[ExI] Some suggestions for improvement - was Re: General comment about all this quasi-libertarianism discussion

F. C. Moulton moulton at moulton.com
Mon Feb 28 02:05:38 UTC 2011

On 02/27/2011 03:52 PM, David Lubkin wrote:
> Damien B wrote:
>> Another wince, reminding me that Kelly also asked if Samantha had
>> ever heard of Moore's Law. Newbies need to bear in mind that if
>> you're excited about X, chances are it's been a much-hashed-over
>> topic here for a decade or two.
> It's like each generation thinking they discovered sex.
Perhaps the more inventive try to put something creative.
> On the other hand, when newbies are excited about X, we coelacanths
> need a measure of patience. T'other day I refrained from noting that
> we'd talked a given topic to death in 1992.
Some of the recent topics have been hashed over years ago.  Yet in many
cases not  much progress is made in the sense that the same topics get
done over again a few years later.  There are I think a couple of reasons.

One reason is the difficultly in dealing with inaccurate definitions.  
It is very easy to see the inaccurate definition used by some one else
but less easy when it is our own inaccuracy particularly when that
definition reinforces a view that I am correct and the other person is
incorrect.  And substitute "good" for "correct" and "evil" for
"incorrect" and the situation can get tense.  Now it is possible for
there to be an honest difference about definitions and some terms do
have different meanings however if this is the case then it needs to be
dealt with at that level; not continuing the discussion as if the issue
of definitions does not matter.  I have seen this problem with
definitions derail discussion of atheism just to give an example.

Another reason is introducing side issues as if there were central to
the discussion.  For example if the topic of discussion is libertarian
philosophy it makes no sense arguing about whether Rand's novels are
good literature or not or if Rand herself was a nice person because
those are not relevant to libertarian philosophy.   But often people
find it easier to use a proxy rather than deal with ideas.  For example
I once heard someone criticize Marxism because Marx supposedly neglected
his wife.  That is ridiculous.  We need to stop using proxies instead of
the actual idea either in defense of the idea or in attacking the idea. 

And a third is avoid misusing terms that cover a variety of topics.  For
example Extropian or Transhuman cover many things not just one little
thing like just AI or just Nanotech.  So for example if you disagree
with one specific thing then if you want to be understood by everyone be
very specific and not use the broader term.  This is particularly a good
point to remember when discussing complex political topics.

Perhaps the best way to deal with this is to set up a page like a FAQ
page but with a bit more structure to actually show what has already
been discussed, what are the various definitions and to create a list of
red herrings that are often introduced and which throw off the discussion.


> Just as well we're living in the pre-immortallish years. Once we're
> into the long time, it's harder to qualify as an cranky old coot.
> -- David.
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