As a leading edge baby boomer born in 1946, an unreconstructed left-wing liberal (just ask my Republican friends), a person of science, and an atheist to boot, I’ve found myself increasingly pessimistic over the world’s prognosis. Consider:
Population: We may finally be approaching Malthusian limits. Malnutrition and even starvation is widespread in parts of the world, and it exists even in our own. My conservative friends would say that this is a matter of economics but, then, what isn’t, at least to some extent? The really big problem, however, is that there are simply too many people for the earth to support. Overpopulation with attendant poverty, malnutrition, and disease is the result of a wildly out of control combination of politics, economics, religion, and lack of education, and it does not portend a future without great suffering and death, no matter how good our technology may be. If we can’t – don’t – control the rate of human reproduction, we’re going to drown in a sea of crowded misery.
Education: A significant proportion of the world’s human inhabitants is woefully undereducated, and I do not exclude our American population. How many Americans think that the world is only 6000 years old, that Fred Flintstone really rode on the back of a dinosaur, that it was really possible for Noah to build an ark that would carry two of every living creature, including protozoans, cockroaches (cockroaches!), and hippopotami to safety? I once knew a fellow who thought that if the Earth were to stop spinning on its axis, we’d all fall off. I guess he’d never heard of gravity. Given the state of education in the U.S., I wonder what would happen if, one day, all the machines were to die? Where would the knowledge be to reconstruct them from basic principles?
Productivity: Check your bedroom closet and drawers. See whether you can find any clothing made in the U.S. No? America produces distressingly little of what it consumes these days. Most of the durable goods seem to be assembled or made in Mexico, China and BFE. China practically owns us, both by their investments here and by our dependence upon Chinese-made imports. Once, it was Nikita Kruschev and the Soviet Union threatening to bury us with the alleged superiority of their political system. Now, China threatens to bury us economically. The latter threat is far more likely to be actualized than the former ever was.
Religion: It is simply astonishing that in the 21st century people still believe in fairytales, and are indoctrinated into mindsets that are so blinded to objective reality. Most notably, the preposterous and suicidal notion that we need not worry about the environment because some god sitting on a cloud somewhere is going to determine the fate of the planet and everything else. While religious inspiration has produced some mighty fine art, it has surely taken an awful toll in human suffering and divided the world into hostile camps based upon nothing more than superstition. Our very existence is threatened by the potential actions born of unwarranted certainty and messianic zeal. Religion’s influence has had a corrosive impact upon public policy, diverting us from the objective pursuit of bringing people together in a world filled with mutual understanding and tolerance, controlling population growth, and pursuing responsible stewardship of land, sea, and atmosphere.
Arrrgh! We’re doomed…unless we do something, but the idiots of the right (and a few on the left, too), are contemporary Luddites, and an awful lot of them hold political office. We need to vote the ignoramuses out and vote some rational minds in. But where is the informed and motivated electorate that will do just that? Please, someone, tell me.
Today’s annoyance: Well, if the foregoing wasn’t enough, how about considering misuse of the term, “begging the question”? To beg the question is to make a logical error in which one assumes the validity of an unproven proposition within a statement that depends upon the truth of that proposition’s unproven nature. For example, I might say, “Of course you fell off your bicycle. It’s red, silly.” This “begs the question” (i.e., is dependent upon the assumption) that it has been proven that people fall off red bicycles because they’re colored red. To beg the question does not mean simply to raise an issue, which is how it is perhaps most often (mis)used.