Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

"We'll Sue!"

I posted a piece skeptical and satirical of cryonics pseudo-science over at the World Future Society. Now, it's not the first time I've heard this sort of thing from these fellows in reaction to my criticism and ridicule and it is unlikely to be the last, either, but certain Robot Cultists would appear to be getting piqued. "We-we-we-we'll suuuuuueeee!!!" I like how the threat is followed by a hefty bit of techno-immortalist huckster spam anyway. Why waste an opportunity, right? More clicks on the scam-site, more asses in the pew, more checks in the collection plate, eh?


jimf said...

Not that I think you should be unduly intimidated by the
threats of a lawsuit, but you **should** know that the book _Frozen_ by
Larry Johnson and Scott Baldyga, published by Vanguard Press
in New York, did in fact occasion a lawsuit by Alcor
against the books authors and publisher.

Larry Johnson's participation as a defendant in the suit
ended when he declared bankruptcy and made a public retraction
of some of the allegations in the book, earlier this year;
the suit against his co-author and the publisher is ongoing.
"The lawsuit against the book’s coauthor, Scott Baldyga, and
publisher, Vanguard Press, continues in New York. Alcor is seeking
money damages against Mr. Baldyga and Vanguard Press for aiding
and abetting violation of court orders, ignoring valid court
injunctions, and otherwise assisting in the distribution of allegedly
false information about Alcor.

Alcor CEO, Max More, stated, “We are very pleased that Mr. Johnson
has publicly retracted his allegations about Alcor. Alcor feels
vindicated from the falsehoods perpetrated by Mr. Johnson. Alcor
is a professional cryopreservation facility dedicated to the well-being
and privacy of its members.”

Mr. Johnson appears to have retracted few of his allegations about
Alcor, in his statement associated with the settlement agreement.
No judge, nor jury, has ruled on the veracity of the contents of the
book, and the lawsuits involving Alcor vs. Vanguard Press and
Scott Baldyga continue in the New York Supreme Court. The NY
court has ruled against Alcor's claims of conversion and exposure
of trade secrets.

The book is still very much available from Amazon:
despite the fact that its primary author has paid for its
existence with bankruptcy.

California has anti-SLAPP legislation, which would at least protect
you from having to spend money defending yourself against a frivolous
defamation lawsuit, though you would still be at the mercy of the
judge making the "expedited ruling" in any such case.

People who make a career out of being public gadflies to various
cults, Large Group Awareness Training (LGAT) outfits, and so forth
are at considerable risk from lawyers. The Scientologists are
notorious, of course. But Rick Ross,
spent years and $$ defending himself from Keith Raniere's outfit,
NEXIVM, after he was sued for many millions in damages after
actress Goldie Hawn was allegedly dissuaded from investing or
donating to NEXIVM because of Ross's alleged revelations about
the organization. Ross eventually won, but lawyers must get

jimf said...
I'd like to know more about your "scam" libel.
Submitted by Mark Plus (not verified) on Tue, 09/04/2012 - 1:09pm.

. . .

3. Mike Darwin’s Chronosphere blog:

BTW, speaking of "Mike Darwin", I was moved, reading the comment thread
of the article
to submit a handful of comments there earlier today. I find both Darwin's
and Plus's take on the >Hists and Singularitarians to be sensible, so I made some
perfectly reasonable, non-confrontational comments about AI predictions,
and a comment on Mark Plus's response to Mitchell Porter about the
magical thinking inherent in uttering "true names" for nonexistent
tech -- I pointed out the irony of Yudkowsky having announced some 15
years ago that he was originally inspired to devote his life to the
"Singularity" after reading Vernor Vinge's _True Names_.

Should I be surprised that **none** of my comments were posted?

No, of course not. Darwin's stated purpose for Chronosphere is to
"reboot" Cryonics -- not just to be another place for folks to flap
their jaws (or fingers).

Nevertheless, both Taurus Londono and Luke Parrish (remember him?),
participants in that Chronosphere comment thread,
should count themselves damned honored to be permitted to comment on
**your** blog, and not to have all their submissions
be **automatically** consigned to oblivion by the moderator.

(Now I wonder if Darwin will be embarrassed enough to undelete
those comments of mine, perhaps saying "Give us a chance, my
preciousss. It must give uss a chance!")

Not a chance. ;->

jimf said...

> But Rick Ross. . . spent years and $$ defending himself from
> Keith Raniere's outfit, NEXIVM. . .

"They go to the ends of the earth to destroy you."

jimf said...

Why hasn't IEET expunged this piece, I wonder.
(And has Treder done sufficient penance yet for posting
it in the first place, do you suppose?)

