SUNDAY, AUGUST 16, 2015
Eric Lee, A-SOCIATED PRESS
TOPICS: THOUGHT EXPERIMENT, FROM THE WIRES, FUTURE, HYPOTHETICAL, POSTERITY
TUCSON (A-P) — What follows is a thought experiment as the means to implement it are not available. The hypothetical is: a means exists such that, if deployed, 9 out of 10 humans at random, of any age, gender, group membership, or genetic endowment would go utterly brain dead and drop in less than a heartbeat, burdening the random survivors with disposing of their bodies.
If the means could be initiated by pressing a button, should it be pressed? Would you press it? If the button should be pressed, but you couldn't press it, someone could, so your inability to press it is irrelevant. The only relevant question is should it be pressed?
An initial objection would be that pressing the button would be the greatest act of genocide in history past or likely yet to come. It would be, but if philosophical suicide is thinkable, so too is genocide as the scale is secondary. To think about pushing the button requires freethought. That freethinkers are able to think the unthinkable may be an argument against freethought (as made by those who can't), but noises made by those who refuse to think do not make for a convincing argument.
The issue comes down to assessing the consequences of pushing the button verses not pushing it. If pushing the button is horrific, not pushing it could be more horrific. That not pushing the button will likely have horrific consequences is not an extraordinary claim and should be thinkable. If all humans, but one, agreed the button be pressed, should it therefore not be?
If pushing the button now means that 90% of humans are euthanized humanely, which could include the one pushing the button and 90% of those who think it should be pressed, then of 7,400,000,000 humans, 6,560,000,000 die leaving 740,000,000 random survivors to ponder why the button was pressed and endeavor to live so as to minimize the perceived need to press it again to reduce human multitudes to a more manageable and sustainable 74,000,000.
If not pressed, then 7.4 billion humans continue doing what they are doing. No need to belabor details to make the point that not pushing the button could have unimaginably more horrific consequences to far more humans and other living things (all life on Earth including all of human posterity far beyond the seventh generation) than pressing the button.
There is no button to press, so you can't press any, but you can think about it. It is both possible and thinkable, however, to transition now one human life, one household, one community, one watershed at a time. If pushing the button is thinkable though not doable, consider transitioning now to a more prosperous descent, to a sustainable prosperity of enough that allows posterity to live the eudaimonic life. If pushing the button is unthinkable, then carry on per business as usual, full speed ahead, and enjoy the cruise.
You could join the VHEMT (Voluntary Human Extinction Movement) or Church of Euthanasia as doing so is entirely thinkable and those who join can feel ever so good (superior) about their life choice. You can't join the IVHEMT (the Involuntary Human Extinction Movement) because it doesn't exist (other than as title of a music album) for some reason. Oh, clever name maybe, but the real deal wouldn't feel good. The IVHEMT is several orders of magnitude more cogent than the VHEMT. If taking yourself out of the gene pool is good, taking more humans out with you, more being better, would get us to were we (of the IVHEMT) want us all to be. The VHEMT could get us there if every human joined. But if just one couple (Adam & Eve?) didn't, it would all start over. Only the IVHEMT would have any reasonable chance of getting us to the blessed land without any of us. Or maybe we need to consider something other than another feel-good movement (aka another social, political, environmental, religious, sustainability or any other mass movement).
If joining the IVHEMT proves difficult secondary to it not existing and no one you know or who reads your sign while protesting responds by asking if they can join, then perhaps other unthinkable thoughts need to be considered.
Oh, and the not so naked ape above, on behalf of the other life on the planet (except humans and some of their pets), says, "Push the (expletive deleted) button!"
There is no substitute for energy. The whole edifice of modern society is built upon it. It is not "just another commodity" but the precondition of all commodities, a basic factor equal with air, water and earth. —E. F. Schumacher
It will be a race toward either paradise or oblivion, right to the last moment. —R. Buckminster Fuller
Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe. —H.G. Wells, The Outline of History
Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge. —Mark Twain
The Alpha Male is my leader; I’ll be okay. He helps me get food and water. He leadeth me to the best and safest places. He eases my anxiety. He tells me what to do to avoid getting into trouble, especially with Him. Yea, even though the savanna is full of dangers, I will fear no competitors, for Thou art in charge. Thy strength and Thy vigor they comfort me. Thou protecteth me from other animals (and from Thyself). Thou helpeth me out. I’m doing pretty well… considering. I feel safe in Thy territory and among friends and relatives as long as I am in Thy troop; and I submit and accept Thy dominance forever (or at least until someone replaces Thee.)