Interviews from a Parallel Universe
William F. Buckley, Jr.: “Welcome to Firing Line, astronomer Carl Sagan, televangelist Creflo Dollar, and rapper 50 Cent.”
Sagan: “Nice to see you again, Bill.”
Buckley: “Speaking of philosophy for a moment, if we may, as a hypothetical would any of you have, let us posit, intellectual quandaries related to inviting anyone here to, say, a cocktail party to discuss such a subject?”
Sagan: “I have no problem, Bill, but I imagine you’d be the only one to show up.”
50: “Oh yeah, and why is that?”
Sagan: “Would you like to come over and discuss Karl Popper with me, Mr. Cent?”
50: “You poppin’ for the gourmet popcorn? Sure. You be nice I’ll pop over. Might not pop ya, either, pop… You up for that, preacher?”
Dollar: “No comment.”
50: “Oh, come on! Give these clowns an Amen. Go with the flow, Creflo!”
Sagan: “His philosophy is Justificationism, the belief that knowledge is only derived from authority. Yours is Relativism, the belief that statements cannot be objectively true or false, but that they can be judged only relative to some cultural or arbitrary standard.”
50: “Huh? How da you know what I believe, fool?”
Sagan: “I’m a Rational Realist. I believe the universe exists objectively, independent of human observation, and that knowledge evolves from creating better explanations for phenomena.”
Buckley: “Moving on to origins, would you concede that postmodern logical positivism has the same degree of bearing on, let us say, the acceptance of Big Bang theory that religious fundamentalism has had in the past hundred years?”
50: “Hey, wait a ©#kin’ minute here!”
Sagan: “Wittgenstein aside, if one chooses to reject all theories not based on direct observation, one comes up against the very scientific method that one denigrates, since logical positivism is itself a theory of philosophy which cannot be verified by observation. If, for example, you’re going to say that reality isn’t real and can’t be known, just so you can’t be criticized, well, you’re in the same camp, aren’t you, as those who reject evidence based on a literal interpretation of allegory? Reverend Dollar, wouldn’t you…wouldn’t you at least concede the idea that the Big Bang sounds like an act of God, since that very instant of creation can’t be explained by science, while your clinging to your belief of the Earth being only six thousand years old goes against multiple lines of evidence so entangled and overlapping that it’s akin to knowing within an hour when the sun will come up tomorrow?”
Dollar: “No comment.”
50: “Yeah? Well, I got a comment. Firing line? Ignore me like that again and you racists snobs all gonna see some big bangs up close and personal! Who the hell ya think you are anyway, honkey?”
Sagan: “Just a human being.”
Buckley: “By which you mean, anthropocentrically speaking, of course…”
Sagan: “The law of mediocrity, yes. Humans are not important or particularly special within the framework of universal physics or the vast reach of time and space. So ego is just ephemeral and self deluding by nature. Imagine another being…another intelligence on another world a billion light years away and a billion years in the future…imagine this creature staring through a telescope at the Milky Way’s spiral arm and wondering if life exists in the vicinity of a smudge of tiny dots, one invisible one of which is circled by Earth and us this very moment. Would such an entity be justified in feeling unique or superior to even a fellow on its own world, especially one whose genetic makeup it shares by over nine hundred ninety-nine parts in a thousand? Would such a race have any chance of survival into that future if offense was taken at every opportunity, and war declared whenever egos were bruised?”
Dollar: “No comment.”
50: “Holy ∆˚πƒ¥©#@t. You fools talkin’ billions is outta my league so far. I do ya fifty million, though.”
Dollar: “No comment.”
Buckley: “Moving on to cultural memes, do you think progress is also slowed by the suppression of new ideas in alien races programmed to follow trends in, can we surmise, knee jerk fashion?”
Neil deGrasse Tyson: “Sorry I’m late. Hi, Carl. To answer your question, it depends on if they have knees! Seriously, we can only talk philosophically here, but there’s no reason to suppose the same ignorance of the proper development of good explanatory theory doesn’t apply. Aliens might have similar fallacies of logic and preconceived modalities of solving problems influenced by myths and legends. When presented with new theories, they might cling to Instrumentalism, or the mistaken belief that science can’t describe reality outside of subjective points of reference. Fads come and go, but cultural memes can stay with societies for generations, influencing people without their conscious knowledge just like in the Dark Ages, and so, like with fundamental physics, there’s no reason to suppose that aliens are any–”
50: “I’m outta here. You comin,’ Cre–”
Buckley: “Dollar’s already gone.”
FAME: A super power granted lucky and well connected people enabling them to waste everyone’s time, not just their own.
