Re: The Common Public Interest, again

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Wed, 24 Sep 1997 19:32:22 -0500

I have not taken part in this discussion of the
>>>>> Neuro-Semantic Political Illusion Complex <<<<<
because, just by looking at the title, I can tell perfectly well
that this is something I don't want to hear about.

If it had been titled: "The Psychology of Irrational Politics" I would have
read it. If it had centered around evolutionary psychology, game theory, and
the emergent patterns of political interaction, I would now be taking part in it.

Strike one was the phrase: "Neuro-Semantic". I have never heard of anything
called neurosemantics. Neuro-linguistic programming strikes me as being
theoretically incoherent but having dangerous practical potentialities. The
name remains totally off.

I would never use the adjective neuro-semantic unless and until I was talking
about a correspondence between a particular pattern of neurons and the
low-level processing of semantic interpretations. Even then, it would sound
so pretentious I couldn't bear to do it. Not that I'm never pretentious, but
only when I'm ignorant. I just know too much about neurology and semantics to
use the two together.

The second strike was the phrase: "Political Illusion Complex". We all know
that politics warps rational thought beyond all recognition. In the absence
of information about specific instances, discussed from an engineering
perspective, I am not interested in being told what I already know.

Finally, regarding your accusations of Galilean persecution: Even crackpots
can have their ideas summarily and unfairly rejected, as the CSICOP-sTARBABY
incident demonstrates. Even people claiming to be upholders of rationality
can engage in scientific distortion in what they think is a good cause. But
this does not cause me to sympathize with the crackpots. Scientific
distortion is always unacceptable. Crackpots are also unacceptable. I am
under no obligation to choose a "right" side.

It's entirely possible that the Extropians came down on you like a ton of
bricks. But my feeling is that calling your idea the Neuro-Syllabic
Pretentious Industrial Carpet, or whatever, is simply asking for it. If they
had attacked you on scientific grounds, they would be under the obligation to
do so fairly and objectively. But I for one don't have the time to listen to
every half-baked idea under the Sun, and you can't make me. Come back when
you have a title that doesn't make me wince.

--       Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.