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June 26, 2006

Inconvenient Truth 2

Inconvenient Truth 2

Just how does one begin to understand a modern world plagued by seemingly  intractable regional conflicts over the same disputed territories, even as it is wracked by violent new conflicts-at-a-distance more clearly related to factors like religious differences, distribution of wealth, and notions of history; just as cable TV warns of a series of apolitical new threats to human existence in the form of pandemics, tsunamis, super-volcanoes and collisions with space objects?

Ironically, global warming, a somewhat older ‘threat,’ originally dismissed by skeptics until its credibility was restored by recent intense weather events and some additional objective evidence, isn’t easily classified according to the first paragraph's schema; not for lack of criteria that could assign it to one of three arbitrary categories, but because it displays features of all three: to a considerable extent, it can be seen as regional, political, and all-embracing.

Which leads me, in roundabout fashion, to a point: the best way to understand our accumulated modern threats may be that all are uniquely human perceptions; some are of phenomena which have always existed, but  only recently been disclosed by scientific enhancements.  Others have clearly developed from the accelerating human population explosion (also enabled by science) of the last several centuries.  Finally,  global awareness of all is being intensified by recent advances in information technology (IT ).

Is ‘science,' then, a common denominator of our global problems? Although that's a notion to warm every creationist’s heart, it’s quickly dismissed by noting how avidly religious fundamentalists make use of scientifically-generated technology. The only ‘revelation’ is it that forces them to display an even greater degree of hypocrisy (‘cognitive dissonance’) than many other humans. Since they are also clearly not that embarrassed by their scientific ignorance, revealing it hasn’t (and probably won’t ever) change their behavior.

Is ‘denial,’ then, the elusive common denominator?

The answer seems to be that while our unwillingness to confront unpleasant (‘inconvenient’) truth is certainly common enough to be thought of as part of ‘human nature,’ it’s clearly not the only factor responsible for the current mess of insoluble problems.  An equally basic element may have more to do with our evolutionary descent from hierarchical mammalian predators and our retention of several of their behavioral characteristics.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at June 26, 2006 07:56 PM