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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Psychoses of a Sick Society

  I was rereading Isaac Asimov's The Naked Sun written in 1956. The background to this SF murder mystery is that  2 cultures, that of Solaris and Earth are psychotically crippled and have no future.

   Solaris is immensely wealthy with enormous numbers of robots where people live without human contact. Indeed having been brought up by robots they are incapable of human contact.

   But they aren't so psychotic that they believe it possible to bring children up to healthy adults without being willing to spank them as every human culture has since forever.. Indeed an explanation of the "psychological" training a robot has to undergo to be able to smack a child is discussed.

   Earth's psychosis is that everybody lives all the time in giant enclosed cities and the people are incapable of leaving or even looking at nature in the raw or gaze on the naked Sun.

   But at one point the hero, to relieve the stress of having to tell his boss of the psychotic nature of Earth's culture, TAKES OUT HIS PIPE AND SMOKES IT RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM. The people of Earth are clearly not so psychotic as to get uptight about "passive smoke" less than 1/10,000th* as dense as smoked smoke.

     Like so much science fiction must inevitably be Asimov is clearly extrapolating/satirising trends in the culture of the time by projecting them many centuries into the future. Yet in a mere 55 years we have developed and made politically correct and legally enforceable psychoses perhaps even stranger and arguably more debilitating than the ones foreseen.

     Never disciplining children must mean that in very many cases, they will grow up without self discipline. We have never had such a society but it is a dangerous experiment to run. Criminalising passive smoking itself may not be so damaging but the sort of society where everybody is constantly subject to such pointless and vindictive rules clearly is.

     To really see yourself you have to stand outside yourself which is why self awareness is so difficult. Thus looking through the prism of the inherent assumptions of  past societies helps.

"Psychosis is a loss of contact with reality, usually including false beliefs about what is taking place or who one is (delusions) and seeing or hearing things that aren't there (hallucinations)."

*Taking the cubic capacity of a mouth as about 5 inches and the volume of a sphere being 4/3 piR^3 a sphere of radius 32 inches is 10,000 times larger so anybody constantly around  2'8" away is going to get only 10,000th as much smoke as a smoker breaths out. That is pretty much elbow to elbow and in most cases people are much further apart. It is clearly therefore lunatic to suggest, without evidence, that passive smoking is a real risk as the BMA and most politicians do.

Suggested other psychoses in British Society
  • That any sort of change to the planet is bad. I don't mean objecting to pollution but that any change in temperature/the number of polar bears/butterflies/CO2 levels/snail darter fish/plant DNA etc etc is inherently awful.
  • That any level of actual sort of  pollution is utterly unacceptable, no matter what the ancillary benefits. An example would be Paul Ehrlich using an expected rise in sulphur dioxide emissions in China as "proof" that things were getting worse irrespective of the massive rise in Chinese living standards, or indeed reduction of pollution of indoor wood smoke or or feces.
  • Health and safety - from the assumption that humans should not go into space in case anybody dies, even though far fewer have done so than in polar exploration - to people being prevented from moving their desks in offices or change a light bulb.
  • Scare of all sorts which depend on numerical illiteracy.
  • Attempts to legislate, for health, reductions in the level of "contaminants" to where they run into laws requiring the presence, for health, of such levels "trace elements"
  • The Linear No Threshold anti-nuclear theory, which has certainly reduced humanity's standard of living, on its own, by over 50%
  • People who don't want to go into space and cause "ecological damage" there until we have totally "cleaned up" the Earth.
  • The criminalisation of any judgement of anybody about anything based on information about them of their race, gender, ethnicity, age etc. Prejudice is literally pre-judgement and everybody has to do it to some extent all the time. When you put salt on your food without a chemical analysis you are prejudging that it is virtually certain to contain salt rather than cyanide.
  • Not being willing to execute murderers even when it is known it will, net, save lives
  If anybody has other signs I would be interested to know.The list is almost certain to be incomplete because we live within the same society. However once stated they appear logically indisputable.

    Kipling had something to say about societies  that behave psychotically. I happen to think that our scientific progress gives us much more leeway than he expected but he had a point.

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins

When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,

The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

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From Sandy Henderson - Hi Neil I would never actually advocate smoking, but the only reason the anti smoking fascists don't ban it outright is they would have a problem replacing the large amount of tax it generates, and of course the then large cost of policing the ban. From the figures they quote , something like 3 to 4thousand per annum, this can be put into some perspective as being less than 1% of the overall death rate of about 600,000 per annum. They make no distinction about the ages of some in that 3 to 4 thousand. In pubs the whole "problem" could be solved by ventilation -fresh airblown in over the bar and the stale air extracted over the smoking area. I've never seen smoke travel upwind. In New Scientist this week , page 6 , there is an article about low level xrays perhaps giving health benefits.
The best sign of a healthy society is when a book-burning anti-science jihadist can only muster 80 votes in his pathetic bid to be an MP.

Just because you're crazy doesn't mean a world that rejects you is.

And still no answers to the 7 unanswerable questions from the Brown Shirt.
The Mous, as previously identified, is Skip from "scinceblogs" a peer reviewed climate "scinetist" "puiblished in the finest journals". As such he clearly represents the very highest standard of honesty to which the "Green" community aspire. He is, of course, lying about me having failed to answer heis 7 "unansweable" questions he asked to divert attention from the refusal of the entire ecofascist community to answer my 7 (his friend has since answered 2 of them, with answers that provealarmism is a fraud but refuse to answer the other 5.
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