Re: Ground Control To Major Max

Mitchell Porter (
Fri, 11 Sep 1998 01:04:14 +1000 (EST)

This message will be of no interest to anyone, but:

Long ago, Jonathan Grimes wrote to Nicholas Bostrom

> I can't believe
> how easy it was to trick everyone into saying such incriminating
> things.

Jonathan wrote to me saying that through dialogue he would trick Extropians into revealing their dark inner core, whatever that is. I assume that he thought this process had begun and that this is what he was referring to in the message to Nick.

Nicholas Bostrom wrote

> I got a messege from Jonathan Grimes, wherein he was jubilant
> about how easy a time he had had
> tricking everybody into believing in the censorship rumor.

I believe this to have been a misinterpretation of what Jonathan said, the 'censorship rumor' apparently having come into being independently.

Jonathan subsequently wrote

> I take absolutely no responsibility for the censorship rumour.
> You are fabricating evidence. That is a serious criminal offence.
> I have in no way tampered with the list archives.
> The list archive computers are the property of Extropy. I have in no way tampered with the list archive computer system.
> Tampering with the list archives is a criminal offence.
> I am not a criminal.
> You are accusing me of being a criminal.
> I demand you retract this fabrication of evidence.
> I demand an apology from Nicholas Bostrom and Extropy.

to which nobody responded, but I might point out

(i) the list archive belongs to the owners of, is a personal effort of theirs, and not, so far as I know, in any way a property of Extropy Institute.

(ii) Nicholas Bostrom did not accuse Jonathan of tampering with the archives, he "accused" him of abetting a rumor that such a thing had happened.

(iii) If Extropy Institute needed to apologize for Nicholas Bostrom's remarks on "their" mailing list, they would also have to apologize for Jonathan's, since they are equally responsible for what was said in both cases; i.e. not at all.

Now Jonathan has said

> I am still waiting for that apology.
> I am 100 % serious. I want an apology from the Extropy Insititute and I had better get one.
> What the hell did Extropy think it was playing at attempting to blame me for the
> I didn't even know they existed until someone else brought the matter to the lists attention.

making it clear that (i), (ii), and (iii) need to be stated explicitly.

To list members who resent this waste of bandwidth, my apologies, but I corresponded with Jonathan for many months and he proved quite able to discourse rationally about many topics of interest to people on this list. I would like to think that some day he will talk civilly and sensibly about whatever his ideas are. Possibly this is sheer wishful thinking on my part.

I will allow myself one last lapse of judgement, and say to Jonathan:

My impression is that your problems started when you began to worry about the possibilities of catastrophe and dictatorship; that the only way you saw to definitely avoid them was to be in a position of total power yourself; and that you have been operating under the implicit assumption that you will one day *be* all-powerful, this being the reason why you make demands, write as if your opinions are all-important, and so forth. Why you find Extropy Institute so threatening, I'm still not sure, but I assume it has something to do with politics. When Extropians say, "We want total freedom", you envision jackbooted Ubermenschen. That's my hypothesis. As for your campaign against Max More: you haven't met him, and you don't trust him; I have and I do. *Your* actions have made me question whether transhumanism will become a cult, far more than anything any Extropian has ever done; after all, we corresponded for several months about quantum computing, nanotechnology, and the like, and now you're engaged in this deluded paranoid campaign. But perhaps it's just my own bad judgement that I should have spent so long on you. In any case, I suggest that you think of the dullest possible theory of reality and your place in it that you can imagine, and then spend some time contemplating whether it could be entirely true. It is my fervent hope that this will bring you down a bit from whatever high of ecstasy and dread it is that you are currently experiencing.

Yours in exasperation,
Mitchell Porter