Re: French Anderson & GATTACA

From: Bryan Moss (
Date: Sat Mar 24 2001 - 20:16:55 MST

Anders Sandberg wrote:

> If you sit silent the other side gets space to fill the air
> with their views. First they get to make then known. Then
> they will seem reasonable. Then they are turned into law.
> And then you will not be allowed to develop or use the cool
> gene tech.

I don't know. Some things really aren't worth arguing. I'm
doubtful the process of converting baseless arguments into
laws will be as smooth as your account suggests, it's like
building houses out of imaginary bricks. We should probably
err on the side of caution, but caution's a many-sided
multi-dimensional beast and we could just as easily put too
much energy into influencing popular opinion as too little.

> Transhumanists in general need to participate in public
> debate more often. That our opposition uses silly arguments
> might make them a bit boring for the moment, but that is
> also a sign that they never get any hard opposing questions
> - it is easier to shred the arguments with a well formulated
> counterargument.

It's not an easy job; the unprepared can often do more harm
than good. I'm doing everyone here a favour by *not*
participating in public debate, I no longer have the slightest
clue of how to communicate with the uninitiated, I just look
bemused and, when I'm feeling talkative, ridicule them.
Occasionally I try to win a convert, they nod in agreement as
I step them through my meticulously thought-out argument and
then accept the conclusion with the caveat that "oh, well, I
dunno". Nothing changes. With public debate, I imagine, it's
the audience members you're trying to win over; the ones who
haven't really thought about it, sort of agree, and now have
something concrete to work with ("oh yeah, well I heard this
guy on the radio the other day and he sez..."). This is all
very difficult when faced with a debate opponent who doesn't
quite share our respect for rationalism. However, I do
appreciate the efforts of those of you who are out there
spreading the word, I just (naively) wish that it wasn't
necessary. Our opponents, for all their hand waving, offer
the world nothing.


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