I have SO much problem with people smoking around me. I have serious respiratory problems yet people keep producing huge amounts of smoke that poisons my body. This can be so bad that I either have to withdraw from the situation or suffer very nasty health consequences, not to mention the usual long-term issues caused by even passive smoking. My friends and others continue to act unethically and us non-smokers have to continue to suffer in silence.
Craig, my technological fixer, has found out about the e-cigarette (well, sometimes fixing is not a good thing, but sometimes it is!). This is a newish device that mimics a cigarette in almost every way, except it doesn’t cause passive smoking and therefore is ethical, and doesn’t contain the harmful additives in cigarettes making it also safer.
What alarms me is that tobacco companies have a vested interest to stop this device from entering our lives as this is clearly a pharmacological product. Many countries have made it illegal or made it into a medical product which can hinder its use. Apparently it’s very popular in China.
I think this can be considered a very creative harm minimising piece of technology and definitely a product that would make my life much more pleasant. My friends who want to keep smoking and putting nicotine into their lungs can continue to do so without jeopardising my health in the process.
I can’t see how this will spread and become ‘cool’, but I certainly very much hope it will be!
A clever new book on science shows how the mysterious and immaterial aspects of ourselves can be recover by looking at the failures of scientific explanation.
Interestingly this is neither creationist bullshit nor anti-science epistemology. In fact the author is a doctor and veteran science writer. le Fenu explores areas of science that have yielded more questions than they have answered. Arguably neuroscience is a bit like this on the meta level at least: with the help of modern technology science has managed to probe deeper into the brain yet has not come closer to the mind.
People who have half a brain through accident or illness can recover a lot of functions and even become fully functioning again. This points to neuroplasticity and questions the materialist understanding of the mind. The mind, it seems, can function from any location in the brain.. the brain is in the mind rather than the mind being in the brain!
Similarly the mapping of the human genome has not got us that much closer to answering the mechanisms of human life when we share 98% of our genes with mice and we cannot account for what makes the difference. Similarly, gravity is still mysterious in its actual mechanism.
Of course science is a superbly developed way of creating reliable knowledge about the world and ourselves and we’d be foolish to claim otherwise. Le Fenu does not want to woo us from science but rather wants to problematise our complete acceptance of science to the exclusion of other ways of knowing, mystery, and non-material and non-reductionist ways of understanding ourselves. It can be wonderful to probe into the inexplicable and the scientifically inaccessible… it may even lead to a re-discovery of our materially unreduceable humanity!