RE: Singularity Institute - update

From: Barkley Vowk (
Date: Thu May 01 2003 - 08:34:05 MDT

On Thu, 1 May 2003, Ben Goertzel wrote:

> I do not believe that science should be considered as *defined* by the
> social structures surrounding it, in the way you're suggesting.

Well, it is difficult to make meaningful contributions without resources.
And like everything else in our society it all has a price, namely
conformity (or at least an outward appearance). This is not really a bad
thing, having a regular pay-cheque, support staff and equipment funding
certainly wouldn't hurt any research effort.

> I agree that following the typical social forms associated with science can
> make your life a lot easier, if you're trying to get money or recognition
> for your scientific ideas. But it's just not right to *define* science that
> way!!
> If Eliezer achieves something really significant in his work, then
> credentials or no, eventually the scientific establishment will pay
> attention. Although the science establishment can be over-conservative and
> trend-obsessed, eventually it has enough objectivity to recognize the value
> in serious discoveries made by maverick outsiders. The history of science
> demonstrates this, though I don't have time to list examples.

Well, if Eliezer achieves something really significant, I'm sure he'll be
given honorary credentials. And I agree with your comments about maverick
researchers, but they are definately the exception not the rule. I have
high hopes that Eliezer will achieve his goals, and don't doubt his
scientific integrity. I *DO* have a problem with how he came across to me
in his email, it generally irritated me. I just wanted to call attention
to how that sounded (to me) and what a casual reader might see when
looking through a googling of Eliezers writings. Perhaps I'm being overly

> > In many cases "researchers" who are self-described geniuses (or perhaps
> > just more X than most people), dismiss journals because their "peers" that
> > do the reviewing toss their papers (or use them for lining bird
> > cages/cleaning up coffee spills). Usually this is followed by the author
> > stalking legitimate researchers to get their ideas heard. This step is
> > generally followed by a restraining order or meds being administered.
> > Sometimes the above is marked with statements like "Academics in this
> > field are filled with anti-knowledge!", or "Those reviewers aren't smart
> > enough to understand my paper!", or even "There is a conspiracy against
> > me, my ideas are just too good, and are being suppressed".
> Jeeez!!!
> I knew a guy like this once (he stalked *me* when I was a prof at UNLV, in
> the early 90's). He really didn't have much in common with Eliezer,
> scientifically or psychologically or however...

>From what I've seen, I think every academic gets a few of them in a
career. Because of that, it is important to avoid making noises like a
crackpot, as people who might be very helpful will recognise those signals
and distance themselves. Being stalked is not a nice thing.

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