Re: "Raping the planets" and other PR disasters

From: Corwyn J. Alambar (
Date: Fri Jun 23 2000 - 17:31:21 MDT

Hal wrote:
> Corey writes:
> > Following the recent Mars threads, and the parallel though unrelated outburst
> > of heaton the >H list, I feel I have to speak up about the public relations
> > gap futurists, and especially >H and Extropians are facing.
> >
> > "Why live in a gravity well when you can disassemble the planets and
> > distribute their mass..."
> > [...]
> >
> > Claims like these, even if made in jest, will turn what could be a very strong
> > public relations asset to a serious disadvantage - instead of "tour Mars: see
> > the majestic cliffs of Olympus Mons" the slogan would be "don't return to the
> > 1900s - save space from the industrialists" or "Don't repeat the mistakes of
> > Earth - Don't mine Mars!"
> I don't think these comments are necessarily being made in jest.
> Some people do believe that planets are an inefficient use of mass.
> Most of the mass is on the interior and doesn't do anyone any good, aside
> from providing some gravity. And if you need that, you can probably
> get it more efficiently by centrifugal force or stellar gravity.

I didn't mean to sugggest that these were all being made in jest - in fact the
"in jest" comment was more directed at some of the others - in specific the
"raping" comment.

I also happen to agree to a certain level that planets are something of a waste
of mass, in terms of posthuman uses. My main issue actually was one of
semantics and ethics - an example that bring up the dissolution and destruction
of planets in our own solar system would be viewed as a statement of intent,
rathe rthan a (for now) theoretical analysis.
> It may be that these ideas are difficult for people to accept and do
> bring to mind the environmental catastrophes in the past. But I don't
> think we should necessarily tone down our views as a result.

I'm not saying tone down views - witness my comment abotu censorship. This is
not about hiding views; this is about presenting them. <southern drawl>"We're
gonna make sure your kids ain't gona be retards"</southern drawl> is a LOT less
palatable than "we're working toward augmenting our genome to provide enhanced
intelligence to everyone."

Yes, all this wrapping and such is tedious. But language is imprecise at
presenting ideas in their full context. And the only thing that the sort of
"I don't have to package my ideas for you" mentality presents to others is "I
don't think your thoughts and issues are worth my time considering." Hubris
is the enemy of the forward-thinking.
> <SNIP> I don't think we
> have to be that careful to couch our views in a manner which is acceptable
> to this month's mores.

Au contraire, I think that it is CRITICAL that views are at least made in
such a way as to be not a direct affront to common mores and values of the
period. Remember, most of us live in democracies. Think of the issues in
Europe against "Frankenstein foods", or here in the US with fetal tissue
research. The people you are looking down upon, i.e. the people for whom
you are not considering their values, are the people who are having a strong
influence on what research can and can't be done.

"That's one good thing about abortion - it gives us all this fetal stem cell
tissue on which we can do research of how to stop aging."

Consider how that statement looks to somoene who holds strong views about
optional abortion. And I hope that makes my point.


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