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The human race will step foot on another planet. Given the race between SpaceX and NASA to get to Mars, it seems inevitable one of the two teams will make it.

Don’t you dare enjoy the ride, though, or get caught up in the sense of awe that comes from doing the single coolest thing in a generation.  Doubly so if the coolest thing in a generation creates real, tangible progress for the human race, vice distracting the human race from progressing in the name of progressivism. Right, Matt Taylor? No, the correct feeling you’re supposed to be feeling is guilt for wanting to take on the responsibility of doing cool things, instead of worrying about whose most oppressed after the cool things are done.

Mission to Mars

NASA has discovered the best candidate thus far to have liquid water on it. Liquid water is a building block for life, so the implications of this finding are exciting to say the least.  I’m excited by the news to the point where I want to adopt my small part of the responsibility of getting the human race to other planets.

A system I helped design, test, and operate launched its first spacecraft in October 2011.  My experience: doing cool things feels frakking amazing!

So, why are DN Lee and Martin Robbins trying to pre-emptively piss in the human race’s Cheerios?  Let’s take a look.

The commentaries I’m referencing are a couple months old and exclusively related to Mars colonization; however, now that the human race’s Manifest Destiny includes more than just Earth’s planetary neighborhood, they are even more relevant.  Yes, I said Manifest Destiny in a positive connotation.  That, in and of itself, is revolutionary.  I can say “Manifest Destiny” with positive connotation, because I’m also aware humanity has evolved in the 160+ years since Manifest Destiny was “invented.”  I’m not even sure the current race to Mars qualifies as “Manifest Destiny,” but for the sake of entertaining the fear mongers, let’s assume it does.  Doesn’t the “mission statement” of the Mars race look something like following?

Earth is overpopulated, and all the remedies for solving the overpopulation problem on Earth are not palatable to anyone.  Therefore, in order to solve the overpopulation problem, we need places for people to live and sources of raw materials outside of Earth.

 Or

Because the Western world pumped the two weakest generations ever out of its school systems [Gen Y and the Millennials], we’re closer to catastrophic annihilation by our own hand than ever before.  In order to maximize the chance the human race survives long-term, we need humans on as many planets as possible.

Either statement is sufficient justification for diving headlong into the responsibility of getting the human race to other planets in a self-sustainable fashion.  Indeed, going to other words should be, in and of itself, enough to get anyone who has a speck of talent in STEM subjects to run the gauntlet of getting one or more STEM degrees in college and getting a job in aerospace, more specifically, with any of the companies/organizations taking on the responsibility of getting the human race to other planets.

This is Scientific, American

The Lee commentary is what I consider to be typical, pedestrian, fear monger hand wringing about the wrong colored/gendered people being excited about taking on the responsibility of getting the human race to other planets.  It focuses on an episode of StarTalk featuring Elon Musk, Bill Nye, and Chuck Nice.

Lee laments StarTalk’s host, Neil deGrasse Tyson, not wielding his position as host like a weapon to bog down conversations about STEM topics with valueless sidebars about intersectionality and social justice (because 2+2=4 if and only if you’re white, apparently).  After a perfunctory compliment about the gravitas of deGrasse Tyson and how super, cool, huge, totally awesome it is for him to have his position in the greater STEM community (which he has, in part, because he doesn’t ambush his guests with baiting questions about intersectionality), Lee continues hand wringing.

Lee points out 2 “important comments that hint to critical social justice issues.”  First, Bill Bye mentions the need to get more women into STEM. Sounds great, right?  It’s been done.  Everywhere performance is irrelevant, girls are taking more STEM classes and doing better at them than boys.  Moreover, it’s been that way for the last 15 years.  The utopian construct of intersectionality falls down in practice because in the real world performance matters, especially in STEM.  What’s the solution, giving out STEM degrees like they’re the toys you find in your cereal box?  Lee, of course, offers none.

The second has to do with Musk being raised in South Africa.  I guess that has something to do with the fear the human race would go to another planet and enslave any/all native populations?  I’m not sure how that’s done with less than 20 people, which is what the size of a first mission to another planet would be, but we’ll leave that particular detail to the mission controllers.  It’s possible Lee might be fear mongering about a possible far flung future vice the near future.