If you listen to the news, the future never arrived the way we were told on TV, and so was replaced by a sinister copy, a fabrication. Make it so, said Captain Picard in one of the many Star Trek spinoffs. But then he’d adjust his tunic, which was always a bit too short for him, as though tailors in the future–mechanical or otherwise–didn’t have the proper skill set to properly sew. In that naive view, technology could somehow replicate gold out of energy and transport a body down to a planet’s surface, soul and all. In the slice of reality real scientists inhabit, of course, there isn’t much loose gold left, and no souls at all. We’re just these electrical connections firing in accordance to neuronal mapping, guided by DNA. The “I” in “me,” so they say, is an illusion too. So we’re still confused about whether a reassembled self would be a rebirth or a clone appearing at our death. Who are we, anyway? Well, to sociopathic politicians looking to get elected, what we are is votes. A vote is not really a person, it’s just a statistic. You can lie to statistics. You can manipulate them too. Does it seem to you that anyone in politics is doing anything at all except pointing fingers and asking other people to pay their bills? Maybe we live in the wrong bubble universe, and the one that actually supports change and progress in economics and politics (with fewer commercials for junk food) is elsewhere. The sinister antiKirk comprised of antiKirk particles is in charge of our alternate bubble universe, I think, and he has put all elections up for grabs to the highest bidder.
As in Avatar, where bloated military egos destroyed ecosystems in another symbolic Vietnam, so to in Prometheus there are controversial symbols. The “dark liquid” which invades, transforms, and kills is, in fact, oil. “It could also be sin,” says critic Ryback Solomon, “but the two are interchangeable, aren’t they? And what about the anagram of Prometheus, which is Pro Meth Use?” In a sequel to the movie it will be revealed that the Engineer of humanity (God) placed oil into the Earth and circulated the fable of the symbolic Garden of Eden, with the snake as a symbol for the first oil derrick and the apple as a symbol for Isaac Newton and the advance of science. The aliens with the double mouths, which we all know and adore, represent the lies coming out of the mouths of men, particularly politicians (who can lie to you, but not you to them…that’s a felony.) They also represent the dark id or ego of man, whose motto is the same as many banking CEOs (ie. “kill or be killed.”) Mankind must be killed by his ego since the oil is running out, and so Earth is cleansed (the Rapture) leaving only a few generals sitting in tanks with no gas…although the $400M per F22 fighter fleet will ironically have just enough fuel to fly to Gitmo, where the Engineer is learning how to play soccer.
The movie’s convoluted plot is not as strange, though, as some of the earmarks written into Congressional bills while no one was looking (in other to sweeten the bank accounts of campaign contributors.) One involves a scientific study of AntiPersons. The theory is that the phrase “opposites attract” has a root in quantum physics. For each person there is a perfect match (if you believe Match.com), but as Chemistry.com has recently revealed, you wouldn’t want to meet them. Your match is, in fact, an AntiYou, a polar opposite made of AntiYou particles. One kiss and you’d both explode. Or you could have a non-romantic AntiYou. As an example, if Ridley Scott ever shook hands with, say, Scott Ridley…well, kaboom. Or if Kim Kardashian ever hugged concert violinist Kim Kashkashian…(nevermind, the odds of that is the same as a plow horse winning the Kentucky Derby.) Suffice it to say the study will cost you $14 Million, which is chicken feed compared to a fighter jet (from which pilots eject when any one of 157 separate systems fail.)
Another earmark study is looking into the guy who acquired superpowers after eating some boiled peanuts in South Carolina. Was it the peanuts, or the fact that he was struck by lightning at the same moment? And do these powers involve ESP or remote viewing needed by the military for when their high tech weapons (or contractor lobbyists) fail? Stay tuned.
The following are Cliff’s Cliff’s notes on a book you may not have time to read. Cliff Jr. is Cliff’s Sr.’s son, a young punk who told his father to summarize his notebooks so he can get back to trolling friends on Facebook. Today’s edition is THE REPUBLICAN BRAIN by Chris Mooney. Conclusions drawn from the book:
1) Less than 6% of scientists identify themselves as Republicans. Conservatives have a much stronger tendency to deny widely accepted scientific facts and theories. They are less likely to change their opinions when new evidence is shown, and instead attempt to explain things away using methods that violate the laws of logic and reason (superstition, irrelevant exceptions, name-calling: “You $%&ing Pinko Demon Seed!”)
2) Conservative Republicans claim the word “theory” is a nebulous smokescreen used by scientists who haven’t a clue what they’re talking about, (implying that, therefore, all theories are in an equal camp, equivalent with saying the moon is made of green cheese.) To them a “theory” is an “hypothesis” or a fanciful and ridiculous work of the imagination, and not a “rigorously determined analysis of empirical data and observation, which has not been refuted” as scientists define the word. FootinmouthNote: A scientific theory to real scientists is closer to a law than to a hypothesis. (ie. quantum theory, atomic theory, cell theory, heliocentric theory: the theory that the Earth orbits the sun.) Proving that evolution is incorrect or that the Earth is 6000 years old or that the Big Bang never happened or that global warming is a myth or that the moon is made of green cheese would therefore win you a NOBEL PRIZE. Please do it, if possible! Scientists would certainly like to, as they love money and fame too. (Alas, their fellows also have microscopes and telescopes, while they have to utilize the scientific method and not the entrails of birds.)
3) Both Republicans and Democrats are biased, but in different ways (it’s a left brain/right brain thing) depending on which programs benefit them the most (it’s all about bringing home the bacon…or the tofu.) For a list of liberal biases (plus conservative ones) you’ll have to read the book.
