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A Current Example of Frightening Extremism in the Name of Our Beliefs
There is a frightening, hateful turn of events taking place right now that anyone involved in the GMO issue, or the vaccine issue, or the climate change issue, or any risk controversy, needs to know about. In fact, it illustrates an even wider phenomenon that explains why advocates deny evidence and distort the facts, why society has become so partisan and polarized, and even why extremists in many places turn to violence. The episode, still developing, illustrates the power of emotion over reason in shaping the views we have, and the dangerous lengths those emotions can carry us to.
Mike Adams is the self-professed Health Ranger and runs a highly successful for-profit empire through his Natural News website. Adams is way more extreme than others who profit by taking advantage of our innate belief that anything natural is less risky and anything human-made is risker, like Dr. Mercola or the FoodBabe or Dr. Oz. But he is widely followed by many because he espouses their general worldview; nature is good, and humans and technology and rich corporations are screwing it up.
Yesterday Adams posted a piece (not his first) suggesting that anyone who says anything uncritical or open minded about Monsanto, or biotechnology/GMOs, is the essentially the same as a Nazi collaborator, using science as a justification for genocide.
which included this generic but quite clear death threat!
“…it is the moral right — and even the obligation — of human beings everywhere to actively plan and carry out the killing of those engaged in heinous crimes against humanity.”
Several people, principally Keith Kloor in his blog at Discover Magazine, called Adams out on this extremism.
Adams responded today by posting a site that names names…targets. Really. He posted an update to his screed with a Monsanto Collaborators website http://monsantocollaborators.org/ complete with a swastika next to the headline Monsanto (the banner photo above), and a list of ‘Collaborators’ that includes Kloor, environmentalist and GMO supporter Mark Lynas, Brooke Borel (who writes for Popular Science), Jennifer Ackerman (National Geographic), and others, along with publications that could be targets, including MIT Technology Review, National Geographic, Discover, and Alternet. He is also preparing a list of scientists he will also label collaborators.
The collaborators’ crime? Either supporting, or writing open-mindedly, about biotechnology. Make no mistake. Adams is naming potential targets for what he says is the moral right and obligation “…of human beings everywhere to actively plan and carry out the killing of those engaged in heinous crimes against humanity.”
This is no different than Right to Life activists calling for the murder of abortion doctors fueling the hatred that leads some to commit such murders, or people so angry at the government that the bomb government buildings and kill innocent victims. But we can’t write Adams and other extremists off as deranged whackos. We all do the same basic thing. Adams is just taking it to a vicious extreme.
We all shape our views by interpreting the facts through the lenses of our instincts and feelings and life circumstances and experiences. And when it comes to risk issues, we shape them in ways that allow us to feel safe.
We also shape our views so they agree with the views of the groups we associate with, because tribal cohesion and being a member-in-good-standing of our tribe helps keep us safe. One of the ways we do this is by uncritically adopting the views espoused by our tribal thought leaders, like Adams and the other peddlers of the “Natural is automatically Good, Human-made is automatically bad” tribal mantra.
We then reject facts that conflict with our feelings, and accept and facts that reinforce them. And we feel hostile toward people who take opposing views, because their views challenge how we feel, and our feelings help us feel safe…so anyone who challenges our views threatens US, which makes those people a threat.
This is innate and powerful, way more powerful than reason. It’s what triggers the physical Fight or Flight or Freeze threat response when we argue. Blood pressure rises, muscles tense, listening goes down and shouting goes up…and minds get more closed. and sometimes, violent.
This produces advocates who deny scientific evidence in support their view. It explains the ferocity behind polarized societies in which people are overtly hostile to ‘others’. You do this. So do I. We all do. It is an inescapable product of a human cognitive system designed to keep us safe and alive.
Certainly we should all call Adams out for his extremism. But in a way we should thank him, for challenging us all to think a bit more carefully about issues we feel passionately about, and not just blindly adopt as 'fact' the views of overtly biased advocates, especailly those with views we generally agree with. And even as we challenge him, we should thank Adams for revealing to us all the ease and power with which emotions overwhelm reason and open-mindedness…and the danger we face if we blindly let these instincts control how we think and live.
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Philosophers have been asking the question for hundreds of years. Now neuroscientists are joining the quest to find out.
- The debate over whether or not humans have free will is centuries old and ongoing. While studies have confirmed that our brains perform many tasks without conscious effort, there remains the question of how much we control and when it matters.
- According to Dr. Uri Maoz, it comes down to what your definition of free will is and to learning more about how we make decisions versus when it is ok for our brain to subconsciously control our actions and movements.
- "If we understand the interplay between conscious and unconscious," says Maoz, "it might help us realize what we can control and what we can't."
Puerto Rico's iconic telescope facilitated important scientific discoveries while inspiring young scientists and the public imagination.
- The Arecibo Observatory's main telescope collapsed on Tuesday morning.
- Although officials had been planning to demolish the telescope, the accident marked an unceremonious end to a beloved astronomical tool.
- The Arecibo radio telescope has facilitated many discoveries in astronomy, including the mapping of near-Earth asteroids and the detection of exoplanets.
Bradley Rivera via twitter.com<p>In 1963, the concave dish was built into a natural sinkhole on the northern coast of Puerto Rico. The location was <a href="https://www.space.com/20984-arecibo-observatory.html" target="_blank">picked because it was near the equator,</a> providing scientists a clear view of planets passing overhead, and also of the ionosphere, which is the uniquely reactive layer of Earth's upper atmosphere where the northern lights form.</p><p>Since its construction, scientists have used the Arecibo telescope to map near-Earth asteroids, detect gravitational waves, study pulsars, detect exoplanets and <a href="https://www.seti.org/goodbye-arecibo" target="_blank">search for alien civilizations</a>, among other projects. Here's a brief look at some of the discoveries and accomplishments made using the Arecibo telescope:</p><ul><li>1964: Astronomer <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Pettengill" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gordon Pettengill</a> discovers that Mercury's rotation period is 59 days, significantly shorter than the previous prediction of 88 days.</li><li>1974: Physicists Russell Alan Hulse and Joseph Hooton Taylor Jr. discovers the first binary pulsar, for which they won a Nobel Prize in Physics.</li><li>1974: Scientists use the telescope to transmit the "Arecibo message" to <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Globular_Cluster_in_Hercules" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">globular star cluster M13</a>. The message, when translated into image form, contains basic information about humanity and human knowledge: the numbers one to 10, a map of our solar system, an illustration of a human being, and the atomic numbers of certain elements.</li><li>1989: Scientists use the telescope to image an asteroid for the first time.</li><li>1992: Astronomers Alex Wolszczan and Dale Frail become the first to discover exoplanets.</li></ul>
The Google-owned company developed a system that can reliably predict the 3D shapes of proteins.