Friday, October 29, 2004

With the mystics on this one.

I've just been reading about the discovery of a new species of human in Indonesia. It's name is Homo Floresiensis, and the scientists who found him/her reckon he/she dates back to as recently as 18,000 years ago. I think it's really interesting that a new species of human has been found, and if you read either of these two articles you'll see that the big idea it's stirring up among cryptozoologists is the question of whether it might still exist in small numbers to this day. I've never shown any interest in either cryptozoology or evolutionary science before, but this is big news. The thought of some other weird little fella existing in the deep sticks of Indonesia is enchanting, and that's precisely why I don't like the idea (a fantasy to many) of pale-faced scientists running through the Indonesian forests with nets and radar equipment trying to catch the damn things. Ask yourself this: has the mystique of Loch Ness not been dramatically nullified by what took place back in the 80s, after a bunch of Americans dragged radar equipment across the whole of the lake and found nothing? Stuff gets ruined when science discovers it - or even looks for it, for that matter. When new scientific discoveries are made that don't have any constructive impact on the prosperity of a society it feels like the world is slowly being disenchanted, knowledge by knowledge. Science is great, don't get me wrong. I mean, I would have been stuck if it weren't for good medical science when I broke my arm earlier this year. But wouldn't it be better if science just let a few things lie? Wouldn't it be great if there were some things in the world that were untouchable; the discovery of which would be limited not just by ethical imperatives, as in the case of human-cloning etc, but by a lust for the unknown to remain unknown. What if, back in the 16th century, world leaders had decided to carve up the world into areas of discovery and areas that were strictly out of bounds? It's an absurd idea, and that's why it didn't happen - but just imagine what it'd be like living in that world today. If colonialism had never happened, what kind of anthropological development would African tribes have made? And here's a thought: what if Japan had remained closed to the world until today? If Perry hadn't prized it open with all those modern tanks and guns? What kind of stuff would the kids all be wearing? We don't know because modernity, the mentor of scientific discovery, has inserted itself into Japan and has standardised everything. What we refer to as culture today would likely be regarded as superficial and meaningless had we not all been brought together by this lust to eliminate the unknown. And the most worrying of thoughts - what would Europe be like with all those bloody Yanks running around the place?