Continuing my conversation on rationality and cryogenics

Dear Dr Dealgood, Deiseach, and whomever else it may concern:

 If I understand correctly your (and some others’) objection to my announcement, “Cryogenic brain preservation is dead! Long live brain preservation! CLARITY is the new best way (for now)!”, you seem to be saying, “I am unsure if this apparently truthy evidence has value because almost all Rationalists believe (and, more importantly, are acting on) something contradictory.”

If that is indeed what you are intending to say, that sounds like a very strange and disappointing comment from someone who so recently claimed to seek to follow the true way of rationality rather than the false way of Rationality. The way of rationality, as I understand it, would suggest that you update your beliefs as appropriate based on the strength of the evidence, erect a signpost for others saying “I found something useful here once upon a time,” and then move on. If you should find yourself torn between a holding a unique set of views based on the unique set of information you personally possess due to your unique life experiences and learnings-to-date, versus aligning your conceptions of truth and the nature of the universe to the beliefs of those you feel social pull towards…. Please, for your sake and mine, choose the unique set of beliefs!

For my own sake, I would love it if you would take some time to self-examine and lay out for more of your unique constellation of beliefs. I am most especially interested in where your beliefs are most unique, or are shared by others in various pieces but your set of beliefs makes a unique pattern. It is by deliberately seeking out and updating on the surprisingly-unusual-but-true beliefs of others that I strive to protect myself from becoming mired in the dark bog of stale shared belief-sets such as Rationality. New-and-surprising evidence which turns out, upon investigation, to be true, is the brightest of beacons (the most concentrated transfer of bits) leading us along the maze-like intertwining paths of rationality towards the one true goal: objective reality.

So please, if I you discover that I am wrong, tell me. If, however, you suspect me to be correct-but-alone, join me! (At least until I go astray again.) This is a cooperative adventure that does not reward the strategy of blindly following a leader or a social consensus. Which is not to say that social opinions can never be useful (e.g. Prediction Markets), but we must be ever vigilant against the human tendency to erroneously give widely held beliefs more weight than they deserve.

 

The comments that this post is in response to:

Dr Dealgood says:

December 7, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Can you practically use CLARITY on a whole human brain? When I looked it up the only protocols I found were for <=50 mL samples, which is excellent for studying mice but raises questions about how well the process would scale. I’m not an expert here by any means but given that it takes 5+ days to fix a mouse brain the rate of perfusion might be an obstacle in larger organs.

Also it’s a bit of a moot point because, while this is a potentially workable idea for preserving brains nobody is actually doing it. Almost all of the advocacy and all of the money in the Rationalist sphere is focused on freezing.

 

Deiseach says:

December 7, 2015 at 5:52 pm

Neurno, right now people are forking out good money to have themselves, or their heads, frozen and preserved, or paying for the upkeep of frozen deceased family members, via that horse-and-carriage technology.

That’s my main beef: people are being sold a bill of goods that cannot be fulfilled. Better preservation techniques, invention of however the fuck you are going to read engrams or whatever, animal testing of both that shows they work and you get out the other end something almost entirely approximating what you put in – fine, once those bugs are worked out, then sell people “step right up, sign up for our process, and wake up in the wonderful world of tomorrow”.

As it is? Right now? And the companies that started forty years or so ago and froze people in the 60s? I think you’d be as well off to be turned into an Egyptian mummy.

Also – so you slice up the brain into sections? Well, if you can put Humpty-Dumpty back together again, then I think okay. I’d really like to see some animal tests done first, though.

It sounds rather too like Victor Frankenstein stitching separate body parts back together into a coherent whole and getting the resultant jigsaw to work.

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