[ExI] "Psychological Considerations"

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Tue Dec 4 05:08:43 UTC 2007

In the favorite novel of my youth, Van Vogt's "The Mixed Men", 
at one point while debating strategy one character turns to 
another and says, "Yes, but have you considered the psychological
aspects?"  This detachment of such concerns from the ordinary or
bottom level part of a strategy always struck me (since I've been an
adult, anyway) as an interesting reflection on how much the
characters---and presumably Van Vogt himself---thought that
this kind of "psychology" could be abstractly formalized, and
that there would be a definite planning phase in which such
aspects would be addressed. 

Now I wonder about whether for "psychological reasons" it was
a good idea to publicize cryonics in the pre-Matrix era, using my
20-30 hindsight. I suggest that just as we may view the period
since 1953 as the "post-mechanical era" because it was the 
watershed of folks coming to see that life is mechanical, so
1998 may go down as the "post-Matrix" era because that was
when Hollywood correctly gambled that its audiences were
ready for virtual reality and its attendant presuppositions.

It's quite conceivable to me that the great minds of coming eras
might evaluate the pre-Matrix era as one in which the introduction
of the cryonics meme did more harm than good.  "It actually 
generated more antagonism of a long lasting nature than would
have arisen had the cryonics meme-workers waited until 1998
when society was ready", could be one of their conclusions.

On another topic, it may be that "psychological considerations"
should have also dictated that intelligence estimates of Iran's
bomb-making progress be suppressed at the current time,
rather than publicized. For it's quite possible, especially now
that we appreciate how important to Saddam Hussein had
been the Middle-Eastern perception that he had or was close
to having a bomb, that Iran has suffered a loss of face now
not easily appreciated in the West. Now, indeed, (if the report
is accurate) Iran may have to sigh and begin trying to impress
their neighbors in earnest.

Usually I give Western governments the benefit of doubt (many
people here complain that too many of us systematically give
western governments too much such benefit!) when it comes
to calculating "psychological considerations".  I often suppose
that deep in the State Department or the Pentagon, very shrewd
minds try to calculate---who knows, even abstractly!?---the
the likely "psychological" reactions of other nations' leaders
and the societies of other nations. Upp! Keep that mouse from
hitting Reply, just a bit longer!

Naturally, the results of such strategical rumination do not
seem, to put it mildly, to be very much in evidence, at least
not successfully so, but who knows, perhaps that's just a
reflection on its immense difficulty.  I mean, that *could*
be the case.


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