Some thoughts prompted by two articles expressing opposing views of asteroid mining:
- Writing quality is more important than most people will consciously admit. I sometimes find myself having to fight the urge to judge opinions purely on how well they are expressed. I suspect many people who like to think of themselves as judging based on facts and merit share this subconscious urge.
- (Historian hat) Using historical analogies is a very dangerous tool. As I’ve mentioned before, so many interwoven causes go into producing a given effect that pointing to an example and saying “this is like that, therefore it will behave like it in the future” often makes you look rather foolish. I realize that I give in to historical analogizing as well, but I try to have the nuance of “this certain component looks like that trend which is repeated many times.” Regardless, it’s a fine line.
- At first I was a bit depressed that I found the argument against asteroid mining more convincing. Then I realized a happy thing: it doesn’t matter which argument is more convincing to me. It doesn’t matter if an idea is completely batty – as long as there are some people who are willing to put their own time and money into it, it can and should be tried. Most of them (being insane and infeasible) will fail, but some will succeed and spur more ideas. Discovery is a wonderful, crazy, stochastic process, regardless of the fact that human instinct likes to think otherwise.