Re: Improving the list (was: Can we please dekookify the list?)

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Sun, 28 Feb 1999 19:19:22 -8000 (PST)

> If I cannot suggest that specific responsibility be delegated to
> specific people without causing internecine warfare, then the
> internecine warfareers are out of luck, 'cause I'm still gonna do it.

Much as I appreciate the approbation, I have to weigh in strongly in favor of continued anarchy. And not just for the same old pro-free- speech arguments, or diversity of thought, or dangers of central control, although those are good arguments. I think the greatest danger in setting up kook-control systems is the memetic equivalent of antibiotic overuse: by reducing our exposure to kookiness, we may endanger our future ability to deal with it, and may encourage more robust forms of kookiness to evolve. Far better for future generations that we arm them to recognize and deal with it rather than protecting them from it and leaving them defenseless.

Unlike Natasha, I'm not at all against calling names and making judgments; that is good and valuable information too, and we should not shirk from distributing it just because it is sometimes socially unacceptable--even divisive and incendiary--to do so. The fact that such information causes violent reaction is itself a memetic disease that more exposure may help us combat. Call a kook a kook, and call a genius a genius (I, for example, would nominate Ian Goddard and Robin Hanson to my kook and genius lists, respectively, but it's important to note that I do not killfile or otherwise ignore Ian-- he does come up with an occasional gem of idea, and he helps me exercise my ability to describe kookiness and understand it. Nor do I canonize Robin; indeed I disagree with him more often than not. I do not want to lose the experience of either of them.)

Volume-based, rather than poster- or content-based, controls might be safer, even though they risk limiting "good" info. I have in the past suggested an electronic version of Robin Hanson's equitalk; that does have the advantage of judgment being totally decentralized, allowing popular posters extra soapbox time, while not totally silencing the chronically unpopular. It is that last feature I see as most important. We have to have occasional exposure to the memetic germs lest our antiseptic ideascape breed a race of memetic bubble-boys.

I think I've strained the analogy enough for now, but let me put it another way: judgment and selection are good; limitation is not. If annoyance is the price we pay for liveliness, sobeit.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC