Note from the Editor: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this article by the student writer Nicholas Huerta to illustrate the growing interest in the transhumanist movement among college and university students. While the positions in this article are not necessarily the positions of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, there are some similarities, and the article is intended to provoke thinking and discussion about how to motivate transformations in societal attitudes toward the embrace of emerging technologies. ~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, U.S. Transhumanist Party, July 26, 2017
If you or a loved one had cancer and someone offered you the cure, would you take it? Colloquial society would answer “yes”. Cancer is one of the many problems facing our society today. Other such problems include socioeconomic issues, hunger, natural disasters, climate change, and inept leaders leading an inept society. Through our research, we hope to show society what true epistemology entails and the realm of possibilities it opens up for the advancement of mankind. The scientific method (SM) is the closest we can get to determining truth, which is substantiated by thinking about another method. Attempting to disprove the SM would require its use, resulting in circular reasoning. The SM can be of great value to humanity outside of traditional science. Using data to support or reject a claim should be used throughout society. Life must observe the environment in order to survive and humans are conscious beings, with the capacity to think about these observations more so than other species. Since the dawn of the scientific age 400 years ago, society has been against science (observe the opposition to facts regarding 4.5 billion-year-old earth, heliocentrism, round earth, genetically modified organisms, and climate change, to name a few). I have not yet discovered the reason for this, but it may be due to many people’s inability to comprehend the scientific method, which ultimately results in changing conclusions / truths / beliefs based off of ever-changing data and observations. This means the SM is rather progressive in nature, and many people tend to dislike change or unfamiliarity. Many scholars will say the SM does not yield truth, but simply provides data to confirm or reject a hypothesis with an infinite number of null hypotheses. A truth entails no change. I posit that the SM yields objective facts. It may also be due to a group of powerful individuals suppressing society similar to the way the Catholic Church (and historical societies in general) condemned new scientific ideas, such as heliocentrism, rather than test them. They are not particularly suppressing science, but rather epistemology. For example, governments do this to citizens through lack of transparency, which hinders data collection (Snowden and WikiLeaks are glimmering examples). Contemporary society fails to realize how far modern science has gotten our species in the last 400 years, and especially in the last 20 years, while we enjoy the comforts of being able to walk into a store and buy food rather than hunt for it.
The SM has brought us civilization, democracy, farming, and industry. How do we know the scientific method works? Richard Dawkins put it very simply when he said, “Planes fly, cars drive, computers compute. If you base medicine on science, you cure people. If you base the design of rockets on science, they reach the moon. It works.” Does it not make sense to build policy and beliefs using the same methods scientists use to test their ideas? If it was not for the SM, we would still be hunting and gathering, living like wild animals (which also use the SM in a much more primitive manner) in a much harsher lifestyle. However, we enjoy comforts of technology so we do not have to live how biological evolution forged us to live. This is posing a whole new set of problems because natural biological processes necessary to survive in the wild as hunter-gatherers are not physiologically active, or, are overactive in modern human bodies, leading to disease and death (diabetes, obesity, coronary artery disease, etc.). Cultural evolution is now playing a major role in shaping the population and will lead us to reach (or not reach) a Type I, and eventually, a Type III society on the Kardashev scale. Our goal is to use artificial selection to cure society of its problems and push past parochialism to a species that can utilize the SM to solve any problem. We hope to show every person the epistemological capabilities of the SM. Essentially the emphasis is placed in current brain power and neuroplasticity.
We have recently concluded that current leaders, along with general society, are incompetent. This is exemplified by holding conservative (unchanging) beliefs and placing time and effort into dangerous and short-sighted pursuits that have implications of ultimately damaging society (climate-change denial, war, exclusive focus on fossil fuels, nuclear weapons, localization, intolerance to valid beliefs). This has led contemporary societies to have unchanging, yet solvable problems. Change must occur for society to advance and for problem-solving to take place. Imagine if all of humankind held unchanging beliefs and were unable to mold their beliefs based on ever-changing observations and data. We would be stuck in the Dark Ages! It is clear that contemporary societies generate prevailing notions of truth from opinions and closed-mindedness rather than obtaining data and reaching valid conclusions. The SM can advance society because it is progressive to its core. It leads to conclusions being reached from evidence and the ability to change conclusions based off of current data and statistical analysis. The SM also relies on peer review. Peer review is an essential component because the same conclusions are true for everyone in regards to data leading to said conclusions. This integral peer-review component prevents data from being fabricated by individuals with special interests. Imagine where society would be if everyone was capable of utilizing the scientific method, and the only factor influencing policy and beliefs was truth (as close as we can get to it). This would be a world where astrophysicists who truly understand the devastation that can occur from nuclear weapons held nuclear launch codes, rather than a politician who has no understanding of basic nuclear principles. This would be a world where factual climate change was widely accepted and people realized mass extinctions have occurred multiple times throughout geologic history. This would be a world where every individual understood our atmosphere is forever changing, where people understand Homo sapiens are not the pinnacle of intelligence, where more money was spent on research rather than defense and war, where people were not constantly consuming carcinogenic “food” and foods contributing to obesity and disease, where someone who has a disease would be researching primary literature to try and find a cure. I have become recently concerned, because as I have been exposed to the world, I see age-old problems that should have been solved long before now, but unchanging beliefs have prevented problem-solving. The past is the present, the present is the present, and the future is the present.
