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Objectivism, "Trial and Error"...

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An example which is extremely flawed in it's premise as I pointed out.

Indeed it is flawed.

Humans, left to their devices, find it self-defeating to destroy themselves. Rather, they tend to seek out that which will sustain them. It is only those who purport to do things for altruistic reasons who are offering poison instead of value. It is only those who seek to steal a living through the brandishment of fear and weaponry who are epistemologically likely to wish to destroy themselves. As well they should. The problem is that they deflect their self-hatred onto the rest of us, in the name of "saving the planet."

It has been the ingenuity of individuals seeking to improve life on earth that has resulted in the discovery of more and more ways to combat first diseases and then sources of disease. The government machinery has been turned against such advancement so that those who cannot earn a living seek to destroy those who can.

If anything is guilty of posing serious problems, it's the unchecked intervention by government at the behest of losers in the apparent never-ending quest to ruin every solution found to the problems posed by nature.

DDT is a great example. It and all kinds of other pesticides have been banned by our governments in the name of "saving the planet." This is the entity you're telling me has my interest in mind? Here was a case of something "in the wild" namely mosquitoes, causing harm to humans, which had essentially been combated by human technology. What is government's response? It is systematically destroying the companies that make the pesticides by banning the use of pesticides. Government and centralized planning are destroying the advances that were made against major killers. You can't seriously expect me to accept that this monstrous abomination masquerading as keeper of the peace is the entity to turn to if a killer species of flora such as the one you assert "could happen" were to be discovered or created.

This horrid thing, the government, is now trying to eradicate all kinds of industrial activity by pricing it out of everyone's ability to pay. Energy is the lifeblood of our civilization, but this pre-historic system of legalized theft, plunder and coercion is on the rampage, blindly lashing out at all of man's achievements on earth. This rabid irrational monster must be stopped immediately. It is now truly a matter of life and death.

Edited by AllMenAreIslands
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The whole "evil corporation" myth, at least as far as corporations doing things that aren't in the best interest of the consumer, and may really be harmful to the public at large, in secrecy, for the sake of profit, isn't really a myth. Refer to Enron and Monsanto.

What's the profit of destroying the world? And did you read what I said about time?

Indeed, all GM crops are meant to be better than their natural counterparts... but does that mean that they are, actually, in every way, better?

It depends. If you're human, yes. If you're a pest, then no.

Take drought-resistant wheat, as you said. Suppose it gets out, and it does replace every species of other wheat in the world. Then, any number of things could happen. What if there's a problem with the genetic modification that causes the wheat to produce some chemical toxic to a certain keystone animal, and that animal dies out, or dies in mass numbers, causing ecological damage.

And this would only become apparent after super wheat takes over the plant world, of course. What is a smart grain, but that smart?

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Well if your hypothetical situation were to come to pass someone would come out with new strands of wheat and start selling them, and clone the animal, create a bacterial strain that eats the chemical but can only survive for a limited time, etc. In fact, that'd probably be a booming industry, just as I think the environmental biotech industry will be booming in 20 years (bacteria to clean up pollution, algae to trap CO2, etc.).

I'm reminded of a remark by someone in a review of one of Stephen Baxter's (a hard science fiction writer) books: "If technology creates a problem, then throw more technology at the problem." That's my position on all "science gone wrong" disaster scenarios.

If the idea that "if technology creates a problem, then throw more technology at the problem" holds true, then can we expect an answer from the rapidly increasing incidence of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, even though, by nature, bacteria will continually grow resistant to whatever antibiotic we throw at them? I'm sure inoculation could do something about this, but antibiotics still will need to be used at some time or another... There doesn't seem to be much of a solution.

You have a far greater problem the other way around. Non GM foods, in general, are more dangerous than GM foods.

Why would legal standards favor non GM foods then, and protect nonGM growers? If a GM researcher or grower wants his crops uncontaminated, it is his job to protect them from the wind and insects. Why would it also be his job to protect nonGM crops?

