and how the presets of nature work. You can try running some experiments to figure the mysteries of wisdom. I observe that there is no separate agency behind things or people. Things just are when observed and are just possibilities when not being observed. Be humble, a lot has happened before you got here. We know some forms of religion cause problems, but there is even a science to study the phenomena of religion. Just because technology works sometimes, does not mean all fields of science are correct and absolute in the authority, that’s a logical fallacy, a False equivalence I believe.

    • LucidDreamR | Feb 13, 2013 at 11:55 am |

      One could argue that the scientific method actually lends itself to being of equal use to those with degrees and funding, as well as those without. I’m pretty sure one doesn’t need a piece of paper or money to follow scientific method. I have a rather sophisticated organic chemistry lab in my basement; I never even finished high school, and am far from being rich. But because I was willing and able to attain the knowledge myself- I can use the scientific method to extract/synthesize and make some pretty neat things… ๐Ÿ˜‰ As far as Darwinian theory: science, and some people that practice it have come up with some very interesting theories to fill in the evolutionary gaps. One of my favorites was from Terrence Mckenna- who theorized that as we evolved from tree-dwelling monkeys to larger ground-dwelling apes and our diet changed to include things found on the forest floor; one of the things we stumbled upon was hallucinogenic mushrooms. If you’re an animal trying to hunt and gather, this food item would be a powerful tool: increasing vision, heightening senses, etc. And as we continued to use it it spurred the development in our brain that makes us who we are today. A very interesting theory at the very least. I guess I would say don’t allow your viewpoint of science to be strictly molded by the ‘mainstream’, as I think you will find that the scientific method has room for everybody. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I know what you’re trying to say, but I don’t think there even is a single ‘scientific method’ to speak of. It’s also a myth that’s propagated like a religion to give credence to the high-profile scientific institutions–the big club that we’re not members of. Feyerabend is my primary epistemological inspiration.
        I love the stoned ape theory. I’ve heard McKenna’s talk on youtube where he insinuates that the shrooms are an alien organism brought from space on asteroids (pan spermia) and that they are here to merge with us in a form of symbiosis. I was reading Lynn Margulis before I encountered McKenna, so I was blown away when he mentioned this.

        So what kind of substances do you synthesize? Any you want to cladestinely mail to me if I give you my snail mail addy? lol ๐Ÿ˜‰

        • LucidDreamR | Feb 13, 2013 at 3:14 pm |

          hehe! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Afraid my balls aren’t quite that big… ๐Ÿ˜› I will say though that with a little effort, the use of scientific method and knowledge of plants, one can most definitely create beautiful things. I’m willing to bet many would be surprised at how many plants you see out in the wild every day that can have different uses. Sassafras, phalaris grass, poppies… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. bobbiethejean | Feb 13, 2013 at 10:10 am |

    I love it when people use the internet from a computer in the comfort of their air conditioned homes powered by electricity to complain about the “evils of science.” It shows how hypocritical and ignorant they are. Hey, here’s an idea- if you hate science so much, go live in a cave where the evil scary science can’t get you. Or better yet, instead of blaming science for disparity, why not instead make efforts to ensure that everyone can share equally in its fruits?

    If you want to be a cave-dwelling primitive, by all means, have fun in your new bat-poop and fungi infested mud-hole. I’ll be busy enjoying all that science has to offer, including the company of my mother who wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the lifesaving medical procedure of organ transplant. Incidentally, a process she undergoes every few months that checks for organ rejection was derived directly from that Human Genome Project you so foolishly poo-poo because you, in your almighty wisdom, can’t see the benefits. Very little to show? I can’t speak for anyone else but I’m reasonably sure those with loved ones still living because of an organ transplant would beg to vehemently fucking differ.


    • The problem isn’t science, but dualism, the either/or mentality, and here is yet another example of it – someone says something about the orthodox scientists that is not wholly positive, and instead of answering that point, they’re written off as hypocrites because they use computers and live in air-conditioned homes (by the way, you might want to revisit that assumption – I for one don’t and have never lived in an air conditioned home, though I plead guilty to the use of computers and, by extension, electricity).

      Science, when it came, was essentially a new name for the seeking of knowledge, and it was a reaction to the closed minded stranglehold by the then orthodoxy of the Church and all its dogmas. Previously it might have been labelled Gnosticism, amongst many other names (my mind has suddenly gone blank). Much of the criticism being labelled at Science isn’t against the pursuit of knowledge, but the fact it has become an orthodoxy and an institution in and of itself – it has become that which it initially opposed, albeit with a different set of dogmas. See, I’ve even started giving it a capital letter. Must stop that. What was it The Archdruid said? What you contemplate, you imitate? It may have been a bit of a catchphrase, but it contains a fair bit of truth.

