[extropy-chat] Proposal: was- A Chilling Thought.

Brett Paatsch bpaatsch at bigpond.net.au
Tue May 17 02:13:21 UTC 2005

The Avantguardian wrote:

> --- Brett Paatsch <bpaatsch at bigpond.net.au> wrote:
>> I read it. I thought it was a bit ranty to be
>> honest. If you 
>> were going to try to pursade anyone with it - as
>> opposed
>> to preaching to the converted (posting to this list)
>> - I think
>> you'd need to sharpen it up. 
>      Yes. It is a bit ranty. I rant when I get angry.
> The prospect that the very things I have been spending
> nearly a decade going to school to learn how to do
> being made completely illegal before I even get out of
> school really ticks me off. 

I *can* relate to the frustration.  Progress in biotechnology
(genetics, stem cells) does seem to have slowed considerably
in the last few years. 

>    So how does this sound? WE write a counter-manifesto,
> using language that will not alienate or offend simple xtian
> folk, we get as many signatures from list members on it as
> possible, and post it to some websites. What do you say? 

Personally, I am reluctant to get into advocating or politiking
under transhuman banners at present because I have real
problems with transhumanism as I perceive it. I think I'd be
less rather than more effective for the association. (I associate
transhumanism with technologies like cryonics, Drexlerian
nanotech and impressions about impending singularities - and 
these things are just not real to me). 

I am currently more comfortable thinking of myself as a
humanist than a transhumanist. Humanism rather than
transhumanism looks more defensible to me. What I think of
loosely as the gains of humanism seem to me to be in some
danger of being rolled backward. 

>> Apparently. But I'm a bit perplexed by the answer. 
>> I don't think you've entered into your own scenario
>> very
>> strongly, despite describing it as a chilling
>> thought.
>     No I have not. In fact the more I think about,
> the less I believe that particular scenario. I think a
> more likely scenario is that biotech and cloning are
> just like abortion, Schiavo, and gay marriage. All
> just smoke and mirrors to confuse and distract
> Americans from the fact that our leaders are engaged
> in a crusade of military world conquest.

It seems to me that G. W. B's confidence that he is right
comes from a pretty old fashioned place - religious faith.

G.W.B has succeeded in making *his* issues *the* issues
of this period of human history.  He would not have been
able to do that in a country like the US were it not the case
that a lot of his countrymen are operating at a similar level
of "development". 

>     I don't actually have a clue what the rationale
> of the well-heeled supporters of anti-cloning
> legislation actually is. All I know is that if the
> history of politics in America is any indicator, then
> it is at least 90 degrees off from their stated
> agenda.

The reasons people are opposed to therapeutic cloning are
ultimately different for each individual but for the most part,
in my opinion they can be generalised into classes.  

1) A lot of people are still operating within traditional religious
worldviews and as rates of change in the modern world make
them personally uneasy they are more not less inclined to look
to their traditional means of support. 

2) The benefits of therapeutic cloning to most voters are not
obvious enough. They don't see what is in it for them. They 
don't understand the technologies involved. 

3) Most people are not able to be generalists in this age. They 
specialise to earn a living. 

4) Futurists compete against each other and so don't do a 
particularly good job of explaining benefits of technologies
to the public. 

5) People like transhumanists that are interested in technology
are not demanding enough of scientists and science journalists
to explain mechanisms. They cheer technological headlines without
understanding the basis of whether those things really are 
advancements. Without understanding they can't do a good job
or persading others that there is a real basis for optimism. I would
suspect that most people on this list would not be able to explain
in much detail why therapeutic cloning would be a good thing. To
often hype from futurists is passed on uncritically.  

These above are just some off the top of my head thoughts.
I'm probably getting into danger of ranting too. 

I suggest that if something bugs you personally, then act personally,
don't try to rally a movement. Say something sensible and people 
will see it as something sensible. Don't treat transhumanists as the
group of people you want to pursuade treat people that vote, your
friends, your family, your workmates, whoever you meet and talk
with as the people you want to pursuade.

Brett Paatsch

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list