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