I’ll go through three examples of the good the bad and the ugly of personification in science.
I think its a good thing this personification. Since it represents a simplified model. I think we ought to use personification a lot more. And be a lot more explicit about it. Because when we are not explicit about it she creeps into our thinking unawares.
The “bad” example here is with socio-biology. Now here personification has thrown an enourmous light on human psycology. Before I was looking into this side of things I was a pretty big fan of Camile Paglia. But nothing she says about pagans and stuff cannot be more easily explained by your selfish gene theory.
But the selfish gene way of looking at things ought to be considered as evidence for the great power of personification as a way of building simple rule of thumb models for what the world is like.
Because there is no selfish gene. No gene has its own brain. The gene wants nothing. And we ought not forget that. Its a molecule. Tiny. Big as molecules go but a tiny inanimate thing nonetheless, with no aspirations of its own.
So all this meme and gene talk is smoke and mirrors if its not personification. The selfish gene theory has gotten enough attention. But the power of simplified models using personification has been dudded. Since the theorists never let on and may not know that they are using personification.
But my goodness what impressive light these ideas throw on things.
We should ascribe this light to the power of personification in science. Because there is not nor ever was, nor will there ever be a selfish gene.
My second example is the ugly example. James Lovelock. My God what a nutball.
((((((((NOTE: SINCE WRITING THIS I HAVE TAKEN A FAR MORE POSITIVE VIEW OF JAMES LOVELOCK AND HIS GAIA HYPOTHESIS.
SO THIS AMOUNTS TO A RETRACTION. SOME PEOPLE HOWEVER MISUSE HIS HYPOTHESIS AND THIS IS WHERE I CAME OF THE BEAM….. GMB 12/2/2007)))))))
This dumb bastard really thinks the planet is concious. There isn’t the slightest evidence for it. But like some sort of Egyptian high-priest he thinks he knows his God and knows her personality like he talks to her everyday. His view of her personality and capriciousness bears no relation to the “personality” of the real thing and in fact the personality of his imaginery friend is pretty easy to spot.
Not so much a feminised Yaweh but Yaweh in drag. Coming back from the old testament and leaving the saviour behind. Coming back to avenge us unto the 7(hundred)th generation for our transgressions against his order. This Gaia bullshit could not be more idiotic. And it doesn’t throw any light on anything.
So the earth has certain feedback systems-Got it/I’m gone. The earth has various feedbacks and so does an ageing near clapped-out thermostat and so what?
Mother nature is no biblical avenger. She is a nazi bitch-goddess who might just fuck us up not matter WHAT we do. She is a sadist. Not a harsh but fair avenger.
Now onto the good. That is of course Hunter Thompsons personification of ELECTRICITY in songs of the doomed.
He breaks down the behaviour of electricity into two characteristics.
Now I cannot do it justice. But if you go back to the farm with your rubber gloves,gumboots and wire and start mucking about with the electric fence you will be able to predict in advance the result of all your various experiments by reading this one Hunter Thompson essay and applying this very powerful technique of personification.
Electricity is lazy and homesick. Great Stuff.
But what is all this in aid of? This discussion is a pre-requisite to the investigation of these climate science hucksters and their hangers on. We can use personification to set our default positions and our burdens of proof. Of course we might turn out to be horribly wrong in our initial tentative conclusions. But we can set a default position and fold our arms and then try and get these charlatans to justify their extraordinary claims with our starting position already set.
These dumb bastards are in any case not even where economics was in the 1870′s. They don’t even seem to have discovered marginal analysis.
So let us take this powerful tool of personification and apply it to the mystery of hurricanes and cyclones.