How is non-GM food more dangerous than GM food?

Is that the question? Or is the question: How do we decide what's better? Do we let individuals use their rational minds to decide what products they wish to purchase, and let the overall market, influenced by individual consumers, decide what is produced, or do we let the state make those decisions for everyone, because they just know better?

If you look at the history, the latter did not work out so well.

I'm not presuming that the state knows better, or that it could or should control the market. I just want to understand how certain issues won't be made worse by giving more freedom to explore them.

I guess I'll just have to keep an ounce of regular grain in a bag, in my basement next to the old junk I keep forgetting to throw out. Unless you can suppose a way the GM wheat's gonna sneak into my basement and replace that ounce of regular wheat, you can stop supposing that every species of other wheat will go extinct. There's nothing easier than keeping species of wheat from going extinct.

Well, they're engineering mobile wheat, now.

Just kidding.

Are you an idiot or just wilfully blind & ignorant? Check your facts before you post garbage.

What are you on about?

What's the profit of destroying the world? And did you read what I said about time?

It depends. If you're human, yes. If you're a pest, then no.

And this would only become apparent after super wheat takes over the plant world, of course. What is a smart grain, but that smart?

People harm themselves and others all the time for profit. Someone who's only interested in building a personal fortune to last one lifetime, for example, might have no qualms with harming the environment on a massive scale. What about time are you referring to?

I wouldn't automatically assume that GM = superior to nature. While a GM plant may have some nice properties for humans to enjoy that the natural counterpart doesn't, the GM plant also may have some dangerous, unforeseen properties that come about as a result of the genetic engineering that are harmful to humans, or other forms of life...

Wouldn't the population be sort of a massive experiment for these sorts of GM products? I'm not necessarily saying that this is a bad thing, but experimentation with unproven products on a massive scale hasn't gone very well in the past, and sometimes results in a lot of deaths.

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CFCs did not cause the hole in the ozone layer. You calmly announce it as an aside demonstrates your lack of quality information on the matter.

Communism gave us Chernobyl. Shoddy reactor design should not be used to indict what has proved to be the safest form of energy yet developed.

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Communism gave us Chernobyl. Shoddy reactor design should not be used to indict what has proved to be the safest form of energy yet developed.

I know the Chernobyl story. Not only was the reactor designed as a positive feedback device moderated by the cooling fluid, but an authoritarian bureaucrat not usually assigned to Chernobyl for some unknown reason deliberately disabled several safety measures so he could run the plant 'hot' for some kind of bizarre personal experiment. Between the valves he directed closed and others that were unknowingly stuck closed, the plant suffered a steam explosion that broke the containment. Breaking containment is another thing that should not have happened.

The dictatorial authority of a know-nothing bureaucrat and the craven obedience by people who knew better are elements of the mentality common to the disasters found in Atlas Shrugged.

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CFCs did not cause the hole in the ozone layer. You calmly announce it as an aside demonstrates your lack of quality information on the matter.

Communism gave us Chernobyl. Shoddy reactor design should not be used to indict what has proved to be the safest form of energy yet developed.

I'm not using it to indict nuclear energy, I'm just saying that it would seem that the more technologically advanced humans become, the more potential there is for us to destroy ourselves. The fact is that Chernobyl was a nuclear incident. Precipitated by human idiocy, yes. But do you think there won't be idiots in an Objectivist society?

Now, in what way did CFCs not cause a hole in the ozone layer? Maybe you should cite some quality information and enlighten a poor fool such as me. It would be appreciated.

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But do you think there won't be idiots in an Objectivist society?

What's an Objectivist society? Why would you ever think there would be such a thing as an "Objectivist society?"

