You are not a pyromancer; you are a caveman with a torch

I have one message that I want to get across to people (especially myself) and if I have to do it through parable (not in this post, but sometime later), so be it – you are not a pyromancer, using your will to move the fire elemental and shape the world. You are a caveman with a torch. When we (whatever we is supposed to mean) bind together, we become like a larger, more schizophrenic and more clumsy caveman with a yet bigger torch.

You are never presented with two options – outcome A or outcome B. You are only ever presented with actions that you are aware of. You have an outcome in mind but an action or set of actions intended to acquire a given outcome shall never be conflated with said. Opposition to the actions should not be confused with opposition to the outcome and vice versa. And it is not just those who refuse to apply what science has to say who are unscientific; the worst offenders are those who ascribe the wrong degree of certainty to facts and act accordingly.

These things are, of course, so obvious one must wonder why I wasted my time writing this post and threatening to pound the point in further later. However, as obvious as these things are to most people most of the time, they are forgotten, perhaps willfully, by upper management and in political discussions.

…pseudointellectual rant to be continued

僕の生物工学を学ぶ理由

僕がもうビジネスの学士学位を持ってて、もうコンピュータープログラマーです。もう生物学を勉強しています。学位が要らなそうで、夜の授業には忙しそうから友達がよく「なんで生物工学を学んでる?」と聞きます。このポーストで答えます。理由は以下です。

僕は大きい子供です。趣味が物を作ることです。プログラミングを習う理由はテレビゲームを作りたかったからです。仕事がプログラマーなのにまだプログラムを作るのが楽しいです。だから、発明家になりたいです。色んな能力を集めたら、いい有名な発明家になれると思います。実はプログラミング力と生物工学が合うと思います。特にメディカルデバイスには特に便利です。虫よりもちっちゃいロボットを人間の体に通って何か直すロボットなどを作りたいです。

暗い未来を防ぎたい理由もあります。だんだん地球の人口が増えています。それで、餓死が増えています。森とかが経ています。それが悪いことは悪いけど、科学技術の新法によって防げます。料理オタクだから、よく貧乏のアフリカの村を何か発明した生物工学で救済するイメージを見ます。人間が必要なビタミン100%のトウモロコシを作りたいです。などなどなど。

最後に生物が確かに好きです。僕には水草が気持ち悪くないです。1週間に3回ぐらい、朝に森の中にジョッギングします。太っているアメリカ人にならないためだけじゃなくて、自然に親しむためです。僕は宗教的じゃないです。逆に無神論だけど、自然の経験がよく僕には宗教的です。教会より大きい杉、天使より多い鳥、神様よりずっと理解すれば理解するほど理解できない宇宙。

Naturalistic Animism, Part II

Here is a simpler argument for a notion I have I call “Naturalistic Animism,” which is a nod to Spinoza‘s “Naturalistic Pantheism.” My earlier post was here. It’s also referred to in Bron Taylor’s writings on “Dark Green Religion,” meaning the idea itself isn’t my invention, though at one point I thought it might be.

There is no supernatural spark, no dual nature to make a thing have life rather than not. There also isn’t a specific definition of life that is universally accepted in the scientific community, though there are characteristics we can observe – many orders of magnitude more complex and organized than non-life, being able to maintain homeostasis and being able to reproduce and evolve. There are other, more specific chemical characteristics, but they may not be universal to all life, though they may be for all terrestrial life. In any event, what we have isn’t a strict definition, but some general characteristics that some non-life could be said to have, but just to a lesser degree. We know of entities such as prions and viruses, though their origins are with what we generally recognize to be life (bacterium or rogue DNA sequences that become parasitic). However, if we go back to the beginning of life (where things get more speculative, of course), there would have been non-life becoming more and more like life and then life becoming less and less like non-life.

Life and non-life, then, are of the same substance and type, differing only in degree. This is an important realization as it may turn out, for example, that universes are subject to a crude form of evolution, with more stable universes such as ours becoming more common in time (this notion is known as the hard anthropic principle). Certainly, entities that are inherently more stable persist and those that don’t, don’t. Who knows what whacky particles were there at the big bang for just a few gazillionths of a second? This is so obvious, it’s hardly worth mentioning except for the fact that this basic property of matter is the first step it always must take towards becoming life. The universe weeds out the unstable. Evolvability evolves and when it reaches a certain threshold, what we all agree to be life then begins. This is when an entity can create copies of itself with unprecedented accuracy, though it only gets better at doing this as time goes on.

Now, we like to think there is something special about life and that, all other considerations being equal, it should deserve consideration. It seems we live in a world like what Zoroaster described, except we know that in the end it is instead the wicked Ahriman who prevails – our universe is doomed to a thermodynamic death where no life is possible. The fact that I just depressed you with that analogy means that you, too, see value in life! Even if we humans become extinct, we hope that life on our planet or somewhere else can at least give birth to some other beings that can contemplate the universe and be depressed by it.

The problem we run into is that the laws of physics tell us that life isn’t anything special (well, it kind of is, but only in the sense that humans are special – we’re simply more intelligent, more social – the “spark” is a difference in degree!). This basic notion is what is called hylozoism (everything is alive or life and non-life are indistinguishable – this term is a doozy and it’s really only defined in a few writings, most of which seem to be attacking the notion). Reality is however the fuck it wants to be, but how we describe reality is up to us, so long as we’re not misleading or lying to ourselves (like religion tends to, almost without exception). Whether we say that life is nothing or whether we elevate the non-life to the status of living – animism – is a spiritual, not scientific question and I make the claim that it is not deception to say that the universe is alive or that it is at least filled with proto-life and pseudo-life everywhere. I would almost go as far to say that it is an enlightening idea that will let us see intuitively what will one day be known concretely about the universe.

Spirituality through nature. It’s not just for dirty hippies, weirdoes and head hunters.

Strange! Humans Glow in Visible Light – Yahoo! News

Strange! Humans Glow in Visible Light – Yahoo! News

Looking at the last few paragraphs – isn’t it so Japanese to look for problems by looking at the light coming from bodies? We Westerners, informed by perverted notions such as Luther’s that the soul and the body are seperate entities, the latter just happening to contain the former, always want to look at the individual parts.