Re[2]: This is not The National Inquirer

Guru George (
Mon, 28 Apr 1997 23:57:51 GMT

On Mon, 28 Apr 1997 08:58:48 -0700
Kennita Watson <> wrote:

>John K. Clark was the last to evidence extreme intolerance by writing:
>>> You have to understand, with all the amazing discoveries in this incredible
>>> age it's difficult for even the best of us to keep up with it all,
>>> and we just don't have time for such ..., how can I put it politely...,
>>> male bovine excrement.
>Mike Rose displayed a fair degree of self-control in responding:
>>I understand. Good luck to 'the best of you' in deciding what isn't.
>Since I first joined the Extropians list I have had to be disabused of a
>number of fallacious notions. General appeals to laws-of-whatever didn't
>help. Only being taken step by step through the process of determining
>that 0 did not equal 1, and being shown where the error crept into the
>proof that it did, allowed me to see that the impossible actually wasn't
>true. The Monty Hall door-choosing probability problem (on which I think
>some people disagree to this day) also comes to mind, and there are others
>that don't.
>The point is that saying that something "violates the laws of physics"
>doesn't convince people -- being open to input that seems to violate the
>known laws is what allows people to discover new ones. And calling the
>people names *certainly* doesn't convince them. Look at the proof
>yourself, find the erroneous step, point it out, and explain where
>necessary. Just saying "there's an error there somewhere" is either
>presumptuous, naive, or lazy, depending on the attitude with which it's
>said. Most things are obvious once you understand them.
>If you can't calmly convince a single intelligent and sympathetic person
>of where the law of conservation of energy is violated in this instance,
>how do you expect to convince (mostly less intelligent and less
>sympathetic) people of things more important to you?
>Every time I see misunderstanding handled in such a dismissive and
>contemptuous way, I think I gain further insight into why Extropianism
>(with its cousin Libertarianism) hasn't taken the world by storm.
>For people who wonder what the foofaraw is all about, and how people get
>such ideas, check out:
>and for something somewhat more likely to work (?), try:
>I just told AltaVista to find "car NEAR water NEAR fuel NEAR hydrogen" for
>the first one, and "car NEAR water NEAR power" for the second. Not very
>good queries, but I came up with them in under a minute.
>The world would probably be improved by a Web page debunking some of the
>claims in the first one, without reference to name-calling. I'd write
>one myself, except that I don't know my physics well enough to explain
>the matter clearly.

Well put, Kennita. I would just say, to balance it back the other way
just slightly from where you leave it, that this is a list in which *
critical thinking* is important. I think Mike offered the car thing in a
spirit of critical (political) thinking, and while that's great, and
while I think his critics were a bit rude in a human sort of way, still,
he's got to take the criticism seriously if he wants to participate in
that critical spirit. (The thing is, I'm sure his critics would have
some sympathy with his political point in itself, to some extent -
perhaps that might be a more interesting topic?)

Guru George