Peter who? you ask. Singer is an Australian “bioethicist” — meaning he’s a philosopher. He’s also an — the — animal rights activist, who wrote Animal Liberation inspire a generation of half-witted, soft-hearted people to run around their neighborhoods burning car dealerships, throwing paint on people’s coats, and generally making a nuisance out of themselves. He’s a fan of abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia — death (of humans, only) is his watchword. He’s also written on zoophilia. Apparently, Petey really loves the animals.
His latest piece is another screed against people breeding. To protect the world and fuzzy animals, he wants you to stop breeding. He couches his language in humanism: life is painful for people, so is it cruel to bring children into the world? Is it right to bring another life, which will strain the world’s resources, into existence?
Even a quick examination of Singer’s work gives you an idea of the kind of person you’re dealing with — the modern intellectual. The longer I deal with this particular demographic, the more I notice a pattern. Most academics, intellectuals, and those that ape them — no matter how they might seem to the contrary — are deeply unhappy people. They instantly gravitate toward the negative in their analysis (granted, this is partly because “criticism” is considered to be “thoughtful) whether it be the collapse of the ecosphere, the death of a few rabbits for a fur coat, racism/sexism/whateverism, or revisionist histories.
There’s always a dark center to every cloud.
You can see this thinking not just in the survivalist and “peak oil” person, but in those that constantly harp on the cancer- or stupid-causing effects of technology, be it your cell phone or video games. Multitasking due to electronic devices makes you unable to concentrate. Cars pollute the environment (although most now pollute less per operating time than a human being…which Singer would say proves his point.) Obama is a socialist bent on destruction of the nation; Bush is a reactionary looking to wage war on everyone.
All of it has an element of truth…but it is not the truth.
As a chronic depressive (possibly why I was drawn to academia in the first place), I recognize the thought patterns that make up this “intellectual” negativism. You see a pattern that seems dangerous, or upsetting, or hypocritical. Instead of calmly, judiciously examining the evidence and coming to a conclusion, there is a tendency to inflate the darker aspects, and conflate them with every other aspect of the subject at hand.
Example: Thomas Jefferson has slaves. Slavery is evil — the most evilest thing ever ever (but , in history,only if you’re a white guy; there’s rarely mention of the still thriving slavery in Africa) — hence he is evil. Everything he wrote about freedom is suspect and hypocritical, hence you can ignore his input to history, the nation, and political philosophy (unless it helps your case, of course.) This is one of the reasons that “racist” is such a high-powered epithet in academia, the media, and most polite society…it steals your moral authority to speak, hence to be considered.
However, often these analyses miss other salient points: Jefferson manumitted those slaves he had fathered on his death. He couldn’t do it before because he was perpetually in debt, and they were part of his estate; it could be argued that this was why the others were still enslaved at the time. He was legally restricted from selling them as they were part of his collateral.
It could also be argued that slavery, at the time, was common around the world, and Jefferson — being a man of his time — acted within his social, political, and economic restraints of that time. More importantly, these historians often ignore that he several times tried to abolish slavery in Virginia as a state senator, only to be shot down like a B17 pilot over Dresden. He was a creature of his time, but he was pushing the envelope with his commitment to the ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment, including the idea of self-ownership (a news one!) — that you were your owner, not the state, or a lord… He was a revolutionary, who believed alternately in God, then not, depending on the moment you caught him. Like many people. That didn’t necessarily make him a deist — only a small number of his letters suggest that, while the lion’s share suggest he was a practicing Christian.
Similarly, men like Singer take a few bits of evidence, plug it into their reflexively negative world view, and then inflate any other evidence that suppots their notions to a status of unassailable fact, while discounting anything that would counter their pessimistic charges. We’ve seen this throughout history — from the erroneous Malthusian idea that war, famine, and disease are the only checks on human population (wrong! Wealth and comfort also lower breeding patterns — witness Europe’s birth rate collapse, also Malthus didn’t realize the impact of industrialization on food production — which is more than adequate to feed the world…it’s the political and economic interests of certain regimes that make poverty and famine endemic [in Africa, for instance.]) — to the Luddite and Marxist idea that machines dehumanize and “steal” labor, when they create new forms of labor (how many new types of better paying employment were created by the invention and systemization of electricity or automobiles?) — to millenarian notions of global disaster (it’s a new ice age! No, it’s global warming! No, it’s global cooling! No, we’re all going to starve! No, I must be Don Francisco’s sister!)
While this one-sided view of the world doesn’t necessarily make pessimistic predictions false, it does make the conclusions suspect.
And in this case we’re talking about a guy that wants to fool around with barnyard animals, and that’s wort of person needs to be watched…
(Extra points for those that identify the Don Francisco and barnyard animals reference…)