There is no forbidden knowledge

A photo of the beam pipe within the Large Hadron Collider ring tunnel.

So I read today that scientists at the Large Hadron Collider have received death threats. The LHC death threats are example of ignorance out of control. The risk from the LHC is minimal. How do we know that for certain? Because we know that cosmic rays routinely slam through our planet at energies much higher than the LHC can generate and our planet has not collapsed into quantum black hole or a strange droplet or some other bizarre form of matter.

The death threats are probably hoaxes and will amount to nothing but, it bothers me that there are nuts out there who still think there are things that humanity was not meant to know.

There a many social forces and groups these days who advocate positions that want to forbid us from studying certain natural phenomena. They want to discredit evolution. They want to forbid stem cell research. They want to stop animal research. They want to prevent the use of RTGs on deep space probes. They want to forbid sophisticated genetic modification of food crops. They want to forbid climatology research. As our science advances, they’ll probably want to forbid the creation of artificial organisms or minds.

They may have valid points in their arguments. There are all kinds of dangers associated with every new thing we learn. They are certainly right to advocate caution but, fundamentally, basically, I think they are enemies of civilization and the ideal of progress.

Not that I really believe in the ideal of progress either but I categorically disagree with people who take these positions because they are based in fear of the unknown. They are afraid of change, afraid of novelty. They are based in a pessimism that we can never learn to use our new knowledge wisely.

I’ve ranted about this many times before on my site but, you know how outrageous news events can inspire a person. This story struck home for me because I was physics major myself back in ancient days.

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