Re: When was the last time an extropian post changed your life?

Geoff Smith (
Sun, 30 Nov 1997 18:49:01 -0800 (PST)

On Sun, 30 Nov 1997, Michael M. Butler wrote:

> >I may be a little premature in saying this (since you haven't given your
> >"hows and whys"), but I think this decision may turn some good people off
> >extropy. Having to pay to join an institute to participate on a
> >discussion has a culty feel to it, even if the justification is to reduce
> >the signal-to-noise ratio.
> I can't dispute that you have the experience of a culty feel. But I invite
> you to consider the following:
> Is the Rotary a cult? is the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies a
> cult? Is 4-H a cult? Is the specialty-certified service station I take my
> car to a cult? How about the letters-to-the-Editor column of Scientific
> American?

I think the more important question is: Are these institutions really in
danger of being labelled a cult? When I show an issue of Extropy magazine
to a friend, the first thing that happens is their cult-o-meter goes
berzerk. Why? Because Extropy is very radical, and it is
all-encompassing. The first sense people get is "these extropians are
trying to tell me how to live." Obviously, for those who actually read
the magazine, this thought is ridiculous, but that doesn't stop perfectly
intelligent people from making erroneous prejudgements. I think it is in
ExI's best interest to minimize these prejudgements, and the best way to
go about that is reducing those things that may be miscontrued as "culty."
The fact that you have to pay at least $100 dollars to join an institute
to participate on a general extropian mailing list reeks of one of those
cults where the members are wearing rags, and the leader is driving around
in a Mercedes.

> In each of these examples, members are selected, and "dues" of one sort or
> another must have been paid.
> As for participation in discussion, there's always the CRIT engine.
> Bidirectional links permit open communication across the boundary, while
> keeping the SSNR higher. Kind of like a sodium pump. :)
> You say they don't know about CRIT? Well, they'll just have to learn, won't
> they? :)

What if they don't have web access? Many of us are restricted to e-mail
only services provided by our respective universities. Limiting comments
from university students seems to me to be a *very* bad idea.

> >Also, I don't think being a member of the
> >extropy institute implies you make less "noise."
> Being born a Presbyterian doesn't guarantee you a seat in the Choir Invisible.
> >Some people may join the
> >extropy institute for the purpose of making some noise on the list.
> Begging your pardon, it doesn't matter what their intent is, it matters
> what the result is.

Exactly. Empiricism is important here. In this respect, I think we
should bow to those who have been here longest. If you read Harvey
Newstrom's post, you will see that making people pay does not reduce the
S/NR ratio since those who paid think they are getting ripped off if they
can't ramble on about irrelevant topics.

> Some reasonable people think the SSNR is too high. One
> man's signal is another man's noise. Otherwise, why not just have one big
> maillist for everyone on the net? Reductio ad absurdum, QED, E Pluribus Unum.

True. Which is why those who think someone's post is noise should just
ignore it. If many people think it is noise, the noise-maker will get no
replies, and get discouraged through silence not to post irrelevant
material again. The seems to me to be the best system (and most
extropian) Kennita Watson tend to be a strong advocate of this way of
policing the list, and I agree.

> >Others, who would contribute a lot to the list, may not be interested in
> >joining the extropy institute, either for monetary reasons or because they
> >do not want to incur the wrath of those who would take out their petty
> >frustrations on the members of the extropian movement.(ie. misguided
> >neo-luddites)
> Every decision has a cost. Good people are not doing their best on the list
> right now because of the current state of affairs.

I think the cost is not worth the value. If Harvey Newstrom is correct,
S/NR will not change significantly, so what is the value of restricting
posts to the list?