5/11/2011

Slippery Slope Ranger, or How I Lost a Day in my Life to Mike Adams

I should bill the son-of-a-bitch.

Mike Adams ought to have his library card revoked or limited to the children’s section as he obviously has a serious problem with reading comprehension. He takes Hawking’s The Grand Design and manages to butcher it and the ideas in it so badly that anyone having read Hawking’s book will wonder what Adams read in its place, or perhaps if Adams was tripping on one of his own products. Colloidal silver perhaps? Oh, if only he were a sickly shade of blue, all the better to stand out in a crowd.

Adams, in his slick video entitled The God Within (referring to himself, no doubt), says that Stephen Hawking doesn’t believe in consciousness or the mind (huge difference between that and not believing in a soul or outside agency) and believes people are nothing more than “biological robots.” He takes Hawking to task over his scientific determinism and how this means human beings are reduced to nothing more than mindless, consciousnessless robots. Never mind that Hawking didn’t write this.

What Hawking did write is this: “Though we feel that we can choose what we do, our understanding of the molecular basis of biology shows that biological processes are governed by the laws of physics and chemistry and therefore are as determined as the orbits of the planets. Recent experiments in neuroscience support the view that it is our physical brain, following the known laws of science that determines our actions, and not some agency that exists outside those laws.”

In other words, the root of behavior and perceptions lie within the physical structure of our brain. Apparently, Adams conceives of a mind and a consciousness that are not constructs of a physical brain and then decides that anyone who does not believe in an outside agency must be evil and bent on genocide.

Adams tries to paint a grim portrait of a world gone mad because of Hawking’s beliefs; he insists that Hawking’s rejection of an outside agency (would that he actually used Hawking’s arguments rather than strawmen) means that no criminals can be held responsible for their murders and that because people are just biological robots, genocide is the next logical step to solving the world’s problems. You know, because if we don’t have minds, we can just kill people like the government murders blackbirds. Let’s ignore the fact that people commit genocide while fully believing in a creator and a soul; it’s just that those people they’re killing are less than human.

Hawking, though, isn’t arguing anything like Adams contends. He’s not dismissing the idea that consciousness exists; in order to write the book, Hawking had to be in possession of consciousness. It’s just that Adams has decided to conflate the two, soul and consciousness, as one. Hawking writes, “In the case of people, since we cannot solve the equations that determine our behavior, we use the effective theory that people have free will. The study of our will, and the behavior that arises from it, is the science of psychology.”

Hawking goes on to note that because “decisions are often not rational or are based on a defective analysis of the consequences of choice…the world is in such a mess.”

Yes, Hawking writes that his book is “rooted in the concept of scientific determinism…that there are no miracles, or exceptions to the laws of nature,” but this does not render men and women into mindless, consciousnessless “biological robots” as Adams insists Hawking is doing, or for that matter, scientists in general. One of the biggest discussions in the neurosciences is where the correlates of consciousness arise. No one is saying there is no mind, no consciousness. 

Except Adams in his strawmen arguments, of course.

Later in the book, the closest that Hawking comes to mentioning robots, Hawking defines “living beings as complex systems of limited size that are stable and that reproduce themselves.” He then writes, in terms of Conway’s Game of Life entities, “how can one tell if it is just a robot or if it has a mind of its own? The behavior of a robot would be completely determined, unlike that of a being with free will.” Hawking continues that since the robot might be so incredibly complex, knowing precisely how all its parts work would be impossible, and that we “therefore have to say that any complex being has free will—not as a fundamental feature, but as an effective theory, an admission of our inability to do the calculations that would enable us to predict its actions.”

There is absolutely nothing in Hawking’s slim volume to lead to the conclusion that science is evil or that “Like most conventional scientists, Hawking believes that human beings are not conscious beings. Thus, we are incapable of empathy; incapable of love, pain, suffering or making our own decisions based on free will” (Adams).

Adams’ 22 minutes of warped although well narrated delusions bear little if any resemblance to anything Hawking has written. The fact that Adams uses Simon Baron-Cohen’s newest work on empathy and evil to bolster his claims in his article discussing his documentary is a bit of a surprise.

So now all scientists are psychopaths, devoid of empathy. But, don’t worry, because Adams is dripping in empathy and he’s got a plan. We should reject science because the fact that “our world's top physicists such as Stephen Hawking fully embrace the frightening belief that human beings have no consciousness, no minds and no free will is a gigantic warning sign that the human race must not follow ‘science’ blindly to its own self destruction.” Instead, you should follow Adams blindly, and while you’re doing that, make sure you try his long-term storable organics, you know, for when those mindless robots head us towards apocalypse.

Adams goes on awhile, trying to work his followers into a frenzy: “Science has become evil, in other words. Through its lack of empathy and its failure to recognize the existence of the mind, it is carrying out agendas that go far beyond mere ‘crimes against humanity’ and border on the demonic.” Nothing like hyperbole, is there?

Wait, he can bring it up a notch?: “This is a template of absolute evil, carried out in the name of science. And it is being conducted by truly evil human beings who are quite literally psychopathic in that they have no capacity to value the lives or experiences of others. They are the demons who roam our world, destroying everything in their path while attacking those who dare to protect life. These demons must either be transformed or destroyed if we hope to have a sustainable future of life on our planet.”


Can I get an Amen and pass the collection plate? Selling fear is big business, don’t ya know?


7 comments:

Secret Sunshine said...

It has to be sort of acknowledged that something like 99.999999% percent of the global population cannot wrap their heads around the idea of scientific biological determinism, and would find these ideas threatening to their view of God and/or Free Will. Doesn't make him any less wrong, but, given how common his misconception is (and that he is obviously limited by biological limitations on his brain) it's somewhat odd to have him portrayed as a whack job (well, for this one particular incident, anyway...) Still, I really enjoyed your refutation of what Adams had to say!

farmwifetwo said...

Don't forget that the world comes to an end on May 21st and it won't matter anymore we won't be here to worry about it.

Sigh... you should have simply stayed outside in your garden.

KWombles said...

Thanks, Secret Sunshine. :-)


Farmwifetwo,

That'll solve everything, the May 21st thing. :-) Yup, I should have stayed in my garden; tomorrow I intend to!

sharon said...

Very funny post.
Farm Wife Two, I'll be at the Post Rapture Party here on Earth. Might see you there?

kathleen said...

Thank you for the laugh...sigh...I know I'm going to be so disappointed on May 22nd.

jre said...

I saw when this first appeared (courtesy Orac) that you'd gone through the mortification of the mind necessary to watch a video by Mike Adams. Hats off to you for your pain tolerance, but I learned a while back (not that anybody cares, or should) that I cannot tolerate Mike Adams even in small doses. In fact, the more dilute Adams is, the more insanely annoying he becomes ... hey, the law of dilutions actually works!

You see, the man is just so completely, utterly wacked, so oblivious to the fact of being wacked, and so insufferably content with his wackadoodleness, that it makes me cry out for a root canal or a spinal tap or a shrimp fork in the eyeball, because anything would be preferable to the excruciating experience of reading or watching something by Mike Adams.

So -- congratulations for making it through, and better you than me.

KWombles said...

Thanks. Yes, I think a steady diet of Mike Adams would make me go batty. I wonder if that's what happened with his followers? They read one too many posts and went off the deep end with him?