Re: >H Life in the Fourth Millennium

From: J Corbally (
Date: Mon Apr 16 2001 - 16:26:01 MDT

>I really have to disagree with the statement that Pinker's piece is an
>'appeal to emotion'. IMHO the article presents a cogent, well reasoned
>argument backed up by impeccable scientific credentials.

We've seen some with "impeccable scientific credentials" who would say
Transhumanism is a nutty concept, and some who would agree with us
wholeheartedly. Credentials don't improve the credibiltiy all that much,
esp. when the argument is not cut-and-dried. And I'd agree, it is well
written and cogent.

>Please give us
>some specific examples of where Pinker appeals to emotion in his argument.
>If anything, your reaction seems to be of the emotive, knee-jerk kind.

How nice, ad hominem.

The entire article is based on the premise that the "human condition" is
unchanging and unchangeable. It's similar to the problem I've commented on
in another thread with the "unknown" and "probably unknowable" elements of
agnosticism. In both cases, statements are made that seem to be just
pulled out of the air, claiming knowledge of their respective areas which
I've seen no good evidence is available.

In the case of the Pinker article, it's well written, so I don't think he's
saying human nature will not change out of ignorance of the progress being
made by science in areas he touches on, I think he's making the statement
knowing full well the way we're headed, yet seemingly unable to bring
himself to see it. In this, I see an element of denial, and in this I see
his emotional infusion into this article. He really doesn't seem to want
humanity to change from what it is right now. But not wanting something to
change is little barrier to what can and may occur at such a long time scale.

>You don't address any of Pinker's arguments, yet still consider yourself
>entitled to the claim that "*everything* IS up for grabs, long term". In
>the absence of any rational justification for saying so, this claim sounds
>to me like empty rhetoric.

I don't *disagree* with many of his arguments, I disagree with what seems
to be his conclusion; That humankind, as it exists now in its' current
mental/neurological configuration, will somehow survive the next 1000 years
unchanged. I'm not saying it'll be radically changed, or what form the
change will take place. I'm simply saying that given the levels our
technology will likely reach (conceivably) over the next 1000 years that
the only constant will not be humanity but change, potentially affecting
everything inside and out.

"If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and
crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures
to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid."
-Q, Star Trek:TNG episode 'Q Who'

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