Re: Fw: Will Florida Outlaw Naturopathy?

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Thu May 25 2000 - 00:29:03 MDT

On Wednesday, May 24, 2000 7:55 AM Anders Sandberg wrote:
> I think we as transhumanists are a bit in a dilemma here.
> On one hand we are pro medical freedom, since we want access to
> treatments for e.g. life extension, cognitive enhancement and physical
> improvements. We are also opposed to straightjacking the definition of
> health and disease since that could easily lead to a situation where
> only one or a few forms of bodily plans are acceptable; in order to
> safeguard our morphological freedom we need to give others their
> freedom too.

I don't see much of a dilemma here. A dilemma implies any choice loses. I
have no problem with freedom in general.

> But on the other hand we are pro rationality and in general opposed to
> superstition and pseudoscience. While we might let people do whatever
> they want with their lives and money, we should not let disinformation
> spread unchecked. If people cannot distinguish the real remedies and
> improvements from the fakes, then money will be invested in the wrong
> products, the scientifically proven treatments we seek will be
> expensive since they are selected by few and worse, they will often be
> mistaken for fakes and hence give transhumanism a bad name ("Oh,
> you're just a new age cult that likes to call itself scientific, you
> still take the same snake-oil!").

That's a matter of image. In other words, if someone lumps us together with
new agers, then it's up to us to convince them that this is not so. I
generally try when I talk to people about life extension to tell them I
discount any hint of mysticism or irrationalism.

> Our situation is that by supporting medical freedom, we also place
> ourselves in the same camp as a lot of groups we normally would want
> to separate ourselves from - new agers, some luddites and a lot of
> pseudoscience. Politics does make strange bedfellows.

So? Advocating freedom of speech means one is also defeding the right of
every halfwit and liar to speak up too.

> Can we promote some ideas that support freedom and rationality?

I maintain freedom and rationality require each other.

> I
> think so. One obvious would be to try to set up various forms of
> independent consumer reviews and medical information sources, so that
> people can access high-quality information about medical
> treatments. Instead relying on having the government blocking access
> to bad treatments, a reviewing system might be more flexible: review
> organisations (which need to maintain their good reputations) can
> review drugs and if they meet their standards the drug can be sold
> with their seal of approval; different health organisations can then
> announce what review levels (and from who) they accept, in turn a step
> towards good consumer information (this is just the same idea as the
> independent review boards for scientific web publication I have
> mentioned a few times on the list).

Such organizations already exist -- at least on a small scale. It's more a
matter of getting rid of government bodies, such as the US FDA, which
currently control drug approval. In the US, e.g., the information on
various drugs exists, but it's hard to get the information to the consumer
with the current labeling laws.

(The abyssmal state of scientific journalism here is appalling too, though
reading the BBC's web site, it appears the US does not have a monopoly on
journalistic ignorance.:)

> But no amount of organisation can help if people in general do not
> think critically about their medical treatments. Hence it is clear
> that to really get a free medical system to work with as few memetic
> parasites as possible, education and stimulation to critical thinking
> and self-development is necessary. It is not an either-or question,
> even a few sceptics can do a lot of good by exposing snake-oil, but
> the more people that employ critical thinking the better. Weird and
> often erroneous alternatives will be explored, but that is much better
> than enforced conformity.

Leave the meme speak out it. It's a common sense matter. If people never
have the chance to take control of their health, then it's quite plain to
see they will be irresponsible about it. Given the freedom -- especially
the freedom to fuck up and see others fucking up -- people will soon learn.
No need to rephrase this in transhuman-babble.:)


Daniel Ust

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