Discussion with Aubrey de Grey About Cyronics

I am discussing cryonics with Aubrey de Grey. He said nice things about it on Reddit. I say bad things about it (though I have no in-principle objections). Read the discussion below.

Aubrey de Grey is the driving force behind SENS – Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence. What that means is medicine to deal with the problems caused by aging. If you ever donate money to any kind of charity, you should look at SENS and seriously consider redirecting all your donations there.

For the details, besides their website you should look at Aubrey de Grey's book Ending Aging. I read it and think it's a good book with good arguments (something I don't say lightly, as you can see by the critical scrutiny I've subjected Ann Coulter and others to.)

Me: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/fallible-ideas...
Aubrey de Grey : https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/fallible-ideas...
Me: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/fallible-ideas...
Aubrey de Grey : https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/fallible-ideas...
Me: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/fallible-ideas...
Me (fully quoting Aubrey de Grey's third reply): https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/fallible-ideas...

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Endorsements vs. Integrity

In a recent Center for Industrial Progress newsletter, Alex Epstein bragged about the prestigious people he'd gotten to sanction his upcoming book The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.

Alex writes that they "endorsed" the book. I think that's accurate. They're siding with him. You understand.

One endorsement reads:
"Alex Epstein has written an eloquent and powerful argument for using fossil fuels on moral grounds alone. A remarkable book.”

--Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist
Today I saw an article by Ridley about global warming. Note this is the same person from the book endorsement. His article takes roughly the same side as Epstein: it disagrees with the "settled science" of the "climate consensus" (scare quotes, not article quotes).

The article was OK, but at the end something stood out to me:
... concentrate on more pressing global problems like war, terror, disease, poverty, habitat loss and the 1.3 billion people with no electricity.
"[H]abitat loss" is not a pressing global problem in the same company as war, disease, etc...

This is not just my view. It's Epstein's view. Epstein disagrees with environmentalist views like this. He values people over animals. He's really strongly at odds with this kind of thinking.

Ridley endorsed Epstein's book, but actually disagrees in a huge way with Epstein's worldview.

What good are endorsements like that? Shouldn't Epstein reject endorsement by his philosophical opponents? Agreeing on a few particular conclusions about fossil fuels isn't enough. Epstein's book is fairly philosophical, and says he cares about about principles and philosophical reasoning (in line with his Objectivist philosophy). He shouldn't gloss over major philosophical differences to get dishonest but prestigious book promotion.

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Fountainhead Comments

Rereading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Some notes:
He remembered his last private conversation with her-in the cab on their way from Toohey’s meeting. He remembered the indifferent calm of her insults to him-the utter contempt of insults delivered without anger.
“Shut up, Alvah, before I slap your face,” said Wynand without raising his voice.
“Pipe down, Sweetie-pie,” said Toohey without resentment.
There's a theme here involving negative comments without negative emotions.
It was not sarcasm; he wished it were; sarcasm would have granted him a personal recognition-the desire to hurt him.
Negative comments due to negative emotions are easier to take. "Oh, you hate me, so you're being mean." But when it's impersonal, it's harder to dismiss the negative comments. If there's no motive besides the person thinks the negative comments are true, it's hard to ignore them without considering whether they're true or false (with objective reasons).

The position on sarcasm is notable too. I independently came to the same position. But few people are aware of this. Sarcasm is generally seen as more harmless than it is.
There’s an interesting question there. What is kinder-to believe the best of people and burden them with a nobility beyond their endurance-or to see them as they are, and accept it because it makes them comfortable? Kindness being more important than justice, of course.”
(This is a villain speaking, which is why the last sentence states a bad position.)

This issue is really important. You might expect people to like material such as The Beginning of Infinity. That book explains that problems can be solved, and people can make unbounded, unlimited progress. That's good, right? A better life is possible. The future can be awesome.

But people don't flock to ideas like these. It's not that they have counter-arguments. They can't refute it. They just don't actually like or want it. It burdens them with a nobility they don't want to deal with trying to live up to. It's easier if a bad life is all that's possible to man, so then they can live badly without feeling guilty.

With people like this, what could get through to them and help them become rational thinkers? What would get their interest so they'd (happily) try to live better?
“The worst thing about dishonest people is what they think of as honesty,” he said. “I know a woman who’s never held to one conviction for three days running, but when I told her she had no integrity, she got very tight-lipped and said her idea of integrity wasn’t mine; it seems she’d never stolen any money. Well, she’s one that’s in no danger from me whatever. I don’t hate her. I hate the impossible conception you love so passionately, Dominique.”
People lie. All the time. Especially to themselves.

And, what Rand's talking about: they lie to themselves about what lying is, so that they can believe they aren't liars!

