**My** biggest beef with the >Hist crowd is that they are attempting to cloak a faith-based belief system in the authority of "science". That won't fly. BZZZT! The referee calls foul.Of course this goes to the white hot center of the dispute in question.
More and Prisco are trying to game the refs when they bury the credulous in neologisms and phony distinctions (it's not immortality it's "indefinite lifespan"; it's not eugenicism it's "enhancement") and in-house publications with logrolling citations and so on.
I don't think you can actually engage in this sort of activity in a sustained way and still be treated with the kind of generosity you were inclined to extend to them about their con-artistry. Of course, I understand your inclination, knowing as I do and you do the extent to which a culture of criticism needs to be generous enough to let people explore and make mistakes and come clean and so on.
Of course, some of these Robot Cultists are just tragic techno-fetish fashionistas or sad True Believers looking for a guru and so on -- but when it comes to the high profile folks, and both Max More and Giulio Prisco qualify (tho' I doubt their "qualifications" would pass muster outside the Robot Cult) as high profile, well, they know what they are doing, deluded as they may be on so many questions as well, and we are wrong to pretend otherwise or facilitate their pretenses that they aren't doing what they are doing.
And another thing! (NOW you've got me started!) You know, Prisco just jumps on the trip wire about my "pre-emptive rejection" of all the in-house Alcor bullshit artistry More links to as though this just shows I am screaming na!na!na! in the face of their staid scientific seriousness. But if you actually read the post in which I answer More the fact is that although I clearly stand on the principle that one shouldn't allow charlatans the space to lower everybody's standards by treating their self-serving bloviating as worthy of the same consideration as real science, despite this, and despite being right about this, I actually DO go on to talk about the worthiness of research dollars to organ cryopreservation and so on.
The reason I brought that up is actually because despite myself I actually DID go and read More's crappy sciency dog and pony show, even though I had every reason not to do so. Temperate defense of intemperateness and all the rest aside, I actually DID give him the benefit of the doubt.
Why? Because I Can't Help Myself! I actually do give these clowns credit they never deserve and endlessly take advantage of precisely because I am not as much a hard ass as I say I am and have every right to be.
And if you do follow that link as More asks you to and as I did you get the impression that Brian Wowk is the only scientist in the world as far as these guys are concerned. Now, Brian Wowk may be the cat's meow, or not, but he isn't the only scientist in the world who is doing science relevant to the claims of techno-immortalists of the cryonics sect of the Robot Cult. He just isn't.
And how many of the pieces cited in this sales-pitch that actually pass muster as real science or at least mostly science are interesting to Robot Cultists in their actual science or instead in what Robot Cultists take them to justify in the way of their superlative aspirations? And how often do the actual scientists so deployed actually approve such deployments themselves? And how often do people outside the charmed circle of cryonicism and the Robot Cult cite these studies at all? Or cite them approvingly? Or use them in the service of actual research (rather than as examples of "some people say" in their general intro or concluding sections, for example)?
It's a goddamn scam and the actors involved are in on it, however they rationalize what they are doing.
We have to be able to call them out on this conduct, even when the people involved want us instead to debate the Robot God Odds on their terms or the salient informational selfhood retention in vitrified brain hamburgerization or whatever goddamn angels dancing on a pinhead they've decided is the Real Science here, as if Robot Cultists are the ones who make these decisions in front of the livid flickering of screens perched on their futons. We have to be able to critique the logical, topical, and tropological moves on which they depend (rhetorical and cultural analyses of the kind I'm trained in, for example) whether or not they themselves are fully aware of these operations or disapprove of such foci. We cannot allow these pseudo-scientists to circumscribe the terms on which we can critique them to their prejudicial benefit.
Even if it is true that Athena Andreadis and Richard Jones and PZ Myers and others like them (all of whom I cherish and respect more than I can say) really are able to demolish the would-be scientific claims made by superlative futurologists (transhumanoids, singularitarians, techno-immortalists, nano-cornucopiasts, and so on) on scientific grounds, I really do think there is also a vitally important sense in which such disputes themselves can perversely function to legitimize the pseudo-scientists, can yield for the true believers a kind of reality-effect that fuels and substantiates their fantasies.
In part this is because the Robot Cultists themselves are not qualified to grasp the scientific arguments on their merits anyway, awash as they are in pop-tech journalism, corporate think-tank futurological scenario-building, TED squawk self-promotional PowerPoints and cheesy computer animation treated as reality and so on, but it is also because "science" itself is not functioning scientifically for the faithful (as a public/published testing that warrants provisional but confident instrumental beliefs) but as a placeholder for a materiality generated by collective rituals of fervency better understood discursively and socioculturally when all is said and done.