Re: Extro IT Techies list?

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sun Jan 21 2001 - 14:12:17 MST

Emlyn wrote:
> >
> > The amount of disinformation present out there is astounding, and
> > intelligent people are being sucked in. One of my colleagues, an very
> > intelligent and competent individual, is also extremely uncritical (he
> > didn't question the idea of 'psychic vibrations' at all until I challenged
> > him on his belief). This attitude came as a big shock to me, as until
> then
> > I'd thought that intelligence and the tendency to think critically went
> > hand-in-hand.
> >
> Psychic vibrations.. whoa man. Whoooaaaa!
> I'd bet we've got a million more stories like this, amongst us. This
> possibly is the primary enemy of extropianism; creeping credulity, amongst
> people who haven't been introduced to any way of making sound judgements
> about things.

Well, as many have pointed out, human beings are 'belief engines'. It
is part of the wiring of our brain to look for patterns and
correspondences and to err on the side of assuming something holds
before sufficient evidence is in. It is only relatively recently that
we evolved monkeys have invented science to test some of our beliefs.
Logic and reason have been around longer but they are not as deeply
wired in and take more continuous effort than most make much of the
time. Being really bright doesn't automatically make you less
credulous. It does make it more likely that you will get the
counter-arguments when you do hear them and perhaps come up with them

Being introduced to the tools and actually using them are very different
things. We also are social/cultural creatures who have quite a bit of
stake in just "going with the flow" even when a bit of thought will show
that the flow is being brain-dead.

> Interestingly, I was seeing an australian clergyman of some note (???
> Costello? brother of the treasurer?) interviewed recently. He was being
> asked about new-agey kind of stuff, and what he thought about people taking
> bits and pieces of Asian religions, as they felt best. He replied that he
> thought it was disastrous, because what they took was the feel good stuff,
> the easy stuff. They leave out the nasty stuff, the unglamorous parts, the
> hard work.
> There's a lot of that going around, in general. Critical thinking is seen
> quite sceptically, I think, by many people. Dont worry about the head, trust
> your feelings. Trust your emotions. That'll be $10.

Oh yeah. For human brains it is hard work to apply reason, logic and
critical thinking. We have no circuits for bayseian analysis. It is
plodding difficult inside of our heads and we don't for the most part
have handy external tools for the purpose. And using your head that way
makes you a bit of an outsider among most people most of the time really
quickly and that isn't fun at all. So anything that will relieve the
pressure and take that frown of concentration off your face is much

> > Reducing the 'sheep-effect' by introducing extropian concepts, science,
> and
> > encouraging a more questioning attitude must come under the heading of a
> > 'good thing'.
> >
> > An extropian outreach program!! Now there's an idea .... (gotta be
> careful
> > it doesn't become dogmatic, though).
> >
> If it were to be done, it's probably better to leave most of extropianism
> out. Just spread the futurist ideas, the science, the information, and the
> optimism. Once people take that on board, the rest follows pretty much
> automatically.

Well if you have all of that in, what are you leaving out?

- samantha

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