Re: comparisons with other lists

From: Spike Jones (
Date: Mon Aug 06 2001 - 23:20:47 MDT

Anders Sandberg wrote:

> Spike, your experiences with other lists seem to fit mine too. ...Spike, how
> would you rate the investment people make in list culture on the lists you
> mention?

Anders this question is complicated by the fact that extropians is
actually a collection of lists, or a broad collection of topics. Two
of my regular lists have to do with mathematics. There is no
real point in debating issues that can be reduced to equations.
If any topic there cannot be expressed as an equation, it doesnt
belong there and doesnt get answered. List culture there is
straight to the point. We on the Mersenne Prime list have a party
whenever a new record prime is discovered. When the 38th
Mersenne prime was found in June 99 we had a big hootnanny
at one of the local restaurants, and afterwards we were posting
gags about ordering the *prime* rib, etc, and pretty soon a
wicked pun fest broke out, and I was (blush) one of the worst
offenders. They tolerated it for a few days, then they politely
asked us to please knock it off. So we did. On extropians,
when such silliness occurred, the folks seemed much more
tolerant of that sorta thing. I dont know how that observation
fits with your theory Anders. Extropians list culture is more

British motorcycle list: almost zero tolerance of anything that
doesnt have something to do directly with BSA motorcycles.
Many repeatedly called for mercy during the two months that
most of the posts were about privacy and traffic cams. Some
on that list claimed that they were poor readers, and could not
keep up if we were going to chatter. This explanation was
quite believable, if you were to see some of the things people
there posted. I finally dropped that list, for reading it was a
painful experience.

Wearhard: very similar to extropians in many ways, more
focussed but same kind of guys: nerds all. I dont recall that
list ever discussing anything more controversial than which
head mounted displays are superior. Kind of a boring list,
to be honest.

Mars colonization list: very focussed, fairly intolerant of
of topic posts, which is to be expected.

The astronomy list is filled with people like Amara,
so vitriol is seldom seen there. I finally gave that
one up because I use my email primarily as a source
of entertainment, and many of the posts were quite

I lurked on a list for people with growth disorders for a
while in order to find out what is the lower limit to the
size of humans, this to design a Mars mission. Quite a
disappointing experience, for the average level of
conversation there was way lower than any other list
I have ever seen, about what I would expect from a
list for teenagers, altho I have never actually read
a teen list. I found no one there I would want to turn
loose with a jillion dollar spacecraft. There was
no apparent focus at all. I never did figure out who
was the Greg Burch of that crowd, in order to make
contact and have him find out the dimensions the
smallest of the small and how many grams of food
a day they devour, etc. {I eventually got the information
thru indirect contact with Verne Troyer, the diminutive
actor who played Mini Me in Austin Powers. Long story.}

The chess list had world war 3 over one seemingly
innocent post pointing out that the world had its first
black grandmaster. Im not sure why so many found
that so offensive. Several guys posted stuff like, HEY
whaddya mean FIRST black grandmaster? IM a
grandmaster, and my great grandmother was a well-
known sport, bedded every young stud in town, and
two of her children... yakkity yak and bla bla. It
devolved quickly, as you might imagine.

Now that I write out these descriptions, I see why
I spend more time and effort on extropians than all
the other lists combined.

My original point is that the same topics that trip
extropians cause trouble elsewhere too: racism,
sexism, privacy vs openness, gun control, etc. These
things can be effectively discussed, as long as they are
handled with care, and everyone examines their own
preconceived notions on the topic. So far we have
generated more heat than light, eh?

If you have access to Murray and Herrnstein's The
Bell Curve, do read their introduction, where they
acknowledge that differences in race is a terribly
difficult topic to study or even discuss. They lay out
their approach, to be as honest, open minded, fair
and logical as is humanly possible. Whether or not
we agree with their conclusions, Murray and Herrnstein
are worth the time to read methinks, as are their
many opponents.

Anders I dont know if I was anywhere near your
question with all this. {8-] spike

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