RE: Singularity pseudo-science

From: mike99 (
Date: Sun Aug 01 2004 - 18:00:37 MDT

Separating a science from a pseudo-science is not always easy, even for
scientists. For example, in the current issue of SKEPTIC magazine there is
another anti-cryonics article (not the first one they've published) in which
a cryobiologist is quoted extensively. While he admits that he might be
wrong in dismissing cryonics, this does not stop him from 1) comparing it to
a religion, and 2) claiming (quite wrongly) that cryonics violates known
laws of physics and chemistry.

People can argue that cryonics or the Singularity are stuff and nonsense,
but they would be well advised to do so on factual or logical grounds. Most
arguments promulgated against such ideas fail to engage their core
arguments, aiming instead at unflattering comparisons, scary
misrepresentations, and ad hominem targets.

In the end, the only thing that will silence persistent critics is a
proof-of-concept demonstration. In the case of cryonics, where revival from
cryo-suspension is the goal, I think that's probably 75-100 years away. In
the case of an FAI or a Singularity by other means, the demonstration may
occur in less than half that time, but would take place so quickly that the
critics will be overwhelmed by events. In other words, there won't even be
time for an "I told you so" from our side.

Michael LaTorra

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf Of Gordon
> Worley
> On Aug 1, 2004, at 1:52 PM, Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote:
> > In all seriousness, I don't think this sort of checklist is valuable.
> >
> > 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
> Web:

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