From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Mon Apr 30 2001 - 02:23:07 MDT

Neil Blaikie, commenting on Brian Atkins comments about why
too much "tact" may be a bad thing, wrote:

> How is not being nice or offensive extropic? (Seems more entropic to me.)
> What is your definition of "newbie"? Anyone who isn't exactly like you?
> And are you serious about trying to convert people?

The question becomes "What is the investment required to displace
memes?" Some people respond well to "nice" reasoned arguments,
look at them and will gradually come to accept the premises
and conclusions. However the information base each of us
has is very large compared to our I/O bandwidth. Thus most
of the reasoning remains behind the Wizard's curtain. At
some point in an discussion, argument or debate, you have
to make a decision that the other individual's reasoning
is simply incorrect and may be so fundamentally wrong
that just simply will not 'get' it UNLESS YOU YELL AT THEM.

There are any number of bright individuals who I can think
of that fall into this category (Dr. Smalley on nanobots,
Dr. Vogel on uploading, Ray Kurzweil arguing that intelligence
will expand at light speed or we are the first species to
experience the singularity, etc.) And these are the bright
and educated people, presumably those who would change
their minds, should one be able to extract their assumptions
and demonstrate they are on skakey ground.

However, most individuals simply accept whatever memes they
are given, without ever asking "Why do I 'believe' what I
belive?" or "What if I am wrong?". Those individuals have
a huge investment in holding onto those memes because
(a) If you are speaking to them, those memes have 'worked'
to date (i.e. they are alive); (b) You cannot give
them the 'experience' that your memes could work better;
and (c) They are usually surrounded by individuals who
for the most part 'agree' with their memes and so to
discard them could place them in an outcast position with
regard to their social network. The costs of radical
mind shifts are very high.

So, for both the educated and less educated people it sometimes
takes saying "YOU ARE WRONG YOU SILLY DIMWIT!" to get them
to question their own self-certainty sufficiently to
setup enough cognitive dissonance to gain an even chance
of erasing the current meme-set.

One has to decide whether or not such an approach is likely
to be effective and that usually depends on the individual
and the relationship one has with them.

Of course I would agree that on the Extropian list there
may be an excess of yelling from time to time. It would
be interesting to survey other forums, and even normal
human conversations (esp. in culturally specific settings)
to see whether or not our throwing stones level is higher
or lower than average.


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