Thursday, September 11, 2008

I think this is what pisses me off...

You see, I'm torn.

I don't buy into the Daily Mail's scaremongering. They are alarmist, love to prey on fears and are generally filth.

But that doesn't mean that we should all sit back and buy the idea that everything is fine either. That's the trick, isn't it? Bombard you with hyped up fears and you can't possibly make out what you should possibly be acting on. Makes it far easier to dismiss something.

It's disinformation on all sides. The Age of Distraction.

Whether it's from politicians, banks, military, whoever... when you are told that things are perfectly fine, perfectly safe, they usually aren't. Or maybe even always aren't. That applies to science too. We may all have had a good laugh over the doom predictions and it's certainly been a good conversation topic but whether the planet gets devoured by a quasar (unlikely) or not, to say something, anything, is perfectly safe is bollocks.

Plain, unadulterated bollocks.

As I said in the comments of the last posts, it ignores scientific history. It ignores people who died from radiation sickness, scientists who electrocuted themselves, poisoned themselves, did who knows what else to themselves, it ignores the mothers who took thalidomide for morning sickness, ignores the tens of thousands rendered permantantly brain damaged from lobotomies based on a theory that turned out to be complete arse (yet won a Nobel prize) and it ignores so many scientific fuck-ups since the dawn of time.

And ignoring the results of previous experiments is hardly scientific.

Scientific history is full of fuck-ups. To deny that would be to deny science.

Everything is not perfectly safe.

The only question is how large the consequences will actually be when the current generation of scientists inevitably turn out to be wrong.

But the Age of Distraction we live in worked wonders. People had a good old laugh about it. Some people got genuinely scared or at least appeared to on this net we call 'inter'. Some people condemned the scientists. Some people condemned those people. Most dismissed the sources, having long since proven to be alarmist. And, ultimately, we just went on with our lives. Exactly as we were expected to do.

So what if it had been dangerous? What if it is dangerous now?

Next week, people will have forgotten about this and moved on. They have bills to pay, the next big fear to jump to, the next scandal to talk about. After all, you can be sure that some people took advantage of the distraction to move the Iran invasion plans closer. It is the anniversary of the modern green-light all war justification, after all. Perhaps that will be next week's topic, before they move on to the next.

Everything is not perfectly safe.


Toole said...

You're gonna wonder if you want to go on living in a world like that. Well, lemme tell you, Len. You do. And you know why? So you can keep on writing love songs! Yes! There's a gorgeous world out there, a world of unicorns and waterfalls and puppy dogs! And you can save it! Through the medium of your God-given talent!

Bitter Animator said...

Unfortunately, I haven't the talent of Bernstein, Toole, so I'll have to rely on someone else to bring me unicorns, waterfalls and puppy dogs.

Mr. Trombley said...

Dear Sir, You're putting words in my mouth!

Well, actually taking my conclusion and generalizing it in ways that I never intended. It is true nothing is ever perfectly safe. We can't know every possible outcome

But we can know specific ones! The specific things I was talking about is correct.

How do I know that LHC isn't going to burn, or people aren't going to fall down stairs? I'm not saying the thing is a safe working environment, I am saying those PARTICULaR outcomes are unlikely.

Mr. Trombley said...

PS. Why is a physicist wearing a lab coat?

Bitter Animator said...

Mr.T, I'm not saying he's you or trying to imply a direct confrontation with you at all. I appreciate your input and the points you've raised. Though some of my thought process that ended up in this post obviously came from our discussion.

No, the post is directed more generally, not even just at scientists who claim things to be safe but also politicians, drug companies, whoever.

I hope you didn't see it as a personal dig. That's not the intention at all.

As for why he's wearing a lab coat, well, it's like putting holes in cheese to show it's cheese - how else would anyone know he's a scientist? He was kind of inspired by one of the science guys in Half-Life 2, which I played recently.

Irreligious said...

So what? Scientists have fucked up since the beggining, of well, science. The learning process of mankind is full of errors, true, but the truth is that we have learned at least a bit of those errors - The proof is that, though certainly some of our current assumptions are wrong, today we live longer, travel more, blow up things and kill people more efficiently than we did 100, 200, 1000 years ago.

PS: The guy wasnt awarded the nobel for lobotomies, it was for other stuff.
PPS: Everything the LHC is going to do has been done before, just without so much power - if we were going to create an earth-sucking black hole, we would have done so with other particle accelerators.
PPPPS: WOA, one full reply and no farts! :D

Bitter Animator said...

Egas-Moniz was awarded two Nobel Prizes. One was for his prefrontal leucotomy - lobotomy.

As for the so what? Yes, scientists have fucked up since the beginning. That's my point. Many great things have come from it and we wouldn't have the lives we do without it. These great advances don't discount the fact that scientists fuck up, have fucked up and will continue to fuck up in the future.

So the only question, as I said in the post, is how large the consequences will be when they inevitably fuck up.

Mr. Trombley said...

Dear Sir, Ah yes. A caricature scientist always wears a lab coat.

In Half-Life 2 Dr. Isaac Kleiner has an inexplicable love of lab coats. His partner, Dr. Vance, doesn't, so it is just a weird fashion sense on his part.

In Half-Life 1 all the scientists wore lab coats, but as you say it was a strong visual tag.

Speaking of first person shooters, since everything in Corpus is shut down for the hurricane, I'm going to try playing the original System Shock. Failing that, I'll play my old Mario games. This is retro-gaming long weekend!

Bitter Animator said...

A retro gaming weekend is a good weekend indeed. Hope you enjoy it.

I just finished HL2 Episode 1. I played them out of order and finished Ep2 before Ep1. And, yes, Dr. Kleiner was the scientist I was thinking of. Keeping a head crab as a pet? What, is he nuts?! That's just asking for trouble.

That Magnusson guy is an ass though. I chucked a computer at him with the gravity gun. Didn't seem to phase him one bit. He's tougher than he looks.