Re: E X P O N E N T --December 2001 Members Newsletter

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Tue Dec 11 2001 - 11:01:34 MST

Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> Um, because some of us don't confuse words with violence.
> Terms like "verbal abuse" beg the question of whether there
> is such a thing, and I happen to think there is not. If you
> are harmed by words, that's your problem.

Children can be verbally abused, and even some adults. It takes
psychological strength not to be harmed by words, and some adults in
unfortunate situations aren't given the opportunity to accumulate that

I reaffirm my own declaration that (a) I cannot be harmed by words, *any*
words, no matter how constituted and (b) if I can be harmed by words, it's
my own problem. But that's a declaration that I have to make for myself,
not a default state of affairs.

It is fair to assume that anyone posting to the Extropians list is
responsible for having some threshold level of psychological strength, at
least that of a normal adult - after all, someone posting to this list who
merely happens to be 14 years old is probably not in any sense an ordinary
teenager. So to that extent, if someone on the Extropians list is harmed
by the sort of words we've seen being tossed around, it can probably be
said to be the fault of the person harmed. Generalizing this to all
possible words is much more questionable - I think that should take a
deliberate declaration of self-responsibility.

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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