Still, just as one is about to write The Derb off as not worth bothering about, you read something genuinely good he has written. The science blog Gene Expression published a Ten Questions For Derb interview that I ran across yesterday which is very much worth reading, and includes the following:
5) Over the years I've seen the following comment (in some form) multiple times: So and so is "perhaps the second most pessimistic opinion journalist right now, after John Derbyshire...." Do you think this characterization of you is accurate? Or do you think everyone else is just unduly optimistic?
Well, it depends what you mean by pessimism. I am a religious person, in a very general way -- I believe there is a supernatural realm accessible to our minds, and more real (in some way) than the natural world, which is really just a play of shadows. The fact that the natural world is a pretty nasty place therefore does not depress me as much as it ought. A nearby supernova could extinguish all life on earth in a few hours, sure -- but if you feel in your guts that there is another place beyond this one, then that isn't the end. Somehow. So on the grandest scale, I am not really a pessimist at all. On the everyday scale, though, I acknowledge that most of our nature, life, & experiences arise from the natural world & therefore partake of its general nastiness, coldness, cruelty, and gross unfairness. Civilized life fences off the horrors to some degree, which is why I am a huge fan of civilization (see above), but the fences are fragile, and the Old Adam will break through them sooner or later. Not in my lifetime, please.