Meritocracies and freedom of information

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sat Oct 13 2001 - 03:09:15 MDT

I'm going to propose a heresy -- and probably get myself dragged
over the coals for it -- but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I am going to propose that "information" should not be free.
This is based on the idea that if you are insufficiently
educated with regard to the information you cannot properly
evaluate its significance and use it responsibly (extropically).

So, for example, a limited knowledge of molecular biology, genetic
engineering, etc. has given a large number of people an axe to
grind against AgBio companies. As recent experiments have shown,
the Monarchs do not seem to be at risk from GM crops. No significant
ill effects have been demonstrated for GM crops. And yet it seems
likely that people will continue to purchase "organic" crops
disproportionately to any benefit that they can reasonably expect
to receive from them. I.e. people can be "programmed" to behave
irrationally (events of the last month being a possible case in

To take two recent Extropian topics --
 "Aging isn't a disease"
   -- Do we have any question that Laura Bradbard from the FDA has
      done the extensive survey that Robert Freitas has done
      to begin a rational classification of what "is" or "is not"
      a "disease"?

 "Fwd: Secrecy foe scrubs data on Internet"
   -- Do we have any evidence that any potential terrorists have
      not already obtained the information on these sites (in which
      case scrubbing it is pointless) or that scrubbing it will be
      likely to increase security? (It may decrease it since the
      scrubbing may not allow members of the general public to know
      what potential targets may exist and exercise a right to avoid
      proximity to such targets).

I do not claim to be a security expert or to understand the details
of the U.S. security system. However my general impression is that
it operates on the basis of a "need-to-know" and "trustability".

Should the knowledge to manufacture chemical weapons or biological
weapons be available to those who would use them unextropically?
I believe the concept developed in the Aristoi -- that one had
to develop the skills to use knowledge productively and the
trust relationships that you would use such skills in an extropic
fashion are worthy of consideration. I do not believe we have
successfully dealt with the issue of when "freedom" is extropic,
e.g. from Extropian Principles 3.0, Section 5, "Open Society":
"freedom of speech, freedom of action, freedom of experimentation"
runs directly up against, Section 6, "Self-Direction":
"independent thinking, indepdendent freedom, personal responsibility"

Do you have the freedom to speak for the destruction of a people?
Do you have the right to act towards such a goal?
Should "independent thinking" be promoted if it is "irrational"
(violating principle 7)? "Remaining open to challenges to our
beliefs and practices" seems to leave open the door to people
being willing to sacrifice their lives to challenge your beliefs
and practices.

This is a fundamental question for me -- on the one hand I would
certainly like the information to be available to overthrow an
oppressive government dedicated to limiting my freedoms. At the
same time I am reluctant to adapt a position that makes such
information available to people (essentially "other tribes")
that would like to use it not only to destroy my security shield
but *my* way of thinking entirely (be it *either* a U.S. self-preservation
or an extropic maximization of information content perspective).

So, here is the question:

Should access to information be based on accreditation?


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