Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Aviator

Imagine there's this top pilot, the best in the world. S/he can fly any plane blindfolded from the smallest to the biggest, commercial or military. Let's call him the Aviator. Not let's say a new electronic system has been invented that allows any plane to be flown by remote control from the ground. Given how this fly by wire(less) device can save a troubled plane from crashing this type of avionics becomes the new standard in civil aviation. The leading aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus quickly retrofit all their existing short, medium and long-haul planes with this device. What's more, there need only be one remote control box (RCB) to manage all aircrafts. One merely has to punch in the aircraft's number into the RCB and, voila!, one immediately has total control of that particular plane with all the feedback from the sensors and gauges displayed right there on the colored LCD screen.

Imagine the Aviator is the sole individual authorized and certified to operate the RCB which he has with him all the time, 24/7. (It has various hi tech security measures that makes it practically impossible for some one with malicious intent to gain access to the RCB's functions). In case of an emergency the Aviator is informed and he can proceed to try and bring the plane of the crisis.

Now let's say Flight 576 bound for Tokyo, carrying some 300 passengers, has radioed in and reports that they've been losing altitude over the past hour. Nothing the pilots have done has been able to bring them back up to a safe altitude. Media has already picked up the exchange between 576 and the tower. The latest word is that the aircraft is now flying less than 500 meters above the Pacific Ocean.

At present the Aviator is in a pub in Dublin. By sheer luck the telly is broadcasting the news about Flight 576. The Aviator watches and knows of course that the situation is about to end horrifically. But instead of immediately pulling out the RCB he sits back and continues sipping his drink.

Someone in the pub recognizes him. "Mr. Aviator! It's you, right? Hey that plane's going down. Aren't you going to do anything?" He waves the guy away. "Neither the tower, the FAA nor the IATA, or any of those in charge has asked for my help. If they don't buzz me, well, that's just too bad for the crew and passengers." The man is incredulous. "What?! You're just going to let all those people die?!"


Do you think you the Aviator had an ethical obligation to use the RCB to try and prevent the plane from crashing? Do you think he should be ethically and criminally liable for ignoring the crisis, for not doing anything to help?

One of the latest air mishaps--real one this time--occurred in Buffalo, New York last week. Continental Flight 3407 dropped out of the sky and crashed into a house, killing one on the ground and all 49 on board.

Who do you think had the RCB that could've prevented this tragedy?


We can be quite confident there were people on board who rung Him/Her/It up. They had beseeched their deity to save them from certain death. But even assuming not one supplication was beamed, this being is said to be all-seeing, all-knowing. This entity in a sense was watching the entire drama unfold on his heavenly 600-inch plasma tv. And what did it do? God just let all those people die horrifically.

If you're a theist who believes God had the power to prevent the accident, knew what was happening and what would eventually happen unless he stepped in, actually cares about human beings, is a good and loving being, then if you have the gall to tell me that your deity is not morally, criminally culpable then you are absolutely sick in the head. Conjuring up such explanations as "higher good" or "mystery" to absolve this being of responsibility is nothing but a quadriplegic excuse.

Theodicies are just psychological painkillers to stem the massive attack of cognitive dissonance.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

It ain't woo; it's proven scientific fact

A group of women--at least two of whom are purportedly scientists--have started what they dub The Faith of Britain. And they have marked March 6 as the Faith of Britain Day.

For exactly two minutes on March 6th at 11.00am our consortium of psychics and healers will act as a channel for the positive thoughts of the entire country.

All those positive thoughts will be just that--thoughts. It will be what these psychics, healers and participants are going to do, how they will act that'll have an impact on their lives and on those around them.

I wouldn't even have bothered blogging about this if it weren't for the following claim of theirs:

It is a proven scientific fact that thinking about something often causes it to happen. Some call this quantum physics. Others simply call it "faith."

Gee, I never knew this is already a "proven scientific fact." For decades I've been endlessly thinking/imagining/fantasizing/visualizing of being in bed with Zeus knows how many big screen actresses but, by Jove, not one of them--any of them--has come within a trillion miles, much less landed beside me naked. Ah! I probably am not thinking hard enough. I better start having sex on my mind 24/7.

I fired off this email to Faith of Britain:

Hello. According to your homepage, "It is a proven scientific fact that thinking about something often causes it to happen." Does that mean that if I think of my mom's diabetes and cardiovascular diseases going away, then it will happen? If day and night I think of being a billionaire when will I become richer than Bill Gates? How long does a person have to think of something before it comes true?

Can you please point me to the scientific evidence showing that thinking about something causes it to occur? In particular please provide the controlled experiments that were conducted and which have been replicated. In which peer-reviewed journals were these published?

Thank you.

You'd think that having two scientists on board would've prevented them from making such an untenable statement as "it's a proven scientific fact." Which makes me wonder what exactly Lisa Elmore and Isabelle Bonnaire mean when they describe themselves as "Scientists." Conspicuously, they fail to mention whether they're biologists, chemists, physicists or whatnot.

If I ever receive a reply to the email I'll post it.