Re: An Extropian Nation ??!

Hagbard Celine (
Fri, 20 Jun 1997 14:41:13 -0400

Kennita Watson wrote:
> Hagbard:
> >I agree that many people are often risk-averse. However this is still a
> >function of imperfect information. Why does one choose not to invest in
> >a new software firm? Because he doesn't know that the firm will
> >eventually be Microsoft. In the same way, a person who decides not to
> >risk a drive to the beach because it may rain, only wishes he knew more
> >about weather systems when it turns out to be a beautiful day. IMO,
> >people are inherently self-aggrandizing (as I have offered before on
> >this list), and if they *KNOW* they will be increased by a certain
> >change in situation, skill, or whatever, they *WILL* accept the change,
> >and quite often, pursue it for themselves.
> Careful. People *KNOW* many things that are false,

Point noted and appreciated. However I'm not even considering
information that is false. If one knows false information I concede that
this is entirely worthless. But at the same time, if one knows true
information, I'm suggesting that as that kind of information increases,
people will be less risk-averse. The conclusion is that perfect
information about all things (omniscience) leads to perfect behavior.
Risk becomes irrelevant.

> and it is not
> possible to know the future with 100% certainty.

You're right. But I'll take 99.9% certainty as good enough.

> The main thing that
> people seem not to know is how probability and statistics and risk
> work,

I think you're saying that the more information people have about such
things, the better they will perform. If so, this is precisely my point.

> and what they most seem to aggrandize is what they will lose on
> a given down side.

I'm not sure what you're saying here.

> Surveys show that many (most?) people are more
> afraid of public speaking than of death.

Is public speaking a risk? I think so, in a certain way. Now, I'm not
sure that the only reason people are afraid of public speaking is
risk-aversion. I figure self-confidence (a purely mental construction)
is the primary basis. Indeed, when I get up in court, the more
information I have about the law and the facts of the case, the more I
look forward to my argument. Again, where information increases,
risk-aversion decreases, the more sure of yourself you become.

> A given person can be an optimist in the face of scanty information,
> or a pessimist in the face of extensive information. I think most
> people tend towards pessimism, and others towards optimism.

I personally tend towards cynicism. But this only because I'm a stark
optomist. I have such a feeling that mankind is capable of everything
that I can't help a certain arrogance towards the people who are running
our world into the ground.

> I tell
> some people everything I know about cryonics and they say "What if
> it doesn't work?". My reply: "Maybe it won't, but then nothing's
> changed. The point is, what if it _does_?".

And that, my extropian friend, is indeed the point.

Boat drinks (check out Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead for an
explaination of this farewell...),