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October 10, 2012

Human evolution proves Ayn Rand's philosophy is wrong

We are a community-organized species. We cooperate. Rugged individualism is for lesser species. Groups and Gossip Drove the Evolution of Human Nature - Slate Magazine
Meanwhile, in the concrete jungle of New York City, another struggle between the individual and the group was unfolding. In October of 1957, Ayn Rand published her dystopian novel Atlas Shrugged, in which a libertarian hero named John Galt condemns his collectivist society because of its failure to support individual rights. “By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man—every man—is an end in himself,” Galt announced, “he exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose.” Unlike Cephu, Galt had the means to end his societal bondage. By withdrawing his participation and convincing others to do the same, he would stop the motor of the world. Atlas would shrug. “Every living species has a way of survival demanded by its nature,” Galt insisted. “I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” Ayn Rand’s defense of a human nature based on rationality and individual achievement, with capitalism as its natural extension, became the rallying cry for an emerging libertarian stripe in conservative American politics. Paul Ryan cites Atlas Shrugged as forming the basis of his value system and says it was one of the main reasons he chose to enter politics. Other notable admirers include Rush Limbaugh, Alan Greenspan, Clarence Thomas, as well as Congressional Tea Party Caucus members Steve King, Mick Mulvaney, and Allen West. “Collectivism,” Rand wrote in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, “is the tribal premise of primordial savages who, unable to conceive of individual rights, believed that the tribe is a supreme, omnipotent ruler, that it owns the lives of its members and may sacrifice them whenever it pleases.” An objective understanding of “man’s nature and man’s relationship to existence” should inoculate society from the disease of altruistic morality and economic redistribution. Therefore, “one must begin by identifying man’s nature, i.e., those essential characteristics which distinguish him from all other living species.” She identifies two: a brain evolved for rational thought and a survival instinct based on the desire for personal freedom. Ultimately, Rand was searching for the origin of John Galt in the pages of human nature. But was she right? Are we rational egotists trapped in a net of social obligations? Or are we an innately social species for whom altruism was integral to our success on this planet? There was only one place she could look: the Pleistocene.

October 08, 2012

"Wind Turbine Syndrome" is mass hysteria spread by special interest groups

The sickening truth about wind farm syndrome - opinion - 08 October 2012 - New Scientist
NEW technology has long attracted "modern health worries". Microwave ovens, television and computer screens and even early telephony all caused anxiety in their time. More recently, cellphones and towers, Wi-Fi and smart electricity meters have followed suit. Another is gathering attention; the very modern malaise known as wind turbine syndrome. I set out to collect the conditions attributed to wind farm exposure. Within hours, I'd found 50 often florid assertions about different illnesses. Today my total sits at 198, with a range redolent of Old Testament plagues. The list includes "deaths, yes, many deaths", none of which have ever come to the attention of a coroner, cancers, congenital malformations, and every manner of psychiatric problem. But mostly, it includes common health problems found in all communities, with wind turbines or not. These include greying hair, energy loss, concentration lapses, weight gain and all the problems of ageing. Sleep problems are mentioned most, but insomnia is incredibly common. Animals get a look in. Chickens won't lay; earthworms vanish; hundreds of cattle and goats die horrible deaths from "stray electricity". In a 35-year career in public health, I have never encountered anything quite so apocalyptic. I've visited wind farms and compared their gentle swoosh to the noises that all city dwellers live with daily. Quickly, this phenomenon began to tick psychogenic boxes. There are several reasons to suspect that the unrecognised entity of wind turbine syndrome is psychogenic: a "communicated" disease spread by anti-wind interest groups, sometimes with connections to fossil fuel interests. People can worry themselves sick. . . .