The latter satire of coverage of Stephen Hawking merits a little more attention, for the benefit of those who aren't able to understand it on their own. The crux of the original article was that Stephen Hawking was the celebrity guest selected by certain financial concerns who accompanied an American on a tour of London, and during said tour, he said that human aggression should be controlled. Issues of note:
I Is Scientist
I apologize for the implied insult to Paris Hilton, but Stephen Hawking is one of those people whom, like George Takei or Paris Hilton, is famous because he is famous. He's never done anything useful or contributed anything of value to society; he's never invented anything, solved any major or minor problems, or contributed any art to the human project. And that even insults George Takei, who despite his current worthlessness, was at least once in an imperialistic TV show for a few seasons, and Paris Hilton, who at least sort-of started a business or two and acted in a few mind-soylent movies. Hawking is a nothing as far as science is concerned. He's a "theoretical physicist," a modern make-believe degree that really means "Doctor of Philosophy in Science Marketing," whereby the practitioners do more creative writing than creative writers. They conduct no experiments, or stage dramatic performances designed to simulate experiments, where there are no results and no falsifiability. They speak endlessly to the public through corporate media fantasies about alternate worlds and multiverses, yet, unlike Newton, they no longer admit that they're storytellers.
This is hard to process for many people, because science has become so sensationalized. Try metaphorizing it to the case of physicians: there are those physicians who practice medicine, in the sense that they're regularly seeing patients firsthand, performing surgeries, spending hours in clinic and on-call, teaching medicine at the primary level by diagnosing patients in the company of students and residents, and actually interacting in a constant, nearly daily way with the human population on this planet. In contrast to those physicians, there are the celebrity physicians: physicians who design fad diets; who manage laboratories; who edit research grants and lobby local donors for hospital funds; who testify at trials as to standards of care; who write books about medicinal history and hospital administration best practices; who consult with media or government on hypothetical, multi-million-dollar disaster relief plans that prove themselves in situations like Katrina v. Louisiana. These are the worthless nothings of the profession, who exist as parasites, extracting society's money and respect by virtue of their association with the women and men in the trenches.
(Needless to say, those who pretend to be those who practice a profession often do even better in terms of financial recompense and social admiration. For a non-physician example, how many high school cheerleaders who like the characters on Big Bang Theory are also eager to make out with the president of their school's science club?)
Just like business or IT professors who've been teaching for twenty years, the latter group of physicians is out of date on the status of modern medicine. They operate in the realm of rhetoric alone, untested by practice, applying formulaic, archaic policy solutions to a chaos they no longer really understand. The American model of market operations--the Dilbert principle, if you will--has been flawed in this way for almost a century, now, where the most power is given to the people most ignorant about what is actually going on. Upper management is genuinely clueless when it comes to the actual problems that end-users face when using the product, which is why they spend millions of dollars hiring outside firms to take surveys of their customers. In a sense, they actually are that dim.
If nothing else, think of, oh, the medical establishment's response to AIDS during the 1980s. Whatever you may believe about AIDS, it took on the order of ten to fifteen years for the American government and medical establishment to react to it, and consolidate their official message. Hundreds, then thousands of actual practicing physicians across the country (and world), along with even more medical support staff, were having direct, firsthand experience with these things, reporting them in panic-epidemic mode to the Powers That Be, and even though it turned out to be a billion dollar wonderland of profit, it still took big pharm years to react to it. The stupidity and ignorance of even the greediest policymakers left them unprepared to deal with the on-the-ground realities of people they would've liked to have listened to years ago. In short, their disconnect overruled the profit motive to the tune of billions of dollars. That's how powerful that disconnect is.
