Re: What is to be done?

Robin Hanson (
Mon, 24 Mar 1997 22:18:11 -0800 (PST)

Lee Daniel Crocker writes:
>> Consider these 3 reasons why someone might take an extreme view: ...
>> 3. They take the opinions of others seriously as an important source
>> of information, and only take an extreme position when they think
>> they have a particularly unique source of info on the subject,...
>But why must I let their judgements affect me? Why must I personally
>give in to their intellectual pathology that judges ideas by their
>holders rather than by their actual merits?
>I do not wholly discount the value of other opinions: indeed, there
>are many whose opinions have earned my considerable respect, ...
>to serve as a check-and-balance to one's own reason, not a substitute
>for it.

If someone is a reasonable person, then the fact that they have come
to some opinion is information to you. It is an important clue.
Are you saying there are only a handful of people among the billions
in our world whose opinions would affect yours? If so, you must think
there are very few reasonable people in the world.

>> However, others tend to think of our social systems as fragile and
>> interdependent,
>Your existence is the argument against that view. Your ancestors
>made it through ice ages, famines, wars, and technological changes
>no less dramatic in their time than our ideas are in ours. ...

Evolution gives a vast selection effect. Most competitors to our
ancenstors do not have many descendants today. And "making it
through" enough to leave descendants is not great comfort, given how
so many of those people suffered so badly.

Robin D. Hanson