Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


History Unplugged – The Age of Discovery 2.0: Episode 5

Episode five of the six part series, The Age of Discovery 2.0, from the podcast, History Unplugged, is now available here.

On this episode Scott Rank interviews Rand Simberg. From the show summary:

The history of exploration and establishment of new lands, science and technologies has always entailed risk to the health and lives of the explorers. Yet, when it comes to exploring and developing the high frontier of space, the harshest frontier ever, the highest value is apparently not the accomplishment of those goals, but of minimizing, if not eliminating, the possibility of injury or death of the humans carrying them out.

To talk about the need for accepting risk in the name of discovery – whether during Magellan’s voyage in which 90 percent of the crew died or in the colonization of Mars – is aerospace engineer and science writer Rand Simberg, author of Safe Is Not An Option: Overcoming The Futile Obsession With Getting Everyone Back Alive That Is Killing Our Expansion Into Space.

For decades since the end of Apollo, human spaceflight has been very expensive and relatively rare (about 500 people total, with a death rate of about 4%), largely because of this risk aversion on the part of the federal government and culture. From the Space Shuttle, to the International Space Station, the new commercial crew program to deliver astronauts to it, and the regulatory approach for commercial spaceflight providers, our attitude toward safety has been fundamentally irrational, expensive and even dangerous, while generating minimal accomplishment for maximal cost.

Rand explains why this means that we must regulate passenger safety in the new commercial spaceflight industry with a lighter hand than many might instinctively prefer, that NASA must more carefully evaluate rewards from a planned mission to rationally determine how much should be spent to avoid the loss of participants, and that Congress must stop insisting that safety is the highest priority, for such insistence is an eloquent testament to how unimportant they and the nation consider the opening of this new frontier.

Definitely worth a listen, especially considering our society’s panic over COVID. Our society appears incapable of accepting any risk at all, even though risk cannot be avoided, and to do great things you must embrace it in some manner.

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3 comments

  • Jeff Wright

    Not sure I agree with him. China does it seems. But Communists and ‘free traders’ alike don’t value human lives much anyway.

    But with cargo flights? Fine. I believe in different paths being supported.

  • Dave Walden

    Risk is a calculation made by the individual, though he/she may do so within the context of a group effort remaining “free” to make the calculation. The “collectivization” of it reflects what you would expect whenever individual responsibility and the rewards/punishments ensuing therefrom become “socialized.”

  • Edward

    Just as with aircraft, we will lose more lives in space. It cannot be stopped. However, just as with aircraft, we can do all we can to prevent loss of life. In the 1980s and 1990s, we learned a lot about flight safety and have applied these lessons to make aircraft safer in the 2000s and 2010s. The United States has been particularly successful in passenger service, where in the past two decades U.S. major airlines have only lost one passenger’s life, in an unfortunate loss of containment accident during an engine disintegration (.https://www.huffpost.com/entry/southwest-airlines-passenger-killed-trauma_n_5ad7d3e7e4b03c426dab1020 ).

    Around 1980, U.S. airline companies feared that at the rate of increase in flights there would be weekly headlines of tragic accidents, so they got very serious about reducing accidents — and succeeded. Similar techniques can be applied to spaceflight as we find out safer ways to fly in space. In the meantime, just as with aircraft and automobiles, we have to accept that some deaths will occur. As with the early days of aircraft and as with new designs and techniques, we still don’t know what we don’t know about the hazards of spaceflight. It will take many manned flights and accidents for us to find out what many of them are.

    Surprisingly, we seem to be willing to accept death while doing something routine, such as driving to the grocery store, but space exploration is expected to have a higher safety requirement.

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