      I have no dog in this Genome project fight, in that I have never followed it and don’t know the subject particularly well. If there are fruits to be had that can potentially be shared by all, then I agree with you that we should focus our energies on the sharing of those fruits, and I especially agree with the not blowing people up part. But I take Adam’s comment as a criticism of establishment science, not of the pursuit of knowledge per se. He will no doubt correct me if I’m wrong.

      • LucidDreamR | Feb 13, 2013 at 11:41 am |

        I fail to see how you can compare science to organized religion….? By it’s very design science is the complete opposite: Theories are made, and have to pass through rigorous peer review before being accepted as fact. An orthodoxy in itself? I must strongly disagree.

        • In theory, yes.

          Suppose you really, really like Mr Dawkins, and you’re presented with peer reviewing his ideas on Memes (was it he who came up with the idea? I’m lead to believe so).

          Strictly speaking, shouldn’t you say, ‘Hang on a cotton picking minute, this theory isn’t actually falsifiable!’ According to the tenets of science, anyway.

          As I said, the idea of science is noble. The practice of it is frequently not. I was simply pointing out that raising that as an issue should not immediately result in a debate lowering ‘go back and live in a cave then!’

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm |

            That’s not debate lowering, it’s calling people out on their ignorant, stupid hypocrisy. There is nothing wrong with criticizing science for its failures. There is something very wrong with decrying science as having cause (insert human stupidity/greed/ignorance/shortsightedness-caused issue here) while enjoying all the benefits of modern science.

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm |

            That’s not debate lowering, it’s calling people out on their ignorant, stupid hypocrisy. There is nothing wrong with criticizing science for its failures. There is something very wrong with decrying science as having cause (insert human stupidity/greed/ignorance/shortsightedness-caused issue here) while enjoying all the benefits of modern science.

          • technically the original word mneme (pronounced the same) was created by Richard Semon, which was to be a theory for a fundamental unit of memory in an individual’s brain.

            Richard Dawkins appropriated it(and did properly cite it) and created the word meme which was a more wispy word for a fundamental unit of cultural memory with an air of contagion in accordance with his selfish gene theory(also because gene and meme sound similar).

        • emperorreagan | Feb 13, 2013 at 2:56 pm |

          My own experience in writing/reviewing articles was that peer review was far from “rigorous.”

          Pedigree was very important. Who they reference, who they studied under (because you could almost always identify who the author was, even without the name being provided, because everyone in a field is competing for the same grants and aware of what others are doing, meet each other at conferences, etc.). If you’re perceived to be of good pedigree, then people are more likely to accept your results.

          The fact that the researchers know each other also would lead to some petty snark over other disagreements appearing in the comments. I saw that in a few of my friends’ comments, where they would get ridiculously petty comments because the reviewer didn’t like the PI.

          Presentation was very important. A good looking paper will slide by more readily, whereas a paper that’s not laid out well or lacks pretty graphs will be more likely to be ripped apart. Same bias that professors had in classes they taught carried over to watching them conduct peer reviews.

          People seldom, if ever, ask for data sets. But you’ll see your article turn up in references anyway.

          The up-front cost of some experiments and limited availability of some materials means that some studies may never be replicated, as long as they agree with consensus. So you’re counting on how rigorous a particular researcher is in doing their experiments and reporting results.


          Meta-studies on pharma studies also show that privately funded studies show 85% positive results whereas government funded studies show positive results around 50%, see the recent Salon article :

          If one were cynical, one might suppose that 50% positive results are also over-reporting, as even with government funded research the investigator has a bias towards publishing positive results, since it’s easier to get more money, tenure, etc. with positive results. A negative result may completely cut off the funding spigot for a line of research or a reputation for ideas that don’t pan out may make your grant proposals less likely to be accepted.

          I’m interested in seeing meta-studies from other fields where private funding is the dominant funding source.

          You can separate out the politics of science, the practice of science, etc. if you wish and consider the Scientific Ideal as something separate. But I’d argue that puts you in the same boat as religion: religion is typically lambasted for making “that’s not true religion” arguments when someone lays the crusades or radical Islamic clerics on the table in an debate.

          • LucidDreamR | Feb 13, 2013 at 3:05 pm |

            You lost me when you sited ๐Ÿ˜› ..not exactly a reputable source.. I digress.. You’re very right to a point, there are definitely negative influences on the scientific method. But I think you’ll find that these don’t come from the scientific method itself, opposed to outside forces- e.g. capitalism. I surely don’t follow your logic saying that to separate science from these negative influences is to compare it to organized religion… I just fail to see any connection whatsoever.