Conclusion: the general public (ie. TV addicts) believe what they want to believe. Scientists, however, are forced to conform to observable and testable facts, or be dismissed/ridiculed by their colleagues: “What are you, a Benny Hinn usher?” For radical Islamic factions, there is the belief in a paradise of virgins awaiting you if you kill Americans (regardless of party affiliation.) For Scientologists the belief involves reincarnation, ancient alien thetans, giant space arks, and auditing sessions wherein your brain is “cleared” of the scientific method. In Benny HInn’s company, it’s more about signing a release form, pretending to be healed of blindness, and working your way up the ladder from moped to Mercedes by washing and servicing his jet. For most everyone else, there’s UFOs, Big Foot, ghosts, Nessie, and the belief in a free lunch.
We provided the questions and the University of Arizona the venue. Psychics Sylvia Browne and John Edward hosted the Earth Day event, with The Amazing Randi present to officiate (and to pay Kim a $1,000,000 fee should an apparition actually appear.) Thousands of students watched the stage of Crowder Hall as the curtain rose and a single shaft of light illuminated the interview table where Kim sat and shuffled papers. Then Sylvia and John began their incantations, drawing inspiration from ancient Egyptian texts, (along with certain banned Haitian voodoo rituals.) After a few tense moments a tenuous interplay of shadow and substance coruscated opposite Kim, finally coalescing into a familiar figure—the hair wild, the wilder eyes (if for just a moment.) Then the figure calmed and sighed.
“Oh,” it said, “it’s you.” And so the seance/interview began.
Kim) You’re not surprised to, like, see me?
Albert) Not really.
Kim) So you know who I am?
Albert) Everyone knows who you are. Except you.
Kim) What’s that mean? Just who are you, anyway? I mean I’ve heard your name, but. . .
Albert) I am not as famous as you, that is true.
Kim) Who is. Please answer my question!
Albert) What is your first question?
Kim) I just– Nevermind. (Looks down at list) Is there really life after death?
Albert) I do not know. I am not dead. This is a trance for me. Your present is my future. Your past is my present. Both are equally valid, although I am not certain of the mechanism with which we are communicating. Yet.
Kim) Question two. Were you right about time being relative? (Turns to Browne) What’s that? Mr. Time is somebody’s cousin or something?
Albert) Close enough.
Kim) Question three. Are there multiple universes? What a silly question.
Albert) Not silly at all. I now suspect there may be multiple universes, and on very rare occasions, when the branes get close, information may pass between the bubbles. I am not certain how I know this. I do not always remember what I envision when I awaken, but I suppose I must today concede that there are quantum forces at work. Spooky action at a distance.
Kim) This is spooky, all right. Just how old are you?
Edward) Stick to the script, please!
Kim) Okay, okay! What about string theory? …Whatever that is. I like thongs myself. Do you know what a thong is? Nevermind.
Albert) String theory, in what I deduce from my future visions, is–
Kim) Hey, why’d you imply I didn’t know myself? That’s not a nice thing to say! I still don’t know who you are. For all I can tell, you’re just some kinda super nerd that–
Edward & Browne in unison) The script!
Kim) Okay! Don’t be mean, haters. Next question. Is global warming real?
Albert) Alas, it is true. Although a collision between alternate universe branes may eclipse the inundation of Miami Beach, resulting in another Big Bang, and destroying Mother Earth. Or so I’m sensing, somehow.
Kim) Have you seen my show over there, wherever there is?
Albert, after a pause) That is on your list of questions?
Kim) Of course. It’s an important question. The most important one.
Albert) Sad. I confess I have not dissected your show, although I have perceived your appearance many times in the national news, talking about it. You were once the lead story, ahead of reports of a tsunami that killed forty thousand people. I did have a brief vision of your show once, but I could not make it through a commercial featuring a talking gekko, so I changed the channel. So to speak.
Browne) Ask him if he’s channeled anyone!
Kim) Shut up, that’s not on the list. Okay, next question. What do you think about pop culture today?
Kim) Did you hear me? What do you think about–
Albert) Do you mean your today or my today?
Albert) Once I implied that human stupidity was infinite. I stand by that statement.
Kim) Are you calling me stupid, now?
Albert) Not everything is just about you. But yes, here and now and there and now and forever more, amen. God plays dice on occasion, I think. Most of the time His dice are loaded. Other times He can either get sevens or crap out. To answer the question about pop culture, my child, the main problem with your bubble is that you don’t know it is a bubble. Everyone is either blowing bubbles or watching them being blown, with no realization that none of it matters. You do not know what matters. Only your scientists use telescopes and microscopes, while you seek a hall full of funhouse mirrors. It is a place of optical delusion. You imagine you are infinite, and that your progeny are an infinite reflection of you. But you do not matter, either. You are only a cog in the evolution of the species. A toy of a genetic cog that imagines itself the engine, and refuses to evolve or adapt, being content with primping and posing in front of a mirror instead. Or blowing bubbles into the camera. Only when you realize this can change happen. Only when you–
Kim to Edward and Browne) Are you recording this?? He called me “my child.” Am I related? Can I use this in my– No, wait! On first thought, just give me my million dollars. Here and now now. You have your proof, right?
…and we our spoof.