The real contribution that Celeb scientists like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Richard Dawkins have made to their respective fields has been eclipsed by their personalities’ prominence in the field of pop-science, which is down to their having spoken to the pet-causes of those who idolize them, some of whom wouldn’t’ve even known the cause was theirs had it not resonated so radically hip. Correspondingly, they have been piggybacking off the inferred genius of Galileo and Darwin for an annoyingly long moment.
Of course, this is just my opinion. I am perfectly willing to listen to anyone who could demonstrate otherwise.
In simpler terms, particularly Dawkins would not be so beloved were it not for the bizarre human desire to mock and belittle people perceived as inferior by those who lack the capacity to demonstrate their would-be superiority beyond the occasional witty ad hominem. They need conceptual aids, theoretical support, someone to denigrate on their behalf. Therefore Dawkins!
But like William F. Buckley did for alleged conservatives, Dawkins regularly displays a mode of thinking that, when not outright dim, is merely genius in its playing to the simple-minded and those who prove all-too willing to settle for simple-mindedness as long as it frustrates their perceived adversaries.
Dawkins is a horrible model, not to mention spokesperson, for atheism, which does not need a capital fucking A.
As one who does not believe in a deity, I cringe at the evangelizing of atheism. The banning of religious doctrine from official public policy goes from being logical to tautological when somebody comes along to argue that it stems from the superiority of the scientific method.
The separation of church and state doesn’t need to be augmented with smart-ass dicta and their technical domination of varying opinion. Particularly when its hammer is the seemingly always dichotomous: good-by-comparison, largely theoretical on the one hand versus myth-based theology that’s shown no sign of retreat for the term of human civilization on the other, which would also seem rather convenient.
Tyson, to his credit, is no atheism thumper. He has attributed his passive rejection of religion to the irreconcilability of universally stated beneficences of whatever Higher Powers in question with the consistently murderous tendency of the universe.
Why would he, then, assume the benevolence of science and the people who use it as it relates to genetically modified organisms and industrial agriculture? To use the parlance of the press, he recently “slammed fear” and then “walked back” his slamming with the following:
“If your objection to GMOs is the morality of selling non-prerennial seed stocks, then focus on that. If your objection to GMOs is the monopolistic conduct of agribusiness, then focus on that. But to paint the entire concept of GMO with these particular issues is to blind yourself to the underlying truth of what humans have been doing — and will continue to do — to nature so that it best serves our survival. That’s what all organisms do when they can, or would do, if they could. Those that didn’t, have gone extinct extinct.”
Would do if they could, indeed. Humans have been doing a lot of things “to survive”. They gather together in groups and fight each other, for example. Some have even used this to their advantage and are so good at it that they have over the years managed to organize a labyrinthine flow of resources into gargantuan profit centers to bribe and blackmail others to coerce others to do their fighting for them and use religion as a ruse to acquire the spoils of their never-quite final victories – the spoils having been the real reason for the conquest all along.
Then, they use their spokespeople to continue to argue that their enemies are never fighting for survival, but an oppressive religious cause. In reality, no matter the side, the fighting can always be seen as one for survival, even if that survival is for an oppressive cause. I guess I am saying: It takes one to know one.
The corporation is an organism made up of people who work for their own survival versus the competition; they effectively lobby legislatures to achieve advantages for their particular organism; they know how to buy off scientists who will hardly get paid otherwise, who are not in-and-of-their-science benevolent – the universe being so murderous and all.
While science can be a tool to solve the problems of survival, when applied, it discriminates. Corporate organisms do not correct their mistakes even when they are detrimental to human survival at large. This has been demonstrated again and again.
GMO is just a label for the thing to be against. It’s the facts in between the letters that good scientists, if they are going to venture educated guesses about something outside their specialty, should know more about.
When the industry successfully lobbies to advance their own funded research over others, successfully lobbies against labeling that would indicate their presence in the package, successfully sues farmers for patent infringement when their fields are cross contaminated with what’s patented, it shouldn’t be a surprise that people are contaminated by anti-GMO thinking. Why should anyone against GMOs focus on any one of the issues mentioned?
