Musk’s Mars Madness
We humans have a curious tendency not to question statements made by purported authority figures. For thousands of years we’ve believed in invisible magical pixies merely because people dressed in funny clothing told us fairytales about them. For thousands of years we’ve believed that emperors and kings were appointed by these invisible magical pixies and so whatever they did was part of some grand but ineffable plan.
And we believed it all, because our brains are hardwired to believe whatever we’re told by purported authority figures, no matter how infantile and stupid those authority figures may be and no matter how absurd and self-evidently wrong those assertions may be.
In our modern world in which we gawp at our screens seemingly every moment of our waking lives, celebrity confers authority. This is why so many US citizens worship intellectual giants like the Kardashians, Dennis Rodman, and Donald Trump. It’s also why the world’s most successful fairground huckster, Elon Musk, is able to make people believe that the future of humanity lies in abandoning the only planet for which we are perfectly adapted, in order to live miserable unhealthy lives in incredibly hostile and lethal environments elsewhere.
Instead of questioning the core premise, enthusiasts eagerly imagine futures in which such a risible vision can be fulfilled. If Mars is too exposed to lethal radiation, let’s all live deep in Martian caves! If Venus is too hot, acidic, and pressurized, let’s float amid the Venusian clouds!
Because sci-fi entertainments ignore reality in order to present their stirring tales of cowboys-in-space, we forget that all human activity without exception has a fundamental basis in economics. Everything we do, at bottom, is shaped by economic forces.
Starting at the most basic level, sexual behavior is shaped by the economics of reproduction. Metabolically speaking, sperm is abundant and therefore cheap, while eggs, gestation, and nursing are extremely expensive. This is why, for the most part, men propose and women dispose. Men seek out the valuable commodities of youth and beauty because the latter signals both good genetics and good environment, which makes the person’s DNA more likely…