Friday, August 27, 2004

Fear of Death Increases Support for Charismatic Nationalists Like Bush

In "Political Preferences & the Fear of Death: Social Psychologists Study Relationship researchers at the University Arizona in Tucson found that support for charismatic nationalist leaders like GW Bush increases dramatically the more that people think about death. “Reminders of death increase the need for psychological security and therefore the appeal of leaders who emphasize the greatness of the nation and a heroic victory over evil.” Could this explain the opposition of some politicians to life extension?

John Kerry for President - Scientists & Engineers for Kerry-Edwards

From John Kerry for President - Scientists & Engineers for Kerry-Edwards

48 Nobel Prize-winning scientists endorse Kerry

Forty-eight Nobel Laureates issued a letter to the American people on June 21, 2004, calling John Kerry a “clear choice for America’s next president” who will “restore science to its appropriate place in government and bring it back into the White House… He will stimulate the development and deployment of technologies to meet our economic, energy, environmental, health, and security needs…He will recreate an America that provides opportunity to all at home or abroad who can help us make progress together.”

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Bailey critiques Fukuyama, defends transhumanism (via Sentient Developments)

Over at Sentient Developments Cyborg Democracy blogger George Dvorsky notes:

Reason Online's Ronald Bailey has published his latest column, 'Transhumanism: The Most Dangerous Idea?' As usual, Bailey does a masterful job exposing the the shortcomings of Francis Fukuyama's arguments. In this case, Bailey is reacting to Fukuyama's recent characterization of transhumanism as 'a strange liberation movement' that wants 'nothing less than to liberate the human race from its biological constraints.' Fukuyama believes that this one of the most serious threats currently facing humanity.

Bailey counters:
'In his famous book The End of History and the Last Man, Fukuyama declared that we are witnessing 'the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.' Fair enough. But for Fukuyama, the end of history is a 'sad time' because 'daring, courage, imagination, and idealism will be replaced by economic calculation.' Also, he claims, 'in the post-historical period there will be neither art nor philosophy, just the perpetual caretaking of the museum of human history.' How ironic that Fukuyama now spends his time demonizing transhumanism, a nascent philosophical and political movement that epitomizes the most daring, courageous, imaginative, and idealistic aspirations of humanity.'

And in closing says:
'The environmental movement has taught us humility and respect for the integrity of nonhuman nature. We need a similar humility concerning our human nature. If we do not develop it soon, we may unwittingly invite the transhumanists to deface humanity with their genetic bulldozers and psychotropic shopping malls,' concludes Fukuyama. I say, bring on those genetic bulldozers and psychotropic shopping malls that help people to live healthier, smarter, and happier lives.

I have my own nomination for an "idea [that], if embraced, would pose the greatest threat to the welfare of humanity": Banning technological progress in the name of "humility."