Muse upon that a moment, then compare it to the way actual scientists--people doing hands-on, falsifiable laboratory work and observation--are completely disconnected from the celebrity "theoreticists" who pollute our global dialogue. Men like Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, and Steven Pinker, who don't conduct experiments, invent new tools, or counsel people firsthand--these men are made the managing spokespeople of Science, Inc., while being thoroughly removed from anything icky, such as designing more and less viscous industrial solvents, growing healthier apples, or helping prisoners re-enter society (tasks respectively appropriate to the origins of their make-believe vocations). The old saying, "Those who can't do, teach," applies here: not because all teachers are can't-dos, but because the tendency of the lazy and/or incompetent to gravitate to the position of spokesperson, rather than doer, is timeless.
With ease, the modern westerner scorns the religious gurus who profit from "idiots who join cults." It's so easy for a modern, educated person to make fun of obvious religious cults, right? Those wacky cults, where the goalposts for Armageddon are always moved back, the failure of the prophet's predictions always explained away--and yet, the donations just keep coming in. What are those morons thinking, giving their respect to these obviously self-serving charismatic leaders? I mean, if the Great One were really so powerful, why is he allowing the I.R.S. to jail him for tax evasion?
Our most powerful cults operate completely in the open. We take it for granted that corporate media gives so much "science" talking space to hollow men who do no actual science, because a papered "degree" and a few wise sayings are all we really want to understand, anyway, to feel soothed.
What Human Shortcomings Would You Alter?
The sectional title above is the question Hawking's dunce asked him in front of reporters. She probably came up with it all on her own, without any assistance from the people who gave her the award, put her up in the hotel, or made her up for the TV cameras. (While we're at it, lone white gunmen killed Kennedy, X, and King, and Marlboro-funded research centers are interested in making people healthy, not moving product.)
Now, the right response to a question like that is, "I will do my best to be a better person. I will hope that others will be better, also." By giving an answer, Hawking presupposed his own merit to decide which traits were human shortcomings and which not. Remember, the question was not, "What would you like to see people do to change themselves?" but "What would you alter?" I.e., "If you were God." And of course, the "scientists" are more than ready to answer that one. In many ways, Raskolnikov's dilemma was a simple one, yet still too complicated for Dr. Hawking to grasp; so, too, Frankenstein's. The attempt to supplant the will of all to the will of a few is no surprise to find inside either a democracy or a military empire, let alone a combination of the two. In a constitutional monarchy, it proves quite easy to go a step further, and ask a single person to be God.
Hawking's chilling, offhanded brutality bears an obvious relevance to the old Whedon show/movie Firefly/Serenity, wherein an evil empire uses calmative agents to suppress a potentially-rebellious population, and in so doing, kills most of the people while turning a small percentage hyper-violent (2 minute spoiler link here). This kind of meddling was already old news when the show/movie came out, as calmative anti-depressants became linked to suicide and murder.
For Hawking, we already know he would exercise the powers of God if he had them: he would decree who was "aggressive," who was not, and he would use drugs or genetic engineering to make people his version of "calm" if he could. In a derivation on Godwin, we must needs recognize that Dr. Hawking and Dr. Mengele are essentially the same person in different circumstances. Godwin is tiresome not because his law is irrelevant, but because it's too often directly relevant: the necessary seeds of yet another violent man too low-functioning to understand Shelley, even nearly two hundred years later. Another Mengele is wheeling around, right now, its hideous spirit wrapped into Hawking's demented, vaingloriously self-absorbed brain, fully supportive of the idea that it is good and humanitarian for the Crown's next invasion to chemically alter future generations in his desired image.
Again to cite to Ian Malcolm, "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should." That attempt at tyranny, whether rationalized as the divine right of kings or of majorities, is always a hallmark of system failure. Humans who "play God" by presupposing their own time period's understanding of rightness are one of the greatest dangers we face, here--it's dangerous not because it would kill us (because it will), but because it will hamper our ability to even know that we're here. Less aggression means less dynamic pursuits of knowledge, because the two are linked. For a worthless marketing spokesperson like Hawking, that doesn't matter, but for those people who might actually invent new products, Hawking's desired mandatory infant neurosurgeries or genetic re-coding would destroy a great part of human innovation in its wake. It will seem ironic to most who don't understand the trend of Earthly Power's take on science, but the non-scientist science-salesmen who propel this stuff are attempting to stifle innovation, rather than foster it.
