I found this gem on Reddit the other day and I saved it to share with you guys because it is a clusterfuck of horrible. According to the story that came attached to the picture, it was a print add in either a university promotional catalog or the campus newspaper – I can’t recall which. Either way it was an ad for Humanities department, which was clearly written by an idiot.
Wait, hold on – before you scold me for being a science geek elitist, please take into account that I have great respect for folks in humanities. I read a lot of books and I sometimes fancy myself a literary critic of certain genre works, so believe me – I have nothing against the good folks with Literature degrees. I think they are not only good people, but also productive members of society – we need folks who are well read – if nothing else just to point me towards good things to read, so that I can inject condensed knowledge and beauty into my cranium by the way of well written prose and/or poetry.
I mock business majors, and people with fake degrees (communications anyone?) but I don’t think I have ever said a bad word about writers, poets, literary scholars and philosophers. I am constantly humbled by their knowledge and consider them to be a fellow species of nerd, even if they wont admit it. So it actually pains me to see shit like this being used to advertise humanities:
Let’s count all the things that are wrong with this picture:
- Blatant anti-intellectualism and disregard for the sciences – check
- Lack of understanding of what scientists actually do – check
- Implication that science does not concern itself with ethics – check
- Lack of understanding what cloning is – check
- Finally, what’s most baffling – and indication that the author of said avert does not understand what Humanities do either – also check
The first point is especially annoying, because they should have known better. The whole “what has science done?” cliché is old and tired and needs to go die in a ditch. Hollywood loves this damn trope, but university professors should know better. Shouldn’t universities foster a culture of appreciation of knowledge in all shapes and forms? Isn’t the point of liberal arts education to give student a broad understanding of all different fields of knowledge? Isn’t science education just as important as education in literature, philosophy and arts? Apparently not, according to whoever make this advert. It strikes me as childish.
I would love to hear why is it not a good idea to clone a damn dinosaur. I read Michael Crichton’s book, you know – the one with a park full of Jurasic period critters, and the main thing I got out of it was that greedy assholes will always ruin a good thing. That was the main message – don’t be a greedy fuck, and don’t underestimate mother nature, because that bitch is fucking awesome. The rest was pretty much “OMG, dinosaurs are soooo rad, and I know Unix!”. Or something like that. I don’t actually remember a big speech about playing god being in there, though I think they added one in the movie adaptation. I thought that Jeff Goldbloom talking shit about science was a bit out of place, seeing how the entire breakdown of security in park was basically the fault of Newman from Sinefield. But I digress.
My point is that there is no compelling reason not to clone a dinosaur. If we could do it, it would be an awesome experiment, and we would learn a lot from it. Hell, we are already cloning Woolly Mammoths so I really don’t see a problem here. What is the ethical conundrum here? How could an embryonic Jurassic lizard fuck things up for everyone?
I mean, maybe if you let it gestate, be born, then feed it for a few years, let it grow to full size, then piss it off and let it loose in a major city – yeah, that could be a problem. Not a problem with science itself mind you, just a problem with your stupid brain not comprehending the fact that it is not actually legal to release large wild carnivorous animals in cities.
Do you know what you call a scientist who clones a T-Rex, and lets him grow to full size without putting in appropriate safeguards? A fucking idiot who deserves to be eaten. Here is a little anecdote about elephants you might have seen on a motivational poster somewhere: allegedly circus animal trainers tie a baby elephant’s leg to a wooden post to prevent them from wandering off. Over the years the animal learns that tugging on the rope is fairly useless, and by the time they are fully grown they actually stop trying. So when the trainer ties a mature elephant to a tiny wooden stake, with a flimsy rope that would never hold it, the animal stays put because it remembers the rope being unbreakable.
While this story is likely bullshit, it illustrates an important concepts: we know how to deal with big animals. The reason why we don’t have elephants, lions, tigers and dragons rampaging though the cities every other day is that we have devised methods to tame and subdue them. Also, dragons don’t exist but that’s besides the point. While a Tyrannosaurus might be big and scary, it is an animal just like an elephant. Put it in an elephant pen with a huge ass reinforced fence (you reinforce the fence by weighing the damn thing, cross comparing with elephant weight and adding shit to the fence until it can withstand that much weight) and it will stay put. Unless it can “Hulk jump” like a boss, of course. But that’s not really something the animal can keep hidden. If it never jumps while it’s a baby, it likely won’t jump when it’s mature. And if it does jump like a motherfucker, then you put a roof over the pen.
In fact, you don’t even need to build all of this in advance. You will have plenty of time to incrementally improve your new pets habitat as it grows. A baby dino can probably be kept in check with a piece of rope, and a rubber band around it’s snout. If you are worried about it rampaging across the city, you can humanely put it down long before it becomes larger than a horse.
Unless of course you happen to be an idiot who thinks that cloning means “to make an exact copy, like on a xerox machine” which it does not. And being a humanities major does not exempt you from this little thing called “research”, which I affectionately call “five fucking minutes with Google”. I would hope that any aspiring literary genius wanting to write a story about the dangers of cloning would take at least 5 minutes to make sure they know what they are talking about. I mean, it’s not Hollywood kids – if you want to make literature, then you need to at least try to make sense. Unless of course you want to write the next Twilight or 50 Shades, in which case college education is the worst thing you could do to your brain. If you have ever taken a single literature or creative writing course, you know way to much about story structure, plot, character development and literary devices to write like Stephanie Meyer or E. L. James.
What I would really like to know is the reason why the creator of this image thought that the job of a humanities major is to teach scientists about ethics. Last time I checked, morality fables were kinda low brow. A story titled “A scientist made a dinosaur, and then got eaten because hubris is bad” ain’t exactly something to aspire to, isn’t it? It’s very much an old and tired cliché. I’d hope you would encourage students to write something more ambitious than that. To say something new and interesting about the human condition.
A wise man once said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and I think I just proved that. I created well of a thousand word shaped knowledge bearing data objects, ranting about a very dumb image from the internet. I ought to have better things to do with my life than that, but I do not, and that’s why you love me. If I wasn’t around to tell you about all the insignificant stupidities that really grind my gears, who would. I provide a valuable public service here, damn it!