[extropy-chat] Appropriate List Content - was Malachy's Prophecies; Pope John Paul II, then two before the destruction of the Holy Roman Church

Samantha Atkins sjatkins at mac.com
Wed Apr 6 06:06:50 UTC 2005

On Apr 4, 2005, at 7:39 PM, Adrian Tymes wrote:

> --- The Avantguardian <avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com> wrote:
>>      But this is entirely a judgement call with few if
>> any objective standards that could determine what
>> parts of the past would or would not be relevant to
>> the future.
> Yeah, yeah, you can't be absolutely certain of what you know.  We've
> heard it all before.  There is, however, a heuristic one may apply,
> where one can judge the probability that certain information is
> relevant; in most cases in practice, this heuristic gives good enough
> results that one may use it unless one has a very strong indication
> that the heuristic may be wrong.  This result is so overwhelming that,
> in fact, most polite society positively expects it to be used in most
> cases, and is offended when one consistently refuses to use it.

I have tremendous justified confidence in science and technology and I 
largely agree with you.  Hoverer, I think you painted a bit too broadly 
and laid it on a tad thick in places.

> We're talking, of course, about "crap filters".
> For this list, part of the crap filter is ignoring prophecies from
> sources that have usually been to be too vague to give useful
> predictions, or incorrect if they are not vague.
> If this seems alien or offensive to you, please remember that practical
> optimism is one of the principles of extropy.  This does mean one
> should be open-minded, but not so much that one's brain falls out: if a
> particular approach to a desirable goal has failed repeatedly in the
> past, then try something with less of a track record of failure.
> Millenia of prophecies and religions have not made nearly as much
> progress towards enhancing our species as merely the past half century
> of technological progress, ergo we should concentrate our discussions
> on the latter instead of the former if we wish to improve ourselves in
> this manner.

Exactly how have we enhanced human beings?  Are we wiser?  Are most of 
us more inclined to being reasonable. thoughtful people?   Are fewer 
humans inclined to ignorance, superstition and anti-thought?    I am 
not aware of any large progress in these and many other critical areas.

> I don't have to know something 100% to know that it's not worth our
> efforts (at this time, unless and until someone finds something that
> people missed that gets the probability back up high enough - and that
> search should not take too many resources away from something that is
> 99.999% likely to be worth our efforts).  Just because it's not
> absolute doesn't mean it ain't good enough to call, especially so long
> as one remembers the calls can be overridden if and when - but ONLY if
> and when - the evidence changes the perceived odds.

You have not presented means to realistically calculate such odds if 
probability is even applicable.

- samantha

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