From: Gordon Worley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sun Aug 01 2004 - 10:54:25 MDT
Most Singularitarians I've talked to, at some point, question if the
Singularity is pseudo-science (or, worse yet, a cult). I've just
finished reading Martin Gardner's /Fads and Fallacies in the Name of
Science/ (1957, ISBN:489-20394-8), and in it he includes five behaviors
that tend to be exhibited by pseudo-scientists (Gardner's position is
that pseudo-scientists all exhibit some degree of paranoia). The
following is an abridged version of Gardner's descriptions:
(1) He considers himself a genius.
(2) He regards his colleagues, without exception, as ignorant
(3) He believes himself unjustly persecuted and discriminated against.
(4) He has strong compulsions to focus his attacks on the greatest
scientists and the best-established theories.
(5) He often has a tendency to write in a complex jargon, in many
cases making use of terms and phrases he himself has coined.
If these characteristics frequently correlate with pseudo-science, as
Gardner and his examples show and my own intuition suggests, it's easy
to see how the presence of these characteristics, especially more than
one, could trigger a person to think that something is pseudo-science.
For example, if we give one point for exhibiting each behavior above,
I'd probably score Eliezer between 2 to 2.5. Combined with the
incredible claims of Singularitarians, it's easy to see why the "might
be pseudo-science or cult" condition is triggered in our minds.
* * *
To head off a discussion that will probably be uninteresting and
produce more noise than signal, this should not be used as proof that
the Singularity is not a cult. Nor is it evidence that the Singularity
is a cult. I choose to look at it more as identifying characteristics
of pseudo-science and cults and note that the Singularity movement
shares some of them, but no matter what someone or something may look
like, it matters what it is. Scientology, flat Earth, Psychoanalysis,
the Singularity, etc. should be properly assessed, not deemed true or
false based on how much they represent the classes cult or real
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