I have always dreamed of creating something meaningful for society and to contribute to our species in an altruistic (or selfish, according to Dawkins) manner, minutely comparable to Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, Watson, Crick, Mendel, and other great thinkers. Through my understanding of modern science, I know what we are capable of as a species (interplanetary travel, sustainable energy, life expectancy of 150+ years, curing genetic diseases, ending animal farms – to name a few achievements possible in the next 10 years). It is blatantly obvious that our advancement into the next great technological age, free of ignorance and solvable problems, is hindered due to corrupt, inept policy makers and an inept population that does not use epistemology to solve problems. This claim is most heavily supported by contemporary society’s reliance on oil, even though the data shows it contributes to climate change that can be detrimental to our species (sulfur dioxide and respiratory problems, nitrous oxides and smog, carbon dioxide and global warming). It can most literally kill us. We rely on this unsustainable product while there are many alternatives being suppressed by the hold Big Oil has on government (it was the 6th-largest lobbying industry in US from 1998 to 2016). It is utter ignorance to believe we need oil for transportation when entities are obtaining successful results using solar energy, wind energy, hydrogen energy, electric energy, and electromagnetic energy (EM Drive, Hyperloop One). I do not blame the policy makers or society for their current predicament. Man does not see things because “he himself is standing in the way: he conceals things” (Nietzsche). My posit, known as Ant Theory, is supported by Nietzsche’s quote. Ant Theory suggests that humans are not capable of comprehending or observing all of the current phenomena in the universe. Would we spend time trying to teach arithmetic to ants? No! They are clearly not capable! It is important for humans to realize this about our species and then realize what humanity is still capable of. We are not the pinnacle of life. Evolution has forged many great organisms, some of which are better than humans at tasks such as memorization or detecting sound or light. Humans today are a product of not only Darwinian evolution, but also cultural evolution based in ignorance, money, greed, and false promises. Through my pursuits, I hope only to convince you of the importance of the SM and that the failure of utilizing it results ultimately in death of our species. We are the most powerful species because of our ability to solve problems. However, we see people and politicians avoiding the SM day in and day out when they spout off incoherent claims with no evidence for support. The first part of the SM is already done for us. Everyone observes the problems plaguing society. We simply need to hypothesize why these problems occur and then experiment with different ways to solve these problems. Only by obtaining data to support conclusions and hypotheses will these problems ultimately be solved.
The cure for cancer is out there, we just need a society willing to use the scientific method to find it. We need to pursue endeavors that advance our species. It starts with education and learning how to reach valid conclusions and make decisions based on observation and analysis. I am not advocating for all of the population to study science. I am advocating for the population to use what science has given us – hypothesizing about current problems and using evidence-based reasoning in reaching conclusions about these problems. I am advocating for the importance of the scientific method in everyday life and the importance of using it to solve the world’s problems. Martine Rothblatt is a visionary whose child was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Through her resources (she held no background in biology), she was able to create a cure and save her child. Imagine allocating resources towards studying societal problems and finding solutions, towards technology, towards finding cures and placing people on Mars. We should be reaching for the longevity escape velocity, not perpetuating unnecessary issues such as war, walls, and exclusive reliance on oil, which cause a myriad of other problems. Racism was law just 60 years ago; what will society look back on 60 years from today and be ashamed of? It takes visionaries who truly believe in the capabilities of the human species to lead and show laymen what we are capable of. It takes visionaries influenced by hope and facts to make policies, which ultimately fosters the societal change required to make these advances. Human nature has led our society into many of our problems. Using the SM, we must transcend human nature and reach our true potential! The adoption of this philosophy comes with many implications I have only begun to ponder. However, if adopted, this philosophy would lead humankind into the next great age of peace, technology and creation.
Nicholas Huerta is a student at California State University – Sacramento, who is studying cellular and molecular biology, chemistry, and philosophy. Mr. Huerta can be contacted here.