Sunday, December 04, 2011

4 December 2011

via Skeptical Eye, "75 Years in Prison For Videotaping Police"
[the youtube link is here.]

(I've discussed this trend before: "The right to be forgotten.")

Thomas Rogers, in Salon: The Internet: Triumph of human evolution
The Web is more than just a powerful tool, it's our greatest adaptation. An expert explains why

The Internet allows us to do all kinds of things we never imagined possible. It lets us communicate with people across the world. We can learn whatever we want at the click of a button. We can navigate roads using our iPhones, and translate languages within seconds. It makes us smarter, and more versatile, and faster than ever. But the Web isn’t just a truly extraordinary invention, it is the apex of human evolution — and the ultimate evolutionary adaptation.

It may seem strange to think of the Web as part of the process of natural selection, but Raymond Neubauer, a professor at the University of Texas, doesn’t think so. In his far-reaching new book, “Evolution and the Emergent Self,” he argues that technology should be seen as part of our planet’s grand evolutionary narrative.

Neubauer's book sounds interesting, but I doubt I'll read it because of my limited time and budget. Although it occurs to me from what I gleaned from Rogers's article, that the prof is more likely channeling Hegel than Darwin, because I see several decades of devolution likely to be in store for us.

see also Ian Welsh, "Public Opinion is Irrelevant"

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At December 05, 2011 7:15 AM, Blogger Duncan Mitchel said...

When I read the word "expert," especially at Salon, I reach for my skepticism.

Whatever else may be true, Neubauer isn't talking about Darwinian evolution, he's talking about Spencerian evolution, and really about the pre-scientific Great Chain of Being. Darwinian evolution doesn't have an "apex." (That would also imply that there's now nowhere to go but down.)

I'll take a closer look at the Salon piece, but it doesn't look like it's worth your time.

At December 05, 2011 1:29 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Ha! Actually, I thought of you the other day when I read another Salon author interview, with a Rutgers prof who wrote a book called "Against Thrift" which sounded pretty ridiculous, and reminded me of how GWB urged people to go shopping when asked in 2001 what ordinary people should do about terrorism.

I found myself imagining you taking it down at This is So Takei.

Maybe I need to write a book too.

At December 05, 2011 4:56 PM, Blogger Duncan Mitchel said...

Yeah, well, I think I'll pass on the "against thrift" piece. And the interview with Neubarer isn't even a good interview, but he hangs himself very neatly -- even uses a notorious creationist argument for nothing in particular, which he says nearly caused the book to be rejected by Columbia University Press. It sounds like the whole argument should have caused it to be rejected. (For example, there's no way the Internet can be called an "adaptation" in Darwinian theory.) Very often when I read academic writing, I wonder what standards could have been applied to lead to its acceptance for publication.

Anyway, I don't think the article is worth your time. I see no reason to read the book either, though it's in the library here and I could read it for free -- count yourself lucky you couldn't afford it.

At December 08, 2011 12:47 AM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

So I guess you're not that promiscuous a reader after all. Ha!

Anyway, I'm still reading Th' Status Seekers.


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