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

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Uh, Good Luck Pushing THAT Line

Quick, into the time machine for my patient presponse to Michael.


Raymond Johnson said...

"Hitler ruined eugenics for the rest of us. Genomics gives it back to us" - a well known Transhumanist, racist and malignant idiot in a recent public speech in Los Angeles.

Raymond Johnson said...

I can't tell if his inherent and unexamined elitism (and hence anti-egalitarian-ism and anti-democracy) is more evil or more ignorant. Does science boy not read up on the cold peer reviewed scientific fact that nurture is 99% of his precious intelligence and genetics 1%? Eliminating poverty would improve the human intellectual average, diddling about with genetics will only cause Faustian disaster and dystopian misery - at "best" if it succeeds we get a hellish Caste Society right out of Huxley. Science boy was too bright to finish his undergraduate degree, but he places his half baked opinions on a Golden Throne. Such men made up the leadership of the Reich and all its crazy theories.

Dale Carrico said...

I can't tell if...

Hell, I honestly can't tell the difference between a transhumanist twitter account and a parody of a transhumanist twitter account. I mean, "Oracle"? Say "yes" to "eugenics"? Seriously?

Raymond Johnson said...

Little Mikey the Great Oracle has gotten much, much crazier in the last 18 months. Technology is refusing to "accelerate" for him, so he and his play dates seem to be accelerating in lunatic leaps and bounds. If they had real power and money, they would be very dangerous.

Raymond Johnson said...

And every week it seems Transhumanism is getting bolder about its racism...not even trying to hide it anymore in weasel words.

Are the technocratic gloves coming off to finally display the Glittering Techno-Feudal Fist of Fascism?

It is merciful then that they can't afford a Congressional Lobbyist, not with 120 members total kicking in 5$ a month!

Dale Carrico said...

every week it seems Transhumanism is getting bolder about its racism...

Is there are particular transhumanist/ singularitarian/ techno-immortalist/ digi-utopian/ nano-cornucopiast organization or site that you are referring to here?

they can't afford a Congressional Lobbyist

There are more than a few skim-and-scam celebrity tech-CEO types who are more than a little enthralled by the transhumanoid line in hype -- so, don't be too sure about that.

Mitchell said...

Raymond Johnson said

"the cold peer reviewed scientific fact that nurture is 99% of his precious intelligence and genetics 1%"

What peer-reviewed fact are you talking about?

Dale Carrico said...

Indeed! I have no truck with bio-reductionism, scientism, racial pseudo-science, evo-devo nonsense, but neither are over-compensatory toti-plasticity theses warranted -- neither, by the way, are they particularly common in my experience, tho' I have noticed even nuanced constructivist accounts are often incorrectly painted as such.

Black guy from the future past said...

I liked going into the time machine and going into the past to read your response that is still so poignant to the future. You really helped me live up to my name of "the future past"! But seriously, there are people still pimping eugenics?!! It seems like THEY need to go into a time machine and head back to the past...seriously.

Raymond Johnson said...

I am referring to the gazillion peer reviewed articles and books I have read on the nature versus nurture argument, and just about none of them conclude that nature has much to do with intelligence. We all (with some exceptions like Down's Syndrome) have exactly the same genetic potential. But elitism, classism, racism and economic violence create the perception of underclass and subhumanity that 'lil Mikey delights in feeling superior too and thinks he can 'fix' with the genetics he has a layman's grasp of.

Raymond Johnson said...

Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins
People "engineer" their children to be musicians or mathematicians by education. Genetically engineering the same is objectionable. But why?

2h Oracle ‏@MikeAnissimov
@RichardDawkins Because liberals have a weird religion that prevents them from seeing the equivalence. Also, because Hitler.
Hide conversation Reply Retweet Favorite More

wow! he has the Dawk chiming in, and that Archbishop of Bullshit ought to and _does_ know better!
You can - you know- genetically engineer little tots to be all a Mozarting right out of the womb or the glass bottle they gestated in... Huxley taught us 70 years ago this inevitable : if you can make Alphas you _will make Deltas too!

Raymond Johnson said...

The human race has a vast experience with nurture, and 50+ years of even bare awareness of the DNA molecule. Professionals in genetic science are aware of how little we know and how much damage we could do. In the last 5 years knowledge of the epigenetic system has come to emerge, and that is as important as the fundamental work of Watson and Crick. Also, Mikey and the Dawkster don't spend a second worrying about the ethics of human experimentation. Ethics aren't exactly their bowl of who wants to line up to raise the hideously damaged children that _will_ be produced in the early efforts of this monstrous idea? I suspect Mikey would advocate simply euthanizing them as "collateral damage" in his hallucinatory and dim witted quest for "Singularity."

Dale Carrico said...

I am referring to the gazillion peer reviewed articles and books I have read on the nature versus nurture argument, and just about none of them conclude that nature has much to do with intelligence.

