Re: Words Hurt

Craig Presson (fcp@Traveller.COM)
Sun, 26 Apr 1998 09:17:58 -6

On 25 Apr 1998, "Erik Moeller" <> wrote:
> Natasha:
> >>You see, just that Extropy is a cult
> >Frankly, Eric, I find your use of cult in describing extropy rather
> >annoying.
> This is obvious. Most Scientologists would probably also be annoyed
> when Scientology was called a cult by others.
> IAN: [current usage of "cult"]
> Let's clear the definitions first.
> [Dictionary definitions]


I go on alert whenever anyone quotes a dictionary in this kind of
context. Dictionaries are always behind -- they cannot capture all
usages and they cannot be kept current. Words have connotations, and
those connotations can not be ignored when convenient.

Like it or not, "cult" is now a pejorative. If you don't want anyone
to hear a pejorative tone, you will have to choose another word.

If you meant to characterize extropianism as a secular religion, you
could just say that. Perhaps for some people, extro-trans-humanism is
a low-fat religious substitute (Religion Lite(tm)).

This belongs in the FAQ if it's not there already, it's a hardy
perennial. My take is that non-religious people use a lot of memes to
fill the niches vacated by traditional religion, and there's nothing
wrong with it, especially if they see it for what it is. There is of
course a trap to fall into, of bringing over blind faith, misplaced
zealotry, and other baggage from religious conditioning.

-- (Freeman Craig Presson)