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Success Isn't the Same Thing as Quality

"If you build it (so it's good), they will come" is a brag of popular and successful people. It's saying "people came to my thing because it was good, and didn't go to my rival's thing because it was bad". It's saying whatever the status quo is, that's how things should be. It's saying whatever is popular, it's popular because it's good.

Notice the passivity, you build it, they come automatically. You don't make them come, it just happens by itself. (And if it doesn't? Way more things are built than gain audiences. Well, then you didn't deserve success. Because the meaning here is you build it, you sit around passively to be judged, and then whoever has success deserves it and is good.)

Saying, "Don't worry about getting the word out, just make it really good and success will follow" is the same message. It's defending the status quo, and saying everyone's place in the world is where they deserve to be. It's the elite asserting the rationality of the world that made them the elite.

People also mix up making something people want and making something good. Lots of people have bad preferences. Pleasing people makes it easier to get attention/customers/fans/etc, but it's different than making something good. Again the issue is a claim about how great and rational the status quo is. There are lots of people who devote their lives to pleasing others, and want that to have been good.

The idea that quality ensures success is wrong. And it flatters successful people.

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Gaming Propaganda

Live comments for Die Noobs gaming "documentary" that i saw part of on Twitch.

Here's some info about it.

http://blog.twitch.tv/2014/07/gaming-documentary-d...

I don't have an ideal link, but I'm guessing it'll be easy to find on YouTube or Google in a few days.

Comments:

lol twitch is showing propaganda video about how playing video games is no different than what kids always did playing football

some guy just got a clip saying “e-sports. take away the e. it’s sports.”

now ppl saying league is just a different type of “athleticism”

and it’s just as much a “team game” as team sports

now someone is saying watching competitive games is just like watching boxing and MMA

now they have a guy saying what he loves about e-sports is the HUMAN STORYLINES

and the EMOTION

it’s soooooo blatant social manipulation

to me it reads like super blatant begging for social legitimacy

but i think it’s got just enough barely any subtlety for ppl not to see it that way

now it’s saying gaming = family bonding

oh look dancing and music

and glorifying IRL fighting

and injuries, violence

and ppl trying to be cool and memey

lol “are they bad enough dudes to become progamers?”

see instead of saying “progamers are badass dudes” they imply it

now ppl are fooled

it’s an assertion disguised as a question about something else

i pasted this to HS players, wonder if anyone will say anything

now they’re at a gym

literal gym

presenting this as progaming training

“i want to dive headfirst into this thing and murder your whole facebook network”

now after the gym warmup they are playing CS

or some FPS, might not be CS actually, idk

oh i think they said it’s CoD

most of the shots of them “practicing”

are of the ppl not the screen

and them talking

and now they are practicing trash talk at a bar

walking in with a girl

some people might think the time we spent gaming was wasted. but it’s like Tom said, we didn’t waste anything. – pure unargued assertion

explaining he’s competitive “we wanna kill everybody”

“obviously we’re not gonna throw a fist at other bands, but we wanna destroy everybody”

i find it funny he had to qualify it like "obviously i don't mean what i keep saying"

it's like funnier cuz it WAS obvious. all the violence is metaphorical. we all know they aren't actually gonna go murdre someone. but he still was like scared and had to disown violence in the midst of all the glorifying of it

there’s contradictions there

it breaks the mood pretty badly. like a rockstar promoting "sex, drugs and rock and roll" and then in the middle he's like "but don't actually do drugs or have sex before you're married"

lol now they are saying rather literally that progamers don’t live in basements and their friends are jealous

it’s such propaganda

after more comparisons with sports, here are two live comments from other people on twitch:
Kookoomaloo: starcraft = golf
Idely: so starcraft is pianogolf?
lol wtf these ppl are interrupting their APM to chug beer while playing FFA starcraft?

"i was impressed, but i still wasn't impressed at the same time"

now they got a literal MMA fighter saying how he played Atari, Nintendo, and arcades

the MMA guy is asked about ever fighting himself a game version of himself, and answers he doesn't because he's superstitious

there was some sexism, insulting wrestling moves for being "pretty". the whole video adheres to social memes about guys should be strong/violent/macho (pretty is for girls). and the basic point is to repeatedly claim gamer guys are high status

now that's material about how gaming impresses someone's mother. they're really trying to go through whatever people care about and say gaming is good at that.

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Unconstrained by Reality

https://twitter.com/TimJGraham/status/504042666636...
Sarah Silverman on NBC says her purse contents are "fun and pot and gum." Missing Noel Shepherd.
This is a common thing celebrities and other popular people do. This answer is not meant to be taken literally. Silverman is kind of joking, but also kind of serious – there is an actual meaning here. What purpose do these non-literal statements serve?

If you aren't speaking literally, you can speak in terms of 100% pure unfiltered social vibrations, unconstrained by reality (or drug laws).

