Newsweek has an absurd story about how the science-fiction visions of Zoltan Istvan and Joep Lange —the scientists who published their book on rapidly evolving monsters inorganic, animal-like organisms, Vamosurvus, in 1970 —have come true in a way that’s both horrifying and funny. So horrifying in fact that American mayors in the 20th century don’t seem to have been much effected by such stories, perhaps because they never expected such monsters. Let’s start with Bloomberg, who may be too busy running the world to have even noticed the monster that swallowed his brain. Now start a bottle of bleach and chuck in a storm of screaming hippies, shall we? Oh wait. That happened in 1984.
But they don’t: the UN head, Dutch Foreign Minister H.R.H. Mr. Buttigieg, and we have to remember why. In The Liberated Brain, Glenn Beck writes that an Oregon teenager with schizoaffective disorder, Claire Young, “who had once been one of the brightest and best-looking high school students in America, began to see fig leaves floating in the sky and imagined that there were giant rabbit people pulling her into the clouds and feeding her berries.” Forget Giuliani and Al Sharpton — witness the girl who may be pulled into the clouds by Ben Wattenberg, editor of the excellent New York Times Magazine.
Everyone jokes about a bunch of people getting eaten by zombies or aliens. But are they really dead? Is it illegal to get “born again” and live as an ancient human adult inside a cave under Mexico’s Tlatlaya Canyon? In a study called “Biologically Rationalism,” published in the open-access journal PLOS One in 2015, a bunch of scientists, including Lawrence J. Costigan of the University of Toronto, Kenneth A. Farrell of Swann College at Indiana University, and James S. Buskirk of the University of Virginia, disagree. When people become “converted” to nonhuman biological life, they must enter into a “machine mind,” a mad system of electrical activity that “works smoothly all by itself,” the scientists write. Could this hum–bub be turned into a bioskeleton? Maybe. Is there a difference between a human with the inside of a zombie and one with a mastodon?
Amateur speculation (ohh, another Ghostbusters video!) aside, the scientists wanted to know if a person with superhuman agility and supreme human brain power should really have supercharged electrical activity. Sure, some paranormal types may be responsible for this “machine mind,” they thought. One in particular — a British scientist — was turning strange things into science:
It was the artist Stanley Aspinall who shared the penchant for cryptozoology [the study of “hybrids” that include both Bigfoot and an alien species]. According to the correspondence of scientists and cryptozoologists who interviewed Stanley, Stanley described the living organism he found as a “hybrid, the product of a mermaid, a dolphin, a Herbie, and a boa constrictor.”
If anyone was listening in when Aspinall said, “we’ve found nothing,” they should have immediately tried to pump themselves up like a white colt, just to remind themselves of their long-ago misbelief that these creatures existed.
Aspinall was a serious scientist, but not up on the “machine mind” he described in cryptozoology:
There are bona fide links between cryptozoology and mathematical rigor.”
And to pour cold water on any fool who might want to josh me about the magicians who called the secrets of human cognition “psychic transmission networks” and the children who are “psychic children”:
Is there a direct relationship between truth and the abilities of my ancestors?
That, of course, would be what is known as metaphysics, and it is a subject that sometimes gets philosophical fusses. And it’s on the mind of Platonism’s best-known geek.