Are you suggesting that Objectivism claims the entire human race will become angels once a laissez-faire government is created? Are you suggesting that Objectivism claims to raise the entire human conciousness to a point where there are no thugs, no murderers, no theives, no oppressors? Why would there even be need for a government to protect rights if there were such a possibility in reality?

it would seem that the more technologically advanced humans become, the more potential there is for us to destroy ourselves.

Objectivism does not claim to invent some utopian goal of a magical mental evolution of the human race. As long as humans are humans there will always be some choosing to act irrational or choosing to victimize other humans. You have yet to demonstrate a direct corolation between "technology increasing" to "mankind destroying itself." It's a completely baseless and arbitrary statement, you have no evidence to offer showing this, other than "it would seem" to you.

Technology is something that increases productivity and standard of living. Of course, some will attempt to use technology to victimize other men. Mostly governments do this. What laissez-faire attempts to do is ban the initiation of force from human relationships by restricting the government to only protecting rights. It's what seperates "governments" from "criminals." This won't cause all initiations of force to go poof and cease to exist, but this makes it far less rewarding and far more difficult for the destruction of human liberty to occur.

What is your "solution" to the "problem" of technology? To ban technology? So we put guns in people's faces to prevent them from using technological advancements to increase standard of living? Again, we must all be forced to live like savages so that your fear of technology is settled?

LFC deals with "evil" people by prohibiting the initiation of physical force and fraud. This isn't a matter of "trial and error." The government has no right to regulate or prohibit technology because you are afraid of it. The line between an act that must be allowed and an act that must not be allowed is demonstrable by where the initiation of physical force begins. Other than that distinct connection, what reason would there be in keeping someone from developing technology? There is no reason. It would be slavery and primitivism.

Edit:

Now, in what way did CFCs not cause a hole in the ozone layer?

In the way that there is no "hole in the ozone layer."

Edited by 2046
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The answer to this issue is surprising, yet simple. In a capitalist society where all land, water and air are privately owned, no one is allowed to pollute other people's property. If your neighbour's genetically modified corn releases pollen that contaminates your organic corn, then you can sue him. This created a deterrent effect in the long run: all new genetically modified organisms will be virtually sterile, or farms will have sophisticated barriers to prevent spreading. No one will want to risk being sued for growing uncontrollable crops. This is one example for how the free market can solve this problem.

In an Objectivist system, the government would handle lawsuits through the court system. In an anarco-capitalist system, insurance companies would use their collective power to represent their customers, and ensure that people 'outside the system' are ostracised from a capitalist society. In both cases, the institution of private property minimises the risk of this problem appearing.

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I'm not using it to indict nuclear energy, I'm just saying that it would seem that the more technologically advanced humans become, the more potential there is for us to destroy ourselves.

Well that's it. Shut 'er down boys. No need for progress we've learned enough and anything we do from here on out will just lead us to destroy ourselves... especially if we happen to develop a truly free society.

I'm glad that throughout history there have been real men to counter this kind of hysteria (which has it's advocates in all times) and you should be too Ethan. Otherwise you would probably never have been born because one of your ancestors would have died from the flu, or malaria or some other perfectly treatable disease. Or maybe they would have frozen to death lacking proper heating or perhaps some other agrarian or industrial calamity which our modern technology has done away with would have killed them first.

Now I know that none of this is going to stop your line of thought, as a matter of fact I have not seen one single indication that you have given any consideration to anything anyone has posted here and for that reason I won't be commenting on this topic again.

For the rest of you, I think you are arguing in a closed loop, give it up he's not listening.

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Re CFCs and the Ozone

Read the articles on Ozone in Rational Readings on Environmental Concerns. You will find that that link provides PDF versions of most of the book.

In the Ozone section is S. Fred Singer's thought-provoking piece in which he notes that the data supporting a decrease in the ozone has had to be revised downward, from a doomsday figure of 18% cited in 1980, to 7% in 1982, and to 2%-4% in 1984. Discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole caused the screeching to be renewed, along with more doomsday scenarios arrived at by ignoring much evidence. It was only when an honest tabulation of the contributing factors was made, that once again the effect of man's activities was reduced to negligible.

