Risk averse imortalists? (was Re: [extropy-chat]re:embedded in open hearts (Meta/EP))

Keith Henson hkhenson at rogers.com
Tue Apr 19 05:34:11 UTC 2005

At 07:19 PM 18/04/05 +1000, Brett Paatsch  wrote:
>Keith Henson wrote


>>>Why pick a fight with scientology Keith?
>>They picked the fight.  Look up what Helena Kobrin did in early
>>1995.  I have sometimes likened this provocation to a gang of thugs
>>riding into a small US town and burning down the newspaper.
>I did look it up. And I see that you use the 'gang of thugs' phrase in your
>paper on cults at the bottom.  But the fight they picked wasn't with you
>personally. You personally didn't have to respond to the gang of thugs,
>you personally could have kept your head down.

Only if I were a different person.

>>>Were you not using *rational* self-interest at the time?
>>Over the course of the last 20 years I have come to the conclusion
>>that people are not rational.  Of course they do rationalize.
>The way you answer this suggests that you are including yourself in the
>set of people that are not rational but that do rationalize.
>I can respect the honesty and humility in that, but how can you know
>whether you are rationalising at too low a level? After all memeoids
>rationalise too. You don't seem to want to be a memeoid. Do you
>think that it is ever *rational* to totally self-sacrifice or does such a
>thing necessarily make one a memeoid to the value they think they are

"Total self-sacrifice" would have been to report to jail after I had been 
told by the parole officer that the case against me was political in nature 
and that my chances of getting out of jail without being killed or badly 
injured were poor.

Of course later a PI who looked into the jury list and could not find any 
concluded that the jury notices had been diverted to 
scientologists.  Between a rigged jury and a judge in their pocket (now 
dead) and a DA who is hiding out in Idaho it was an interesting 
travesty.  Of course the most interesting thing is that the scientology 
witnesses against me were put into scientology's punishment program (the 
RPF) and have been locked up for the last 4 years.  (Search Ken Hoden and 
RPF Insider on Google groups.)

>I think that quite a lot of 'immortalists' would hold, but for political and
>social reasons few would be willing to say that, yes, ultimately, a total
>self-sacrifice is an irrational act because the basis for valuing anything
>else goes when the self goes.

That might be true for rational immoralists.  But there aren't any, we 
didn't evolve that way.  People got old and died, the genes marched on and 
shaped our minds to value the survival of the tribe more than our own value.

If you go through the history, the thing that really got the scientology 
cult on me was posting an instruction manual for criminal activity.  At the 
time I did it, I had no idea of the depth of the corruption in the courts 
or how easy it would be for a "religion" to claim commercial damages in the 
courts and get away with it, or even the fact that the cult had crushed the 
IRS (in 1991) under the weight of over 2000 lawsuits and blackmailing the 

And if you look at the timing of when I did this, it was coming to the 
defense of another "tribe member."  The same can be said of the summer I 
picketed the cult's desert compound over the two young women they killed 
there that spring.

Of course figuring out my motivations was post hoc, at the time I didn't 
know enough EP to have understood why I was motivated the way I was.  I now 
do, but I suspect it wouldn't have made any difference.

I am also aware that I am a 6 standards out person in several 
directions.  (Anyone who is in cryonics is "one in a million," 6 sigma)  I 
am the person who breaks into a neighbors house to put out a fire, and 
learned how to put cryonics patients on cardiac bypass.  "Someone has to do 
it" is my theme song, even when it involved HIV contaminate blood up to the 
elbows.  http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/dsp.cgi?msg=1621

The well known saying ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is 
that good men do nothing’ is usually attributed to Edmund Burke.  It seem 
to be a pseudo quote, 
http://www.tartarus.org/~martin/essays/burkequote.html, and perhaps trite, 
but there is an element of truth to it.

I am in truth too lazy to be a real tribal leader, but I am the sort who 
takes over and organizes things when something awful happens.  Kind of a 
reserve alpha.

>>>Did you bite off more than you knew?
>>>Was it a stand on principle?
>>>If so what principle?
>>Freedom of speech.
>Thank you for defending that principle.
>>There were other factors involved, several of them, and they all
>>step from  roots in the deep tribal past.
>I'm not so sure about the deep tribal past stuff though. Obviously a
>common deep tribal past is shared by everyone here now or we
>wouldn't be here. But why would natural selection have stopped
>selecting way back in the deep tribal past rather than when our
>parents were exercising their judgement about with whom they
>would mate?  Ever generation has spinsters and bachelors and
>people that do not live long enough to have children. Isn't that still
>natural selection?

Sure.  And it is not like evolution switched off with agriculture.  The 
selection is somewhat different over the past ten thousand years, perhaps 
favoring psychological traits that were of little use in a nomadic hunter 
gatherer tribe.  But evolution is usually a slow process.  You don't negate 
a million year history of hunter gatherer selection in 10k years.

>Dawkins talks of the extended phenotype. Do you think that
>rationality itself is an extended phenotype?


>>>It has occurred to me, as it appears to have occurred to Samantha
>>>that perhaps those that know they are going to die sooner or later,
>>>are more willing to fight, and even to die sooner in defence of
>>>something, some other value than themselves.
>>An equally valid rationalization would be that people who think they are
>>going to be around an extremely long time are concerned with nipping
>>nasty social organizations early before they haunt you for eternity.  A
>>world run like scientology would be a very nasty place to try to live a
>>long time.  They do what LRH told them, and one of the things he told
>>them would result in an extremely large number of deaths.
>There are plenty of examples of memeoids that are willing to totally
>self sacrifice though. Christianity and other religions have been around
>for 2000 years.
>In comparison are there any 'immortalists' who have ever willingly and
>knowingly totally self-sacrificed for a principle like freedom of speech?

Lots of them if you count people who became "immortal" by the only ways 
available to them pre cryonics.  (The only way was to do something where 
your memory would live on in other minds.)  Consider 
Leonidas.  http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~sparta/topics/essays/academic/golding.htm

"I came to myself in a great stillness, to find that I was standing by the 
little mound. This is the mound of Leonidas, with its dust and rank grass, 
its flowers and lizards, its stones, scruffy laurels and hot gusts of wind. 
I knew now that something real happened here. It is not just that the human 
spirit reacts directly and beyond all argument to a story of sacrifice and 
courage, as a wine glass must vibrate to the sound of a violin. It is also 
because, way back and at the hundredth remove, that company stood right in 
the line of history. A little of Leonidas lies in the fact that I can go 
where I like and write what I like. He contributed to set us free.

"Climbing to the top of that mound by the uneven, winding path, I came on 
the epitaph, newly cut in stone. It is an ancient epitaph though the stone 
is new. It is famous for its reticence and simplicity—has been translated a 
hundred times but can only be paraphrased:

"'Stranger, tell the Spartans that we behaved as they would wish us to, and 
are buried here.'"


Keith Henson

PS.  Real immortalists try not to get killed, but they kick butt and take 
risks as required.  If they get killed, that's what happens when you take 
risks.  A risk free life lacks flavor.  

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