: : Are the machine gun and the neutron bomb beneficial inventions?
: Absolutely; I certainly wouldn't want to go to war without lots of machine guns and the nuetron bomb became part of the US's inventory to help defeat the Commies.
Why do you want to go to war in the first place?; it's a waste of money and resources.
: The trick that finally did it though, was Reagans threat of starting up 'Star Wars', another fine invention.
Actually, Star Wars was junked because the software was deemed too unreliable and unwieldy (at 30 million lines of code) to be totally trustworthy in battle situations.
"To demonstrate what he meant by "big," he said that the estimated size of the software required for President Reagan's Star Wars missile defense system was 30 million lines of code. The size of Microsoft's current Windows operating system is 45 to 60 million lines of code. "Solaris isn't that much better," Waldo added. "It is smaller, but not much smaller."
According to Waldo, one of the reasons the Star Wars project was cancelled was due to the belief that it was impossible for human beings to create a 30-million-line program that worked reliably. "Admittedly," he said, "the blue screen of death doesn't fire lasers at you."
Taken from 'The Jini vision'
: I hope your not thinking of responding with the whine 'If we can send a man to the moon, why can't we give everybody government cheese'.
Of course I'm not. Giving everybody cheese is far more difficult and time-consuming than sending someone to the moon.
: : The simple fact of the matter is that the global mess we are requires more than a simple quick-fix; it requires a paradigm shift in our patterns of consumption.
: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$Then start. Get the hell off the web and go live in the woods.
How would that help? You can't unlearn things; and much of the evidence behind global climate change has come from Earth remote-sensing satellites like the NOAA and ERS probes.
If I really thought technology had no part in the solution, I would go and live in the woods. I don't; I think that science and technology have an important part to play; but I don't think that science and technology alone can save our current society. My opinion is that major sociopolitical shifts in behaviour are needed to save society; we need to change our attitudes, not merely try and invent new ways of consuming.
: : : Inventions will occur. You can look down your nose all you want, but inventions will occur that will change the way we live.
: : Like I said, c.f. nerve gas, atomic bombs, machine guns, biological weapons and the like.
: And we can forget aspirin, polio vaccine, computers, air travel, the invention of the 'free market', the increase in the living standards of those who are blessed to live under that system, the printing press was a pretty good invention, antibiotics, the salad shooter.
None of which resulted in a paradigm shift (with the exception of the printing press); they merely led to refinements in the pattern of consumption; the power heirarchy remained unchanged throughout.
: Apparently the best you can do is to observe that sometimes man lives uses his genius to go to war. Besides, aren't there some things worth standing up for, even if it does mean going to war? Don't forget, it's guys like you who romanticize Che and Fidel.
I don't. There are some good things about Cuba; especially when set against other Latin American states; but there is also a great deal wrong with Cuba. I never romanticized anyone in my life.
: : It's unrealistic to expect that all technology is beneficial or necessary and it's unrealistic to predict that the Holy Grail that will save mankind is just around the corner; you simply cannot predict when inventions will occur; or if they will occur.
: All science and technology have the potential to be beneficial.
Exhibit A: the IgNobel Prizes; awarded each year to research that is felt to be truly spurious and a waste of funding
Among this year's proud winners; Dr. Len Fisher, who took the prize for Physics for working out the optimal way of dunking biscuits in hot drinks.
(Research which was sponsored by McVities Biscuits.)
Dr Steve Penfold took the sociology prize for writing his Ph.D. thesis on the sociology of doughnut shops...
The British Standards Institution won the Literature Prize for BS-6008; a six page document detailing exactly how to make a cup of tea...
If you really think that the research these worthies did has the power to be 'beneficial', then you have a somewhat diluted idea of what 'beneficial research' is...
: Depends on the folks who are using it, no? And necessary? Well, I can just imagine what you would abandon if you had the power. God, what a thought.
Well, just to give one example, the public has a right to be consulted on genetic modification (GM); given all of the facts and allowed to decide for themselves whether they want it or not; not to have it forced on them in the name of profit for the biotech giants.
: I'd feel a lot safer predicting the occurance of inventions then stating none will occur.
I'm not saying none will occur; I'm saying that it's foolhardy to depend on the right one occuring; it's Russian roulette in a different form.
: : As I've also pointed out, many 'inventions' were the result of long and patient work (e.g. the steam engine, which took ~175 years to develop into its useful form, or plastics; which are the result of 2,000 years study).
: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$Now I'm really curious, and I go to you for enlightment. Please explicate further on the last two statements, about the steam engine and plastics.
Steam engines: The first (very simple) steam engine was developed in Alexandria in 100 A.D. by Heron; but it was a scientific toy, nothing more, until the Renaissence, when Blasco de Garay developed a crude steam-engined paddle steamer for Charles the Fifth along Heron's lines; it alleged propelled a 200-ton boat.
The next significant inventor specifically mentioned is the Marquis of Worcester; who was around in 1660 and working on primitive steam-engines; then there is Thomas Savery's 1702 work on steam engines used in mining.
Only then do you come across James Watt; who is apocryphally supposed to have invented the steam engine by accident while watching a kettle boil over. The rest is documented history; but it was Heron's work in 100 A.D. that first alerted humanity to the possibilities of steam.