By speaking non-literally, she can say exactly what will be most popular, without worrying about whether it's true.

She's communicating that she knows what's popular, and approves, and is willing to play the part of complying with social expectations to please others.

"Fun" is something pretty much everyone approves of. "Pot" is popular with her fanbase. And "gum" is a silly answer, meaning she's not too serious, not too worried about important things. It means she won't disapprove of others who spend their time chewing gum or otherwise having unimportant lives.

What's actually in her purse? No one cares.

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They had never seen his buildings; they did not know whether his buildings were good or worthless; they knew only that they had never heard of these buildings

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand:
When [Roark] went up to his office, the elevator operators looked at him in a queer, lazy, curious sort of way; when he spoke, they answered, not insolently, but in an indifferent drawl that seemed to say it would become insolent in a moment. They did not know what he was doing or why; they knew only that he was a man to whom no clients ever came. He attended, because Austen Heller asked him to attend, the few parties Heller gave occasionally; he was asked by guests: “Oh, you’re an architect? You’ll forgive me, I haven’t kept up with architecture—what have you built?” When he answered, he heard them say: “Oh, yes, indeed,” and he saw the conscious politeness of their manner tell him that he was an architect by presumption. They had never seen his buildings; they did not know whether his buildings were good or worthless; they knew only that they had never heard of these buildings.

It was a war in which he was invited to fight nothing, yet he was pushed forward to fight, he had to fight, he had no choice—and no adversary.
This is how most people treat my philosophy.

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Rule Breaking

people routinely break rules on purpose in games. for example basketball. people foul to stop the clock near the end.

in hockey you can get thrown out of the rest of the game for fighting. but people still fight on purpose sometimes.

if you have any way for people to break rules on purpose and get any advantage, they will.

why do they make rules with weak enough penalties that any good can come of rule breaking?

i think a big part of the issue is the fans want to see a good, competitive game. if you penalize a team a ton for breaking a rule, resulting in a very lopsided game and making the ending result no longer in doubt for the rest of the game, then the fans won't like that. it'll be boring to watch.

so there's this tension. on the one hand, they want to stop people from doing certain things. but on the other hand, no matter what anyone does, they don't really want to mess up the game. they want to play on and have it still be exciting, not have one team (or individual player) too handicapped to compete.

plus, the bigger the penalties are, the harder it gets to call a penalty. the more effect calling penalties has, the more referees will have to let small stuff slide. so then players figure out where the line is. and now you have players trying to get as close to the major penalty line as they can without crossing it, and if they slip up just slightly then they get a BIG penalty for doing something slightly on the wrong side of the line. tiny change in behavior, big change in consequences. that's a really bad system. and much worse given the human error factor – people are trying to play just up to the limit of what the ref won't call a penalty on, but have to account for the ref's judgments on each play being randomly wrong by a significant factor in either direction. so it's not just pure skill to go near the line without crossing, it's also luck. you have to figure out the normal range for ref judgements (like judges stuff between 20% more or less severe than it actually is) and then account for that, but then you can be screwed by a random outlier judgment. (i'm thinking the ref judgments are basically what you actually did, modified by a random factor that's on a bell curve).

oh and to make matters worse, most people don't draw a clear line between violating the spirit of the game (good sportsmanship) and the explicit written rules of the game. so there's fan pressure to judge things like intentions of actions, and whether coming near violating a rule repeatedly without actually violating it is bad sportsmanship that should be punished, and so on.

most people see all kinds of misbehavior as on a continuum and don't actually care all that much about the written rules. refs and court judges are supposed to be better than that and go by the actual rules, and do so with very variable success. (even the supreme court is pretty crap at it, especially the lefties)

this kinda stuff affects all types of games, including board games and video games. it varies though, e.g. if there's no fans watching to worry about.

some of it's also an issue for social news sites. for example, reddit tries to have rules to limit ways of getting upvotes. people who do everything they can to get upvotes just shy over breaking the rules will be most effective at getting upvotes.

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They simply did not care to find out whether he was good

The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand:
The architects he saw differed from one another. Some looked at him across the desk, kindly and vaguely, and their manner seemed to say that it was touching, his ambition to be an architect, touching and laudable and strange and attractively sad as all the delusions of youth. Some smiled at him with thin, drawn lips and seemed to enjoy his presence in the room, because it made them conscious of their own accomplishment. Some spoke coldly, as if his ambition were a personal insult. Some were brusque, and the sharpness of their voices seemed to say that they needed good draftsmen, they always needed good draftsmen, but this qualification could not possibly apply to him, and would he please refrain from being rude enough to force them to express it more plainly.

It was not malice. It was not a judgment passed upon his merit. They did not think he was worthless. They simply did not care to find out whether he was good.
This is how most people treat my philosophy.

