Re: Offered without comment or warranty

Michael Lorrey (
Thu, 14 May 1998 13:13:07 -0400

Keith Elis wrote:

> A Wizard from Oz wrote:
> <snip>
> > Example: I can cautiously consider the possibility that certain claims of
> > the paranormal are valid without my head exploding, but I get very, very
> > angry when my sister-in-law blithely reports that she and her friends can
> > change the traffic lights green when they wish to.
> Funny, that.
> This list, much to its credit methinks, is rife with critical thinkers
> of the skeptical variety. Yet, I can't help but cast quizzical looks at
> where it
> appears ExI is slated for debunking by the esteemed skeptic Dr. Robert
> Carroll.

Yes, if I were Max, I'd seek to force by threat of legal action Dr. Carrol to get
on with it, as being associated by accusation on that page as being loopy like
many of the other things on that page (then again, he also plans on debunking
'flourescent lighting', which would be rather odd, it works, doesn't it?) is bad
enough in and of itself.

> It is worthy for one to be skeptical. Yes, indeed. But it may be equally
> worthy for one to be skeptical of the skeptical.

I have found that extreme skeptics can be just as paranoid and psychotic as the
most wild eyed space tripper.

> Cognitive dissonance, anyone? :)
> <snip>
> > It occurred to me that I (a first born) have a high probability - on
> > Sulloway's acount - of being narrow, conservative and opposed to change.
> > My brother Mick, 15 years younger and the family's `baby', should have
> > turned out neophilic and radical - as indeed he did, in a relaxed and
> > sardonic way (he's a scathing authority on nuclear tropes in movies and
> > TV). But I sort of muddy the picture, being gung-ho for change in some
> > directions and quite narrow and hostile to innovation in many others.
> Sacred cows are to blame. I find I have a much more open-mind to such
> Damnable Heresies as Singularity, and Little Machines That Can Do
> Everything And More. Things future and visionary make me all giggly. Is
> this a symptom of 'a mind so open that the brains fell out?' Certainly
> not. Or perhaps not certainly not.
> My very religious mother and I were having a brief conversation the
> other day by way of voice (ugh) communication. We were talking about the
> normal mother/son things (Powers, Dyson Spheres, Great Filters, etc. :)
> when the thought crossed my mind that if I were to try to explain
> nanotech to her, she might snicker like a skeptic in the best case, or
> tag me a 'buffoon' for the rest of my life in the worst case.
> She might be right.
> Anyway, the point is that she has no trouble believing that a wiseman
> named Christ went fussing about turning water into wine and raising
> folks from the dead (including himself). Furthermore, she has no trouble
> believing that after having been killed once, HE'S COMING BACK FOR MORE!
> So, the moral of this story is that the more sacred your sacred cows,
> the easier it is to swallow the really big pills that relate to those
> cows (or at least make it more exciting to believe them).

Yes. Many religionists find extropy/transhumanism to go hand in hand with more
liberal christian transcendentalism. Where you find dissonance is when an
authoritarian religionist understands the libertarian implications of
transhumanism, and the threat they pose to their black and white narrow minded

> > (I'm
> > one of those people who find it hard to believe anyone except the mentally
> > infirm would choose to wear a baseball hat backwards - it mimics baldness,
> > never a good look, it leaves you with the sun in your eyes, not a lot of
> > fun, and it's a marker of herd mentality.)
> If you don't mind, Damien, I'm going to file this one away for future
> reference. :)

Depends on what the present utility of the visor is and whether you have someplace
else to stick the hat while you are doing something for which it gets in the way.
I tend to turn it around when I'm shooting skeet, on the first station, so I can
see the high house bird coming out over me....

> >
> > I suspect this might have something to do with anxiety control. If your
> > stress set-points are low, from birth, you might arrange your reactions to
> > the world in a defensive, suspicious way, and if you're intelligent as
> > well, you might do this by constructing/adopting highly complex, organised
> > systems of categorisation, evaluation and expression. More relaxed people
> > might find it easier to break free, to explore `imaginatively' without the
> > risk of premature closure. (If that's true, there'll also be more paranoid
> > delusives - who might seem at first sight to be wildly imaginative - among
> > the non-`imaginatives' as well... which is one of the claims in the spoof
> > article.)
> Neat idea. Some people are convinced that the chasm between neophobe and
> neophile is traversible using drugs of some sort. We've had this
> discussion here before, and I don't know if it was ever settled. Maybe
> Danny remembers?

Actually, I've found it to be traversible simply via a good application of reading
and humor, though pot helps, I suppose, though I think that going through a
stressful period of any kind tends to force the mind to open itself to new ideas
in order to survive, its the old adapt or die instinct.

> Inventiveness seems to have been a survival trait. Imagination? I don't
> know. Are they different? The starry-eyed daydreamer would have died off
> pretty quickly, it seems, what with the large predators running about
> the savanna 25,000 years ago. OTOH, imagination seems to follow
> intelligence around. Just look at the canonical interpretations of QT.
> Or Kip Thorne and exotic matter. Who has more imagination than that?
> Imagination seems to require the ability to take some unproven things
> for granted and extrapolate from there. And is it worth mentioning that
> this sounds awfully a lot like theoretical applied science?

Running simulations, dreamCAD, and intuitive extrapolations requires both high IQ
and imagination.

> >
> > Are you a later-born, Anders? Max? Natasha? Greg? Keith? John? Anyone?

Second of three boys, with a girl as the youngest child. I'm the most imaginative,
but also have the highest IQ.