Oh, I know why? Because Neil deGrasse Tyson!
If you just accept his assertion at face value that “the underlying truth of what humans have been doing” is best for our survival, then you ignore that genetic modification funded by industrial agri-business was not about human survival to begin with. Their underlying truth is about their bottom-line. Belabor that point and the argument will eventually boil down to the idea that the bottom-line of agri-business benefits everyone. Gee, that sounds so reasonable, let’s focus on that!
There are indeed genetic scientists who are concerned about the well-being of humanity and the survival thereof, but that has precious little to do with the science when it is applied towards someone’s bottom-line. I will grant you, however, that the application of that science does become about survival when a GMO turns out to have adverse effects on its surroundings.
This leads the lab-coats back to the drawing board, modifying those surroundings when all else fails; but more importantly to the bottom-line, it gets the lawyers scurrying back to the boardroom, always struggling for the survival of the company’s double-plus good messaging.
What you won’t get from a scientist working for the bottom-line is an admission that the applied science didn’t accomplish what they said it would. If one were to apply the scientific method, one might conclude that industry scientists had been lying about the result they’d hoped to achieve and/or were lying about the result they had achieved, or that they just lie as a matter of course because that’s what they get paid to do.
This doesn’t mean one must be a direct beneficiary of the industry’s largess. The application of the science Neil Tyson speaks of discriminates to the power of his paycheck. His response to the virtual uproar at his original stupidity was for the purpose of maintaining his palatability to as wide an audience as possible. Still, being skeptical of gen-tech science as it has been presented by big biotech is not a brand he can afford to endorse, so he paints them as having the health of humanity at heart, in spite of all the obvious signs that this is not the case.
That’s the underlying truth of what these particular humans are doing – and to use Tyson’s words again – will continue to do. These issues are not separable. His insistence that critics focus any one of them is not only illogical, but makes him suspect, in my opinion.
The bottom-line for a multi-million dollar corporation, expanding as we speak with trade agreements negotiated and drawn up in private, is that, like Tyson’s universe, they would kill before they’d give up the anabolic gravy train funded by the same style public-private partnership that over the last year has been sending more & more murderous technology & weaponry into places like Syria, the Ukraine, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the latter two with help from Germany, with whom the Americans just happen to be co-beneficiaries (as far as one can tell) regarding that trade deal, as well as providing the Yanks assistance with remotely targeting groups and individuals who oppose the regimes who have been modified to be friendly to the bottom line.
Is it also knee-jerk to resist being smacked upon the other cheek by the likes that brought you NAFTA? Being neither Christian nor Democrat, I am curious. Speaking of which, the Americans have just recently – again, to use the parlance of the press – doubled down on their funding of the war against the people of Gaza. The American president and his minions in Congress can afford to express tepid misgivings about Israeli overkill, but neither organism proves willing or able to cut off its funding.
How can you trust the science if you cannot stop its most murderous applications?
So Tyson claims that when he was originally approached he didn’t have the time to get into the nuances of the issue and, one Facebook post later, he has done so. Yet, he recognizes no nuance insofar as it might relate to the widespread application of genetic modification and the repeated consequential re-modification thereof. You know, like the practice of the science as it exists. His ignorance would seem to be on par with that of his depiction of the knee-jerk anti-GMO crowd. Otherwise, there’s stuff he just chooses not to deal with.
You shouldn’t take your cues on genetic engineering or economics from Neil deGrasse Tyson, even (or especially) if his knowledge of those disciplines exceeds yours. He might be able to regale with his tales of the awesome cosmos, but his insistence that a rational mind would ignore all but one ingredient out of the toxic mixture that is biotech & finance would be a clear indication he is, at best, a Renaissance man of the disingenuous kind.
And you shouldn’t take the word of scientists working for the industry. No smart scientists’ scientist would.