Creationism, Birtherism, Singularitarianism, and Other Fantasies
Mike Treder
Posted: Aug 7, 2009

You know, Christopher Whipple still has photos up on the Web
from that 2003 New York Transhumanists Association "symposium"
at NYU that I mentioned earlier. I met Mike Treder there
(not that he remembers me). I was at the restaurant/bar
where the grainy black & white photos were taken (I'm not
in any of the pix, though. ;-> )

Dale Carrico said...

I thought Mike Treder vanished and then re-appeared, but without, you know, re-appearing, or some such weirdness, actually...

Eudoxia said...

>Should I be surprised that **none** of my comments were posted?

I commented a couple of times and it took a few days for the comments to be approved.

jimf said...

> I commented a couple of times and it took a few days
> for the comments to be approved.

Ah, well then -- I'll post an acknowledgement if those comments finally

The last comment in the thread is dated today; though that was
admittedly added before the first of my own comments was

It doesn't **really** matter -- private blogs are private blogs;
the stated purpose of that blog is that it's a venue primarily
for Darwin himself to "come clean" about the history of cryonics,
warts and all, and thereby to rehabilitate cryonics' image to whatever
degree possible. I am not a potential cryonics contributor,
activist, employee, or customer; therefore, I'm really just an
irrelevant distraction. If Darwin knows my name at all (and I doubt
he does), the only thing he knows about me is that I'm a "minion" of
that Antichrist Dale Carrico ;-> . My appearance there under my own
name (and he doesn't take comments under pseudonyms anymore)
might be more disruptive than it's worth -- there would probably
be some foaming at the mouth from some of the regulars.

OTOH, Darwin, while intimately involved in the history of cryonics,
is very much the outsider at the moment. He's burned a lot of
bridges with the old crowd (he and Max More don't seem to be
on exactly friendly terms), and he does **not** take the
transhumanists very seriously, or at least not at face value.

joe said...

"2003 New York Transhumanists Association "symposium"
at NYU that I mentioned earlier"

Wow they couldn't scrape together any more TH in NY?

there's like 15 people htere.

With their online presence you'd swear they were a huge movement everywhere.

jimf said...

> I commented a couple of times. . .

BTW, I went looking for your comment, and found some more
pithy Darwin.
where cryonics and Nanotechnology (upper case N intended) intersect,
[Ralph] Merkle has behaved in ways that have, cumulatively, been
very damaging to cryonics. Once you believe in the Big N, then
everything else that’s difficult, or problematic, or messy, or
hurtful to deal with, can be safely put on the back burner,
because if someone isn’t doing a good job (or even a competent
job) with Transport or CPA perfusion, well, Big N will take care
of that. Think about this, Merkle is a scientist, who ought to
ostensibly have great respect for research, and yet Alcor has
done virtually no meaningful research in 20 years. And they
have given grants to fund revival research using, you guessed it,
Nanotechnology. But when you think about how Merkle is a scientist
it all starts to make sense. He’s a cryptographer and a guy
who makes models of nanobearings. That’s great, and it can be
vastly practical and useful. But what it isn’t is bench science. . .

Engineers and theoreticians must be linked, joined at the hip
when it comes time to interact with the everyday world. . .

Nanotechnology isn’t real. In fact, it is much, much less real
than cryonics, because there are, in fact, real cryopreserved
people, and they can yield all kinds of data now, and they
can/will have individual and very real outcomes, ranging
from thawed and lost, to revived and well. Nanotechnology [capital N]
is science-fantasy. Yes, nanotechnology [little n] is real,
and there are rapidly growing applications for it with each
passing day. But it is mostly unglamorous stuff. There are
no nanoscale cell repair robots with mechanical (atomic scale)
bearings and itsy bitsy rod logic computers. And if I were a
betting man, I’d say there won’t be. To put one cent on research
into that kind of repair scenario, or any kind of repair scenario
that has no imminent physical implementation, is foolish.
Maybe a handful of people are happy to get cryopreserved with
their neurons squashed like bugs by ice, but count me out.
I want to put as little burden on the future as possible,
because I don’t believe, as Ralph does (and he’s said so)
that “comes da Reevolution” the future is going to arrive
all grown up, and ring our doorbell, and summon the attendant
at Alcor or CI, and say, “OK guys! Everybody outside and play!
It’s recess time! The Big N Man is here to save the day!” . . .

Finally, the whole idea of Nanotechnology as anything other than
an idea, a realistic “possible” pathway to achieve recovery of
cryonics patients is toxic. It becomes a substitute for god in
the ancient catchphrase, “With god, all things are possible.”
Well, maybe, but WHEN? Tank time is risk time. Ralph never
got that either, and I don’t think he ever will. . .

jimf said...

> Wow they couldn't scrape together any more TH in NY?
> there's like 15 people there.

