Re: Suicide rights, media publicity,and Media attitude(wasMessage to Membership

From: Robert Bradbury (
Date: Wed Jan 05 2000 - 09:53:03 MST

On Tue, 4 Jan 2000, Robert Owen wrote:

Commenting on Randy Smith's message:
> This was the point of my "Message" exactly. Does membership in this group
> commit me to the support of what some fraction of current Extropians happen
> to espouse?

Abosolutely not. If you can make a rational argument for disagreement
with a large fraction of the "group", then I think most self-proclaimed
group members would support you in having that position even though
they might disagree with it. In the final run, the disagreements would
probably come down to differences in fundamental assumptions or probabilities
of various outcomes. In these forums, I think we can find common ground
in agreement to disagree and respect those disagreements until such time
as someone comes up with better evidence or arguments for supporting one
case or another.

While I'm unsure of the "transhumanist" perspective, I am clear that
that the Extropian perspective places a high value on rational debate.
Rational debates allow a questioning of assumptions and extrapolations
of positions based on assumptions that may not be "confirmable".

I think all within this group are free to cite those assumptions which
the consider valid and those that they question. A majority agreement
with an assumption in no way constitutes "validity" demanding minority
agreement. In fact, within this group, I would expect that any majority
would embrace any minority opinions for the simple reason that they
must be able to respond to the question "But, what if you're wrong?".
In this forum, being wrong may doom us all. So if I am wrong, I'm
extremely enthusiastic about recanting if someone from one of the
minorities can show me that is the case.

> If I happen to feel strongly opposed to it, do you honestly feel I hold
> this view on statistical grounds, so that I will be dissuaded by the
> force of mere numbers?

Absolutely not. You especially, I would expect to hold a position based
on careful consideration of the arguments. If 17 Joe Shmoes come along and
disagree with you, all it means is that I must examine the arguments
in more detail. If 17 Robert Owen clones come along and disagree with
you, then I might tend to side with the clones on the weight of my
respect for their known relative intellectual capabilities.

Unqualified numbers are meaningless. Numbers of relative meritability
are significant. Membership in a group where you self-select in
does not constitute "relative meritability". It only says that you
have an open mind and are willing to listen to rational arguments.
(In contrast, non-membership may be an indication that one is unwilling to
listen to rational arguments or willing to listen to irrational arguments.)

Only observation and experience indicate the quality of the arguments
and therefore the degree to which they should be accepted. One of
the things I liked about the Wall St. Journal article, was that they
talked to Sasha and Max and Natasha and I -- while we have similar
opinions, we have reached them through different rational paths.

However, as I have argued before, Joe Q. Public, does not have the time
or in some cases the education to research the details required for
accepting things like G.E. foods. In those cases we should be very
open about providing access to the logic, papers, rationale, etc.
But to be efficient about this we must also provide our informed
opinions or viewpoints. In those cases where others disagree we
should not hesitate to point this out. It is only by forcing
the debate into public discussion that we may educate each other
sufficiently to come to rationale conclusions.

> When I joined this group, there was no understanding that I was appointing
> it my proxy or my public ideological representative, authorized to speak for
> me on social and political issues.

Nor is there that assumption, IMO. I personally, on matters relating to
philosphy would refer queries to you or Max, just as I might refer questions
art & other subjects to Natasha, politics & genders to Kathryn, law to
Greg, economics to Robin, physics to Hal or John, etc. In a forum of rational
debate, one refers people to those who are more informed on various topics
than oneself.

> Finally, shouldn't that be "Transhumanist/Extropian?

Most likely. I would think EIsm is a subset of THism because THism
would seem to be more generic.


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