          • emperorreagan | Feb 13, 2013 at 3:20 pm |

            Salon provided the book review. I’m far too lazy to look up and post references to the actual studies on which the book is based.

            My argument is this with respect to religion is this:

            Consider christianity and the crusades. You can take the violence and excesses of the crusades as inseparable from christianity, or you can take a more nuanced position and attribute them to other factors (wanting the money from the pilgrims, power dynamics in europe, etc.) rather than being necessarily related to the core principles of christianity.

            You can likewise look at science and choose to attribute the excesses as inseparable from the pursuit of scientific discovery, or you can attribute them to economic excesses and political machinations and say they are not necessarily part of science.

            The pattern I’ve noted in many of the science versus religion debates is that people are inconsistent on the issue depending on which side they intend to minimize.

          • Great post!
            But might there be some inherent errors in the ideals of science and religion that allow them to become causes of evil and suffering?

          • emperorreagan | Feb 13, 2013 at 8:46 pm |

            For religion, I think the problem is stripping back centuries of plaque to find the value people found when things were local practices, or small cults. The moral, spiritual practice, etc. – that helps people understand the world, themselves, and others. You have to try to get beyond something like the catholic church swallowing disparate christian and pagan groups and commingling them over the centuries with various governments.

            I think that’s one of the interesting things about eastern religions in the west – because people have no attachment and little knowledge, generally, of the history behind them, it’s easier to strip out the anachronistic elements and get to the useful core. You can get down to meditative practice, which exists in all religions, but because it’s stripped of trappings that many people have issues with for one reason or another it becomes more palatable, for instance.

            For science, I personally buy into the notion of science, historically, being an anarchic enterprise rather than the neat methodological process one is taught in elementary school science classes (someone else brought up Feyabrand & DIY science in this thread). Wealthy dilettantes, tinkerers, crackpots etc. creating, thinking, and doing.

            I think there has been quite a bit of mythologizing about the scientific method where it wasn’t practiced at all (tangentially, I’m currently reading a book by Ha-Joon Chang who opens the book with examples of how neo-liberal economists imagine countries being successful due to neo-liberal policies, even where such policies didn’t exist during their rise to success. it’s a fairly common practice to rewrite history to justify whatever it is that supports your ideas today). And the problem becomes somewhat similar to that of religion: with the mythologizing of the scientific method and an academy that has consolidated control, you end up with a single hierarchal entity trying to contain everything into a single path. It’s created its own orthodox channels through which scientific inquiry must be conducted or it’s not valid.

            For the churn of stuff that comes out of academy every month in journals or for people trying to position science as an end-all be-all that has made all other modes of inquiry obsolete? You have to look at it with a critical eye. Some of it is going to produce useful and interesting technology. Some of it is going to be applied before it’s understood and end up causing more harm than good. Some of it is interesting perspective. A lot of it is never going to amount to anything. Some of it is pointless self-aggrandizement (particularly the over-reach common when anyone publishes anything in neuroscience these days). Some of it is flat out wrong. And with much of it, you need to be asking, “to what end is so much money being spent on this research,” because the academy serves the power structure, whether its private industry or government. Science isn’t just some benign tool being welded by kindly scientists trying to solve the world’s problems. The end to which all of that money is being spent isn’t just to expand human horizons.

            To answer the actual question:

            In my opinion, I don’t think it’s flaws in the ideals themselves that lend them to problems. The problem typically lies where some hierarchal structure consolidates power and control, where things are turned for the benefit of a few (also plays into some of the questions asked in the review this whole comment thread is attached to).

            The ideal lies in personal and collaborative practice, whether that’s sitting in the woods meditating (religion) or tinkering on things in a garage or lab somewhere (science).

          • As far as the core of religion goes, Alan Watts often spoke of the necessity of mysticism (or, more specifically, the direct/mystical experience) in a religion, saying something to the affect of, “Religion without the mystical experience is stale.” He riffs on this idea (somewhat) in this excellent essay (including why it poses such a problem to theists and secularists, alike):

            Psychedelics and Religious Experience

            Here is an example of what one of those “classic” experiences might be like (not facilitated by psychedelics here, but suddenly/spontaneously/by “chance”):

            (good website in general…kind of finds religion and science – or, scientists – meeting at a head…just check out “Collected Archives” for more accounts)

            It’s that kind of experience that is either outright denied or treated as heresy by the Church/Christianity (with priests fancying themselves the conduits/intermediaries/guardians of “God”) and other Abrahamic religions. I think it’s more readily accepted by Eastern religions (like Atman-Brahman/”Tat Tvam Asi” of Hinduism), but even they have problems with authority and rigid structures. I know this amounts to a very little of everything that you addressed, but just wanted to throw it in there.