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Ambiguous Feminism

Look at this tweet:
if a dude sleeps with hella women YEAH BRO. if a girl shows her shoulder in public WHORE.

double standards. IT STOPS TODAY.
it stops which way? which standard should change in what way? what do you actually want me to do?

do you think women who sleep with hella people should be cheered? or that men who sleep with hella people should be booed?

or that women who show their shoulders in public shouldn't be booed, just change that? but booing women who sleep with hella men is fine?

or maybe men should be booed for showing skin in public?

why didn't it occur to the author to say what change he wanted? is it implied or obvious specifically what change he advocates? i don't think so. there are lots of competing popular ideas about how to change this stuff.

if this double standard ends, what single standard should replace it? people agree there shouldn't be a double standard, but disagree about what the right single standard is.

people who want change today, but don't care to say what to change to, are not reformers. they are idiots.

The tweet has 217 favorites, 81 retweets, but only 2 replies. lots of people think they liked it, none of them noticed that it's ambiguous. what did they like? what do they think it says?

they seem to want reform of some kind.

"make it better."
"how? what would be better?"
"i don't know, but we're fixing it TODAY!"

this is very immoral.

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All Authority is Social Authority

People think there's different types of authority. One guy might have high social status, be a leader of a social group. He has social authority. Another guy might be a "leading intellectual" with "intellectual authority".

But "intellectual authority" is a contradiction. Reason doesn't work by authority.

What's actually going on is that all authority is social authority.

That "leading intellectual" has a type of social status. It comes from his socially-accepted reputation, which comes from things like socially-accepted reputation-deciders. Like the people who are socially anointed as legitimately able to decide who is worthy of a Ph.D. or a (socially) prestigious award.

(Similarly, there is no intellectual prestige. All prestige is social prestige.)

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I Am Not A Serial Killer

I Am Not A Serial Killer is a fiction novel. I've got comments on two parts.
"... I was really hoping you'd grow out of this obsession with murderers."

Not murderers," I said, "serial killers."

"That's the difference between you and the rest of the world, John. We don't see a difference."
(By "we", the speaker means normal people.)

What the character says is, from a logical perspective, extremely stupid. There are different terms because people do see a difference. Everyone knows the difference. Serial killers kill multiple people at different times. Murders often were angry or drunk, or had something to gain, and kill one person.

You can go up to anyone and ask them how a serial killer is different from a murderer and they'll tell you. Everyone sees a difference.

The dialog makes sense from a social perspective. It's not a logical claim. It's a snappy retort. It doesn't actually work, but the intention is clear enough. And what does it matter if something works logically when it's adequate to communicate what a person cares about? The speaker doesn't care about logic, she cares about emotions and putting down John's deviance.

That's bad. It's irrational to focus on communicating emotions and allegiances, rather than ideas than make sense. It's not a truth-seeking way of life.

Going to the next step in the analysis, what does this passage reveal about the author? Well he could be stupid and not have noticed how illogical the claim is. Or he could be irrational and be the type of person to make statements like that for emotional and social reasons. Or he could think it's common and have written a flaw into the speaker on purpose.

The book is fiction. But the author either provides a real life example of an irrational character trait, or else he believes it's reasonably common (enough to make sense to readers) in real life.
That's exactly what we have to talk about," she said, watching me from the couch. "Your best friend's dad was murdered--seven people have been murdered in four months--and you're obviously not dealing with it very well. You've barely said a word to me since Christmas."

"I've barely said a word to you since fourth grade."

"Then isn't it about time?" she asked, standing up.
This is the main character speaking with his mother. And it's another illogical statement.

Initially, her argument is that he's changed since Christmas. During the last four months of murders, he's been dealing with events poorly. Something changed, recent history is bad.

He makes a counter-argument that actually what she views as him coping badly is actually not a change. It's the status quo for years and years. It can't indicate some particular problem in the last four months. She's mistaken. Her argument is bad.

Then she drops the context. She ignores what she'd been saying and acts like his last statement was the beginning of the conversation. She takes it out of context and treats it as an isolated statement. Instead of treating it as a counter-argument, she fakes reality by pretending it was a general statement about his life. Instead of conceding the argument, she starts a new ad hoc argument. She has no respect for truth. She's just trying whatever angle she can think of to see if it works, without caring if she contradicts herself or changes her story midway.

She makes an abrupt topic change. First, he was supposed to talk to her more because of the last four months. Now, he's supposed to talk to her more because of the last five years. And her new claim doesn't make sense. During a time of turmoil, murders and temporary problems is not "about time" to change their status quo and break their routines. That's a terrible time to do it.

And, again, connecting this to real life: basically either the author is a bad person (the type to do this, or to think it's OK to do it), or he thinks tons of other people are bad people.

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