Willful ignorance is a serious threat to human survival

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Good afternoon:

I believe willful ignorance is a serious threat to human survival and we need to do something about it.

I also believe religious fundamentalists, racists, people who worship authority while demonizing those who do not, global-warming and climate-change deniers, people who exploit others for profit, and the right-wing-hate-machine form a category 5 hurricane of dense stupidity and ignorance that we must penetrate and dissipate with light and love or perish.

Consider three examples:

(1) Aljazeera reports: On Sunday in Khartoum, Sudan, Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, 27, was sentenced to death by hanging for committing the crime of apostasy by marrying a Christian man. She was also convicted of adultery and sentenced to 100 lashes because the Islamic court does not recognize her marriage and she is eight months pregnant pregnant with her husband’s child. The court gave her until today to agree to leave her husband and renounce her Christian faith, but she refused. She told the judge,

I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy.

The judge imposed this willfully ignorant, bizarre and inhumane decision because sharia demands it, even though she was raised by her Christian mother and considers herself a Christian. Her father was Muslim and absent from her life. The sentence will be carried out after the child is born.

The goddess Ma’at is not amused by this fool’s effort to do justice.

(2) The Business Standard reports on a new study published today in Nature that documents a poleward shift of 33 to 39 miles per decade over the past 30 years of the geographical location where tropical cyclones reach their maximum intensity. This shift increases the probability and associated risk of extreme damage caused by winds, surges and floods to heavily populated coastal cities.

This unsettling news must be considered together with the recently reported news by scientists at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory that the meltdown of the West Antarctic Glacier is an unstoppable chain reaction that will raise world sea level.

A new study by researchers at NASA and the University of California, Irvine, finds a rapidly melting section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet appears to be in an irreversible state of decline, with nothing to stop the glaciers in this area from melting into the sea.

The study presents multiple lines of evidence, incorporating 40 years of observations that indicate the glaciers in the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica “have passed the point of no return,” according to glaciologist and lead author Eric Rignot, of UC Irvine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The new study has been accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

These glaciers already contribute significantly to sea level rise, releasing almost as much ice into the ocean annually as the entire Greenland Ice Sheet. They contain enough ice to raise global sea level by 4 feet (1.2 meters) and are melting faster than most scientists had expected. Rignot said these findings will require an upward revision to current predictions of sea level rise.

“This sector will be a major contributor to sea level rise in the decades and centuries to come,” Rignot said. “A conservative estimate is it could take several centuries for all of the ice to flow into the sea.”

Meanwhile, a willfully ignorant, bizarre and inhumane Marco Rubio announced this week that he does not believe in global warming or climate change and he’s ready to be president.

Anyone that willfully ignorant is too dangerous to hold public office and no one should vote for him. Perhaps a buoy with his name on it can be placed in the ocean to mark the spot where Miami used to be.

(3) Max Tegmark, a physics professor at MIT believes that stupidity is humanity’s biggest problem and artificial intelligence is its biggest existential threat. Since I believe stupidity refers to limited intellectual functioning for which an individual is not responsible, I prefer to use the term willful ignorance. That is, someone with sufficient intellectual functioning to know better.

If we don’t extinguish the human race by making short term decisions to maximize profits while ignoring potential long term catastrophic consequences that those decisions might cause, he fears that artificial intelligence will evolve into super intelligence that will kill us off because of the threat we pose. Stephen Hawking agrees.

Tegmark told James Hamblin of the Atlantic,

“There are seven billion of us on this little spinning ball in space. And we have so much opportunity,” Tegmark said. “We have all the resources in this enormous cosmos. At the same time, we have the technology to wipe ourselves out.”

Ninety-nine percent of the species that have lived on Earth have gone extinct; why should we not? Seeing the biggest picture of humanity and the planet is the heart of this. It’s not meant to be about inspiring terror or doom. Sometimes that is what it takes to draw us out of the little things, where in the day-to-day we lose sight of enormous potentials. “We humans spend 99.9999 percent of our attention on short-term things,” Tegmark said, “and a very small amount of our attention on the future.”

The universe is most likely 13.8 billion years old. We have potentially billions more years at our disposal—even if we do get eaten by the sun in four billion years—during which life could be wonderful.

The future is here. What are we going to do about it?

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15 Responses to Willful ignorance is a serious threat to human survival

  1. ed nelson says:

    Good to see Lurch… Ted Cassidy again!

    The thing is, Twighlight Zone was… Cerebral; imaginative,


    That is no longer to be condoned, I don’t think! But one line said by the protagonist in the story there, was, eventually we/you will all be eaten, to paraphrase.