            (would also like to add that I really enjoyed your series of responses here)

          • I would disagree with what you said about the Church/Christianity denying personal mystical experiences. I’m not a mainstream believer and by most Xians would be a heretic, but all mainstream churches I’ve been to valued and catalyzed personal mystical experiences. I may have other disagreements with mainstream xianity. but I’d have to say it is still a fairly mystical religion

          • Thanks for the response. To get a comprehensive sense of what I mean, I highly recommend this lecture from the aforementioned Alan Watts:

            Alan Watts – Jesus and His Religion

          • In potential, we can claim we are God. In actuality, we are one with God only sometimes. It is mysticism’s goal to unite with God as much as possible in this life. Jesus did say we are Gods. But it was more of an exhortation, that we should be perfect like God.

          • I would say there are some inherent errors in much of scientific thinking and its aims. I have a particular perception of the world, unique to those called Spiritual. Spirituality is said to be the opiate of the masses. What I mean is that science aims to impose one’s own will(so does magic, i.e. Crowley). Science aims to manipulate to achieve the goals of “ego”. It is also very proud and ignorant of Truth that can’t be measured. There’s a saying by Gnostics I’ll paraphrase: _Awareness that the machine(the world) is inherently flawed frees one from the temptation to tinker with it, and lightens the soul. The Taoists also had a mature understanding, I believe. They aimed to get rid of too much knowledge, not acquire more. They also realize one can know everything without leaving one’s room. Plato also said “All knowledge is remembering”. The Taoists also had a concept called “wu-wei” which means do nothing. By this they mean one can achieve everything by “doing nothing” that is, not imposing one’s will and have faith and live in harmony with the Living Cosmos. Jesus, too, accepted crucifixion with Faith, and realized resurrection on a spiritual reality.

            Scientific thinking is inherently ignorant because it seeks to know what can be known by observing this very moment, and what it seeks to acquire is already in one’s possession. Religion, too, is often guilty of the above errors, but I’ll leave it to others to criticize it.

            Despite my metaphysical leanings, I am very pragmatic. I believe one of the most important questions is “What is this for?” Jesus Christ said “you shall know them by their fruits”

            So, what does science achieve? What is it for? What are its fruits? Bobbiethejean mentioned many of them in admiration, like many others who are enchanted by novelty and glittering things. I see its fruits more as “poison in a pretty pill”, literally and metaphorically. I ain’t buying it. And it ain’t simply human nature to blame. Ironically, that’s the answer Christians will give you when you ask how did this place get so fucked up. Adam and Eve’s fault. Human Nature. I’d say it was planned to be fucked up, and science is part of the plan. It was the fallen angels who gave us science and magic. Science and magic being one and the same in my opinion. And those who open the gift of Pandora’s Box are the deceived. Deceived in believing they LACK and that what they need can be found outside of them. A Sufi said something to the effect that: The devil tells men they are lacking, and tempts them to desire gratification in external reality. But those in the “know”, know they were, they are, and they will be, and the Kingdom is Within.

          • I always saw science and religion in a paradoxical alliance against magick though. but your point about forcing your will is a content of both science and magick. maybe its an odd trinity where they are each only allied with respect of opposing the third.

        • lets say its an orthodoxy in its infancy(or arguably it used to be, but most people think it still is). orthodoxy’s have to get made somehow don’t they?

      • Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness | Feb 13, 2013 at 12:07 pm |

        I love it when people say duelism is bad.

    • Scienctific “progress” has ruined the earth and social relations to such an extent that it makes it difficult to live a primitive lifestyle. When humans did live without technology we had a more productive earth and we helped each other out.
      It actually is very enjoyable to live in communion with nature and other people. There is a sense of freedom that can’t be compared with the “freedom” of technological society. You get used to the elements instead of guarding against them. Your diet and exercise is much better. Try it for a while, with an open mind, maybe you’d appreciate the lack of noise and excessive stimulation.

      • bobbiethejean | Feb 13, 2013 at 1:44 pm |

        I see absolutely no problem with having science and living in communion with nature. I don’t see them as adversarial at all. Scientific progress is not what ruined the planet, greed, shortsightedness, ignorance, pervasive illogic, superstition, and simple, plain old idiocy are what ruined the planet. I guarantee you, there are ways we could bring science and nature to harmony but it will not happen when greed and selfishness are the driving factors behind human progress.

