Re: What is to be done?
Sat, 22 Mar 1997 19:07:10 -0500 (EST)

In a message dated 97-03-22 13:28:08 EST, you write:

<< Refusal to take other
people's concerns seriously, especially when raised in polite, rational
will not serve us as knowledge seekers or in spreading memes. It can also
create blind spots in our own psyche (IMHO). >>

In the public forum yes, I agree. . . By a friend who comes right out and
says "I hope you fail and will work against you." NO!

I have a hard time taking other peoples concerns seriously when it comes to
limiting science, technology, e.g., banning cloning, etc. The greatest
arguments against these technologies is based on fear that there will be
inadequate safeguards for the new technology. This translates into fear of
god for religious people and generally, fear of a disaster. Fear is the
greatest de-motivator (to a much lesser extent, a motivator) of change in
human history and is tied to pessimism _not_ optimism.

Pessimism was an evolutionary survival advantage and has a long history.
People who were pessimistic stored more food and water for times of shortage
and fear was the motivator for this survivalist activity.

But there are at least two kinds of fear. First, fear that technology
_will_cause_ a disaster and second, fear technology will _not_ find the
solutions to our problems and therefore not improve our quality of life.
Both are pessimistic. The problem gets worse when pessimism turns into
depression and that leads to giving up on technology and can regress back
into the non-science supernatural.

To me, fear of _technology_ is an _anti-survival_ idea. A spear, knife,
arrow, ax, gun , nuclear bomb is dangerous and can cause lost of life. If
people feared fire so much they banned it, where would we be now? Dead. The
key is learning to control the technology so the disaster fears are quieted.
This is what should be discussed.

As a research and development scientist, I work on developing technologies
including the safeguards for those technologies. Fear must not be a
de-motivator for me to develop technology. Overcoming fear is required in
order for me to do my job.

With few exceptions (Small Pox) working with the most dangerous
microorganisms ever known should not be banned even though they could "get
loose" and cause a disaster. Some people and laboratories are not qualified
to work on these, that is true. The medical treatments in general out weigh
the potential disasters. I can show people how we are controlling the
microorganisms while we are working with them to quiet their fears (as my
fears have been quieted). But that is about all I think I can do and still
have time to work on the projects.

I would not be a good person to talk about the fears of others about
technology because I am firstly pro-science and pro-technology. I am biased.
I admit it. i.e. unless I constantly talked about the science of the
safeguards and not the technology itself. Perhaps I could turn that into a
positive and be OK with it.

So, I choose to talk about the optimistic areas of developing technology and
not the safeguards too much. I leave it to others, better diplomats like Ed
Regis to debate nanotechnology (see Brain Tennis from We need the R&D group, the customer
input group and the third party (but please not government) to meld the R&D
and customer groups into development of the new technology.


Davin C. Enigl, (Sole Proprietorship) MEAS

Microbiology Consulting, Hazard Analysis and
Critical Control Points (HACCP), CGMP, and Validations
for the Food, Cosmetic, Nutritional Supplement, and Pharmaceutical Industry

March 22, 1997
3:12 pm