"How about mosquitos? They do not bring any good to anyone (what purpose do they serve other than spread disease?), so should we get rid of them? " - this is a question I promised to answer some time ago. At first I thought to go through it in a disciplined philosophical manner, but then a yet another silly fictional story started to evolve in my mind. So, this story does NOT aim at proving a point, it doesn't necessarily reflect my own opinions, but it rather aims at provoking thought (and entertainment). Here goes;
Chapter one: A global resolution
On a plain ordinary Monday evening a United Nations general assembly gathered together to discuss a global resolution. Unlike many other UN meetings, this one went rather smoothly as most of the nations agreed quickly. The discussion went like this:
Chairperson: We have gathered here to decide if we should globally get rid of mosquitos. They do not bring any good to anyone (what purpose do they serve other than spread disease, anyway). As United Nations we aim at increasing human well-being globally, and mosquitoes are a nuisance. Getting rid of them would make the world a better place for us all. Is anyone against this suggestion?
A representative of a poor remote small nation: Well, to be honest, we don't feel comfortable with the general idea of bigger and stronger ones gathering together to decide to get rid of small and weak ones. Today it is humans vs. mosquitoes, but what if it tomorrow is You The Powerful Nations vs. One Tiny Small Nation?
Representatives of nearly all the other nations: Hey, poor remote small nation, don't be paranoid!
A representative of a small remote indigenous nation: May we say a word? In our spiritual view, mosquitoes are children of the Mother Earth, so they are our sisters and brothers. Yes they are a nuisance, but you don't kill your sister if she is irritating, do you? I suggest we should learn to better respect Mother Earth and her children, our sisters and brothers.
Representatives of nearly all the other nations: That sounds lovely, but it is just so sentimental and superstitious. What are you afraid of? Mother Earth punishing us for being naughty? Grow up, abandon your superstitious beliefs and think rationally. What are the empirically verifiable practical consequences of getting rid of mosquitoes? The consequences are: increased happiness for everyone. Why shouldn't we choose that?
A science expert: Dear nations, I know I don't have an official vote in this meeting, but in case you really are interested in the empirically verifiable practical consequences, then let me tell you something. As, you see ther-
Representatives of nearly all the other nations: Ah, shut up! No-one wants to listen to your long, boring, paper-dry and over-complicated lectures! Why waste time in scientific lectures when they anyway are going to prove what the common man already knows? It is common sense or die, man!
A science expert: What, exactly, is the difference between superstition and common sense? To me they both seem to be a set of unquestioned beliefs passed down by the tradition.
Representatives of nearly all the other nations: BOOOOO-RING! Quit your philosophy, and as you said, you don't have a vote in this meeting. More so, this is democracy and we are the majority, so don't you think that you could give us orders to follow. It is we who decide, and it is we who fund your boring science stuff so you'd better shut up if you want to see your funding continued.
Chairperson: Any other opinions? No? Good! So we have a resolution. Congratulations, for today The Mankind has unanimously decided to get rid of mosquitoes. Increased happiness for everyone!
Chapter two: Stop the disease
Getting rid of mosquitoes went well, immediately leading to increased happiness for everyone. But, just to be sure, some of the biggest nations had ordered their Security Corps to monitor the development of affairs, just in case there turns out to be unforeseeable consequences which trigger security threats. But this was more like a standard routines, as the Security Corps were anyway assigned with the task of conducting surveillance to detect any threats before they actualize. For that they had a department called Security Surveillance Corps, aka. SS-corps. Another day, the following episode took place in the Security Corps headquarters of one of the most powerful nations.
Security Officer: Sir, we have a suspicious signal.
General Commander: What it is, officer?
Security Officer: First there was a report of a mass of dead birds in the area of a National Wildlife Refuge. Now similar reports are rapidly accumulating, and most of them originate from the same area.
General Commander: Damnit! Seems like a security threat has developed below our radar, and is now taking us by surprise. What ever method they are using to mass-kill birds, tomorrow they are going to use that method on us. The nation is under an existential threat! Trigger the highest security alert!
Security Officer: Who is them?
