Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Worst Idea EVER?

Darren at Terapod Zoology has uncovered what I think, seriously,may be the worst idea for the future I have ever seen, combining sentimentality, utter ignorance about how the world, society, animals, biology or any science works, along with a readiness (unspoken), to use the most totalitarian means to achieve its impossible goals.

His title says it all: "Predatory animals are bad and should be allowed to go extinct, or should be modified to become kind and herbivorous". They are serious. "It seems that philosopher David Pearce is honestly proposing that we should feel ethically compelled to eradicate all suffering and cruelty from the natural world in order to create a sort of global vegan paradise where predators don't exist. Pearce terms this the Abolitionist Project (for more on Pearce and his ideas see this wikipedia article). His plans are, as discussed in depth on his website, theoretically plausible and involve such things as the use of brain implants, behaviour-modifying drugs, and genetic manipulation. Eventually, the lion will, literally, lie down with the lamb, hyaenas will not feel compelled to eat baby elephants alive, and - I presume - ladybirds will not eat aphids, and so on."

The atempt to rid the world of all suffering might be called, by the religious, "immanentizing the eschaton"-- perfecting the world and making paradise on earth, something that every bloody Utopian political project of the past has tried and failed to do. But you don't have to be religious to be appalled by this-- anyone with the SLIGHTEST knowledge of evolution or ecology can instantly see how mad this idea is.

I doubt anyone will ever try to implement this impossible idea, but I give it to you as an example of how far today's urban intellectuals are fro the biological-- the REAL-- world.

Read the whole thing and all the comments-- most of Darren's readership feels as I do, but a couple of defenders of the thesis actually exist.


Matt Mullenix said...

Good luck with those ladybugs. There's a lot of them, and they're hungry.... :-)

dr. hypercube said...

Where's the lower bound? Protozoans? Bacteria?

Another dumb idea along the same lines - pain free meat. Shades of Chicken Little (except Chicken Little makes more sense). New Scientist article on pain-free animals here.

Mark Churchill said...

Barking lunacy indeed. I know there's at least one ornithologist (Alexander Sprunt, I think?) who, despite his education, seems sympathetic to the idea that predation was a cosmic mistake...but now someone has proposed that something be done about it?!?

Need help with my crossword: Greek for over-reaching pride, 6 letters, starts with H...