Thursday, April 11, 2013

Getting pretty tired of science journalism.

Stephen Hawking says that humans will not survive another thousand years without escaping earth.

Let me say right away that I'm extremely sympathetic to the spacefaring idea. Frankly, I'm shocked we haven't already devoted serious resources towards this. We meaning 'America'.

But Hawking has no authority on this subject. He's just another guy with an opinion. Not that you'd know that from the article.
Stephen Hawking, who spent his career decoding the universe and even experienced weightlessness, is urging the continuation of space exploration — for humanity’s sake.
Decoding the universe? See, I wonder if this flowery BS is owing to someone just wanting to build up Hawking, or if it was more of a 'wow, what does this guy actually do? Woah, this looks boggling - time to punt!' thing. It should be required by a journalism code that a scientist can only be described by what he actually does, in vulgar terms. 'Jerry Coyne, an expert in getting fruit flies to fuck, had this to say.'

Also, is it just me or is the 'experienced weightlessness' line just sort of thrown in there? Not to mention it pales in comparison. 'Decodes the universe, AND he went to Space Camp!' is close to 'Studies the very thoughts of the Lord of Hosts, and he even was on Star Trek once!' in terms of a step down in awe.

Normally I'd be quick to attribute this to Hawking being full of himself, but this time it seems like it may be more of a lazy SEO Writing thing. The whole article is just a mish-mash. But what caught my eye is that damn line about the survival of humanity, with the suggestion that this is the opinion of an Actual Expert, and not just some guy shooting into the dark.

2 comments:

Cale B.T. said...

I was wondering if I could pose the following hypothetical, Crude, and this seems as good a place to do it as any: a community of one thousand colonists are on a spaceship. The journey will last, say, four centuries and it can be reliably known that the ship has a certain carrying capacity for human beings. Records from previous expeditions indicate that if the birth rate isn’t deliberately limited, then the ship will be destroyed before they reach the colony, and/or all the colonists will perish.

Many would argue that our situation on Earth is analogous to the colonists, and that, for this reason, contraception should be considered permissible. Now, I know that many commentators express skepticism concerning whether things like the extent of pollution and the carrying capacity of Earth can be reliably known, but in cases where these things can be more accurately known, do natural law theorists consider it just for people to deliberately limit their birth rate through contraception? Or would chastity be seen as a better solution?

Crude said...

Now, I know that many commentators express skepticism concerning whether things like the extent of pollution and the carrying capacity of Earth can be reliably known, but in cases where these things can be more accurately known, do natural law theorists consider it just for people to deliberately limit their birth rate through contraception? Or would chastity be seen as a better solution?

I'm a little confused. Are you asking me to answer in the context of the ship journey? Or just in general?

Anyway, I'm sure natural law theorists would have differing views among each other. But I think they would choose chastity over contraception - certainly that seems like the option Feser or Rosenberg would select.

Beyond that, Earth seems like a bad example. The number of people who regard contraception as immoral is few. Even among self-described Catholics, it's few. Yet here we are with, what is it.. a 46% illegitimate birth rate now? I wouldn't bet on that ship arriving at its destination intact. (Someone could always answer, 'Yes, well, that's people acting irresponsibly. If they acted ideally, this problem wouldn't take place.' But if people would act ideally, they wouldn't need contraception anyway.)