Expecting help from authorities:
Don’t look to the authorities to fix all this, the fact that we are seriously affected in an adverse way by outbreeding.  There are two reasons for this.  The first reason is the obvious one, however churlish it sounds.  The best experts in science, politics, religion, art and entertainment are usually very good in their fields and have worked very hard.  But they are also very good at being Famous Men.  They know how to look after their own interests, which include staying on top. 

They are pretty good at finding the answers to questions, but really bad at asking the right questions.  That has to come from below.  For instance when Einstein persuaded Roosevelt to develop the atomic bomb, he used his considerable fame to answer the question, “Can it be done?” in the affirmative.  The real question was “Should it be done?” and the answer to that was no.  They really didn’t know what happened.  I will spare you the history of Einstein’s formula E=MC2, but it can be interpreted as meaning you can turn matter into energy.

In fact Einstein, when he noticed the formula dropping out of his calculations did much what we did in the Main Page of this site.  We said, “All right.  We have a mathematical prediction.  What does the real world show.”  In his case he suggested looking at the nuclei of radioactive isotopes and their decay product and look for missing mass.  It was already known that each atom released a phenomenal amount of energy.  He just suggested that the loss of mass should be evident, the amount of energy being so great.  Einstein did not create the bomb.  It’s more like the bomb created Einstein.  It took some sorting through radioactive isotopes to find the ones that could be used as weapons, but it was going to work whether ee equaled em cee squared or not. 

In fact the formula did not work.  There was missing mass, all right, but there was too much missing mass.  So they invented the “neutrino” to carry off the excess.  At the time Einstein wrote to Roosevelt the neutrino had not been found.  In other words nobody really knew what was going on.  So they could not possibly know what was going to happen when they made the bomb.  For all they knew it would have vaporized the earth.  I am very jealous of this planet and no more want it vaporized than I want it totally depopulated.  The wrong question was asked and the wrong thing was done. 

The authorities will not ask whether we are on the right track with our mating strategy until they are forced to ask.  The entertainers won’t make movies about it (“Children of Men” had the right imagery but never questioned modish mating strategy) until it is science.  The scientists won’t work on it until the politicians pay them to.  (I have given you the heartening exceptions.)  The politicians won’t put money into it until the voters force them to.  It has to come from below. 

Besides I have all of world history to demonstrate how little the authorities have always done. 

The other reason is as usual more subtle.  I shall have to tell you a couple of stories that ended tragically.

The first story happened when I was an airplane pilot.  On my first cross-country solo trip I got close enough to my destination to try to hail them.  Getting no answer I waited and tried again.  I tried all the alternative frequencies I had for the airport.  My radio was fine, but nobody would talk to me.  I got on a VOR, sorry, I used a function that had been built into a radio navigational device near the airport.  You could talk through the airport through it.  But I couldn’t.  I tried talking on one frequency and listening on another, which is a protocol I never understood but which was legal.  With the airport in site I went back to the Unicom, the sort of party line for general aviation pilots like me, and announced I was descending to pattern altitude and entering the crosswind leg.  I called downwind.  I called base leg.  I called final approach.  Silence.  By this time I was coming down at the runway so I put up the mike and concentrated on flying my airplane.  Then I noticed something discouraging.  It was the left wheel of the landing gear of a Cessna 152, just like the one I was in.  And it was less than a foot from my windshield.  Somebody was landing on top of me. 

I did not have the leisure to take the mike.  The other plane was moving very slowly compared to mine, but descending faster.  Evidently there was an instructor as well as a student in it.  I could not turn this close without locking wing to elevator, so I needed to lose some altitude.  Power was already all the way back and I had full flaps, so I pulled the heat on my carburetor, a deicing device that spoils power.  I wagged my tail feathers.  Had I thought, I would have opened the door.  Slowly the wheel moved down my windshield and along my nose until it approached my propeller arc.  I could not dive this low, but I thought if I dropped the nose my plane would not gather much speed for a few seconds, which was all I needed.  I tucked my prop under his wheel and then got my nose as high as I could without gutting his belly.  Slowly the hull of the other plane slid over my propeller.  His slipstream helped.  At last I was behind him.  But we were almost on the runway.  The instant he touched my prop would go into him like a meat grinder.  So I made like a jackrabbit.  I stomped one rudder and turned partly sideways.  That killed altitude all right.  I was almost in the grass beside the runway.  It was high grass, but I was clear of him.  I have her full power and nursed her back to a viable speed.  Finally I could establish a definite rate of climb.  Cleaned flaps.  Climbed to pattern altitude and called my turns until final and landed safely. 

I asked to have the plane gassed up and went into the administration building to get my logbook signed.  The guy asked if I was an instrument pilot.  I said no, why?  He said instrument pilots knew a lot of frequencies they could use.  So I guess they had heard me.  Since he was signing a beginner’s log, I assumed he was being sarcastic and left.  In due course I was fueled, back at the start of the active runway and had run up my engine.  I looked for traffic on short final.  It was discouraging again.  I got on Unicom.  “There are two of you landing on to top of each other on short final at …. airport on runway ….  Repeat there are two of you on top of each other on short final at … airport on runway ….”  At last a harried and breathless voice said, “This is … going around,” and the top plane lifted away.  I flew home. 

The second story begins on a rock face in Connecticut.  It was my first time rock climbing.  I had two friends at the top of the cliff belaying me.  There was a rope around my waist so if I fell they could keep me from falling.  One of them called down and told me to let myself fall.  I objected that I weighed a ton, which was not true in those days.  They insisted so I peeled backward off the cliff.  The rope really hurt as it broke my fall and I swung against the cliff gouging my back. Nice sport.  I awaited instructions.  Instruction came in a tight gasp, “Get back on the rock.”  I completed my climb.  They told me that when I fell I pulled the one friend almost off the cliff and the other had to throw himself on top to keep us both from falling. 

At this point perhaps I should say don’t trust authorities because they will tell you things like real pilots don’t talk on the radio or fail to secure themselves when belaying you.  But that is not the point.

A few weeks after the airplane incident I read in the paper that somebody had been killed at the same airport.  I was pretty sure I knew how.  I thought I had only done what I needed to do, but I may have been partly to blame.  My radio jabbering may have convinced them that I knew what I was doing, and they may have concluded that if I was all right with how they were flying then it was all right with them too.  I wished I had put my plane away and gone into that administration building and screamed at them.  I would probably have been humiliated by them, but my conscience would have been better in the end.

And a few years after I told the rock climbing story to some people, a friend of mine and a buddy had been in a dangerous situation.  My friend got worried about his buddy and tied a rope around his waist and went in to save him.  We lost two young men that day.  I don’t know what I could have done to reduce the chance of that.

But in both cases it is possible that I myself was considered an authority.  They may have been following my lead.  If so I am sorry.  I may have, let’s see, two planes each with pilot and student and then the other two, six men’s lives on my head.  Please don’t trust me.  Check out what I say for yourself.

And don’t trust authorities.  All right, if you consult me professionally I will do my best to do a competent job.  But that situation confines my advice to what I expect.  Don’t trust authorities to fix the unexpected.  There is only so much they can do until goaded.  Make them get to work.

There have been 899 visitors so far.  This is research, not advice.  Linton Herbert

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