Eliezer Yudowsky, "Overcoming Bias", and the "Future of Humanity Institute"

Dr. Philip Vos Fellman shirogitsune at hotmail.com
Wed Aug 22 20:16:33 EDT 2007

Fellow Complexifiers:

   Have any of you ever encountered the particular moron (apparently in 
addition to Eliezer Yudowsky there is someone named Robin Hanson from Oxford 
also involved unless, to follow Yudowsky's logic, she doesn't really exist 
and is just an alias he uses in order to provide ad hominem reinforcement 
for his rather off-the-beaten scientific track views) or the idiotic 
“Overcoming Bias” blog of his pseudoscientific organization, "The Future of 
Humanity Institute".  This is a rather nasty question and I will apologize 
for taking up everyone's air time, but if you're interested in why Mt. 
Fellman suddenly blew without warning, read on, and I really am curious if 
anyone in either of our groups (NAACSOS or NECSI) has had occasion to 
interact with these nutballs.  Why I describe them as such is explained (as 
briefly and painlessly as possible below, and maybe I will even find 
occasion to interject a note of humour as well as one of appropriate self 
deprecation, since this is not really quite so serious as I make it sound).
   I will ask the list moderators to forebear with me here. I know Yaneer 
doesn't appreciate my blowing my nose in the general direction of scientific 
miscreants when more serious discussion is going on, and if Claudio is 
moderating the NAACSOS list he likes it even less.  But I'll only post this 
once and ask for any responses to be given off line.
   How this whole thing came up was that I was cc'ed on a note from the blog 
that my distinguished coauthor, Professor Jonathan Vos Post, whom many of 
you know (and who has also coauthored with Richard Feynman, Sir Arthur 
Clarke, Isaac Asimov and about a gazillion other people) saying that his 
comments on scientific method and methodology would be censored (yep, the 
Hanson clone actually used the word "censored" - not pulling any punches 
about what they are doing in at least one sense), apparently among other 
things, because neither he nor his research actually existed.  John Sokol, a 
guy whom several of us regard as an innovative genius in computer science, 
posted a mild rebuttal and I posted a slightly stronger rebuttal and then 
this Yudowsky character posted a note to the effect that he had removed both 
the rebuttal by Sokol and myself because we were just aliases for professor 
Post and along with our research, we didn’t exist either.
   I know this sort of weirdness goes on in the blog world, and it's one of 
the reasons I don't normally blog.  In fact, I rarely participate in the 
lists of the organizations to which I belong and whose members I hold in 
high esteem.  Those of you who were at NAACSOS in 2004 might remember the 
plenary session with Peter Lynds ("Time and Classical and Quantum Mechanics: 
Indeterminacy vs. Discontinuity"; "Zeno's Paradoxes: A Timely Solution" and 
"Subjective Perception of Time and a Present Moment: The Neurobiological Key 
to Unlocking Consciousness") which Professor Post and I chaired.  There had 
been rather a bunch of web gossip, mainly in 2002 and 2003, but continuing 
through 2004 and for all I know, through the present day that Peter Lynds 
wasn't a real person and this was just another web hoax.  In fact, in 2005, 
I remember chancing upon a Chinese physics blog which claimed that Jonathan 
and I were also non-existent as was NAACSOS and one guy even argued that we 
were committing this scientific fraud in order to obscure the true solution 
to Xeno's paradox, which was actually his discovery (I've seen a few 
European posters to various blogs claim the same thing, but just attacking 
Peter rather than the larger ensemble).
   As long as I am on the subject of Peter Lynds, those of you who will be 
attending the 7th International Conference on Complex Systems should get a 
chance to meet Peter, as he will be presenting his recent work on cosmology. 
  I don’t know yet whether he will be presenting an entirely new paper or 
primarily explaining his recent work, “On a Finite Universe with No 
Beginning or End” (http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0612053).  The nonexistent 
Post-Fellman team, will, in our virtual turn, be presenting a comparison of 
Peter’s work on quantum cosmology with that of Stephen Hawking and Sean 
Carroll.  The abstract for that is at 
http://www.necsi.org/events/iccs7/submit.php?id=26 .  We haven’t finished 
the full paper yet, and if anyone is inclined to offer advice, comments, or 
material which they feel we should necessarily include in our paper, please 
feel free to contact either me (shirogitsune9(@yahoo.com) or Professor Post 
(jvospost3 at gmail.com) off-line.  I’d be particularly interested if Russell 
Standish has any comments on Peter’s work from the standpoint of 
non-extensive statistical mechanics, even though I know he has not been 
recently active in this field. Anyway, enough astrophysics for the moment 
(at least it gives a bit of a positive purpose for sending out this oddball 
posting to the groups).
   Anyway, if any of you have had any interactions with either of Yudowsky 
or Hanson or have any idea what this childish group is doing, apparently 
under the auspices of Oxford University, 
I’d like to know.  At the moment I am simply mystified.  Having a backlog of 
real work to do in my otherwise apparently virtual life, I’ll go back to 
keeping my piece of the ground state of the quantum electrodynamic field.



**Remember, No matter where you go, There you are**

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