There were more folks at the actual symposium, in the lecture room
at NYU. Fewer people came to the restaurant afterward (there
was a Chinese dinner the previous night, but those BW photos
were taken after the lectures on Saturday night, at a Japanese
place if I remember correctly). And some of the Saturday-night
people had left by the time those pictures were taken
(I'd gone home by then, and I remember Perry Metzger was there
and had left by then).

True, it wasn't a **huge** crowd -- not like an Extro. Natasha
was there, but Max wasn't. No "major" celebrities were there --
no Ray Kurzweil. Eliezer was the big attraction.

There was a bit of a contretemps for me personally at the Chinese
place on Friday night. I had gotten my "ticket", so to speak,
through Perry Metzger, who is a personal friend of the folks
(a married couple with two now-high-school-age sons; the man is
a mathematician and computer sysadmin/security guru; the woman
is a mathematician and mom ;-> ) with whom I usually have dinner on
Friday nights in Manhattan, and whom I had known for about 2 1/2
years back in '03. It was Perry who first told us about the
upcoming symposium, one Friday night at my friends' apartment.
(Perry himself is **considerably** cooler to me nowadays
than he was ten years ago, and I see him now quite seldom --
my friends usually have dinners with P. and his wife on days
**other** than when they're having dinner with me. ;->
Perry and my friends' two boys and their dad are currently
doing a study group working through a Quantum Mechanics
textbook. ;->. But I suspect I'm a known "enemy of transhumanism"
these days, so I'm kept safely insulated from the Metzgers
most of the time, though nothing has actually been said to
that effect.)

**Anyway**, Perry had gotten my ticket to the NYTA event
in '03 (and reservations for our mutual mathematician-couple friends
to come to the symposium itself on Saturday). But when I showed up at the
restaurant in Chinatown on Friday night after work (I was sitting
in the lobby reading Iain M. Banks' newly-out-in-paperback
_Look to Windward_ -- you'd think that might have been a clue
to the >Hists when they arrived that I was waiting for them,
but when I looked up to see Eliezer in the flesh for the first
time, I just got a blank stare ;-> ) there was an
embarrassing moment when I sat down at the dinner table
with the group. The NYU student? faculty member? who was
responsible for counting heads looked at me and said, "I'm
sorry, and who are you?" When I told her my name, she said
"I'm sorry, you're not on my list. I'm afraid you'll have
to leave." At this point Perry (bless his heart :-/ )
spoke up and said "I sent you his reservation back in
." "Well, he's not on my list." "Look, I'll
vouch for him." "Weeelll, OK I guess." And that was
**my** introduction to the New York Transhumanists.

Singularity arrives. Robot God: "Who the **fuck** are **you**?"
That's about what I expect. ;-> ;-> ;->

joe said...

"There were more folks at the actual symposium, in the lecture room
at NYU."

Fair enough Jim :)

jimf said...

Greener Acres.

That was then. This is now:

And hislawyer describes a critical blog as "hate-filled, venomous,
and beyond the bounds of free speech":

jimf said...

It's just a good review of bad theater. Or maybe a bad review of
good theater.
Court upholds Nxivm ruling
Training company challenged allegations that it's a cult

Times Union/April 23, 2004
By Dennis Yusko

Albany -- Allegations that a Colonie-based human potential company
is a cult can stay online, a federal court has affirmed. Nxivm
(pronounced NEX-ee-um), which offers human potential seminars,
alleged that Rick Ross of New Jersey, a "cult deprogrammer,"
published critical commentary of its program after obtaining
information through copyright infringement. In September, a federal
district judge in Albany denied its request for an injunction
to remove the information from a Web site. . .

This week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in
New York City rejected Nxivm's appeal of that decision, saying critical
analysis of a confidential 265-page Nxivm manual by two mental health
professionals on Ross' site represented criticism, and therefore
"fair use" under copyright law.

"The court treats it like a negative theater review, which even though
damaging is not legally actionable," said Albany attorney Thomas F. Gleason,
who represented Ross. "It's a very negative development for the plaintiff." . . .

The postings caused Nxivm to lose the support of prominent
members and a coach, thousands of dollars a day in
revenue, a speaking engagement by actress Goldie Hawn and more, Nxivm
lawyers alleged. . .

Ah, it was just a **speaking engagement** by Goldie Hawn. . .
I thought I read elsewhere that it was more than that.

Anyway -- what is the whole on-line >Hist mishegas, but theater?

BTW, here's the entire Rick Ross portfolio on NXIVM:

It seems that NXIVM has entertained the Dalai Lama himself!

I have to say that Mr. Raniere's alleged claims to extraordinary
intelligence, extraordinary understanding of "ethics", and
extraordinary rationality do remind me rather strongly of
one other person, who also hopes to embody those virtues in
computer software.