Lesbians, by this logic, are God's chosen, since female-to-female transmission of HIV is extremely rare.
The reason why a manned space program is important is, in the end, to avoid the Great Filter
You assume that there is some inherent value to avoiding the great filter.
It's not a philosophical question. It's a practical question about the economics of space travel. Whatever philosophical warm fuzzies you get thinking about space travel mean nothing to investors. When you say that there is no objective value, you're right. When you say that that doesn't matter to anyone, you're wrong. It means a lot more than any sentimental value. That's the real world.
I'm with you really. I think it would be a great thing to start working on moon bases and multi-generational space craft today. It would also be great to stop dumping CO2 into the atmosphere, and stop breeding antibiotic resistant bacteria just so fat people can eat meat every day. But "great" doesn't pay the bills.
The value in living on it is the extension of the human race's lifespan beyond that of its current host planet
What value does that have to those of us remaining on Earth who would be funding such a mission?
If anything evolution ***proves*** we need to go to space.
"Need" implies some sort of value judgement. Evolution is a natural process. Don't anthropomorphize it.
I agree that if we want the species to continue, we will have to find other rocks to live on. But I don't think the answer to that "if" is necessarily "yes". No individual human necessarily has any interest in the survival of the species beyond his own lifespan. I don't think you're going to see investors making investments that will only pay off to future generations.
No, I just answered his question factually. The reasons humans evolved on Earth are entirely unrelated to the reasons we might want to put humans in space. Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.
Humans are in space because there's cool stuff there.
What are the humans going to do with the "cool stuff" that requires their physical presence? What value does the "cool stuff" have to those who would fund such a mission?
Because the Earth has liquid water, and enough complex organics to start the process of evolution.
Propel vehicles from where to where for what purpose? Why are there humans in space to be kept alive?
You're begging the question. All those materials you mine in space would be used for what? Building mining equipment in space?
The AK's I saw at the last gun show ranged from $650 up to $2000. Where are you getting them for $30?
You live in rich country full of gun collectors who drive up the price for nice examples. In Africa, AK-47s can be had for around $300 [reference:http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2007/06/12/looking_for_a_deal_on_ak_47s_go_to_africa#sthash.IpUFO50V.dpbs].
It's also possible that at certain situations (e.g., after a proxy war) markets in very poor countries may be flooded with very cheap weapons, with ak-47s selling for as little as $6 [reference http://archive.is/5gesc%5D. However this is obviously not a sustainable price; it only reflects a glut on the local market. Also, these aren't places you'd want to live, despite the occasional gun purchase bargain.
Same here. Had a T42 sitting on a high lab bench doing a big database update and somebody knocked onto the concrete floor. Aside from a hairline crack in the corner it landed on, it was perfectly fine.
Well, I was agreeing with you, but I took a slightly more skeptical position with respect to science fiction enthusiasts' actual knowledge of science. You suggested that science fiction writers might be in a slightly privileged position in comparison to artists because they have more of an understanding of nature. That may be true of *some* science fiction authors (e.g. David Brin, who is a working scientist), but by in large the science fiction community displays what to my mind is a deceptively superficial knowledge of science.
Take the lithium deuteride example. Yes, I agree a sci-fi writer is more likely to know offhand that it's used in thermonuclear bombs than an average artist. But that is really just a piece of technology trivia. It's not *working* knowledge. What's the difference? Working knowledge allows you to make valid inferences, or at least leads you in the right direction. As far as the author was concerned "lithium deuteride" might as well have been magic pixie dust. He didn't realize that it's usefulness is as a way of packing a lot of hydrogen (or rather deuterium) atoms into a confined space -- the very reason LiH is of interest for storage and transport of hydrogen to be used in fuel cells. If he *had* understood this, he could have done rough scaling calculations on th required mass for his hypothetical warhead. That would be an example of working knowledge; although it wouldn't man he knows anything about economics, or biology (often a weak spot in sci-fi in my opinion).
So in my opinion a science fiction author is not in a *privileged* position relative to an artist to have an opinion about things like economics; nor is he even in a privileged position relative to an artist to have an opinion about science. Not necessarily. For one thing I think you're selling short the intellectual abilities of artists. But the sci-fi writer certainly has a right to have and express opinions; they just aren't any more credible *because* he's a sci-fi writer.
Well, if you outlawed every form of argument a simpleton can misconstrue, you might as well cut your own tongue out.
Literature is great way of raising questions. It's a lousy way of *answering* them. You should never walk away from a book convinced of anything, whether it is science fiction, historical drama, or a Harlequin romance. That's because an author controls the domain of discourse in fiction. He creates the fiction world and as much of its history, natural science, and society as suits his purpose. He can produce a socialist utopia or a Galt's Gulch, whichever serves his story -- or his biases.
As for the science fiction fan's supposed knowledge of nature, I'd be suspicious of it. While it's true that sci-fi fans often have familiarity with physical science and technology that exceeds the general public, that's hardly a ringing endorsement. In my writing group, I recently critiqued a manuscript in which Shiite terrorists, working under a Wahhabist imam, build a lithium deuteride super-warhead and launch it on an ICBM into equatorial orbit to cause world-wide destruction of electronic equipment via EMP. Now virtually *every* aspect of this scenario is demonstrably *wrong*. When I pointed this out, the author's reaction was "It doesn't matter." Now there's something to be said for this. All he really needs is the set-up for his post-apocalyptic adventure, and it could just as well be magic and pixie dust as EMP and lithium deuteride. But I feel that as far as you explain anything, that explanation ought to hold water.
The thing about scientific literacy is that it isn't knowledge of a bunch of random, disconnected facts (e.g. lithium deuteride is used in thermonuclear warheads) as it is a capacity to figure things out, like whether it is remotely feasible to take out the entire world with EMP from a single warhead. Basic fact-finding and simple computation.
I can't really think of a time when I wouldn't want to be naked in front of my PC.