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Everything posted by Sadako

  1. I wrote this article, and would appreciate it if you guys could sort of fact-check it before I put it in circulation. Might be offensive to some with rigid morals. The facts aren't highly specific and were done from memory, so I'm sure someone will have something to edit. Thanks. There are roughly 6,446,131,400 people in the world. Each one has his or her own unique view of the world, conceptions of what makes it tick, moral structure, etc. What’s to say yours is the right one? Because it makes sense to you? That’s no way to establish objectivity, no matter who you are. What makes sense, then? Well, to borrow the idea from A Devil’s Chaplain by Richard Dawkins, out of all systems of belief, science is the only one that yields consistent results. You may have a deep attachment to your religion, but it’s your religion. It can’t be quantified. More people disagree with you than not. Do you think you’re more intelligent, more capable of forming a belief structure than them? Anyway, we can see that the scientific method yields results, while opposing beliefs do not. Ah, so you now argue for intelligent design? I’ll now tell the story of life on Earth, and we’ll see if you believe in a deity then. About four billion years ago, in the “organic” (an arbitrary term, by the way) soup that covered the earth, a reaction took place. As modern scientists have successfully duplicated the conditions of this Earth in a lab and achieved the desired results, we know that the reaction is empirically justifiable, not just theoretical. This reaction yielded a collection of molecules similar to RNA. In other words, an inanimate structure, through a series of cause and effect, could suddenly replicate itself. Not too unbelievable, right? Well, as these structures replicated, they didn’t always do it perfectly. They “messed up” a lot, creating different varieties. Today, “messing up” in replication of the genome is called a mutation. Since any process that uses energy takes resources, replication is limited depending on the environment. These different varieties of self-replicators were therefore in competition for resources. Mind you, they didn’t literally duke it out for resources. How did they compete, then? Every time a replicated structure had a genome that was slightly more beneficial to survival than that of its competitors, that structure was more likely to make it. For example, what if a mutation caused one of these RNA-like structures to develop a coating around it? Ah, body armor. This genome would then likely out-survive its competitors. This is evolution. And it’s the process by which these tiny structures developed into “competing” organisms. Bacteria. Same principles, more complex. Algae. Same principles, more complex. It’s an unending linear progress, a snowball of evolution rolling down a hill. Annelids, mollusks, fish, amphibians. And along the way, each organism operated with two things, and two things only on its mind: survival, and replication. Organisms even had to kill and consume each other just to maintain the energy to survive. A bloodbath of evolution. Reptiles, birds, mammals. Humans. Same principles, more complex. Let’s take a look at our societies today, and see how we fit in. What are most songs, books, and movies about? You got it, romantic love and sex. What’s almost every scary movie or novel? You got it, survival horror. What’s on everyone’s mind more than any other universal concept? You got it. Replication. We are the descendents of those little, “inanimate”, self-replicating structures. Take a look at your arm, and your hand. See the hair on your arm, a string of dead cells, poking out of a follicle like some of kind of grotesque alien? See the little folds and cracks of your hand, where the dead layer of skin creases as your muscles manipulate it? You are NOT what you are used to looking at yourself as. It is NOT a wondrous thing that you’re alive in your perfect little form. You are as grotesque as a sea slug. Sea slugs have sex, too. Sea slugs lust after one another, and think others of their species are sexy, if not beautiful. Dung beetles, as well as many other species (if not most) feel extreme jealousy and over-protect the monogamy of their romantic partner/s. In fact, the male dung beetle sits on the female for extended periods of time to prevent her from having sex with any other male. Sound familiar, one way or another? You are not unique. Face the music, and stop hiding in your own little world of human perfection. So then, the thought remains. What of morals? Well, fundamentally, we can see that we’re all made out of the same stuff, by the same process, as every other living thing. How many insects have you killed in your life, without a second thought? How many fast-food burgers made out of mass-slaughtered cow meat have you eaten? These things go beyond the justification of “well, we do need to kill to eat anyway, right?”. These killings are extra. So, are they immoral? Now we come back to subject of morality. Let me tell you what nature has to say about morality. Every species of cat except the tiger, I believe, has a barbed penis. Yes, barbed, like a fish hook. Why? Two reasons. One, to prevent the female from getting away mid-intercourse. Two, the rake any semen out of her vagina from past partners, to avoid the female becoming impregnated by a competitor’s genes. Cats aren’t the only animals with penises that look like medieval weapons. Dragonflies have grotesque, multi-pronged penises that act as thorough brushes to the same purpose. In fact, many species employ methods like this to avoid competition. Many wasps and bees leave a solid plug in the vagina after discharging, to prevent future males from impregnating the female. Some even detach their penis and leave it in. And speaking of wasps, there’s a species that lays its larvae in live caterpillars, and when the babies hatch, they eat their way out of the live caterpillar, slowly killing it. Still believe in God, you sick ****? Another interesting thing to note is how males are less choosy about sexual partners than females. Have you ever wondered why? It’s because males copulate and they’re done. A successful male has many, many offspring, at least until contraception was invented, whereas an unsuccessful male has few to none. Females are choosy because they have to carry a baby for nine months, limiting the number of children they can have. They want a man with good genes, so their time isn’t wasted. Sound familiar? As an aside, if you still have doubts about the human animal having the same motives as any other animal due to our advanced culture, I suggest you look into the idea of sexual selection. Basically, it’s the other half of