        • Science aims to manipulate Nature, forcing nature to obey its will, as opposed to treating Nature as a living being with rights just like us. It is the difference between rape and a romantic relationship. I don’t claim nature is perfect, but just like any other imperfect female, she still deserves our cooperation and love, instead of forcing her to bend to our desires.

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 13, 2013 at 4:13 pm |

            Science is just a tool we use to understand the world. How we use that tool or misuse it, that can’t be blamed on science. Humans are to blame.

          • Then science is not to be praised or credited for air conditioning and other modern luxuries, humans are!

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 14, 2013 at 11:33 am |

            Humans accomplished these things through science. Yes, humans deserve the credit but without science, it wouldn’t be possible.

          • And without science, much destruction and many horrors would not be possible. All I’m saying is be consistent. Too much Science Two-Step going on:

            Step One: separate “science” from humans (or, the ideal from the practice).
            Step Two: credit successes to Science and failures to the humans/practices/context.

            Also, you’ve often employed the favorite tactic to belittle, condescend, and marginalize by bashing on people as “Luddites” (multiple times in just these responses…i.e. “a cave-dwelling, anti-science luddite”). If you have the time, give this a read:

            What the Luddites Really Fought Against

            “As the Industrial Revolution began, workers naturally worried about being displaced by increasingly efficient machines. But the Luddites themselves “were totally fine with machines,” says Kevin Binfield, editor of the 2004 collection Writings of the Luddites. They confined their attacks to manufacturers who used machines in what they called “a fraudulent and deceitful manner” to get around standard labor practices. “They just wanted machines that made high-quality goods,” says Binfield, “and they wanted these machines to be run by workers who had gone through an apprenticeship and got paid decent wages. Those were their only concerns.””

            It was more a protest about workers rights (working with machines/science!) than anything.

            Interestingly enough, no such person named “Ludd” ever existed. Sure, “he” was used (somewhat facetiously) by the protesters as a rallying symbol. But, “he” was equally used as a focus of hate, scorn, and ridicule by the captains of industry who framed “him” as number one enemy of the people/progress. I wonder if he shared a flat with Emmanuel Goldstein.

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 14, 2013 at 4:36 pm |

            This entire paragraph is based on a complete misunderstanding of everything I’ve said or you’re purposely skewing my words into a strawman. As I’ve said a million times- the successes AND FAILURES of science are really the successes and failures of humanity. At this point, you’re arguing just to argue.

          • “Science is a concept, a method, a way of understanding the universe. You can’t blame that for atomic bombs, eugenics, or the shit Monsanto does. We have human greed, ignorance, fear, stupidity, corruption, malice, and shortsightedness (among other things) to blame for these things.”

            How are you not separating science from humans here?

            Also, you failed to address it, so feel free to educate yourself on the history of “cave-dwelling, anti-science luddites” (“don’t take my word for it”…I provided a link for you and everything)…lest you continue to look “ignorant” by throwing it around as a pejorative against people whose position you don’t understand.

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 14, 2013 at 10:59 pm |

            You make assumptions, you clearly don’t understand half of what I say, and you’re obviously not even trying to have a real conversation. So I’m not going to waste my time face-keyboarding in an attempt to bang out something simple enough for you to understand. Have a nice day.

          • Cool, thanks. I’m just figuring this Internet thing out.

          • Cool, thanks. I’m just figuring this Internet thing out.

          • i’m not sure anyone should ever use the word “obviously” on the internet.

          • Using my previous comparison, then (Nature being a female) Science is the “tool” used to sodomize her?
            I would propose we just abandon the “tool” and enter into a personal relationship with her, a give and take relationship, respectful of her needs, too.

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 14, 2013 at 10:52 pm |

            Ok. Look. So far you’ve been fairly respectful and you don’t strike me as a mean or bad person. But your constant, myopic insistance that science is necessarily a crime against
            nature is really starting to grate on my ass. If you can’t imagine
            science and nature co-existing, then you are seriously lacking in
            imagination and I feel sorry for you.

            If science is a “tool used to sodomize nature,” as you say, then stop using it. Go live in a field or a cave or a hippy commune and play a harp (that you presumably made by hand because remember, no science) and never use internet or air conditioning or microwaves or computers or TVs or vibrators or watch movies or wear glasses or drive a car or use a Kindle or use an ipad or use a phone or fly a plane ever again. Also, I hope you never sustain life-threatening injuries because if you do, I’m sure you won’t be using evil medical science to get better. And I hope you don’t have any loved ones who prefer modern life because you won’t have any way of keeping in touch with them from the comfort of your cave/field/commune!

