Re: feedback and sharing knowledge

Geoff Smith (
Tue, 23 Sep 1997 20:37:42 -0700 (PDT)

On Thu, 25 Sep 1997, Joao Pedro wrote:

> Hi!
> Geoff Smith wrote:
> > If you are in microbiology, you should know what negative feedback is. I
> > learned about negative feedback in high school biology. If you understand
> > how the human body regulates hormones in the thyroid, you understand
> > negative feedback.
> Do you think I mention terms, of my area of expertise, without knowing
> what they mean? Like mention below, I couldn't apply the term to
> economic systems in the context in which EvMick applied the term. More,
> he wrote:
> > If any corp starts exploiting...they go broke...(absent government
> > meddling)...monopolies are only possible in a controlled economy...can't
> > happen in a free market...negative feedback..
> I still, today, can't understand why do you (or some of you) think this
> would happen. And that certainly puzzled me up a bit. BTW, I still think
> monopolies happen in a free-market

In a free market, there is nothing stopping someone from starting up a
small business to compete with a monopolistic business. There may be
monopolies in the sense of one business supplying all of product X, but at
least there is the *potential* for someone else to come along and fell
that monopoly. With government, true monopolies are possible.
Governments, in fact, are the largest monopolies in the world. The second
largest are those monopolies created by governments. I'll give you
some Canadian examples. IN my home province of British Columbia, the
telephone company was an enforced monopoly. Competition was against the
law made by the *government* A competing company wasn't even allowed to
try. Recently, that monopoly has been lifted, bringing in new companies
to compete and lower prices. One of the advantages I have immediately is
access to cheaper internet access. This is what happens when government
takes its hands out of the market. Example 2: Federal government has just
extended the patent period on new medical drugs to 20 years. What does
this mean? It means the government has created a bunch of 20 year
monopolies- they can charge whatever they want for 20 years, since they
have no competition. Has this been a good explanation?

> and I still can't understand why
> would negative feedback prevent this and the exploration of the
> population by any corp.
> Damien Broderick wrote:
> > `Negative feedback' is *not* primarily an economics term, but derives from
> > systems and control theory and has very general application. It is at
> > least 50 years old, and is the basis of all advanced control systems.
> > Perhaps it is called something entirely different in your own language, but
> > it is defined in most English dictionaries. I keep a dictionary on my
> > desk, and another on my kitchen table, and when I see a word I don't know I
> > look it up - I don't start by asking other people. If it's not in the
> > dictionary, I look in the encyclopedia in my study, and if it's not there
> > *then* I have no hesitation in asking.
> Like I mentioned before, I know the meaning of the word but I couldn't
> find an appropriate application for it in economy, in the context of our
> argument, in explaining to me the author's (EvMich) point of view. Like
> I said a thousand times, I don't know nothing of economics

or english grammar ;)

> besides
> common sense and applying a term I know from biology (and don't use in
> my daily life) to economics and figuring out how things happen in
> economical systems according to EvMich's perspective was not up to my
> skills. Also, actually disagreeing with EvMick's point was not a good
> way to understand what he was trying to say.

Good point, Joao.

> I hope this matter is dead and buried (Damien, I know your intention is
> good and I'm glad you cleared up some misunderstandings). Ironically
> speaking, I think I'm a much better human being now that I know the
> meaning of negative
> feedback and why corporations won't be able to be in a monopoly
> situation because of it.
> Chris R. Tame wrote:
> > I may be doing you an injustice, but I get the strong feeling from your
> > posting that your initial questions were not a serious requst for
> > information. One sees this all the time on the net. Someone posts a set
> > of elementary questions about libertaranism or free market economics or
> > whatever - all of which are actually dealt with in the primary
> > literature of their respective subjects. When the poster receives some
> > answers he or she then responds with polemical and ill-considered
> > arguments, clearly indicating that they were not really making an honest
> > inquiry in the first place, but were simply looking for an argument.
> > Which is another reason why many people can't be bothered to reply.
> I was looking for information but even I wasn't sure about how serious
> this information would be.
> > If you are really interested in learning about anything READ BOOKS! If
> > you think book reading is "boring" you clearly have little interest in
> > acquiring knowledge.
> There are books that I find amusing to read, there are books I find
> interesting to read and there are books I find boring to read (and
> usually stop in the beginning). I read several books about aging, a
> subject I find most interesting and disturbing but I never read a book
> about economics and would probably be bored to death if I would. It's a
> matter or choice and personal taste.
> I might read a couple of articles on the net about economy, I still have
> some doubts I would like to clear out. Perhaps one day I even read a
> book about economy!

Not a bad idea. You can imagine how frustrating it would be to debate
with me about cryosuspension if I knew nothing about cryonics or aging-
especially if I thought I knew what I was talking about!