Who says it's fantasy? D.U. is the gift that keeps on giving to the babies of the ancient world. If you're not up on that, the babies above aren't "merely" firsthand bombing victim, but babies born deformed by U.S./U.K. chemical weapons used on the Middle East as part of the latest manifest destiny to de-aggression-ize the goddamned darkies. That's what England does, you know? It travels the world murdering people to make them "less savage" and "less aggressive." Hawking couldn't better personify the modern expression of evil: a calm, quiet, respectable demon, who wants to change the brains of developing children to be shaped in his preferred image, rather than their own.
Look again at the third picture: the haunting, morbid, sadly beautiful permutation of the face and head, and how, in the womb, the baby was altered to grow so that its face ended up where its neck was supposed to be. This is Hawking's crusade against the children of the world. He is no different in morals or outlook than the German and American scientists who delighted in exposing American soldiers to atomic bomb radiation during WW2 testing, then incinerating their wives' mangled, irradiated offspring and calling it "miscarriage."
Token Hypocrisies and Improving Humans
And duh, yeah, it's hypocritical. If Hawking actually cared about aggression and violence, where's the logical place for him to start? Not at home--he'd first critique the U.S. government. Then the U.K., but most importantly, if he were a scientist, he'd do it by looking at actual observable examples of aggression. Instead of drooling at the telly, he'd do his own research, and determine quite easily that the greatest source of violence in the world was not a result of "aggression," but was committed instead by calm, reasonable, well-educated westerners. These peaceful, regretful, domesticated men and women are the ones who order the imprisonment and torture of millions; who demand that water treatment facilities and hospitals be bombed; who humanitarianly-intervene for the sake of empathy, and leave millions of bodies in their wake.
When Hawking says "aggression," it's one of those wonderfully clever racist code words. He doesn't give a goddamn if Tony Blair joins in airstrikes that kill a thousand people; but, he's concerned when some "angry darkies" shoot a magazine editor. He doesn't give a shit about the worldwide proliferation of chemical weapons and dirty bombs created by his colleagues, but he's deeply concerned that an Arab somewhere might become angry and throw a rock. If an Anglo military judge quietly signs an order remanding twenty men to have their fingers cut off one by one in a Turkish prison, don't think to disturb Stephen Hawking--but, if a swarthy immigrant chants a heated slogan at a jobs rally, stop the fucking presses, watch out, it's aggression!!! Break out the lobotomies and crack open the genetic code!
The unpleasant racist slurs need to be put into Hawking's mouth for an appropriately meaningful satire, lest his coded Anglosupremacism be missed. The British Empire's philosophers have spent century after century speaking, in proud but discreet ways, about how worthless and lowly certain subgroups were. They have been willing to cooperate with tame Africans, pay off corrupt sheiks, and do anything in the world you can imagine in order to continue their project of colonialism, genocide, and selfish inbreeding. The latter has resulted in not only the Hapsburg jaw, but other unfortunate variations on the less-blended genetic code of the islands. Whereas Africa, for example, has excelled at producing more fast-twitch muscle fibers, cancer-resistant skin, and musical talent, England has excelled at producing pasty lumps of genocide and self-satisfaction.
No surprise, then, that from the most inbred little island on the planet (and its highest-percentage-offshoot colonies), will come the greatest support for behavioral modification. The sibling- and cousin-marriage rituals of the noxious spawn that birthed the world's financial capital have produced the mangled horrors of today, who want only to pull others down to their level. Naturally, others tend to be unwilling, so it helps a little bit to spread the mangle around to diverse populations by irradiating Africa and Asia and the Americas, but rich, inclusive human breeding can overcome that. The next goal of the Moneychanger Empire, as Stephen put it, will be to alter children before they are born--to march the white man's burden, with malice aforethought, into the DNA of all tomorrow's children, and conform their character to England's version of empathy.