[extropy-chat] Humans--non-rational mode

Samantha Atkins sjatkins at mac.com
Fri Mar 10 21:01:20 UTC 2006

On Mar 10, 2006, at 8:52 AM, Keith Henson wrote:

> At 01:31 AM 3/10/2006 -0800, samantha wrote:
>> On Mar 9, 2006, at 7:28 AM, Keith Henson wrote:
>>> The unexplained freakin' out of the Libertarians over "Memes,
>>> MetaMemes and
>>> Politics" is perhaps due to these paragraphs being seen as an
>>> attack on the
>>> fundamental Libertarian belief that people are (or at least  
>>> should be)
>>> objective and rational
>> What freakin' out was that?
> http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/2006-February/ 
> 025367.html

Druids are cool.  :-)  But I can see a neutral explanation as to why  
Reason gave the article a pass.  It just isn't enough about what they  
generally publish.   Perhaps our evolved proclivity to read signs of  
larger group approval or disapproval once quite important to our  
survival leads to a preference for darker explanations.  It is a  
really good article but I wouldn't expect to read it in Reason magazine.

I don't know why you got a hostile blast rather than a simple "not  
interested" from "Liberty".  Perhaps one of your religious examples  
gored that particular person's ox.   But all that doesn't explain why  
it had continued influence and was remembered long afterward.    
Perhaps people simply overreact to any notion that they are not in  
control?   Dunno.  Libertarians as a group aren't unaware of how  
people can become more or less enslaved to various ideas and  
notions.  It is a puzzle to me.

> Hal was the only one to respond directly.
>> I find such rather irrelevant myself
>> besides the annoyance of a contrived debunking using dubious
>> analysis.
> Whoh!  This is not debunking Libertarians, this is at the meta  
> level trying
> to understand something about partisan behavior.  We have an  
> observed fact:
> two groups of Libertarians had what can be considered a memetic  
> "allergic"
> reaction, one that was still influential at Reason when Aaron  
> Lynch's work
> came out ten years later.

My sincere apologies.  I had this confused with another post that I  
don't have an URL for at the moment.

>> Libertarians as a group  have no fundamental belief that
>> people are or should be objective and rational.  That is not a
>> definitive belief of libertarians.  What made you think that it is?
> You need to distinguish between upper and lower case libertarians.   
> I was
> not speculating about lower case libertarians, I am one myself and *I*
> didn't get an allergic reaction to the article.   Don't know of any  
> who did.
> As to "objective and rational" being a underpinning world view for  
> upper
> case Libertarian, that's the result of knowing a bunch of  
> Libertarians and
> their less social memetic neighbors Objectivists.  It isn't stated,  
> just
> assumed.

Well I guess you can count me as a little "o" objectivist.  I believe  
there is objective reality and I believe that rationality is pretty  
axiomatically required to make the best choices leading to more of  
what we value in the context of objective reality.   Thus you could  
fairly say that I believe people should be rational, or at least they  
should if they are going to optimize their happiness.  I also believe  
that rationality is required in choosing and/or  tuning one's values.

> I vividly remember (by name) a person who was somewhere toward the
> Objectivist end of the Libertarian spectrum telling me in 1985 that  
> if it
> came to a choice between saving his ass and the rest of the world, the
> rational thing would be for everyone else to die.

Hmm.  I guess you had to be there.  No comment for now.  There is  
something to be said for having the ability to maximize one's own  
well being regardless for how irrationally and even dangerously the  
rest of the world may be behaving.   But the above seems empty and  
not worth a lot of analysis as it is a pretty unimaginable contrived  
hypothetical situation.

>> Do you have any positive tools from your study of EP beyond dark
>> understanding of the seeming inevitability of it all?
> Yes.  The situation is analogous to being in a truck hurtling toward a
> cliff.  Apply the brakes!
> In my war paper I connect the fading out of the IRA to the *Irish  
> women*
> who a generation ago cut the population growth to where economic  
> growth got
> ahead of population growth.  It is my clam based on EP that this  
> damped
> down the gain on memes supporting the IRA.

This is interesting as a factor but it is doubtful to me that it was  
the primary determinant.

> Of course this happened long before anyone had a clue about EP.
> The problem with the situation in much of the Islamic world is like  
> being
> in a truck doing 70 mph and only 50 feet from the brink.  Even if you
> understand the problem, can you do anything about it?

Probably not much more than:

a) get out the truck and out of its way;
b) don't add nitro to its fuel;
c) quickly set up barriers near the brink preferable to all concerned  
to going over the brink;
d) encourage those in the truck to detour.

A set of memes like fundamental Islam certainly will grow stronger if  
directily opposed by a foreign memeset  the infected parties  
associate strongly with their own multi-level oppression and  
subjugation.   That adds nitro to the tank and greatly increases  
their adherence to their current memeset.

>> How can we
>> unprogram, reprogram or channel our programming into less disastrous
>> outcomes?
> I don't know.
> I am not even certain that my EP based analysis is accurate.  More  
> critical
> thought in this area would sure help.  Formal simulation models  
> would also
> be of great value.  If someone would like to collaborate on a model  
> let me
> know.
> If this EP based model is correct, and you want to save the current
> population from a huge die back, then economic growth faster than
> population growth is the only way I can see to raise the income per  
> capita
> and shut off war mode.

Even if the EP model is not the best explanation I agree strongly  
with this point.  I believe that engineering better memes is very  
important but I also believe we are hurtling toward the brink and  
there is little time for alternative memes to be produced and gain  
sufficient adherents.   I think that a major economic "correction" is  
inevitable before 2010.   We seem to be on the brink of what I  
believe actually amounts to Energy Wars (imho the "war on terror" is  
a cover for positioning and preliminary moves).  Unless we get a  
large infusion of very cheap energy or a major technological advance  
(such as MNT or SAI) soon I think we are in for a major crisis.

> Nanotechnology in the self replicating mode would do that.
> Can it happen in time?

Dunno.  It is quite a cliffhanger.

> Can we do anything to make it happen faster?

We can do our own technical work that may be germane or help,  
contribute to the work of others, continue to attempt to understand  
and improve ourselves and others including building and fielding  
hopefully more helpful memes.

> Good questions!   Thanks,

Your welcome.  Thank you.

- samantha

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list