I’ve pointed out before that several of the foundations of electrical engineering, especially subatomic particles, are more mysterious than scientist-witches let on. However, I have not made the connection to technology explicit. Careful readers will be aware of my affinity for Luddite critic Neil Postman who, like Michael Jackson, Benazir Bhutto, and Heath Ledger, is dead. My conclusions about technology are even more unsettling than Postman’s for, combined with his, they demonstrate that Technopoly is actually Cultic Technopoly – for technology in addition to exercising pre-rational control over our culture, is also magical.
My basic claim is that many technological devices in their current states cannot be explained within a consistent historical progression connecting to primitive inventions and discoveries – e.g. fire, the wheel, and language. In this sense technology is irreducibly complex. Put another way: there are evolutionary gaps in the development of technology.
EXAMPLE NUMBER ONE: THE CURIOUS CASE OF CELLULAR TELEPHONES
My first example comes from communication technology, especially cell phones. A long time ago it was discovered that you could talk into a tube and it would help the sound along quite a distance, and someone could hear you on the other end, maybe a few feet away. Then, there was a tangential invention of making lights (fires) light up and little bleeping sounds happen and these could be translated into language. Irrelevant. What I’m really interested in is the development of the telephone. We basically jumped to the development of the telephone. How did we learn that voices could magically – and silently (!) – be transported across great distances, even oceans (!), and come out on the other end completely intelligible? Add to that the fact that millions of voices can exist, perfectly separate and unconfused, in the same tiny thin wire! Add to that the fact that phone lines still work when the power is out and therefore need zero energy to operate! Add to that the fact that phone companies can add people to phone service without adding anything to the wires! Add to that the fact that you could be swimming in the Pacific and run into a phone line somewhere (?). Add to that the fact that there are satallites! How did we get from magically sending endless silent transfigured audio information which morphs back into voices through wires, to magically sending it through the air??!? The air, a.k.a empty space? You’ve got to be kidding me. Sometimes I talk through the air directly, and people don’t understand what I’m saying. What if I try talking to someone in China through the air, where my voice has to make several stops before getting there. Somehow, because of a box I hold into my ear, and some kind of spacecraft allegedly in outer space, and a box in their ear, and big towers with bleeping lights at the top so they don’t get hit by airplanes, they can hear me perfectly. Something fishy is going on here. Where’s the transitional development between talking through a short tube without electricity and talking into a magic box which sends invisible nothings into outer space and back through the atmosphere? What? It’s unbelievable. Wrap your mind around it, you can’t. To fully grasp the massive gaps in the history of technology, consider the diagram below of the evolution of telecommunication.
EXAMPLE NUMBER TWO: COMPUTERS; OR, THE DEVIL’S TOOL
Academics are always making the completely asinine claim that such-and-such was the “first computer,” where “such-and-such” often is an abacus, and occasionally the human brain. Sorry, there is not legitimate connection between some guys playing with beads at a table and Google Earth. There are too many differences which cannot be bridged by any transitional cultural technological fossils. For one thing, computers today use electricity, which no one understands. We know how to conjure it, how to stop it from killing us in some cases, and that’s it. Try having a scientists explain electricity to you sometime. It’s complete bullshit (see glossary), like when a theologian tries to explain the doctrine of the trinity. At least the trinity doesn’t use electricity (usually). In addition to the sudden transition from non-electric to electric, there is a transition from visible to invisible. We can all understand simple machines, like windmills or crowbars. But many parts of the computer, most everything aside from the cooling fan, are invisible. Look at a motherboard. What do you see? You see nothing useful. Consider the bizarre photographic representation below.
What do you see? Nothing. Some white lines. A lot of spider-looking things. Some blue strips. A collection of things that look like a toy city, like when you’re in an airplane, and so on. Certainly nothing that looks like what shows up on your computer monitor screen. So how do we get to the point where we can make these things? Certainly none of the parts are useful by themselves. Many people will say: we have robots build them, since our hands are too big to build tiny things. But we built the robots in the first place! And besides, the only way we can tell robots what to do is with computers. And how did we know what invisible things to do on a flat board in order to make movies with Matt Damon appear on a shiny screen (which, by the way, is connected via a single wire)?
Computer technology also lends itself to many reductio ad absurdum arguments. For example, it means that the law of the conservation of things is false. For example, when I download the new Regina Spektor album, what have I added to my computer? Nothing. Magnets have just shifted around or something. Magnets, which by the way are essential to Hinduism. In any case, how can magnets produce Matt Damon’s face anyway? But back to the reductios. In addition to it being absurd that I can create something on my computer out of nothing, a.k.a Ex-Nihilism, it is additionally absurd that I could theoretically create a movie simply by moving magnets around, which hasn’t been created yet. According to computer science this is possible.
