Wednesday, August 24, 2011
The other day, I learned of an admission of philosophical bankruptcy that was particularly amusing because of its resemblance to the plot of a B-grade science fiction movie:
It may not rank as the most compelling reason to curb greenhouse gases, but reducing our emissions might just save humanity from a pre-emptive alien attack, scientists claim.Or -- because a civilization doesn't become "advanced" on the basis of making broad, knee-jerk conclusions based on single data points taken "from afar" -- they might dig slightly deeper, and learn that the scientists we revere endorse suicidal political prescriptions and create bogeymen out of whole cloth to scare the rest of us into accepting their orders. On such a basis, the aliens might conclude that, with such wannabe witch doctors in charge, we'll revert to savagery within a few generations, and settle here when there are fewer troublesome natives around. Or, maybe a truly advanced civilization would not automatically regard the success of another civilization as a threat. Or...
Watching from afar, extraterrestrial beings might view changes in Earth's atmosphere as symptomatic of a civilisation growing out of control -- and take drastic action to keep us from becoming a more serious threat, the researchers explain.
We could play this silly game until the cows come home.
It astounds me without fail when I see something like this coming from people who have achieved success in a discipline (e.g., science), presumably because they are rigorous about what they regard as evidence and how they draw conclusions from such evidence. To ask a partially rhetorical question: Why on earth do such people turn around and treat another discipline (e.g., philosophy) as if whatever they happen to imagine might or ought to be true should be treated like a sound conclusion based on actual evidence?