Re: Agnosticism and the Fear of Atheism (was re: Vital Essence)

From: Brian Manning Delaney (
Date: Tue Jan 25 2000 - 17:05:46 MST

Max More wrote:
> Robert Owen wrote:

>> I apologize to the list for this exasperated statement,
>> but I simply cannot tolerate the sheer loutishness
>> and incivility exhibited here by this supercilious
>> young man.

> Robert, I suggest you relax and give Shaun a
> break.


Please don't construe the following as in any way a criticism of your having
said positive things about Shaun, a lad whose need of a good word in his favor
-- particularly by you or someone officially in a leadership role at ExI -- was
clearly felt by many.

I simply think Robert deserves a good word as well.

Robert is one of the smartest, most intellectually engaged people I've ever
encountered on any email list -- perhaps THE most intellectually (and
productively) engaged. Particularly striking is the volume of extraordinarily
thoughtful, expositionally lucid, coherent articles he posts. On another list, I
recently called him Robert "Jupiter Brain" Owen to highlight one of the
hypotheses I have to explain the super-human cognition that seems to be required
for his output. (The other: that there are several people who agreed to work
together under one name, to create the impression of a person of super-human

The post which set Robert off was one which clearly evinced a failure to have
understood Robert's previous reasoning. There were other things that were
annoying about Shaun's post, like the insulting tone -- perhaps these were the
most salient for Robert. But the failure to see the meaning of Robert's
carefully thought-through posts alone would have been quite frustrating,
especially if one assumes that the failure resulted from laziness, as opposed to

I make no claims about the source of Shaun's failure to understand (I don't know
him). I merely mean to highlight that Robert's experience might be more
frustrating than you (or others) realize. Imagine you've just given a delicately
constructed argument in a conference talk, and you suddenly discover that the
audience isn't listening very closely, is drunk, yet nevertheless feels it
possesses the right to respond. Whatever Shaun's actual state of mind, the
example probably captures Robert's experience. For me, such an experience would
be frustrating enough to warrant a response like Robert's, perhaps even a
stronger one. (I might also just join the drunkenness -- indeed, this might even
be another way of understanding Robert's response, his favored drink being
perhaps different from those of most.)

If Extropians lost Robert, the overall caliber of the list would suffer


Brian Manning Delaney
My email was (mostly) down from ~1999.12.26 through
2000.01.02, and has been sporadic since then.
Things believed to have been sent to, or from me might
not have been. Sorry.

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