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Destroying Ourselves

  1. Oct 22, 2004 #1
    I didn't really know where to post this but i thought it could be a sociological discussion so...
    I was reading through some of the threads in the general astronomy and cosmology section and there was something in a thread on the likelihood of extra terrestrial existence, something about it being unlikely to find intelligent life in our galaxy as if intelligent life had existed it would inevitably destroyed itself. Destroying ourselves is something i always thought would be inevitable for our species and when realising other people agree with me i started thinking: "what if these people had the power in the world". Some of the mentors from this website post some profoundly intelligent ideas and i just wonder whether if your Einsteins and your Feynmans had power rather than your Bushs and your Blairs the world would be a better place. If we'd survive longer as a species and have a better existence in general.
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  3. Oct 22, 2004 #2


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    Well, the no-intelligent-life hypothesis doesn't require self-destruction. Over a million years, which is a short time on the scale we're talking about, a species tends to evolve into something else. Something else might be better adapted but not technological.
  4. Oct 22, 2004 #3


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    And I don't buy the hypothesis that intelligent life must eventually destroy itself (in fact, I think its self-contradictory). There is a period in civilization where the power to destroy itself moves faster than the wisdom to prevent it, but I think with the end of the cold war, we reached the top of that hill. During this time, there is a danger that we might, but I don't see an inevitability. It may take another hudred years, but I believe we'll come to the point in our development where it is no longer a reasonable possibility at all.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2004
  5. Oct 22, 2004 #4


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    I'd certainly vote for someone like Einstein/Feynman before many (most?) politicians. Perhaps they would have trouble dealing with other politicians (who operate in a different world), but their scientific understanding of the world, long-term views, and rational thought are much needed. I wonder how different Israel would be now if Einstein had accepted the offer to be president(?) there.

    I also don't buy the idea that self-destruction is inevitable, but it remains a possibility. However, although we might be over the hump on nuclear destruction, I think we still have other significant hurdles (e.g., bioterrorism, particularly as such technologies become cheaper & more accessible). Overall, I'm optimistic that we'll survive in the long-run.
  6. Oct 23, 2004 #5
    The threat of Mutual Assured Hedonism

    As Raymond Cattell pointed out, Mutual Assured Hedonism (MAH) may present a more immediate threat to survival.
  7. Oct 23, 2004 #6


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    'Self-destruction' may take many forms, not all of them quasi-overt and conscious (Terminator, MAD nuclear, ...). For example, if the ecology of the oceans is so changed by Homo sap.'s rapacious over-fishing that it triggers global climate change which results - 10,000 years hence - in reducing Homo sap. to 1 million and 'primative hunting and gathering', and in another 100,000 years to extinction, does this count as 'self-destruction'? There are many such scenarios, e.g. over-use of antibiotics leaves us wide open to a cross between staph, E coli, and TB. Others might be more direct, but still not a nicely packaged coup de grace, e.g. xenophobia leads to extreme autarky and a global 'Dark Age' from which we never recover (partly due to a lack of easily useable ores and minerals, as they've nearly all been found and are being actively mined).
    This may be quite interesting, but the link doesn't seem to tell us anything about MAH - could you elaborate please hitssquad?
  8. Oct 23, 2004 #7
    Potential dangers of the hedonic pact vs those of the masochistic pact

    Cattell calls it the hedonic social pact or simply the hedonic pact. He visits the concept in his two books on Beyondism as an example of the extreme opposite of a cooperatively competitive (deriving from the masochistic principle) social pact. The hedonic pact (deriving instead from the pleasure principle) is an agreement to cooperate to reduce evolutionary pressures and to work cooperatively to maximize social pleasure. As Cattell describes, a hedonic pact "would either greatly retard or completely paralyze human evolution for an indefinite period ... the probablility would then arise that at the next natural challenge the unprepared society would fail and be eliminated." (Raymond Cattell. A New Morality from Science. 1972. p281.)
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