[SkepTech 2013] PZ Myers – Transhumanist Fantasies, Biological Realities

Evolutionary Biology professor & Pharyngula blogger PZ Myers offered several arguments against claims frequently made by transhumanists, rooted in the study of biology.

*Transhumanism reads so much like science fiction

Comic book explanation of transhumanism: Transhumanism is the expression that refers to the evolutionary progression from human to posthuman.

Transhumanism is philosophies of life that seek the continuation and acceleration of the evolution of intelligent life beyond its currently human form and human limitations by means of science and technology, guided by life- promoting principles and values.

Criticisms of transhumanism

  • Goals don’t make any sense, a lot of transhumanist material lacks understanding of biology.
  • Philosophies of transhumanism is like Neanderthals pontificating about the modern man. The crux is that the modern man needs to be extinct in order to pave way for transhumanism. So fans of transhumanists will not be part of the equation.
  • Modern man don’t get to predict who will succeed them

Transgender people are often interested in transhumanism

Unusally mormen’s are fascinated by transhumanism because a big part of their religion is revolved around it.

There are people who are paying a lot of money to get their bodies crygenically frozen as soon as they die in the hopes that in the future technology will allow them to be resuscitated and implanted into a much superior body. Criticism: As if the people of the future would be at all bothered to spend resources to revive someone from 2 centuries ago.  Besides we are struggling to deal with the common flu and life threatening diseases like ebola. HIV etc. How is anyone going to ever be able to attach a head to a body and bring it back to life.

Faith in cryogenics is not scientific, it’s the same as faith in religion.

Cryogenic freezing has not been proven to preserve tissue in a usable format. Tests were done on rabbits where kidneys were frozen, and then thawed and transplanted into a rabbit (with previous kidneys removed). It was successful once in 1993 but never been repeated again.

The same experiment was done on hearts, a heart was able to be revived after thawing and it does remain alive – but barely. It can be attached to the abdomen of the host animal and provided with fresh blood so as the heart thaws it can keep itself alive. But it cannot pump blood in the capacity that it needs to.

Frozen sperm does work and successful can fertilise an egg. But sperm is currently the exception in terms of surviving cryogenic freezing. Sperm is a special case because you can have 100,000,000 sperm in one sample and you just need 1 sperm to fertilise an egg. So it can still be useful after a massive die-off. An organ becomes useless event at 5% loss.




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