    So old Lurch there (his character) really is symbolic to something that already is on earth. And them folks are hungry, and that means if they can’t find enough Pas Grass or Caviar, or other Epicurean delights, ‘guess they might start feeding on Hoi polloi.

    But really… that is really a hyperbolic take off from what is ubiquitous, namely Extraction. What the ants work on the aphis.

    Lurch was a card… ”YOu Rang?!!

  2. Kelly Payne says:

    People are not looking at the whole picture.It’s not just carbon emissions. it’s also deforestation As more land is cleared to make room for the ever increasing human population. I don’t understand why those scientists are leaving out that part of the story. they should no better. A breif science lesson.It’s tree and plants which take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen. it’s trees and plants which help reprocess the earths atmosphere.When humans and animals breath we take in the air and breath out carbon dioxide. Reduce the number of trees and plant on the earth will directly effect the earths ability regulate atmosphere.wWe may also need to plant more trees and other plant as well reducing carbon emissions.They are over simplifying the problem. simply reducing carbon emission alone is not gonna solve the problem,if it can be solved at all. Those scientists should know all this stuff but they are not mentioning it.

    • You’re right. Good point.

    • MKX says:

      Capitalism is predicated on growth. The solution to our problem that you propose, and which is, IMO, sound, would require a new economic paradigm.

      The basic formula for Capitalism is

      M to C to M(prime); wherein M(prime) > M

      M = money

      C = capital.

      Because capitalism is so efficient at utilizing labor to produce goods, the ability to generate money for a subset of capital becomes hard, thus forcing the creation of new markets for new things. IOW, make work schemes.

      And example is bottles water.

      To any engineer worth his salt, it is far more efficient and less wasteful or resources to have a sound public utility that provides water to the tap of very home or, for those less fortunate, public fountains. However, once that technology is perfected and optimized, there is little potential for M to C to M(prime) in the provision of water.

      So what does a good capitalist do?

      They gut public spending for infrastructure via their control of politicians and have their paid shills scare people about publicly provided water.

      And then they reap a handsome profit in their shares vested in bottled water.

      The added benefit being that the bottles are another product resulting from the use of petroleum.

      IMO, the greatest disaster in the USA was the destruction of the IWW circa WW1. Since that time, we have evolved into a right wing and center political system with no real voice on the left. As a result, the right yells SOCIALISM and the center shift right. If this does not stop, we will shift on back to either Feudal or Plantation Capitalism where those with property will be free. Free to subjugate the majority who does not have it.

  3. The inhumanity of man toward man, beast, and Mother Earth is astounding.

    Is there any hope that we’ll have Planet A and Planet B and those who wish to live in the hell of their own making will get their own Earth as the New Agers predict? ‘Cuz I’m tired of living with willful ignorance. Real ignorance I can understand, but this willful, political, lead-people- astray and abuse the weak to profit from it or to maintain power is getting really, really old.

    • Yes, it is getting old and tiresome dealing with greedy people who abuse others for fun and profit while extolling their behavior as a virtue.

    • Malisha says:

      Two Sides, it’s as old as civilization. It seems that these “advances” cannot be made without exploitation and exploitation doesn’t work without intentional brutality and bullying. Who would otherwise give up their portion so you could have two portions? It’s a simple enough matter but cannot really be undone — it’s gone too far.

  4. Malisha says:

    The goddess Ma’at is not amused by this fool’s effort to do justice.

    See, I don’t believe that it’s an effort to do justice; I think it’s nothing more or less than it appears: an effort to terrorize and dominate women. Naturally, this kind of savagery (and that’s a misunder-stood term because savages never did stuff like this; this arose in civilization!) comes with the “religion” of “obedience” to the will of dominant (thus abusive) men.

    If they don’t do stuff like this from time to time, women become less terrorized and begin to act in their own interests at least occasion-ally, and to maintain some kind of control like Sharia, you have to prevent that at all costs.

  5. Malisha says:

    Wow. Here I thought the universe was only 8 billion years old! This changes my outlook!

  6. MKX says:

    Ever since mankind left the hunter-gatherer stage, willful ignorance of how is acts impact Mother Earth has been the order of the day.

    So-called primitive peoples kept a keen eye on how the ecosystem worked because it was the ultimate source of all life.

    I have seen pictures of the Mississippi Flood of 1927. In one aerial photo, there are a bunch of cows standing on a dry bit of land surrounded by water. The caption states that the cows are standing on Indian Mounds. They knew that it was better to work with nature than to “conquer” it.

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