Re: PR disasters

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Sat Jun 24 2000 - 18:12:05 MDT

Natasha Vita-More <> writes:

> I think Anders has crystallized the direction of behavior is an aptly
> positive light, but it's often easier to write down the words than to deal
> head on with an adverse poster. If Anders had to defend his reputation,
> how would he do it? For example, if Anders was told something very
> unbecoming about himself or his family, I don't even want to imagine, but
> something that could humiliate or hurt him professionally, would he
> continue politely to respond when the flamer wouldn't let up. Or, would he
> walk away knowing that he did the best he could under the circumstances,
> and better judgment told him to ignore the flamer. I would never want
> Anders to experience such a thing, but it does build character -:)

Actually, despite the example Waldemar mentioned, I have not
experienced any such situation yet, which I actually consider a bit of
a drawback - I prefer to learn how to deal with smear campaigns before
the stakes get too high.

Overall I consider myself a bit too conflict-aversive, indeed
preferring to ignore flamers (this is also why I seldom feel up to
date in the current flamewars on list, I simply mentally killfile
them) rather than deal with them. A strategy that I think works on a
mailing list, but would not work in a real world setting.

I better update my personality a bit with an optional defense
subpersonality :-)

I deeply respect people who can remain controlled and balanced in the
face of such attacks. I am for example amazed by how well Max and
Natasha has handled the (sadly far too common and rude) personal
attacks they have been subjected to. Perhaps the worst thing with the
attacks is that they are so unsophisticated; there is nothing so
embarrassing as unworthy enemies.

> I think that Bonnie touched on important issues also:
> "What are the bad things that could happen if the Extropians didn't have a
> good reputation? With whom must they try to maintain a good reputation?"
> Last night I was at a life extension summit and we were talking about all
> the recent PR in the news about biotech, nano and cryonics, etc. Someone,
> maybe me since I have a thang for culture, will write about the people
> behind the ideas. Robert Freitas (_NanoMedicine_) is a really cryo guy, as
> is Michael West (formerly with Geron) and others on this list, etc. The
> point being, there are so many interesting people in "our" culture and it
> is becoming more and more mainstream. Since our ideas are disturbing to
> many people, it's best to present them in ways that are not threatening.
> Thus, a good reputation is beneficial. Maintaining a good reputation with
> each other (first), and then with the public would mean those who are our
> colleagues, those who we do business with us, and those who interview us in
> the media.

Having a good reputation means that others are more likely to want to
interact with you, listen to you or deal with you. Without it there is
a good chance that nobody will listen to what you have to say, with it
people are likely to take notice (even if your ideas are less than
brilliant). There are of course different kinds of reputations:
professional, academic, ethical, emotional, economic, ideological etc,
and one can have a great reputation in one respect but a poor in

If extropians do not have a good reputation, a lot of opportunities
will be lost and there is as I have said before a risk that other,
inimical memesets will become dominant. I think there is a lot of work
to do here. While extropianism is mentioned in the media from time to
time, the references are usually referring to it as some kind of
subculture, wild belief or a fad, not as a serious philosophy or
movement. That ought to be changed, and the best way is to have
interesting, knowledgeable and accessible people with good reputations
in the address lists of journalists and other influential groups. This
is not just an issue of having a few great spokespeople
(spokesbeings?) doing all the talking, it recurses down to all of us -
we are each a representative of extropianism with our own reputation
among friends, coworkers, relatives and acquintances, and when we
speak of our own specialities, whatever they are, we are the local
(mini)experts. This is a tremendous responsibility. The local level
is where much of the memetic groundwork has to be laid.

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

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