General Commander: That is what we have to find out before they take us down. Call the SS-corps if they have any clues of malicious activity from that area.
Security Officer: Roger that.
General Commander: Meanwhile, I order the Strike Back team to prepare to deploy for a mission so that we are ready to strike as soon as we got them spotted and identified.
Strike Back team officer: Check it out! Hey Commander, don't worry. Me and my squad of ultimate badasses will protect you! Check it out! Independently targeting particle beam phalanx. Vwap! Fry half a city with this puppy. We got tactical smart missiles, phased plasma pulse rifles, RPGs, we got sonic electronic ball breakers! We got nukes, we got knives, sharp sticks... oh, I mean; we only need to know one thing: where they are?
SS officer: We have a signal! We picked several phone conversations and a facebook group at that area. It is a bunch of left-handed people who believe that a conspiracy of right-handed people has terrorized the world and they have started a liberation movement. Their messages read like "Right-handed people do not bring any good to anyone (what purpose do they serve other than spread disease?), so we should get rid of them!". Just two days before the first report of bird mass death this group was discussing about a possibility to fly a farm-grade aeroplane spraying poisonous chemicals on cities where right-handed people live.
General Commander: And why I hear about this only now, when they have already started to execute their evil plot? Damnit, we need to stop them before it is too late! Strike Back team, you know what to do. Go get 'em!
Strike Back team officer: Sir, yes sir! I'm more than happy to obey your orders, sir! Sir, I'm on my way, sir!
General Commander: Good boy! Now, move it, damnit, move it!
Security Officer: Sir, but isn't there something illogical about this? That left-handed militia is using the exactly same line of reasoning we used when we decided to get rid of mosquitoes.
General Commander: And?
Security Officer: I just mean that when the United Nations resolution was made, didn't it logically follow that the door was opened for another groups making similar decisions based on similar reasoning?
Without blinking the General Commander pulls his pistol and fires three bullets at the Security Officer, instantly killing the officer.
SS officer: Sir, why did you do that?
General Commander: Obviously, he was infected with Critical Thinking, and that is a disease. What purpose does Critical Thinking serve? It is just a disease which spreads if it is not stopped right away. He was contaminated and I neutralized him before he got to spread the disease any further. An outbreak of mass infection would quickly lead to a total collapse of the nation and we can't afford that.
SS officer: Sir, you mean that the whole nation is kept up and running on the condition that there is no critical thinking?
General Commander: Yes, pretty much like a human organism is strong and hale only when there is no disease. We must protect ourselves! We must stop the disease before it spreads!
SS officer: But...
General Commander: Say 'but' again. Say 'but' again, I dare you!
Chapter three: Viking invasion
Meanwhile, in Iceland, inside their Security Corps headquarters.
Viking Supreme Commander: Brothers, we ready?
Viking Officer: We ready. All the inter-continental missiles are readied, loaded to the maximum with nuclear warheads. The other nations have been busy goofing around with silly reports of bird mass deaths, and no-one has bothered to spy us. They all think we are just a small harmless nation living on a northern island.
Viking Supreme Commander: Ha! We are so going to take them all by surprise! What purpose do non-viking nations serve anyway? They are a mere disease out of control, so now it is time for them to taste some nuclear remedy! Let's wipe them out once and for all!
Viking Officer: Exactly! I will tell the ICBM crew to initiate the launch sequence!
Viking Supreme Commander: Finally our glory will be restored. Make Viking Nations great again! Viking Pride! Once the non-viking nations are wiped out, we will get insanely rich by looting their castles, monasteries and banks! It will be Valhalla on Earth! Increased happiness for everyone - that is everyone who counts. Vikings count, non-vikings don't count.
Viking Officer: I admire the clarity of your infallible logical reasoning, our Supreme Commander! We don't need to ask the mistaken ones for their opinion, for by the means of unbiased logical reasoning we have arrived at the truth. And the truth is that non-viking nations are a nuisance serving no purpose apart from spreading disease. ICBM launch sequence initiated! Non-viking nations will soon taste some fire and brimstone for the sky is going to fall down on them. The revenge of Odin is here! Thunder!
Viking Supreme Commander: Thunder!