Lee then gets hung up on the word “Stuck” in the StarTalk episode summary text.  Yes, Ms. Lee, we are stuck on Earth.  Stuck with people lacking the courage or ability to do cool stuff bogging down conversations about doing cool stuff with intersectionality and social justice.  Stuck throwing a mountain of effort, and of course money, into trying to turn STEM into a populist utopia when it seems clear, based on data, STEM is a hereditary meritocracy.  Stuck having to write a commentary criticizing a commentary with the following foundation, “Someone was oppressed once, so let’s ensure no one gets to go to other planets, because the theoretical people on those other planets might also be oppressed.” So, I suppose from my position from the cheap seats of “Easy Mode,” I say I’m very much stuck on planet Earth.

Look at it on the bright side.  This isn’t Civilization V, so someone won’t win the race to colonize another planet only to play one more turn just so they can spite-nuke everyone else.  You’d need way more than the Orkin man to solve a planetary infestation of cockroaches practicing intersectionality.  San Francisco will be nearly unscathed, I promise.

Guardian of the Galaxy, Apparently

I will give DN Lee credit for one thing: at least her commentary about how the human race dares to let those white people into outer space has some basis in reality.  A commentary for the Guardian by Martin Robbins has no such foundation.

The Robbins commentary starts with some good, old timey, “I won’t get it if I have a 1000 lifetimes to understand it” Wikipedia propaganda about Manifest Destiny.  I’ll spare you the long form critique, because it is the same as Lee’s base assertion if the human race goes to another planet, we’ll immediately enslave whoever lives there.

Robbins’ commentary deviates from Lee’s by going completely off the rails by starting to talk about American pop culture from the beginning of the space race.  Compounding the silliness is a quote from Russian Professor Anatoly Grigoryev, who 10 years ago said women are fragile and should be carried into space in the strong hands of men.

So, Robbins’ “proof” those white people are going to do something terrible when they go into space is a quote from a professor working in country whose space program had their last space race victory in 1957?  Oh, yeah, and a poster for a film called Devil Girl from Mars.

The icing on the cake is Robbins’ lamentation that DN Lee is fighting against “the most pernicious space myth in existence.” As he puts it, the myth is the following:

When we go into space, we will all magically become nice.

Selected as evidence of this “myth” are press releases celebrating cooperation and Star Trek.  This “myth” is the sentiment of an intellectual and emotional infant negligently ignorant of how aerospace and the Space Program work.  My experience working with NASA is they like it when teams perform to their expectations; conversely, they become unhappy when teams fail to perform to expectations. In short, it’s a meritocracy.

So the answer of, “Who gets to go to Mars?” is an easy one. “The best qualified applicants get to go, regardless of what their Tumblr profile says.”

If there’s a “most pernicious myth” being tossed around it is the following:

The most deserving candidates to go on a mission to another planet, if they are white men, are still just European colonialist, rapist slave owners.

Which is where the Mars race deviates from the entire experience of the human race.  None of the European explorers or conquerors the social justice crowd trots out as examples of why white people shouldn’t get to strive for anything cool earned their job by being the most qualified candidate, whereas the people on missions to Mars or Kepler 452-b for at least the next generation or two will exclusively be the most qualified candidates of those who apply.

The Robbins piece finishes with the following:

It’s early days, but if we really want to create a progressive new world then issues like these should be at the hearts of our efforts from the very start. I hope Musk and his peers open up that discussion sooner rather than later, and I hope that people like Lee can take part in it.

I’m going to drop a bomb, and maybe Martin Robbins doesn’t know this.  We can’t actually put people on other planets yet! The human race lacks the ability to put a human being on another planet.  So, besides the good think and good feels from putting a black, trans-genedered, “xol/xin/xiz,” potato-kin who gets D’s in algebra on a spaceship bound for Mars, what value is there, exactly, about having intersectional discussions about Mars colonization when the responsibility part, actually being able to get there, isn’t even done yet?  We haven’t put the cart before the horse, the cart is two towns over at the destination already before ever being loaded or hitched to the horse.

A Question for the Final Frontier

Given going to Mars is a massively complex problem, requiring massively complex solutions.  Given we know what happens when someone screws the proverbial pooch at any step along the process of design, development, testing, and operations of those complex solutions.  Given missions to other planets mean lives are on the line, with almost no hope of rescue.  Shouldn’t we, maybe, make sure the people involved in the first missions to Mars aren’t going to kill everyone on the mission by worrying about microaggressions when they were supposed to be doing orbit calculations or spectroscopy analysis of the atmosphere?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have Avians in Starbound to enslave while sucking their planet dry of every natural resource. YEEEEEE-HAAWWWWWW!


