02 May 2013

Hominicentrist I am

Everyone believes things without strong evidence. What's dogmatic or irrational is believing things despite strong contrary evidence. For example, believing the creation dogma of fundamentalist Christianity, or believing that global climate change is a hoax or not supported by evidence (because it is; denying that is just denying what's in front of your nose).

But there are a lot of propositions, especially about likely future outcomes of trends, where rational extrapolation or inference is either wildly uncertain or really just impossible. Yet we all have beliefs about such things, whether we give them conscious thought or not, or whether we voice them or not.
Having said that, here's a belief of mine, which I share with Annalee Newitz (here):  The human race will survive the current mass extinction. In fact, I'd go so far as to say, we will beat the odds on average lifetime of terrestrial species by at least several standard deviations, and when our species does cease to exist, it will be because our descendants have evolved into other species, not because we became extinct without descendants.

Why do I believe this? Because I have a gut feeling. But it isn't just a gut feeling, it's a feeling that our particular and peculiar favorable adaptation, which is the ability to relatively accurately model reality and construct technology to modify the environment, is so blazingly superior to precursor adaptations in our ancestors and relatives, and so very adaptive, that I would not bet against our longterm survival and success. We will figure out how to survive, and thrive, and prevail. Even beyond the confines of "our time" and this Earth. Not all of us, but as a species.

If that's hominicentric (or whatever the word is), I plead guilty. Except I don't think it's wrong, I think it's just real.

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