As you know, I strongly sympathize with your anti-reductionist view and I also understand that conversational spaces like the Moot can be colloquial rather than rigorously academic and so on, and also that code-swtiching between such modes can be tricky and so on, too.

But I must say that little research I have read lately implies or compellingly argues for any kind of "blank slate" thesis.

Maybe you are referring to the many studies that have indeed demonstrated that widely-used so-called IQ tests often measure sociocultural training rather than some sort of "brute processing or conceptualizing capacity"? Or you are referring to the many demonstrations that the word "intelligence" as an apparent attribution of such a capacity has tended to function as well in everyday parlance as a signal of sociocultural status (folks whose manner and speech seem to signal "learning" or "professional expertise").

These are indispensable insights, I agree, but seem to me to expose larger conceptual quandaries that bedevil the very notion of "intelligence" or, say, "the discourse of intelligence," rather than to nudge us to one side or other of the nature/nurture brouhaha.

My own sense is that quite a lot of the basic discriminative capacities as well as the affects/ "judgments" that accompany them -- are now being recognized as evolutionary legacies, articulated and integrated via culture and conscious knowledge in a dynamic choreography of nature/nurture (to say the least). And this is not yet to broach the complexities of unconscious/ subconscious psychic structures!

Definitely I think the richness of lived intelligence makes an absolute mockery of the weird wan robotic assumptions, aspirations, and models of many -- I venture to say most -- who are invested in the altogether unnecessary and possibly altogether quixotic program of AI.

Dale Carrico said...

The fact that serious figures like Dawkins (not that I'm a fan, but he is definitely a prominent and often quite serious person) can comfortably commingle in the same corral as obviously and assertively Robot Cultish folks like Michael A. should warn you not to fancy that the palpable ridiculousness of Robot Cultists will necessarily undermine, of itself, the spread of their influence.

An example I like to emphasize is that of the Neocons. Their nonsensical, dangerously belligerent views of the world and of defense policy were long ridiculed across the policy terrain: This was true among most elected Republicans as well as more sensible multilateralist diplomacy types, for instance Eisenhower famously dismissed them as among "the crazies." (None of this should be taken to imply that I regard/ed Cold War liberal hawkery as sensible either, obviously not.)

But the Neocons [1] stuck to their guns, [2] endlessly reiterated their compellingly simplistic formulations, [3] continued to appeal forcefully to powerful irrational passions, [4] undermined popular discourse via mass-mediation and the creation of a faux-academy think-tank archipelago in ways that eventually undermined profession and academic policy discourse as well, [5] kept saying things rich people liked hearing (things that diverted public resources to Defense projects).

And, soon enough, without ever becoming the least bit less ridiculous, the Neocons found their way into serious power in especially the George W. Bush administration, from which perch they embarked on the catastrophically criminal mass-murderous economy-wrecking wars and occupations they had been dreaming of to the near ruin of the world.

Never underestimate the world-destroying power of a stubborn minority of privileged unaccomplished boring white guys saying palpably idiotic dangerous things that make them feel special and make rich people think they will get even richer.

Athena Andreadis said...

Intelligence is 50/50 nature/nurture, Dawkins is incredibly overrated as a thinker, let alone thought leader, and the fact that Anissimov took the TW moniker "Oracle" is indicative of that contingent's outlook vis-a-vis consensus processes (which include both democracy and scientific research).

Raymond Johnson said...

the absolute genetic difference between any human being with the right number of chromosomes and any other standard h. sapiens with no inheritable defect is many, many .0's after the .99 . Also, dumping lead into the inner cities, wasn't that a wonderful idea for lowering intelligence in a quantifiable manner? Poverty, not genetics is the primary cause of sub-normality, and no amount of as-yet mythical genetic engineering will change that. Also, see the case of the Ivy League professor who took in children of color from broken homes and nurtured them into quantifiable IQ geniuses w/o even damaging them emotionally....we are all the same under our skin, born more or less equal, with few exceptions.

Athena Andreadis said...

Do stop broadcasting your ignorance of biology, Mr. Johnson. Genes do not dictate higher order behavior, so the IQ stuff is irrelevant. However, genes do code susceptibilities which respond to feedback, both epi/genetic and environmental. Also, the brain is not a blank slate at birth in terms of baseline wiring, though much of the person-specific wiring happens postnatally. Which is yet another point nature and nurture enter and intertwine.

Raymond Johnson said...

What indications are there that behavior has a biological basis?
[text provided by Joseph McInerney]

Behavior often is species specific. A chickadee, for example, carries one sunflower seed at a time from a feeder to a nearby branch, secures the seed to the branch between its feet, pecks it open, eats the contents, and repeats the process. Finches, in contrast, stay at the feeder for long periods, opening large numbers of seeds with their thick beaks. Some mating behaviors also are species specific. Prairie chickens, native to the upper Midwest, conduct an elaborate mating ritual, a sort of line dance for birds, with spread wings and synchronized group movements. Some behaviors are so characteristic that biologists use them to help differentiate between closely related species.