            I’m not trying to be mean but there is a huge, hypocritical discrepancy between the words coming out of your mouth and the things you are doing. Complaining about the evils of science on the internet from a computer in a modern house would be like someone saying “I hate smokers and smoking” while lighting up a big old cigarette. It would be like someone saying “eating meat is evil” while chowing down on a bacon sandwich. It would be like someone saying “I hate gays! They are evil!” then going out and having gay sex.

            Do you see the problem here?

          • It would be like saying one hates capitalism, but then being a wage slave and using money. Technology, like money, is ubiquitous. One can use it less. One can use it without letting it use you. But, generally speaking, you have to use it to survive. That’s how Babylon keeps us sucking off her tit. But I do revere the ideal of the person who has abandoned money (ever heard of Peace Pilgrim) and technology. And I do seek to actualize that ideal, it takes great Faith, and as little as I have done that it brought great Peace and Freedom.

          • I think bobbie would say that just because some choose to use the tool to sodomize doesn’t mean that the original purpose of the tool is to sodomize. theres other ways to use the tool. (but i don’t want to put unwanted words in her mouth)

          • I think bobbie would say that just because some choose to use the tool to sodomize doesn’t mean that the original purpose of the tool is to sodomize. theres other ways to use the tool. (but i don’t want to put unwanted words in her mouth)

    • The whole problem is with monolithic perspectives of what science is. those who demonize it and those who champion it both have the same exact problem, and they are both ugly. One bad thing in science can happen, and screaming that all science is evil, is flawed. At the same time having an idea questioned, and refusing to accept it because it flies the flag of science, is also flawed. Trying to defend the merits of genomics, whatever they may be, through the successes in electronics and computing is absolutely laughable, but it makes sense to you because they both have a sticker on them that says Science! (and it also most be noted that computer technology is an engineering endeavor, NOT science, despite its basic scientific foundations in electromagnetism.)

      Science is great…. when you’re working from a good perspective.
      Science is absolutely horrible when you are working from a bad perspective.

      Questioning an aspect of scientific Content, not Practice, is not equivalent to being a luddite. Given this, I do understand that you are arguing against some who question the practice itself, and that argument is at a completely different level. You cannot confront their arguments of scientific practice, by just giving examples of scientific content. (started writing this before i read the last paragraph. looks like we agree on this point on some level.)

      • Good points “Science” could just be “the sphere of human knowledge” I mean isn’t that the etymology? It just means “knowledge” right? Its easy to get sloppy with language. But what I object to, is not not knowledge per se, but the cult of technological progress and trends in academia, in how scientific research is conducted. I mean just look at DARPA. That’s what’s wrong with it really. Its used for maintaining and further solidifying unequal power relationships, such as class structure and military hegemony.

        I’m all for smart people with home made 3d printers in their home and stuff experimenting with generators, over unity machines and trippy stuff like that.

      • Good points “Science” could just be “the sphere of human knowledge” I mean isn’t that the etymology? It just means “knowledge” right? Its easy to get sloppy with language. But what I object to, is not not knowledge per se, but the cult of technological progress and trends in academia, in how scientific research is conducted. I mean just look at DARPA. That’s what’s wrong with it really. Its used for maintaining and further solidifying unequal power relationships, such as class structure and military hegemony.

        I’m all for smart people with home made 3d printers in their home and stuff experimenting with generators, over unity machines and trippy stuff like that.

  3. I think it’s time we all accept the fact that we are “selfish”.

  4. If it weren’t for SCIENCE, you’d be living in a CAVE eating dog shit all day!! So show some respect! Thanks Dawkins! Praise Hitchens!

    • bobbiethejean | Feb 13, 2013 at 1:40 pm |

      What an ignorant, stupid thing to say. I’d expect better from someone who considers himself “enlightened.”

      • I never said that. I am just trying to be thankful. Science has helped me out a lot. I owe a lot to Science. I want to remember that every Thanksgiving when I eat my turkey. If it wasn’t for Science I would go naked, since Scientists invented clothes. Every time I pass by the Science Buildings of UW Madison I now genuflect with a tear in my eye.

        Praise Peer Review!

        • bobbiethejean | Feb 13, 2013 at 2:26 pm |

          Every time you leave a comment on the internet, you show the world how ridiculous you are.

          • LucidDreamR | Feb 13, 2013 at 2:54 pm |

            Um… I hate to be the bearer of bad news; but it’s YOU who are making the fool of themselves. Frankly, and I’m quite sure I speak for others here- if you don’t have anything intelligent or constructive to add, why don’t you go away? Ted is a regular here who is always bringing something to the table. All I’ve seen from you is personal attacks and trolling. Either grow up, or go back to youtube or some such site. The adults here are trying to have actual conversation…

          • Despite my disagreements w/ Bobbiethejean, she says things many people agree with and we all grow through arguing constructively. Personal attacks, though, are uncalled for and an immature way of arguing. It does go to show you, though, that it seems the tides have changed and it’s the materialistic scientifically minded who are most dogmatic and intolerant and particularly defensive. I’ve noticed that it is those who subconsciously doubt their beliefs who are the most defensive, religious and materialists alike.

