Re: Prometheus Rising

Anders Sandberg (
05 Feb 1998 16:46:53 +0100

Holger Wagner <> writes:

> I've just completed reading "Prometheus Rising" by Robert Anton Wilson -
> and I am *very* impressed and inspired by that book. I'd really
> appreciate some opinions from other people on this list about that
> particular book, since it's one of the "top-ten" books in the Extropian
> Principles Reading List, and it basically says what you say.

I think it is a good book. Not in the sense that it is 100% true and
useful, but it is a good starting point in meta-programming. One has
to keep a critical mind when reading it though, since a lot of the
stuff Wilson claims is of a questionable nature or made up (he would
say that this is the point, of course, but I think it is true even for
some of the things he didn't plan as trickery).

> On the critical side, I can think of no way of "falsifying" most of the
> ideas in Prometheus Rising (except for Wilson's too optimistic view of
> the future which was falsified by time). I'm afraid any attempt of
> falsifying could be simply overcome by saying "this is dogmatic circuit
> 3 (dogmatic rationalist) argueing". That puts up the question: how
> useful are the models explained, to people who use them?

The first four circuits are not very controversial, they exist in
rephrased form in plenty of models for personality. Of course, one
might argue that personality psychology is also filled with
unfalsifiable propositions (I must admit that I do not have a high
opinion of the field even after reading it as a part of my psychology
studies). And remember that any model which explains away attempts to
check it, especially by "ad hominem" explanations of why you are
trying to check them, is very liable to contain mistakes or falsehoods
that are never corrected. Such defenses against falsification should
really be reasons to intensify scrutinity - what is the model hiding?

I think the upper four circuits are not very well described (that is
of course understandable, since they are outside normal experience)
and unverified. The fifth circuit seems to have some basis in fact,
during my studies in various subjects I have run into it, but the
uppermost three might just be recurring myths among psychonauts,
nothing real or useful at all.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y