X-Message-Number: 19824
Date: Sat, 17 Aug 2002 20:53:57 EDT
Subject: joke?

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I'm pretty sure Prof. Haftka was being humorous in his message below. But for 
the sake of anyone who takes it seriously, here's the fallacy in the 
"argument" he presents:

In order to estimate a probability for an event, one must find an historical 
sequence of experiments that are sufficiently similar by reasonable criteria. 
This may leave room for error, poor choices, or disagreement, but it is still 
scientific--and indeed the only approach that is scientific.

Dr. Haftka says many people have promised immortality or other extravagances, 
and none have delivered, and suggests that this sequence of experiments or 
observations is suitable. But it isn't, for several reasons. Just for o
peners, those who have promised immortality have generally claimed it has 
already been done, or is already being done, without offering credible 
evidence. That is a far cry from our situation. 

Incidentally, it isn't true that people reject a notion in proportion to its 
implausibility. They reject it mostly in proportion to its threat, offense, 
or cost in one coin or another--just as surprising numbers accept the 
ridiculous because of psychological need.

Robert Ettinger

> Message #19815
> Date: Fri, 16 Aug 2002 08:51:36 -0400
> From: "Raphael T. Haftka" <>
> Subject: Where doe cryonics fit?
> We are part of a large sequence of promisers of immortality.
> I was glad to see Ettinger's post on probability (see excerpt below), 
> because it explains neatly why most people don't want to bother with 
> cryonics. Throughout history there have been many people who promised 
> immortality or extremely long life with this or that device (Calcium 
> appears to be a new one based on another post from yesterday). With all of 
> these proven to be bunk, there must be a high probability that any scheme 
> for immortality is bunk.
> Rafi Haftka
> >Where does my interpretation come in? We don't depend on guesswork or on
> >dogma. We find a suitable, historical sequence of experiments into which 
> the
> >present instance can fit. This could be any of many. An obvious choice 
> might
> >be claims of "paranormal" power. How many such claims have been made (a 
> great
> >many), and how many validated (none). Hence the *a priori probability* was
> >extremely close to zero, and we are not even interested in the outcome. Of
> >course, if the shaman could do it many times in succession, on demand, 
> that
> >would change the picture.
> >
> >Into what sequence might the cryonics question fit? One of them is on our 
> web
> >site--the sequence of technological goals and the results. Look at all the
> >historical goals or projects that might be considered reasonably similar, 
> by
> >sufficiently broad criteria, and the record of successes, continuing 
> efforts,
> >failures to date, and acknowledgements of failure. Try it--you'll like it.


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