Re: Meritocracies and freedom of information

Date: Sat Oct 13 2001 - 07:44:57 MDT

In a message dated 13/10/01 12:12:16 GMT Daylight Time,
> I'm going to propose a heresy -- and probably get myself dragged
> over the coals for it -- but nothing ventured, nothing gained.
> I am going to propose that "information" should not be free.
> This is based on the idea that if you are insufficiently
> educated with regard to the information you cannot properly
> evaluate its significance and use it responsibly (extropically).

Knowledge leeds to knowledge, Ignorance leeds...yada yada.
       Many things I now know about in some depth are a result of trying to
understand information about something I knew nothing about. If your proposed
rule applied, I would have no knowledge of these subjects, because my
original exposure to them would not be allowed.

> So, for example, a limited knowledge of molecular biology, genetic
> engineering, etc. has given a large number of people an axe to
> grind against AgBio companies. As recent experiments have shown,
> the Monarchs do not seem to be at risk from GM crops. No significant
> ill effects have been demonstrated for GM crops. And yet it seems
> likely that people will continue to purchase "organic" crops
> disproportionately to any benefit that they can reasonably expect
> to receive from them. I.e. people can be "programmed" to behave
> irrationally (events of the last month being a possible case in
> point).

       I don't think that limited knowledge is wholly to blame in cases such
as this. I would tend to say that lack of inteligence and people not finding
out the facts for themselves are slightly more to blame. Also good ole
fashion peer pressure plays a part, be it "My mate BOB says...." or even
media coverage, which is the greatest peer pressure in the world.
       If the real facts and information was not available to the ignorants,
then they could never learn the truth.

> To take two recent Extropian topics --
> "Aging isn't a disease"
> -- Do we have any question that Laura Bradbard from the FDA has
> done the extensive survey that Robert Freitas has done
> to begin a rational classification of what "is" or "is not"
> a "disease"?
> "Fwd: Secrecy foe scrubs data on Internet"
> -- Do we have any evidence that any potential terrorists have
> not already obtained the information on these sites (in which
> case scrubbing it is pointless) or that scrubbing it will be
> likely to increase security? (It may decrease it since the
> scrubbing may not allow members of the general public to know
> what potential targets may exist and exercise a right to avoid
> proximity to such targets).
> I do not claim to be a security expert or to understand the details
> of the U.S. security system. However my general impression is that
> it operates on the basis of a "need-to-know" and "trustability".
> Should the knowledge to manufacture chemical weapons or biological
> weapons be available to those who would use them unextropically?
> I believe the concept developed in the Aristoi -- that one had
> to develop the skills to use knowledge productively and the
> trust relationships that you would use such skills in an extropic
> fashion are worthy of consideration. I do not believe we have
> successfully dealt with the issue of when "freedom" is extropic,
> e.g. from Extropian Principles 3.0, Section 5, "Open Society":
> "freedom of speech, freedom of action, freedom of experimentation"
> runs directly up against, Section 6, "Self-Direction":
> "independent thinking, indepdendent freedom, personal responsibility"
> Do you have the freedom to speak for the destruction of a people?

       Yes, as they have the freedom to speak of your destruction. The act is
not Extropic, but the principle is.

> Do you have the right to act towards such a goal?

       Hmmm, this would infringe the rights of others. On the other hand, if
it were in the interests of the whole of humanity to do so then it could be
justified to an extent. It purely depends on the specifics of the situation.
A very grey area.

> Should "independent thinking" be promoted if it is "irrational"
> (violating principle 7)? "Remaining open to challenges to our
> beliefs and practices" seems to leave open the door to people
> being willing to sacrifice their lives to challenge your beliefs
> and practices.

       It also give them the right to explore all avenues of thought in the
search for the right path. It will always be the case that a few will take
the wrong route thinking it is correct.
       I believe all beliefs should be open to challenge, just in case they
are wrong. if this wasn't the case, we would all still live on a flat Earth.

> This is a fundamental question for me -- on the one hand I would
> certainly like the information to be available to overthrow an
> oppressive government dedicated to limiting my freedoms. At the
> same time I am reluctant to adapt a position that makes such
> information available to people (essentially "other tribes")
> that would like to use it not only to destroy my security shield
> but *my* way of thinking entirely (be it *either* a U.S. self-preservation
> or an extropic maximization of information content perspective).
> So, here is the question:
> Should access to information be based on accreditation?

       Not on your nelly.

> Robert

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