Re: Singularity pseudo-science

From: Gordon Worley (
Date: Sun Aug 01 2004 - 16:28:38 MDT

On Aug 1, 2004, at 1:52 PM, Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote:

> In all seriousness, I don't think this sort of checklist is valuable.
> Gardner should have known better, devising a weapon that someone might
> as easily turn *as an accusation* against any number of non-crackpot
> theories. Martin Gardner presumably had some way to distinguish who
> was and wasn't a crackpot *before* he came up with this handy
> checklist, and that's what he needed to teach his readers. The
> checklist exalts the signifier over the substance, and arguing over
> checklist items is the sort of thing that pops up all the time in,
> ahem, unmoderated usenet groups.
> And as a practical public relations issue, if you focus on this sort
> of thing, it just makes people think that there's something to argue
> over. Focus on genuinely being a noncrackpot, not on not looking like
> a crackpot, and anyone who can tell the difference without a checklist
> will understand.

AFAICT, Gardner does not present it as a checklist. If it seems to you
that it's a checklist, it's probably an error in the way I presented
what he said. The numbers seem just to be a listing device and he
doesn't ever refer to them again by number. He just considers these
five things that are characteristic, but not causal, of
pseudo-scientists (as the arguments of pseudo-scientists against their
classification make clear). And by no means is this list exhaustive or
definitive. I bring it up because I think it identifies some of the
reasons people get the feeling that the Singularity might be
pseudo-science (and, in some cases, conclude that it is).

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
                Gordon Worley
             Phone: 352-875-5808
e-mail: PGP: 0xBBD3B003

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:48 MDT