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 13, 2013 at 4:30 pm |

            I don’t recall personally attacking anyone, for one thing. My interactions with Ted have always been strained because he is incapable of understanding where I’m coming from and I have no faith in the supernatural so we will never see eye to eye. As for intolerance? We tend to be intolerant of ignorance and stupidity and we fight against it whenever we see it. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

          • I actually do understand where you come from. Its not that rare of a point of view. Its called alternately “reductionist materialism” or “Scientism” I have read lots of books and articles written from that perspective.

            My point of view, on the other hand is nuanced to the point of complete and utter chaos. So I can see why that would be frustrating. But really the world is much more complex than any model or ideology. Basically i am open to lots of viewpoints. I reject reductionist materialism, not due to conflicting with my supposed “faith in the supernatural”, but rather because, reductionist materialism doesn’t make any sense of my experience. There is too much of my experience I would have to simply reject out of hand and discount. I see no reason to so, especially since many interesting models are being elucidated all the time that make sense of it, such as the research of Rupert Sheldrake and others.

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 13, 2013 at 5:59 pm |

            I actually do understand where you come from I have to be honest, I don’t know much about what those are. I will look into them. But based on what little I do know, I would tentatively have to say no? (More on that pending after research.)

            I admit that I can’t disprove the supernatural. I admit that there may be supernatural forces out there. I also admit that I may simply be blind to them if they are out there. But I don’t think it is unreasonable to conclude that based on a lack of supernatural elements affecting society, based on a lack of evidence, based on the non-conformity with the laws of physics (as we know them presently), it is not unreasonable for me to conclude that there PROBABLY are no supernatural elements to the world. I am not going to say “there are definitely no gods or ghosts” but I will go so far as to say there “probably are no gods and ghosts.” However, the day I am presented with what I find to be reasonable evidence, I will spin on a dime because I am not dogmatic and I will change my mind when I’m wrong.

            Damn it, Ted. Why do you have to vacillate between being an ass and being a nice guy? PICK ONE OR THE OTHER. ๐Ÿ˜›

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 13, 2013 at 6:16 pm |

            Actually, the reductionist philosophy is complicated and will take a lot more than five minutes on Wikipedia to understand. ^_^; I didn’t anticipate that so I can’t say yes or no to the “am I a reductionist” question. As for the scientism question….. I adore science. I am the biggest science geek/fangirl/cheerleader you will ever see. I do think it is the best way for us to know our universe but I don’t think it is the only way and I don’t think it is the best way to know ourselves.

          • I think how one defines “supernatural” is key in these types of discussion.

          • Even if gods and ghosts don’t exist does that mean you can’t listen to them?

            reality is just a word.

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 14, 2013 at 4:30 pm |

            If reality is just a word, see what happens if you fling yourself into traffic. What? It’s just a word. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • Thanks for posting that. Sounds like you learned many of the same lessons I did from my own experience.

          • That reminds me. We haven’t attacked each other lately. ๐Ÿ™‚

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 17, 2013 at 11:22 pm |

            That’s a good thing, right? ^__^;

          • Probably. ๐Ÿ™‚ Some of your recent comments responding to things I’ve said indicate we may have more in common than I’d previously believed.

            BTW, while I suspect Ted Heistman’s comments regarding reductionism and scientism in your belief system are probably accurate, I think you’ll grow out of it when these belief systems no longer fit your personal observations. This comes from what passes for intuition on my part, not hard data.

            Ever read any Robert Anton Wilson?

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 13, 2013 at 4:25 pm |

            Funny, I love being the bearer of bad news. You are the ones who look foolish complaining about how bad and evil science is on the internet from a computer in the air conditioned comfort of
            your homes powered by electricity. The only people you speak for are anti-science luddites who are too lacking in self-aware to realize their own absurd hypocrisy.

            As for Ted? He routinely says things that are extremely illogical, nonsensical, or patently absurd. Even now he is in this very thread implying that defending science necessarily equates to worshiping Dawkins. If you can’t see the problem with that…… And then there were the quantum bigfoots? Yah.

            Lastly, if all you’ve seen from me is personal attacks then you’re not paying attention. It’s funny how you accuse me of dishing out personal attacks while making one against me then refer to yourself as “the adults.” Laughable.