What has been ignored is that the discovery of a thinner atmospher in the coldest place on Earth does not automatically mean it was caused by man. To conclude that CFCs cause the depletion of ozone is like saying that a blanket in the back seat of a vehicle causes a traffic accident. The mere presence of CFCs in an area of the stratosphere that has lower ozone is not determinative. Far more likely is a thoroughly natural and non-manmade explanation, including volcanic eruption, sea spray, solar cycles and seasonal variations, which when taken into account, yield a case being made for man's contribution being somewhere in the vicinity of .2%. Yes, Point Two Per Cent. Even double or triple that amount we're still talking less than 1%. In other words, negligible.

If YOU consider it worthwhile to stop using refrigeration and climate control (by which I mean, heating and air conditioning, which are man's actual & proper means of controlling his environment i.e., the environment inside buildings), then YOU get rid of your fridge, stop buying refrigerated and frozen foods, and refrain from heating or cooling your home. In effect, YOU become a subsistence farmer living hand-to-mouth. Oh, and you better get off that computer too just to be on the safe side.)

Thanks to Grames for the additional information on Chernobyl.

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Now I know that none of this is going to stop your line of thought, as a matter of fact I have not seen one single indication that you have given any consideration to anything anyone has posted here and for that reason I won't be commenting on this topic again.

For the rest of you, I think you are arguing in a closed loop, give it up he's not listening.

I want more than "Just trust Objectivism". Far be it for me to ask questions and try to get a better understanding of the logistics of Objectivism... in the forum called "Questions about Objectivism".

I'd like to thank everyone who helped me gain a better understanding for their assistance. I am asking no more questions in this thread, because no more need be asked... And I probably will continue to mostly just lurk about this forum.

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At least now I understand how a burglar who injures himself in the process of robbing a home could be awarded damages by a jury of his idiot peers. When the world is full of unthinking "people" like EthanTexas, cause/effect and context can be dropped and ignored with impunity.

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People harm themselves and others all the time for profit. Someone who's only interested in building a personal fortune to last one lifetime, for example, might have no qualms with harming the environment on a massive scale.

How do you make a profit by destroying the world?

What about time are you referring to?

Running a large company takes up all of a man's time. He wouldn't have time to run an enormous project to destroy the world as well.

I wouldn't automatically assume that GM = superior to nature. While a GM plant may have some nice properties for humans to enjoy that the natural counterpart doesn't, the GM plant also may have some dangerous, unforeseen properties that come about as a result of the genetic engineering that are harmful to humans, or other forms of life...

And while Rearden Metal may appear to be stronger than steel, unspecified dangerous defficiencies cannot be ruled out.

Wouldn't the population be sort of a massive experiment for these sorts of GM products? I'm not necessarily saying that this is a bad thing, but experimentation with unproven products on a massive scale hasn't gone very well in the past, and sometimes results in a lot of deaths.

Yes, it would. That's why when a biotech firm develops a GM crop they test in the lab, then in experimental plots, then in selcted farms. Then they sell it to all comers.

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I wouldn't automatically assume that GM = superior to nature. While a GM plant may have some nice properties for humans to enjoy that the natural counterpart doesn't, the GM plant also may have some dangerous, unforeseen properties that come about as a result of the genetic engineering that are harmful to humans, or other forms of life...

Last I checked, it didn't take Genetic Engineering to end up with plants that had properties harmful to other forms of life.

Thus one tests, and tests, and tests.

This kind of "might have unintended consequences" thinking, if followed to its logical conclusion, should lead to that kind of thinker doing nothing but quivering in a corner all the time, afraid to step in the shower because "he might slip and fall on an unseen wet spot", afraid to put on clothing "because deadly spiders might have gotten into it at night", and, in short, afraid to live, for fear of what MIGHT be.

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