[extropy-chat] Elvis Sightings

Ben Goertzel ben at goertzel.org
Mon Feb 12 22:16:58 UTC 2007

On Feb 12, 2007, at 4:58 PM, John K Clark wrote:

> "Ben Goertzel" <ben at goertzel.org>
>> If you haven't even looked at the data, you certainly can't "know  
>> that
>> [you] are right and they are wrong."
> Actually I think I can. Mathematicians often receive "proofs" from  
> crackpots
> claiming to have found a way to square the circle, often these  
> things are
> very long, complex, and in their way almost ingenious. The error in  
> the
> proof is not immediately obvious, but they know it must be there  
> somewhere
> because it was proven to everybody's satisfaction more that a  
> century ago
> that squaring the circle is imposable.

Math is qualitatively different than empirical science, though.  A  
disproof of some
simple theorem within a well-known formal system is extremely  
unlikely.  The
history of math is more a story of incremental build-up, whereas the  
history of
physics is one of repeated conceptual revolutions that actually lead  
to the
disproof of prior conceptual ideas...


> There is just no point spending weeks
> or months digging out the error, they know immediately it's bullshit.
> In the same way the possibility that Joe Blow the truck driver is an
> experimental mega genius of such magnitude that he can detect  
> something
> hundreds of world class experimenters have been unable to do for 17  
> years is
> so astronomically unlikely that yes, I can say with confidence it is
> BULLSHIT without reading one word of it.
>> Knee-jerk negative reactions not grounded in research
> There is nothing wrong with knee jerk reactions, it must have a  
> survival
> advantage or Evolution would not have produced it. Some things  
> require a
> great deal of cognitive reflection, and some things do not. Knee jerk
> reaction sorts it out.
>> there have been many psi experiments with adequate controls.
> Well then, if the phenomena is real and experiments with adequate  
> controls
> have already proven it, then it's poised to break into the  
> mainstream. It
> must be. Granted mainstream scientists aren't as brilliant as Joe  
> Blow the
> truck driver but they aren't complete imbeciles, at least not every  
> single
> one of them.
> So I issue this challenge to members of this list who do not think  
> ESP or
> cold fusion is a stinking reeking mass of putrid shit; If a pro ESP  
> or cold
> fusion article appears in Nature or Science or Physical Review Letters
> before February 12 2008 I will send you one dollar, if it doesn't  
> you will
> send me one dollar. If you want a longer timeframe then this is the  
> bet, if
> the article appears before February 12 2009 I will send you 10  
> dollars, if
> it doesn't you will send me 10 dollars. If the article appears before
> February 12 2010 I will send you 100 dollars, if it doesn't you  
> will send me
> 100 dollars. If the article appears before February 12 2011 I will  
> send you
> 1000 dollars, if it doesn't you will send me 1000 dollars. I'd go for
> another year but if every single member of this list who had ever  
> opposed me
> took me up on it and I was proven wrong I might not be able to  
> cover my
> bets, of course there is not a snowball's chance in hell I am  
> wrong, but it
> just seems dishonest to me to make a bet you couldn't theoretically  
> cover.
> Just one other thing, before I accept a bet I must know your real  
> name and
> how to contact you, and yes, John K Clark is my (boring) real name.
> I wish I had a name like Eliezer S. Yudkowsky.
> So place your bets! Put your money where your mouth is!
>  John K Clark

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