[extropy-chat] RE: [wta-talk] What _is_ it with the WTA board, anyway?

mike99 mike99 at lascruces.com
Sun Jan 15 23:48:02 UTC 2006

The impression has been given that all fingers of blame for trouble on the
WTA Board point to James Hughes. How did that impression come about? Well,
if you look at those pointing fingers, you will see that the first one
belonged to Jose Cordeiro, who began attacking James Hughes at the WTA Board
meeting in Oxford, UK in April 2004. I was there and, at the time, wondered
why Jose kept needling James, taunting him, and -- when we were all sitting
in the bar -- trying to pick a fight with him. James kept refusing to take
Jose's flame bait. But it was quite clear that Jose despised James'
democratic socialist politics and wanted to argue about it.

There is nothing wrong with a good political argument. But Jose went beyond
that into outright character assassination.

Not all Board members attended the Oxford meeting. Interestingly, the ones
who did not attend -- Bruce Klein and Harvey Newstrom -- were the ones who
eventually joined Jose's crusade against James. Why? Because Jose moved
swiftly to make his case against James, both on the WTA Board listserv and
in many, many private messages. As you will have read in Jose's most
recent -- and allegedly final -- screed against the WTA Board, Jose is
extremely emotional, vindictive, highly selective in his choice of facts,
and not above tarring his self-chosen enemies while always denying that he
himself has ever made a single mistake.

I am still amazed at Jose's ability to misremember and mischaracterize his
flouting of the Board's votes. Jose refused to request that the Venezuelan
embassy issue visas for the Indian delegates to TransVision05 the Board had
chosen -- which included an elected member of the Board! Jose had a personal
vendetta against that Board member. And not being one to let democracy trump
his personal pet peeves, Jose simply refused to accept the democratic
process. (I can't help but notice that this is also his approach to the
elected government of his native Venezuela.) Jose's transparently
self-serving denial of his culpability in acting in a fashion that he
himself should recognize as being STALINIST should tell you everything you
need to know about his capacity for hypocrisy. (And Jose, if you are reading
this, you know that I've already pointed this out to you privately more than

Jose's propaganda campaign against James in 2004 turned out to be very
effective. It prompted Bruce Klein to resign from the Board, much to our
regret, since Bruce is a talented, dedicated and very hard-working
transhumanist. His Immortality Institute has done fine work and continues to
do so. More power to him.

Harvey Newstrom, who is also quite intelligent and adept, was encouraged by
Jose to question everything...endlessly. Questioning is good. But like the
child who asks an endless series of "Why?" questions, responding to every
proffered answer with yet another "Why?" Harvey only managed to bring the
work of the Board to a grinding halt. In an elected legislature, this is
called tying up the house in procedural motions. That's what Harvey did.
Finally, the Board had had enough and asked him to leave.

The claim has been made (and I see in another message, already corrected)
that Eliezer Yudkowsky was forced off the Board. This is another of Jose's
fabrications. Eliezer, although brilliant and a great transhumanist figure,
did not win re-election to the WTA Board. But he continues to due extremely
valuable work through his Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence.
More power to him.

At one time, Jose could probably have been elected Executive Director of the
WTA. At one time, I would have voted for him. But, strangely, he always
declined to run. And now he has so tarnished his reputation that he could
not even be re-elected to the Board, much less get a majority of the Board
to elect him Executive Director.

Jose and I have a love-hate relationship. I am willing to risk besmirching
my own reputation by mud wresting with my friend Jose about his statements
and behavior. But I have to do that. As a Zen Buddhist priest, I have taken
a vow to work toward the end of suffering for all sentient beings. And I do
not intend to leave Jose behind. If this means I have to boost him out of
the mud while I sink deeper into it, so be it. That's what bodhisattvas are
supposed to do.


Michael LaTorra

mike99 at lascruces.com
mlatorra at nmsu.edu
English Dept., New Mexico State University

"For any man to abdicate an interest in science is to walk with open eyes
towards slavery."
-- Jacob Bronowski

"Experiences only look special from the inside of the system."
-- Eugen Leitl

"Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the Superman: a rope across
an abyss - a dangerous going across, a dangerous wayfaring, a dangerous
looking back, a dangerous shuddering and staying still."
-- Friedrich Nietzsche

Board of Directors, World Transhumanist Association: www.transhumanism.org
Board of Directors, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies:
Extropy Institute: www.extropy.org
Alcor Life Extension Foundation: www.alcor.org
Society for Universal Immortalism: www.universalimmortalism.org
President, Zen Center of Las Cruces:

> -----Original Message-----
> From: wta-talk-bounces at transhumanism.org
> [mailto:wta-talk-bounces at transhumanism.org]On Behalf Of Joseph Bloch
> Sent: Saturday, January 14, 2006 8:36 PM
> To: World Transhumanist Association Discussion List; ExI chat list
> Subject: [wta-talk] What _is_ it with the WTA board, anyway?
> Setting aside for the moment the specifics of the recent spat within the
> WTA board of directors, one cannot help but notice that this is a
> recurring event.
> Almost like clockwork, one or more members of the Board become so
> frustrated that they feel compelled to resign (or are otherwise driven
> out), and much bad blood is generated, and good, active leaders leave
> the WTA. Almost invariably, the persons in question were in a conflict
> with Dr. Hughes.
> One or two times, you can ascribe to coincidence. But this has happened
> with at least four people thusfar to my knowledge. Can it really be
> their fault every time? Does it really make sense that Jose Cordeiro,
> Bruce Klein, Harvey Newstrom, and Elizier Yudkowski are each to blame,
> when each and every one of them ran afoul of James Hughes and left or
> were driven out subsequently? Not to mention all the other bitter
> arguments amongst the board, some quite heated, each and every one of
> which sees Dr. Hughes at its center (and I have had my share, I will
> fully admit, and I'm probably next on the list to be forced out).
> It doesn't make a lot of sense to me that it's "everyone else's fault".
> If that sounds like a swipe at Dr. Hughes, so be it; I ask it as a
> legitimate question. Four personal conflicts bad enough to drive away
> members of the Board (and countless others of lesser severity) and it's
> never his fault? I find it difficult to reasonably accept that poor
> set-upon James is an innocent player in all this.
> Joseph
> _______________________________________________
> wta-talk mailing list
> wta-talk at transhumanism.org
> http://www.transhumanism.org/mailman/listinfo/wta-talk

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