evolution, the process by which the sexes choose partners, change preferences, and develop “culture”. A non-human example, and the most cited one, is the peacock. What do you think the male peacock’s tail is for? Obviously, it’s a survival setback, right? Well, somewhere along the line of peacock evolution, the females favored males with pretty tails (by their standards, of course), perhaps as a sign of health and virility. It went overboard, though. Why? Think about it, logically, from a gene’s point of view. A female likes a male with a pretty tail. The male has a pretty tail. They mate. They produce a son who has a pretty tail and a female who likes pretty tails, etc. Again with the snowball effect. Eventually, you have a bunch of male peacocks with huge, useless, but pretty tails. How does this fit in to human culture? It’s what drove human culture. Again, what’s every song about? Imagine the first humans to try singing. Pretty sexy if you’re a cavegirl, right? Next thing you know, your species is inventing iPods. So what’s the bottom line of all this? Basically, you’re a mindless robot, controlled by those little replicators inside every cell of your body, and you only exist as a vehicle of competition for their end goal of replicating. That’s right. Think you can make conscious choices and decisions? Maybe you have the illusion of it, but try to make a choice, and it will likely fall under one of the categories above. That is, trying to choose a mate, trying to lose weight to gain social appeal, trying to swim away from that shark that’s chasing you, trying to think about anything. You are a slave to the replicators, no matter how you look at it. Look at it long and hard, and you’ll see what I mean. Assuming you haven’t found a major loophole in this train of logic, where do you go from here? Well, one option is to better the human species and try to prevent its suffering, right? Wrong. Why the human species? Why not the dung beetle? Just because you’re human? That’s like excluding blacks because you’re white. It’s species-ist. Other animals have nerves, they feel pain. Even dung beetles have the same brain chemicals as us. Serotonin, dopamine. Happiness. Adrenalin. Stress. If you don’t believe other animals have the same feelings as we do, you’re ignoring the facts. Alright, so we widen our world view to include all other species. Heck, we’ll even throw in plants. After all, they reproduce and use reproductive trickery, too. They just do it on a much slower time scale, so we don’t often notice their movements. Now we’re going to make an effort to save all species, right? Wrong again. You can’t save every individual in a system where organisms HAVE to be killed to survive. It’s not our moral system that’s lacking. It’s the very system of life that’s immoral. As the Buddha said, life is suffering. So we’re all the result of cause and effect. It really explains the weirdness of life, don’t you think? How you excrete smelly waste out your anus every so often? Do you think a deity would invent that? I don’t think so. But I know the explanation of why we do, thanks to the scientific method. NOW where do we go, you ask? Beats me. Kinda pointless to do anything, don’t you think? Interpret that as you will. The truth hurts.
  2. To those of you who already have a career in science: why did you choose your particular field? I'm having difficulty deciding on a major. The two things that interest me the most are probably the emergence of self-replicators (or the origin of life), and the nature of matter, which I suppose would fall under theoretical physics. The latter seems like it would be difficult to make much progress in, considering that projects like the Superconducting Supercollider are so expensive. Any suggestions?
  3. Sadako


    Given that opinions often lead to new discoveries, I am not advocating that they are bad. However, I'm curious as to how many people can have such strong opinions that they're willing to defend with limited evidence. It's almost as if each person automatically gives their opinions more standing, just because they're able to fathom how the opinion came about. Before anyone says "that's not true, most people accept that their opinion is only one of many", consider the fact that you just said that. How can you firmly believe it? Because it seems logical to you? Are there not people who are smarter, more methodical in their logic than you, who have reached the opposite (as well as the same) conclusion? It's mind-boggling to think that though your opinions make perfect sense to you, that in no way justifies them. For all you know, everything you think could be wrong. Opinions? =P
  4. I think it's important to remember that terms like "organic" and "inorganic" are purely human abstractions. Life didn't necessarily have to have a beginning, as it depends on your definition of life. Maybe the particular properties that we assume to constitute life are a result of all the factors that affected Earth during the primordial soup days, internal and external.
  5. Attraction to breasts is probably a cultural thing, not an inherant genetic thing. I'm reminded of documentaries on African and South American tribes in which the women always expose their breasts, and the men don't seem to care.
  6. swansont has a good point. Also, existing evidence supporting evolution implies that the "hearing, flying, producing sounds, etc" aspects did not evolve at the same time, because there did not always exist the organism of "bat". Most likely, the hearing, flying, and producing sounds are decendent genes from earlier organisms. One could say, "What good is a book if one can't read?". That doesn't mean that writing and reading evolved at the same time in the current organism, it just means that these skills developed over time and are passed down/modified throughout the generations.
  7. I agree with the whole input/output thing. Just because the chemical reactions in our brain are on the whole, too complex for us to immediately fathom, doesn't mean that there's some elusive essence that controls our choices, when it can clearly be shown that chemicals do have a drastic impact on our "choices". Take for example, heroin. A lack of opioid peptides (naturally produced in the hypothalamus gland) can induce a "longing for love", or at least physical contact with a love connotation. Because heroin addicts are constantly supplied with more opioid peptides than their body would naturally produce, they often have no desire for any romantic (and sometimes any social) relationships. When all of one's choices are individually reduced to such reactions, there's no room left for anything else, as discrepancies between individuals constitute the entirety of "free will".
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