Todd Wohling

A long time ago on an Intellivision far, far away my gaming journey started with Lock n' Chase, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons The Cloudy Mountain, and Night Stalker. I earned both a BS-Physics and a BS-Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Today I spend most of my time on PC. I left a career of 14 years in aerospace in Colorado, so I could immigrate to Norway.



  • MusouTensei

    Let them, I mean imagine they find a suitable planet to create their progressive future and leave, all of them, no more socjus on earth. I would send the whole progressive stack and religious extremists to that planet ASAP.

  • Pewpschute

    Well put. Slow clap.

  • PoldaranOfZam

    ” I guess that has something to do with the fear the human race would go
    to another planet and enslave any/all native populations? I’m not sure
    how that’s done with less than 20 people, which is what the size of a
    first mission to another planet would be, but we’ll leave that
    particular detail to the mission controllers.”

    It sounds challenging, but put me on the mission and I’d be glad to try to find a way, but only if I’m allowed to cackle like a madman while I do it.

  • Reptile

    That ship directions could misdirect them to the sun, oops!

  • Typical

    Best article I’ve read in a long time. Thank you.

  • Reptile

    First they wanted to stop us from crossing the ocean because religion said we would die, now they want to stop us from crossing the space because “progressiveness” (a.k.a new religion) say we can kill. The first didn’t stopped us, neither will those crybabies.

  • Screech Screecher

    Slowly I am going over to the robot’s side of things. I am having a tough time coming up with reasons why robots should not take over as they seem to be one of the few options left for real progress.

  • I love the way SJWs twist the argument to utterly absolve their own prejudices. Robbins clearly sees nothing wrong in assuming that all white South Africans are potentially racist.

  • boag

    They dont have enough people in STEM to get to another planet, their biggest fear is that the people that can actually do shit, leave them behind in their garbage dump of a world.

  • Sinsate Etasnis

    The uber sensitive PC crowd will never make it through preliminary psych exams.

    Thankfully there are plenty of black, brown, asian, and white people of both genders that are working to become qualified enough now.

    They’re probably too busy worrying about that to be overly concerned interplanetary social justice.

  • mbits

    Frankly, it doesn’t matter.

    My understanding is that we’re 1,400 light years away from the nearest likely habitable planet. So, if we managed to find a way to travel about *10,000* times faster than we can, today, we could get to that planet in about 500 years worth of time.

    Let’s say we have enough technology for that speed (in a safe enough manner that can bring along a lot of human and supply cargo, too) in about 300 years. That means we’re at least 800 years away from dropping onto another planet and getting started. If we still have these problems in 800 years, then what does it even fucking matter, in the first place? Even then, it would be hundreds of more years (at least) before bulk population went to the new planet (if ever – they’d have their own population, by then).

    And as for another planet in the solar system? Well, we’re pretty much limited to Mars. Mars is incredibly brutal and would require an enormous amount of resources to establish and maintain a society. I don’t even know if it could be done, without earth nearby to continue fetching resources from. Mars also only has one third the surface area of Earth. If we somehow magically found a way to terraform Mars, that would reduce the space we could populate with people (because of wilderness, forests for oxygen and atmosphere, and water) by a ton. Let’s say maybe the same amount as earth. But a little more conservative. So let’s say only 60% for water and 20% for forest, wilderness, etc. That leaves us with about 7% of the human-habitable surface space of Earth.

    A colony might head to Mars. Earth will not.

    So, again, it doesn’t matter. We are here and we (almost all of us) are staying here for the foreseeable future (meaning two or three thousand years, at least).

  • Jesus Zamora

    Well, if the SJWs hate it so much, they can stay behind. Honestly, extremists of all stripes can stay behind and let the rest of us thinking humans go forth.

  • Jesus Zamora

    Mars is an interesting one. Assuming one can figure out terraforming it, they’re bringing a small group of people, maybe four or five hundred over the decades following terraforming, those people will likely BE the martian civilization. And honestly, we’re not going to see such efforts to terraform or make a new society on Mars unless there’s some immediate benefit, like mining, which would endanger any attempts at terraforming. So yeah, barring some fucking CRAZY technological strides or aliens coming to show us how it’s done, any talk of colonization is moot for the entirety of our lives.

  • Dr. Evil’s Brother’s Evil Twin

    Born too late to explore the Earth. Born too early to explore the stars.

  • Dr. Evil’s Brother’s Evil Twin

    Yeah, they all went into Gender Studies to bitch about their not being enough women in STEM fields.