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

Brian Atkins (
Sun, 28 Feb 1999 22:43:42 -0500

Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> > 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.

Makes sense. What about putting some shortened version of this onto the subscribe page of the ExI site? At any rate my check will be sent off tomorrow to ExI; this list has made a big impact in my life, and I will do what I can to make sure it sticks around.