> Geoff Smith wrote:
> > If you had been here for longer, you would realize that a large amount of
> > volume on this list is new people coming to the list asking the *same*
> > questions, making the *same* silly points and mistakes. This diverts
> > people's attention from more important topics. I am definitely guilty of
> > this crime, and I'll apologize now to all those people who see my newbie
> > posts as same old, same old.
> Tell me something, wouldn't you like to see the extropian movement
> expand itself?

That sounds like a nice idea.

>Wouldn't you like to see more extropians than there are
> now?

I wouldn't mind some more people to talk to.

>Presumably, the answer is yes. Do you think you teach other persons
> the extropian principles and thought by telling them to read books?

Yes. Learning requires one person.(and an information source) Debating
requires two. From your posts, it is evident that you need to do the
former, before you do the latter.

> Personally, I have a fame of being a good guitarist, do you think that
> when someone asks me how to do a A chord, I tell him/her that he/she is
> stupid and should go and look for it in a book?

No, but teaching someone how to play an A is not a particularly difficult
or time consuming process. If you had read War and Peace, and I came up
to you and asked "tell me everything that happens in War and Peace,"
wouldn't you just say "Go read the book!" I know I would, unless the
person couldn't read.

> Even more time-taking
> questions, do you think I just say that people who ask me these
> questions are ignorant and shouldn't even deserve to be by my side?

Of course they're ignorant! They're ignorant of the A chord. As for not
deserving to be by your side, who, exactly, said that??? I think I may
have missed that post.

> Of
> course not, I would like more and more persons to learn guitar and since
> I love it, I teach anyone who asks me to, within the limits of my
> knowledge, even that I have to give the same answer 10, 20, 100, 500
> times.

What if you are asked this question so many times, it begins to detract
from your aging research? Then, would you be so altruistic?

> Now, do you think that you spread the extropian movement by sitting
> around thinking: - I'm very smart, the others are ignorants and only
> when they, by their own means, know as much as I, will I then see them
> as my fellows.

hmmm... I must have missed a lot of the posts. When was all this said?
Is it possible you're reading a little to much into people's suggestion :
"Go read a book."?

> Honestly, this is how some of you acted when I asked my
> questions, if you really want to make the extropian movement (or any
> other ideology) grow, you have to teach people it's principles, many
> times. Do you think Jesus Christ (no matter your religion, you have to
> admit he was good at convincing people) just answered questions by
> saying: - Read it in the bible, it will be out in a decade or so.
> It's true that the subject I was asking questions about was not directly
> an extropian subject

Sure it is, it's just been debated to death.

>but, even so, you (I take this opportunity to say
> that when I say "you" I don't mean all of you but a few who certainly
> know that this message is directed at them) showed a lack of will to
> teach others that won't lead you nowhere in terms of spreading your
> ideas.

People are here to discuss and debate, not to convert you. Extropianism
is a dynamic philosophy... at the same time, Extropian discussion is
well-established. Some things have been discussed more than they deserve,
because some people refuse to inform themselves before they start making
decisive comments.

> Instead of being a small group of which no-one (at least in Portugal)
> has ever heard of, and taking 20, 50, 100 or 500 years to develop
> nanotech and life extension, if others would support "our" (this is a
> "our" between commas because I don't agree with all your principles)
> cause this objectives would much soon be achieved.

True, but this should be achieved without coercion. I take responsibility
for my own education- I don't expect others to be there to answer my
questions when the answers are at my local library. Once I have this
information, I can make an informed debate, and decide for myself the
validity of this information.

> > Maybe people are glancing over your posts because you have obviously
> > glanced over the introductory message to this mailing list. Joao, people
> > are not impressed with your posts because you have obviously not read any
> > of the suggested material in the introductory message to this mailing
> > list. Your post is not uncommon; on the contrary, posts like yours are
> > bogging this list, and people are getting a little tired of answering the
> > same old questions, over and over. I'm sure you can understand this.
> OK, I went over and read the introduction to the mailing list. First, I
> read Dawkin's books suggested in the introduction but that was it.

The Selfish Gene will not five you enough information to effectively
debate economics.

If I told you "the A chord isn't actually an A, it's a B flat", you would
say I'm wrong. What if I replied: "I don't believe you, but I don't want
to read any books on subject... maybe I will eventually get around to it.
In the mean time, I don't believe you. It's obvious that the A chord is
actually B flat, I don't understand how you can even begin to think it's
not." Wouldn't that make you a little frustrated? (come on, be honest ;)

> Second, although there are a few suggestions to asking questions about
> anything, I found this:
> > The Extropian list is not meant to proselytize, to gain converts.
> Personally, like I mention above, I completely disagree.

Extropianism is not a religion.

> As a conclusion, like I mentioned in my last message, I won't bother you
> again about economics or any issues in which I don't have a good
> knowledge (great, I'll just write about aging, at least in that subject
> I can take on anyone).

You sound very confident. I'm willing to debate aging with you (as I
already have) I'm also willing to read more books about aging to make it
a more informed debate.