Chapter four: Interstellar intervention
Little did the Vikings know about the sky falling down on humans. As, while they discussed in their headquarters, an another discussion took place at a space ship orbiting Earth. It was an interstellar expedition from another part of the galaxy.
Alien Science Officer: Looks like there is life on this blue-green planet, but the atmosphere is not exactly suited for us.
Alien Expedition Commander: That is interesting! So the planet hosts some strange kind of life which can prosper in that atmosphere which has so low concentration of sulphur?
Alien Science Officer: Strange but true. So what should we do? Record it in the Interstellar Database and move on to our next destination?
Alien Expedition Commander: Not that fast. I'm interested in the biosphere of this planet. Do the reports have some more interesting details? I want a lot of images saved into the database. Even though the atmosphere is not breathable for us, maybe this planet could make an interesting tourist attraction or something. If the native lifeforms are interesting enough, it could make a multi-buckazoid tourist business. People would pay for sitting in the orbit watching the strange lifeforms busy with their strange lives. And you know what that would mean? Yes, a percentage for us. So let's see if this planet has some business potential.
Alien Science Officer: Well, taking a closer look at the data, I see this planet is contaminated with a disease. Otherwise it is all very entertaining and beautiful to watch, but there is one single species which threatens to wreck the planet.
Alien Expedition Commander: Does that species serve a purpose?
Alien Science Officer: A purpose? A purpose for whom?
Alien Expedition Commander: A purpose for the biosphere. If the existence of that species threatens to wreck the biosphere, then can we remove that species? Does that species have a crucial role in the food-chain or something? What would happen if we get rid of the species?
Alien Science Officer: I see. Well, all the reports say that this species serves absolutely no purpose. It is nothing but nuisance spreading disease. They have very powerful hands suitable for manipulating objects, and they have developed some strange kind of primitive form of intelligence. They have crude mathematics and an attempt at culture. But seems like something is horribly wrong with their intelligence, as they are busy wrecking the planet, destroying the very conditions of their own existence.
Alien Expedition Commander: So not only is that biped destroying other forms of life, it is also actively self-destructive. I think we should help them, quick, before they inflict permanent damage on this lovely tourist attraction. Hey Security Officer, tune the Death Ray to the DNA frequency of that harmful form of life. When you are done, fire the Death Ray, and the planet will be saved. You know what that means - a prosperous tourist business and a double percentage for us; first for finding the planet, then for saving the planet. Science Officer, record everything into the Database. This is a great day not only for us but for this planet! Let's get rid of that non-purposeful form of live! Increased happiness for everyone!
Chapter five: The disease
Meanwhile, a critical development of affairs has been taking place, no-one really understanding the real significance of this subtle process. For this is what happened: First, all the mosquitoes were physically removed. Next, many of the insect-eating birds went hungry and died to extinction. With them died a certain breed of bacteria which lives only in bird gut. That bacteria could only reproduce inside the gut of insect-eating birds, and from the nests of insect-eating birds the gut bacteria aerially spread to the nests of seed-eating birds, and predatory birds got the bacteria by eating smaller birds. That breed of bacteria played a crucial role in bird immune system, fighting bird flu. After the extinction of insect-eating birds the next generation of remaining birds had absolutely no immunity against bird flu. The bird flu virus went all crazy, spreading all around the remaining bird population causing mass death of birds. Also, rapidly reproducing the virus quickly developed mutated variations which were even more lethal than the basic form of the virus. So, before the Aliens got to fire their Death Ray, before the Viking ICBMs started to fly, the bird flu virus had infected every single human on the planet. 'Whop' it said as all the humans dropped dead in an instant. The Aliens cheered. But the ICBM launch sequence didn't die for it was programmed to carry on even after the humans are gone. Luckily enough, The Aliens spotted the missiles when they started flying. The Alien Security Officer worked fast to re-calibrate The Death Ray to dissolve the nuclear warheads. 'ZAP' said the death-ray, and the nuclear warheads turned into ashes before detonating. The planet was saved, it became a popular tourist attraction, and all the members of the alien expedition crew got their percentage. Increased happiness for everyone!