And you sure as fuck shouldn’t look to Richard Dawkins as an authority on the scientific method. For like Neil Tyson, Dawkins has a brand to protect. Well, his brand is more of a shtick.
In his now (in)famous tweet triad, he layeth out for the enlightenment of you woefully ignorant, or for the amusement of his “you just don’t get it” Twitter followers:
I know what the words themselves mean, but I’m still left wondering why.
Not the oft-invoked essay Why X is Wrong when the author means How X is Wrong, but why does he want to point out the less-badness of “mild pedophilia” – a sophisticated term he apparently came up with all by himself?
And are pedophilia (exclusively of mind) and pedophilia (wherein the victim does not resist in a manner requiring the use of force) both mild?
Surely Richard Dawkins has been date-raped, hence his expertise on its level of badness. “No!” his fans protest, he is just postulating a formula whereupon neither statement implies endorsement.
O what parsing within parsing. Using a faux-science pattern to render narrowly empirical any random person’s subjective belief about the level of badness of any other random person’s actual experiences – irrespective of the postulater’s or badness-rater’s having owned the experience themselves – drawn in the desire to defend this judgment as an objective position. Why?
I’ll tell you why. Because it takes pretty dubious logic to quantify the experience of being raped. Therefore Dawkins!
It might be tempting to use the law, ie. the Scales of Justice, to support dividing rape into a range of severity. But even then, the difference in the finding of- and/or sentencing for date-rape and rape at knifepoint has to do with the multiple crimes committed in the case of the latter, and the court’s view on the reliability of witness testimony in the case of the former. And legal justice has proven to be many things, but it’s certainly not a logical science that is capable of fair sentencing guidelines.
By the way, what about date-rape at knifepoint? No, I suspect Dawkins is more of the Classic Date-Rape School, wherein when the knife comes out, the date is over; but if she wakes up in obvious pain with no memory of having been violated, she got lucky. Relatively speaking, of course. I mean, that goes without saying, right?
At any rate, dude sure has a flair for belittling others personal experience when it is couched in his pet crusade:
For context, read the whole article at the link above. In short, because the woman mentioned in the article bothered to tell atheist men that she doesn’t like to be hit on all the time, let alone does she feel comfortable being hit on alone in a hotel elevator at 4am with the would-be romantic, she deserves to be mocked for not ignoring her concerns completely. Why? Because Islamism!
It’s oddly reminiscent of the “If you don’t like it, move to Iran” argument.
He then goes on to reduce her level of discomfort in that elevator to his level of offense being with a guy chewing gum in the same situation (you see, science!) wherein he can “simply grin and bear it until either I or he gets out of the elevator.”
(If you think, with that last bit, he was provocatively employing, by way of allusion, tasteless rape humor, go away until you learn to think that he wasn’t.)
He continues later by reducing her experience further, writing that it “was not even slightly bad, it was zero bad”.
His negation of this woman’s concern (the mocking not only of her desire to communicate it, but the concern itself) makes me wonder what he really thinks of mild pedophilia and date-rape or, excuse me, what his science is really telling us. I mean, his non-endorsement of X is open to a pretty broad interpretation, especially when you view the entire record.
Prima facie, we can safely say that with his latest no-holds-barred non-endorsement of mild pedophilia and date-rape (and, by extension, date-pedophilia), he nevertheless thinks it’s not all-that bad. And his relativism paints a more colorful spectrum than just “I don’t endorse date-rape”. That he has spent such a goodly amount of time over the course of his “career” downplaying feminist concerns vis-à-vis the actual horrors perpetuated by the evilist of evils that actual evil-doers actually do that he has now forged a formula to defend it simply follows the same pattern: Being dapper with the dick-move.
Suffice it to say that Dawkins is no Renaissance man. He seems to have only the one note, and it’s a dull one. At least he doesn’t have a knife on him, I guess.
In conclusion: Tyson is bad. Dawkins is worse. In this case the axiom works for my purposes, but that doesn’t mean you can just plug anything into it without revealing what a willfully ignorant dick you are.