Dynamic Optimism (was Re: Psychadelic and other Garbage on Extropians)

Damien Broderick (damien@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au)
Thu, 24 Jul 1997 12:27:21 +0000

At 04:38 AM 7/23/97 -0500, Forrest wrote:

>Maybe choose a more descriptive name, like "Realistic Optimism" or such.
>Unfortunately, it is not perceived as more than wishful thinking
>by those who have not read a definition, Gary Stix for example.

Just so. For people with a declared interest in memetic engineering,
extropians do make some odd choices in self-marketing. The logo, whether
you wish to admit this or not, doesn't just resemble the new Hong Kong flag
(which, it's true, came along rather later), but tends to elicit creepy
connotations of swastikas and the Africaaner racist/fascist emblem.
`Dynamic Optimism' just makes me snigger, I fear, as I'm flooded by
memories of Charles Atlas ads in the back of pulp magazines - improve your
puny physiques with dynamic tension, that sort of nerdy, try-hard,
sucker-born-every-minute thing.

None of this has anything directly to do with the worth of the ideas
signified. Forrest suggests that `Realistic Optimism' might be preferable.
I'd recommend `critical optimism' (and ixnay the caps, a standard mark of
crackpotism). Using the word `critical' does tend to turn off a lot of
people whose mental functioning operates at the Men Are From Ma's level,
but it fits in to the mainstream of western philosophical analysis, not to
mention Popperian accounts of how science works.

Damien Broderick (professional meme-maker)