Saturday, February 19, 2005

State of Fear

A friend of mine recently sent me a copy of Michael Crichton's latest novel State of Fear. I recommend it, both for entertainment and a great overview of the modern global warming debate.

Amid numerous gory deaths (fair warning) and a fair amount of profanity (warning, warning), Crichton picks apart the myth of global warming, starting with all of the common claims we hear every day. Though fictional, the novel is full of footnotes to scientific documents, proving Crichton did a significant amount of research in the process.

I think one of the most interesting observations he makes (through the character of an intelligent but wild-eyed professor) is the crux of the novel's title:

"For fifty years, Western nations had maintained their citizens in a state of perpetual fear. Fear of the other side. Fear of nuclear war. The Communist menace. The Iron Curtain. The Evil Empire. And within the Communist countries, the same in reverse. Fear of us. Then, suddenly, in the fall of 1989, it was all finished. Gone, vanished. Over. The fall of the Berlin Wall created a vacuum of fear. Nature abhors a vacuum. Something had to fill it."

Evans frowned. "You're saying that environmental crises took the place of the Cold War?"

"That is what the evidence shows. Of course, now we have radical fundamentalism and post-9/11 terrorism to make us afraid, and those are certainly real reasons for fear, but that is not my point. My point is, there is always a cause for fear.

"Has it ever occurred to you how astonishing the culture of Western society really is? Industrialized nations provide their citizens with unprecedented safety, health, and comfort. Average life spans increased fifty percent in the last century. Yet modern people live in abject fear. They are afraid of strangers, of disease, of crime, of the environment. They are afraid of the homes they live in, the food they eat, the technology that surrounds them. They are in a particular panic over things they can't even see -- germs, chemicals, additives, pollutants.

"How has this worldview been instilled in everybody? ... I call it the politico-legal-media complex. The PLM. ... Western nations are fabulously safe. Yet people do not feel they are, because of the PLM. ... Politicians need fear to control the population. Lawyers need dangers to litigate, and make money. The media need scare stories to capture an audience. Together, these three estates are so compelling that they can go about their business even if the scare is totally groundless. If it has no basis in fact at all."
You can no doubt pick the book up at if you're interested.


At 8:51 PM, Blogger FreeRangeAuthor said...

Of course there's that great ETERNAL fear used by churches across the epochs ...

... the fear of eternal damnation of the soul, unless you live as we (the church) say ...

Perhaps the oldest and most effective PLM control program humans have ever imagined.

Today's mullah's can attest to it's persuasive value - strap on a bomb for Allah, get 70 virgins in the hearafter - sex (and salvation) sells in the afterlife!

At 12:26 AM, Blogger Marsha Louise said...

Don't you believe our choices in life matter in eternity?

At 1:07 PM, Anonymous PanchoPdx said...


That's a great point, but a little off target with her post.

The parallels between the global warming alarmists and Revelations quoters are apparent:

"The End is near!"

The environmentalist dogmatists have probably taken notes from various religious movements (and I'm not just talking about the Gaia whackos).

Doesn't excuse the environmentalists though.



Although you didn't ask me, I'll tell you.

I'm not quite arrogant enough to assume that my choices in life will have an eternal impact (eternity is quite a long time).

Except for the small percentage of Aristotles, Jesuses, Galileos, Ghandis and Hitlers sprinkled throughout history, few of us will make more than a ripple effect over a half dozen generations of humanity.

Not a whole lot of evidence that individual intelligence endures after death. So I'm not going to trade my cow (i.e., making my own choices in life) for a handful of magic beans (i.e., promises of eternal bliss, 70 virgins, etc.)

History is replete with examples of religious institutions playing on our fears to control society.

I'm not buying it.

At 9:35 PM, Blogger FreeRangeAuthor said...

Since most of "eternity" will not be as a human being, my short answer would be, no. 70 to 100 sidereal years is nothing in the long span of eternity.

If there is any existence after human death, I would expect to learn different things in that later experience that might have a greater impact than anything I might learn or act on the Earth.

Your question assumes my learning (choices in life) will end with my time on the Earth. Where is that suggestion??

And what is it, exactly, that we all do in any afterlife? I've never been exposed to that narrative.

And what were we doing before our existence on the Earth? Perhaps my lesson is that I was kidnapped, against my will, into an Earthly existence, from a place that was far better? No one ever asked me if I wanted any time on the Earth. Consent was missing.

[ two great fictional treatments about aspects of my previous paragraph are, INSIDE OUTSIDE by Philip Jose Farmer; and RADIX by A. A. Attanasio; then there are always Farmer's RIVERWORLD novels regarding an artificial afterlife ]

Is eternity only a one way arrow (the future), or a timeloose object? The implications of a God seem to suggest eternity might be a timeloose existence - Earthly existence seems a pretty poor learning venue for any later timeloose existence.

Just for the record I have no faith in the existence of God or that anything exists after my death.

Some fantastic, ancient human stories are not enough evidence, or demonstration, of either God, or an afterlife.

At 10:17 AM, Blogger Queen of Carrots said...

Proving--or disproving--anything on the afterlife is of course impossible because there is no evidentiary proof. One accepts or rejects a total belief system on the basis of what it says about the here and now, both the hard facts and the common experiences and intuitive knowledge of mankind. Does it adequately address both the problem of suffering and the existence of human dissatisfaction with suffering? (The no-God no-afterlife theory may help with the former, but it does nothing for the latter.) Does it jive with what I know to be true about human beings, both good and bad? Does it *answer* the universal human longings for justice, purpose and truth, or merely try to dismiss them in some way?

A belief system that proves its adequacy on these fronts may perhaps to be deferred to on what it says about the unknowable, just as I would defer to a doctor or accountant who had proven himself trustworthy.

At 4:33 PM, Blogger RLG said...

To risk simplicity: life is too precious and the universe too complex to exist without a creator. And a creator worth thinking about who brought all this into being without a purpose requires too much pessimism to believe. So, if there is a purpose, it behooves us to seek to discover it.

As for the PLM "fear factor," it makes a lot of sense, i.e., there's evidence that some cabal is influencing at least the interpretation of events, "global warming" fears being one such example of manipulation of the data using models of climate change that won't even match up with history much less predict future climate change.

At 7:28 PM, Blogger Marsha Louise said...

The world is too cold. (Have you been outside lately? You have to wear a coat!) That's why I bought a small SUV. Doing my part to advance global warming.

I can't imagine living life without the knowledge that there is Someone vastly greater to give it all meaning and value. God is good.

At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Christine G. said...

So, this guy is saying what Michael Moore has been saying for years.....

Except for one difference - Michael Moore discusses the reality that is on televisions screens.

Turn on the local news, and the lead story will be crime, probably a murder, regardless of whether crime rates are falling or not. We have colored alerts about the terrorist threat, which are dutifully reported by the television media.

I'd be interested to know how many stories run on global warming. I can't remember very many.

So, I don't think global warming is a conspiracy to keep us scared - and it certainly doesn't mean it is made up, just as criminals and terrorists aren't made up.


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