          • LucidDreamR | Feb 13, 2013 at 4:39 pm |

            What are you on about? I for one have been praising science; and from what I’m reading so are the other people you point out as doing the opposite. You seem to be a bit confused….? Or perhaps English is not your primary language? I’m not being mean or sarcastic, but quite literally serious. You simply are not making sense by saying:
            “You are the ones who look foolish complaining about how bad and evil
            science is on the internet from a computer in the air conditioned
            comfort of
            your homes powered by electricity”

            Who was complaining about science being evil??

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 14, 2013 at 4:35 pm |

            You…. must be joking. Maybe English isn’t your primary language.

          • LucidDreamR | Feb 13, 2013 at 4:43 pm |

            ….it’s not a personal attack to refer to what you have been saying, and the way you have been presenting yourself as childish; it was merely an observation of what I was seeing. If you act childish, you get treated as such. Reaction, not proactive attack.

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 14, 2013 at 4:32 pm |

            I don’t think I’m the childish one. I think people who unthinkingly laud an extremely ignorant article are childish. All I’m doing is pointing out how silly it is to cheerlead something so blatantly uninformed and ignorant as what Michael Thomsen espouses.

          • Roger Mexico | Feb 14, 2013 at 3:51 pm |

            You should read up on the history of the actual Luddites. You might find it interesting.
            Under the circumstances, they were arguably getting screwed over pretty bad, but told to bend over and accept their fate because to do otherwise would be resisting “progress.” They weren’t opposed to science; they just rejected the idea that technological advancement is always the paramount goal of any society, and the use of that idea to whitewash the human costs of how technology is used.

            Luddism is the idea that I have every right to resist “progress” if I think it’s harmful to me, and the onus is on you to convince me otherwise. Personally, I agree with that, so I don’t regard the word “luddite” as a pejorative. You might find it rewarding to reflect on the unexamined assumptions that lead you to use it that way.

          • Be nice now. Bobbie Jean is a very talented creative person. She pretty much represents the perspective of “Scientism” so its interesting, to me that she posts on here because it elicits excellent arguments against Scientism from the other posters. She does get a bit emotional but don’t we all at times?

          • I think its fairly obvious in this case that I was joking.

          • I thought you were serious! don’t confuse the internet! i thought you finally saw the light of science…. too bad… you cant come to my science clubhouse now.

          • I might try worshiping Science for 30 days and keep a Journal and see what i can learn from it. Know where I can get a full size poster of Richard Dawkins to put on my wall? I want to make a Shrine.

          • Google on “Church of Atheism” (no, I am NOT kidding) – I’m sure you’ll find something suitable.

          • bobbiethejean | Feb 13, 2013 at 5:50 pm |

            I thought you were being mocking and sarcastic. Well how was I supposed to know? You frequently give me crap for being a science-enthusiast and atheist. How was I supposed to know you were just joking?

          • Well, I was being mocking and sarcastic, but I meant it in a fun way. I mean I would never blaspheme Science, for reals!

          • Well, I was being mocking and sarcastic, but I meant it in a fun way. I mean I would never blaspheme Science, for reals!

        • If I were going to be serious though, I would say I am in favor of DIY type science. I am in favor of knowledge that helps people to empower themselves. I think a lot of the way Science is done, deliberately maintains unequal power relations. Its mostly a government things now, with funding from the military and Big Corporations, locked away in billion dollar laboratories among the initiated elite.

          I like hackers and DIY people making science their own.

        • If I were going to be serious though, I would say I am in favor of DIY type science. I am in favor of knowledge that helps people to empower themselves. I think a lot of the way Science is done, deliberately maintains unequal power relations. Its mostly a government things now, with funding from the military and Big Corporations, locked away in billion dollar laboratories among the initiated elite.

          I like hackers and DIY people making science their own.

  5. bobbiethejean | Feb 14, 2013 at 4:34 pm |

    I use the word luddite in the colloquially understood sense of “One who opposes technology.” That is what the word means today though I admit not being apprised of the history. I will not take your word on it but I will look into it.

  6. โ€œThe Qโ€™ero Nation knows its history, its past, present, and future is our Inca culture, and we donโ€™t need any so-called genetic study to know who we are,โ€

    Nice of the Q’ero leadership to deliberately exclude their community and their children from whatever benefits medical technology based on genetic research can bring them.

    If the problem that the author has with scientific research and technology advance is that the fruits are likely only to the top, his problem isn’t with science and technology, it’s with the bi-partisan centrist agenda which says that the sole legitimate purpose of government is to enable the upward transfer of wealth.

    Looks to me like he’s trying to be cool / trendy / contrarian by attacking science and technology instead of usefully discussing root causes.

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