A third example of how technology is irreducibly complex which I don’t presently have the time to get into is the video camera, which cannot be explained with any coherency. For one thing, video cameras are supposedly not actually recording motion, they are recording frames of still images. This leads to the conclusion that video cameras are not video camera, a rather Orwellian turn of events if you ask me.
As any Berkeley professor can tell you, animals rights activists are getting more violent by the nanosecond. But, given certain recent events, I’m beginning to contemplate what President Obama once said: “[D]oing nothing in a period of repressive violence is itself a form of violence.” Perhaps animal rights activists are, for the first time in their angry lives, on to something.
The coming animal genocide is already being foreshadowed in zoology. And the justification appears to be tough economic times. This is known as the “starve the beast” tactic, pioneered by philosopher of rights Leo Strauss, later developed into its modern form by Richard Weaver. While politically it’s a Machiavellian brilliant move, it’s morally dispicable. But Zoology isn’t the only field where we can see that a storm is coming. Bird Studies has also issued some ominous omens, corroborated by everyone. But this is just where it starts to get interesting.
My more sophisticated readers will have read enough Neil Postman to know that our society is basically run by Technopolists. Professor Postman coined this term, and it refers to those whose primary modus of operandi is that technology not only be used, but more or less worshiped as mankind’s salvation. Sound silly? It may have back in the 1980′s when technology was largely fictional, but now it is a reality realer than realness itself. Combine the disturbing facts about birds with the recent development of flying cars, and you might begin to get the picture. Never mind the primitive out-of-date propaganda we’re sending out kids, innovations like flying cars are the wave of the future. And these innovations have a one-to-one correspondence with the animals they are replacing. Using Bayes’ Calculus a la cartes Richard Swinburne, it is enormously improbable that this is just coincidence.
Looks like Postman’s “childhood” isn’t the only victim in this race to the technopological finish line; the entire animal kingdom is going down with it.
First, I should say that I like Intelligent Design. It questions cherished assumptions held by arrogant scientists and other scholars. Furthermore, it strives very hard to be just like science, in order to undermine it. This is a noble goal, reminiscent of Obama’s biography, where he reminisced about being “behind enemy lines” in corporate America.
However, just because something falls under the category of muckraking, doesn’t mean that it is always good. There are many examples of bad muckraking. In fact, bad muckrakers like these give bad names to the rest of us. I can’t count the number of times people have assumed that I was one of these people, before even looking at my arguments! It’s quite frusrating. You have to be able to distinguish between good controversial figures, and bad ones. Legitimate commentators like nutritionist Kevin Trudeau, and complete quacks like Denise O’Leary. So without much further ado, I will just list a few of the difficulties I have with Intelligent Design.
Intelligent Design is not really Science
All Intelligent Design does is concede ground. Real science gains ground. Can anyone point to an example of Intelligent Design winning an argument? I sure can’t. Intelligent Design has also failed to acheive a paradigm shift. All people do in Intelligent Design is leave the movement. This has all the characteristics of a cult. But back to paradigm shifts, Hans Küng has taught us that scientific shifts occur best when left alone by religion. Who is Dembski to lecture Küng? And who is O’Leary to lecture Dembski? Ipso facto, who is O’Leary?
Intelligent Design fails to produce technology
It has long been obvious that the halmark of science is building neat things. What are some of these neat things? Escalators, pop machines, cures for diseases, spaceships, and lasers. Name one technological innovation produced by Intelligent Design. I bet you can’t name one. And all this for a movement with “intelligent design” in the middle of its very name.
Intelligent Design contradicts the law of entropy (aka the Law of Thermo Dynamics)
The arguments of intelligent design continually get more and more complex and absurd and overly wordy. But according to entropy, things get simpler (and, ergo, more appealing). How then does Intelligent Design survive? This is one of the lesser known objections to ID. Note that ID people often use Entropy against evolutionists! Can you believe it? More serious scientists have pointed out their flaws.
Those are just three things to think about. I would point out as well that not all critics of Evolution are silly. I myself have posted a simple conceptual objection to Modern Synthesis. But there are others. One might take a hint from David Berlinksi, a very well-respected mathematician who has posited interesting critiques. You can watch him below, and I leave you with this video.
This should worry everyone. Unlike Google, IBM does not have a good human rights record.
What can be done about this monstrosity? Perhaps nothing. The end may be near.
Mr. Subramaniam over at World Through Coloured Glasses invited me to write a guest post on his blog. His requested topic was “technology.” (No, not the Scientologist kind!) An interesting topic, not one I have written on before. I got to begin developing some of my ideas on, for example, the Internet and Wikipedia, and the implications they have for society, culture, and humans.
So you can read my guest post here. Any responses should probably be on his blog, not mine!