Behaviors often breed true. We can reproduce behaviors in successive generations of organisms. Consider the instinctive retrieval behavior of a yellow Labrador or the herding posture of a border collie.

Behaviors change in response to alterations in biological structures or processes. For example, a brain injury can turn a polite, mild-mannered person into a foul-mouthed, aggressive boor, and we routinely modify the behavioral manifestations of mental illnesses with drugs that alter brain chemistry. More recently, geneticists have created or extinguished specific mouse behaviors—ranging from nurturing of pups to continuous circling in a strain called "twirler"— by inserting or disabling specific genes.

In humans, some behaviors run in families. For example, there is a clear familial aggregation of mental illness.

Behavior has an evolutionary history that persists across related species. Chimpanzees are our closest relatives, separated from us by a mere 2 percent difference in DNA sequence. We and they share behaviors that are characteristic of highly social primates, including nurturing, cooperation, altruism, and even some facial expressions. Genes are evolutionary glue, binding all of life in a single history that dates back some 3.5 billion years. Conserved behaviors are part of that history, which is written in the language of nature's universal information molecule—DNA.
How is behavioral genetics studied?
[text provided by Joseph McInerney]

Traditional research strategies in behavioral genetics include studies of twins and adoptees, techniques designed to sort biological from environmental influences. More recently, investigators have added the search for pieces of DNA associated with particular behaviors, an approach that has been most productive to date in identifying potential locations for genes associated with major mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Yet even here there have been no major breakthroughs, no clearly identified genes that geneticists can tie to disease. The search for genes associated with characteristics such as sexual preference and basic personality traits has been even more frustrating.

Genetics and molecular biology have provided some significant insights into behaviors associated with inherited disorders. For example, we know that an extra chromosome 21 is associated with the mental retardation that accompanies Down's syndrome, although the processes that disrupt brain function are not yet clear. We also know the steps from gene to effect for a number of single-gene disorders that result in mental retardation, including phenylketonuria (PKU), a treatable metabolic disorder for which all newborns in the United States are tested.

Athena Andreadis said...

You do realize you're blabbing at a molecular biologist who's been doing basic research on brain function for 20 years? So don't copypasta the DOE website -- I've written scads of articles on this topic that I won't even bother linking to, because your thread hijacking is terminally boring.

Dale Carrico said...

Raymond, I have not published a couple of your ad hominem swoop attacks on Athena Adreadis here on the Moot. It's not that I am always entirely opposed to ad hominem attacks, at any rate when they are accompanied by substance or at least manage to be funny, but I regard Athena as a colleague and regard her occasional responses here on the Moot as both a compliment and even an honor. She is an actual practicing scientist, you know, is actually accomplished as both a scientist, a science writer, and a science fiction writer (and editor), and I tend to sympathize with quite a lot of her politics. She doesn't suffer fools, a trait I share, but of course we can all be foolish occasionally and hence suffer a bit from those who don't suffer fools as a result -- I recommend a good sense of humor as insurance that such moments conduce ultimately to one's benefit. I have enjoyed plenty of your posts to the Moot and we seem to share some interests and attitudes and so I hope none of this makes you feel too unwelcome here. There are certain friends of this blog I simply won't see abused -- Eric, Jim, Athena, jolly, Chad, and several who haven't been around in a while, RobinZ, AnneC, Laura, Richard, and others. That's just how it is.

Raymond Johnson said...

She abused me. She lacks all traces of civility and decency. She owes me an apology. And I completely refuted this alleged scientists untrue opinion that higher orders of behavior can not be genetic, in 5 mins of research and with concrete examples. Is she to be allowed to abuse anyone she wants? If so, I will go elsewhere. What she said was very uncalled for. She is the hostile fool here, and I will not suffer it. Dawkins is a "real scientist" too, and he is completely full of shit in many of his ideas.

Raymond Johnson said...

I said nothing that deserved abuse from this person, and I provided absolute proof that she has made an untrue statement. Fuck you and your little troll club, Dale.

Dale Carrico said...

You will indeed "suffer" it, babycakes. You were wrong and you got called out. Now take your medicine and cry into your pillow if you have to. The vitriol expressed by you in the comments I am not publishing is really something else! Yikes! Why do you want to abuse a comment space that you have presumably enjoyed contributing to otherwise? Cool off or fuck off.

Raymond Johnson said...


You are no better than Annisimov, you both have a lot in common fundamentally.

You better hope I never find a reason to travel to California, Dale.

Dale Carrico said...

Stupid AND threatening, yet. Missing you already.