Fear Mongering?

I found this TED presentation fascinating, as much for the audience reaction as for the information conveyed.
On YouTube there are, at this writing, 515 likes and 794 dislikes.

Among the YouTube comments, there is a refreshing amount of critical thinking and legitimate dislikes over some of the solutions  Goodman suggests and even his self-interest-promoting motives.

  • Good idea to re-engineer the genes of world leaders to make them invulnerable super-people?  Hmmm…. seems like a pretty bad idea to me.  Maybe the world leaders are the real terrorists?  In fact, I’m pretty sure many of them are.
  • Open source everything, including everybody’s genome?  No thanks.  Think I’ll try to keep that to myself as long as I can.
  • Turn everybody into vigilante mob cops?  Welllll… there are some problems here too, although neighborhood watch groups have been a pretty good thing for some time.

On the other hand, even with all the communications and coordination technology used by the terrorists in Mumbai, I wonder how successful ten guys would have been at killing hundreds of people in a luxury hotel and shutting down the city had all of the guests been personally armed and well-trained.

Here’s one case where Occam’s Razor seems to apply, where the more complex things become, the simplest and most straight-forward solution is the best one.

Liberals who responded negatively to this piece frequently suggested pre-emptive work to identify and help criminals not to become criminals.  That would be nice.  And, of course, there was the argument that the real problem is poverty.  If we could just put all our efforts into lifting people out of the ghetto, we could have a utopian society where crime would not be necessary.  As I have said elsewhere, I like nice, uplifting thoughts that often come from liberals with good intentions and positive, optimistic viewpoints.  But the pragmatic side of me says, point me to one example where that has worked in the real world.  (Again, see Occam’s Razor)

History says there always have been, are and always will be bad people motivated by power and greed and some who are just vanilla psychotic.  The smart and wealthy ones will be the most dangerous in a world dominated by high-tech innovation.  There must be adequate deterrents for them and protections for the rest of us.  Small, underfunded, slow response, remote police forces won’t be up to the challenge.    Don’t believe it?  How about cell-phone/text coordinated flash-mob gang robberies of stores in big cities that have become routine police nightmares?  Similarly, it’s doubtful that well-intended social engineers who want to reform all the bad guys will be up to the task, especially against the smart, well-financed bad guys (drug lords, world leaders and garden variety terrorists).

Liberal, anti-gun enthusiasts  love to cry “Fear Mongering”, believing it to be the modern equivalent of “Wolf”.  Many commented on YouTube, with a touch of sarcastic ennui, “What’s new? Technology can and always has been used for good and evil.”  as if to say in true Alfred E. Newman style, “What, me worry?”  But, if there is anything that rings true about Goodman’s talk, it is that the stakes and the risks are increasing at an alarming rate.

On a happier note, if you believe the majority of people are actually good and the bad guys are in the minority, as I do, why not put some trust in the good guys?  Arm them, train them well, not only in gun handling, but in positive ethics.  The Swiss seem to have a handle on this, where the general population is disciplined and  trained to be responsible for their own lives.  Guns are handled with great respect and crime is extremely low because the deterrent is high.  To acquiesce to a few well-armed criminals while distrusting a well-educated, well-trained majority is, in my view, the ultimate in pessimism. Unbecoming of a true, good-hearted liberal.  For a thinking person, the natural response to the scenario where the bad guys are the only ones armed with technology and weapons is not “fear mongering”.   It’s just rational, useful fear.

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