Re: Wertheim on extropians

Damien Broderick (
Sat, 18 Sep 1999 18:14:51 +0000

At 08:56 PM 17/09/99, Kathryn wrote:

>Is Margaret Wertheim allied with the Creation Science movement (ie, those
>who are pushing for the replacement of evolutionary theory with creation
>theory?) I recently learned that they have quite a stronghold in

I'd have thought Wertheim would have a higher/more recognisable profile than the list has indicated.

Although she's originally from Oz, she's been living in the States for years, in LA. She has written or hosted a variety of media programs on science (she has degrees in mathematics and, IIRC, physics).

She's had two good-selling books out, PYTHAGORAS' TROUSERS (on gender and science) and THE PEARLY GATES OF CYBERSPACE (about how awful the likes of extropians are).

The article in question appeared in an Oz newspaper, but looks like something syndicated from the States.

Now that I've read the piece, I agree with the estimate of my pal who drew it to my attention. One would be forgiven for thinking Ms Wertheim is a nitwit; that's not just another way of saying that I disagree with her expressed views and she with mine, she's good at making such amazing blunders as stating (in PEARLY GATES) that the opening words of the Bible were `In the beginning was the Word'..., which goes nicely with her recent thumb-tongued announcement that we'll be condemned by our transhumanist ancestors.

On the other hand, she is by no means a creation `scientist', and claims not to be religious. True, her attempted arguments are steeped in a kind of default religiosity. However, as the mutant supergenius has reminded us, even some people on this list are prepared to embrace the `ineffable something' that allegedly provides the spark to our otherwise dull and materialistic information machines.

Wertheim's rhetoric in the article uses the ever popular move in which one sets out by describing various wonders of lab science - in this case, the lovely Cynthia Kenyon's work in tripling *C. elegans* lifespans - then adding, `Extending human lifespan is not just the preserve of loony transhumanists' (I paraphrase, not having the rag before me). Argument by pejorative adjective. Weird, man. Quant suff.*

Damien Broderick

*a reference to the `Scientific People' in Alfie Bester's great 1950s' novel THE STARS MY DESTINATION