Willful ignorance is a serious threat to human survival

May 15, 2014

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Good afternoon:

I believe willful ignorance is a serious threat to human survival and we need to do something about it.

I also believe religious fundamentalists, racists, people who worship authority while demonizing those who do not, global-warming and climate-change deniers, people who exploit others for profit, and the right-wing-hate-machine form a category 5 hurricane of dense stupidity and ignorance that we must penetrate and dissipate with light and love or perish.

Consider three examples:

(1) Aljazeera reports: On Sunday in Khartoum, Sudan, Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, 27, was sentenced to death by hanging for committing the crime of apostasy by marrying a Christian man. She was also convicted of adultery and sentenced to 100 lashes because the Islamic court does not recognize her marriage and she is eight months pregnant pregnant with her husband’s child. The court gave her until today to agree to leave her husband and renounce her Christian faith, but she refused. She told the judge,

I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy.

The judge imposed this willfully ignorant, bizarre and inhumane decision because sharia demands it, even though she was raised by her Christian mother and considers herself a Christian. Her father was Muslim and absent from her life. The sentence will be carried out after the child is born.

The goddess Ma’at is not amused by this fool’s effort to do justice.

(2) The Business Standard reports on a new study published today in Nature that documents a poleward shift of 33 to 39 miles per decade over the past 30 years of the geographical location where tropical cyclones reach their maximum intensity. This shift increases the probability and associated risk of extreme damage caused by winds, surges and floods to heavily populated coastal cities.

This unsettling news must be considered together with the recently reported news by scientists at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory that the meltdown of the West Antarctic Glacier is an unstoppable chain reaction that will raise world sea level.

A new study by researchers at NASA and the University of California, Irvine, finds a rapidly melting section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet appears to be in an irreversible state of decline, with nothing to stop the glaciers in this area from melting into the sea.

The study presents multiple lines of evidence, incorporating 40 years of observations that indicate the glaciers in the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica “have passed the point of no return,” according to glaciologist and lead author Eric Rignot, of UC Irvine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The new study has been accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

These glaciers already contribute significantly to sea level rise, releasing almost as much ice into the ocean annually as the entire Greenland Ice Sheet. They contain enough ice to raise global sea level by 4 feet (1.2 meters) and are melting faster than most scientists had expected. Rignot said these findings will require an upward revision to current predictions of sea level rise.

“This sector will be a major contributor to sea level rise in the decades and centuries to come,” Rignot said. “A conservative estimate is it could take several centuries for all of the ice to flow into the sea.”

Meanwhile, a willfully ignorant, bizarre and inhumane Marco Rubio announced this week that he does not believe in global warming or climate change and he’s ready to be president.

Anyone that willfully ignorant is too dangerous to hold public office and no one should vote for him. Perhaps a buoy with his name on it can be placed in the ocean to mark the spot where Miami used to be.

(3) Max Tegmark, a physics professor at MIT believes that stupidity is humanity’s biggest problem and artificial intelligence is its biggest existential threat. Since I believe stupidity refers to limited intellectual functioning for which an individual is not responsible, I prefer to use the term willful ignorance. That is, someone with sufficient intellectual functioning to know better.

If we don’t extinguish the human race by making short term decisions to maximize profits while ignoring potential long term catastrophic consequences that those decisions might cause, he fears that artificial intelligence will evolve into super intelligence that will kill us off because of the threat we pose. Stephen Hawking agrees.

Tegmark told James Hamblin of the Atlantic,

“There are seven billion of us on this little spinning ball in space. And we have so much opportunity,” Tegmark said. “We have all the resources in this enormous cosmos. At the same time, we have the technology to wipe ourselves out.”

Ninety-nine percent of the species that have lived on Earth have gone extinct; why should we not? Seeing the biggest picture of humanity and the planet is the heart of this. It’s not meant to be about inspiring terror or doom. Sometimes that is what it takes to draw us out of the little things, where in the day-to-day we lose sight of enormous potentials. “We humans spend 99.9999 percent of our attention on short-term things,” Tegmark said, “and a very small amount of our attention on the future.”

The universe is most likely 13.8 billion years old. We have potentially billions more years at our disposal—even if we do get eaten by the sun in four billion years—during which life could be wonderful.

The future is here. What are we going to do about it?

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