As for plastics, the first plastic ever used was lacquer; allegedly prepared first in the 13th century B.C., but produced on an industrial scale by the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. - 220 A.D.). Lacquer was used for a wide variety of purposes, from plastic coating of breakables and delicate objects to injection moulding for mass production.
Read 'Science and Civilisation in China'; Dr. Joseph Needham's life work; it goes into the subject in some depth.
Both of these inventions have been around for some time; they have only been refined into usable forms in the West comparatively recently.
: : There are no such plans in place; because the oil companies and corporate lobbies are sticking their heads in the sand and refusing to believe that the problem even exists.
(cutting out surplus verbiage)
: : Nice examples, Frenchy; whilst trying to refute the idea that environmental destruction can cause the collapse of civilisations, you've cited two civilisations that were wiped out by environmental destruction and two in which environmental destruction played a part.
: Actually, wouldn't it be more accurate to say that if each of those civilizations had what I'll call the spirit of European Renaissance they could have developed their own technology to create other methods of farming?
Not really; read Jared Diamond's Pulitzer-Prize-winning work Guns, Germs and Steel - the evidence is that the Europeans were the result of a lucky accident of location and environmental factors; not any especial genius on the part of Caucasians.
: Condidering that those civilizations had lived there for so long I'd have to say they died out from their own ignorance.
Not so; see above. They died out mainly from environmental limitations and infighting over environmental resources.
Except for the Aztecs, who died out because of the lack of domesticatable livestock in South America; many human diseases (such as influenza, the common cold and measles) came originally from similar diseases in livestock; the Aztecs had no access to those livestock, due to their geographical location; and so were not immune to the diseases which tore through South America after the Spanish arrived.
(That, and the fact that the Spanish inflicted genocide on them because they weren't Christians, of course...)
: I read somewhere not long ago that there was evidence that the Pueblo engaged in cannabalism routinely. I had to laugh because some tribes wanted this information suppressed, the 'noble savage' thing loses it's patina, you know, living at one with the Great Spirit.
The 'noble savage' idea is bunk; always has been, always will be.
That said, the idea that Western society is any less brutal is also bunk.
: I have, I read that link about Easter Island. Nice propaganda.
: I'd simply counter with the example of present day Hawaii. Or Guam. Or Japan.
Read Guns, Germs and Steel; it mentions the Philippines, Hawaii and Polynesia specifically, since Jared Diamond did a lot of field work there.
: : Tell me, Frenchy, do you go to your doctor and start arguing medicine with him, too?
: : If you can accept the fact that a trained professional can know more about the subject about you, then why do you have such difficulty accepting it when the person in question holds different political views to you?
: But the same question can be turned around. If it's a matter of degree, so to speak, then the guy with the most letters after his name is the guy who is always right, right?
Not necessarily; but it's where the smart money goes; especially when you're talking about their pet subject.
I wouldn't go to a farmer for medical diagnostics; would you?
I'm not saying a doctor is inherently better than a farmer; merely that they have different areas of expertise.
: That is what your saying, isn't it? The other thing it sounds like your saying is that the belief you have in equality doesn't extend to allowing others to have their own political beliefs.
On the contrary; I will defend the right of people to have whatever political beliefs they want; as long as they respect the right of others to hold their beliefs.
But when someone tries to argue the political theory that day is night and that the Sun revolves around the Earth, they are a) simply factually incorrect and b) making rash statements in a field I do have some qualification in.
And I have every right to say that; as anyone does if I start making incorrect statements about, say, American football (something I know nothing about).
: Besides, medicine is predicated on science in the traditional sense of the word; labs, experiments, predictions, repeatability, etc. The science that you allude to is science in the service of political goals.
Rubbish. Climate science is based just as much on experiment as any other branch of science.
: : Would you go to your doctor and say that bad humours caused malaria, not anopheles aegypti?
: So your point is what?
My point is that your doctor probably has a better idea as to the causes of malaria than you do; because s/he trained in the subject for seven years. That's not to say there's anything preventing you from learning about the subject, but the doctors are qualified in their opinions; their job depends upon it.
: : (Of course, it goes without saying that, if past behaviour is anything to go by, Frenchy will react to this by saying that I want to be obeyed and have everyone recognize me as the supreme authority on everything.
: : Untrue; I'm perfectly willing to cede points to anyone; but would prefer that they actually did some reading and studying on the subject first.
: : And the idea of an anarchist wanting to have power over others is somewhat absurd...)
: Acutually, yes, I would say something like that. I see you as an educated person who would not hesitate a moment to lord it over others. Yes, that would be an accurate statement.
Which only goes to show how little you know about me and about my political thoughts and beliefs.
: If your an anarchist then I'm a full blown Commie.
Do you know exactly what an anarchist is, Frenchy?
If that statement is anything to go by, no, you don't.
It isn't (as you seem to think) a 'halfway-house' between capitalism and Communism. I suggest you read the FAQ before making rash statements about what I am and am not.
As for you being a Communist; well, it would be an improvement... especially over your current state of verging-on-fascism.
McSpotlight: Look, please quit slinging the term 'fascist' around; it really doesn't serve anyone in the debate.