Re: Fw: Will Florida Outlaw Naturopathy?

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Wed May 24 2000 - 08:55:20 MDT

I think we as transhumanists are a bit in a dilemma here.

On one hand we are pro medical freedom, since we want access to
treatments for e.g. life extension, cognitive enhancement and physical
improvements. We are also opposed to straightjacking the definition of
health and disease since that could easily lead to a situation where
only one or a few forms of bodily plans are acceptable; in order to
safeguard our morphological freedom we need to give others their
freedom too.

But on the other hand we are pro rationality and in general opposed to
superstition and pseudoscience. While we might let people do whatever
they want with their lives and money, we should not let disinformation
spread unchecked. If people cannot distinguish the real remedies and
improvements from the fakes, then money will be invested in the wrong
products, the scientifically proven treatments we seek will be
expensive since they are selected by few and worse, they will often be
mistaken for fakes and hence give transhumanism a bad name ("Oh,
you're just a new age cult that likes to call itself scientific, you
still take the same snake-oil!").

Our situation is that by supporting medical freedom, we also place
ourselves in the same camp as a lot of groups we normally would want
to separate ourselves from - new agers, some luddites and a lot of
pseudoscience. Politics does make strange bedfellows.

Can we promote some ideas that support freedom and rationality? I
think so. One obvious would be to try to set up various forms of
independent consumer reviews and medical information sources, so that
people can access high-quality information about medical
treatments. Instead relying on having the government blocking access
to bad treatments, a reviewing system might be more flexible: review
organisations (which need to maintain their good reputations) can
review drugs and if they meet their standards the drug can be sold
with their seal of approval; different health organisations can then
announce what review levels (and from who) they accept, in turn a step
towards good consumer information (this is just the same idea as the
independent review boards for scientific web publication I have
mentioned a few times on the list).

But no amount of organisation can help if people in general do not
think critically about their medical treatments. Hence it is clear
that to really get a free medical system to work with as few memetic
parasites as possible, education and stimulation to critical thinking
and self-development is necessary. It is not an either-or question,
even a few sceptics can do a lot of good by exposing snake-oil, but
the more people that employ critical thinking the better. Weird and
often erroneous alternatives will be explored, but that is much better
than enforced conformity.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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