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28 August 2006 @ 01:09 am
On the freezing of people and comments  
As I write this post, I have an odd sense of déjà vu, because I know I have posted about this sort of thing before, but anyway.

First of all, let me say that from how little I know drjon, I like and respect him. But, he has challenged me to take my grievance to my own journal, so here we are.

To start with, please have a look at his entry on cryonics to see the discussion that sparked this.

Now, I like to debate or argue, I always have. I enjoy the spirited cut-and-thrust of point and counter-point. There's no malice to it, I just like to challenge the views of others and have my views challenged in turn. I think, in general, both parties are the better for it - it's educational.

So, I get very annoyed when, instead of responding to my arguments, or even saying "let's agree to disagree" (these things can go on too long, to be fair), my point-of-view is dismissed out-of-hand.

You didn't see the program in question, but you feel competent to judge it? Fascinating.

I admitted that I didn't see the program - full disclosure on my part. But I have seen many like it. I have seen 60 Minutes before (and doubt its integrity), I have prior knowledge of the character of the man being interviewed (and merely suggested this be taken into account) and, more-to-the-point, had by this stage moved on to commenting on the more general topic of the entire cryonics industry anyway (of which I have ample knowledge to form my own opinions) and not on the specific program in question.

But, not only was my competency to have an opinion brought into question, but an attempt was made to stop me from defending myself, via freezing further comments. My response to that action was perhaps a little unfair, I can't be sure that it was petulance that inspired drjon's action here, but that's certainly what it felt like. He certainly is entitled to not address my arguments, but attempting to lock out further discussion just seems like putting your fingers in your ears and going "la la la".

Certainly if I was trolling or flaming this action would be suitable, but I was merely making reasoned debate, and when someone makes the kind of "let's wind this down" comment in an argument, that's fine with me, but you can't pair such a statement with further inflammatory remarks and expect the other party to not want recourse. Hence, as I say, I would have willingly accepted an "agree to disagree" remark, but am unhappy to allow my arguments to be stomped on with extreme prejudice and happily walk away without a response.

Anyway, here's drjon's final analysis:

1/. You're mouthing off about something you didn't actually see: maybe you should think about that.

Mouthing off? I was expressing an opinion. Making reasoned arguments. If I had just said "60 Minutes sucks" that would be mouthing off. And as I said, I have prior knowledge of the program, the interviewee and the technology, which is more than enough for me to form an opinion about the issues at hand. Perhaps I was being prejudiced in my analysis of 60 Minutes and Dave Gray, but my opinions on cryonics are well-founded and I stand by them.

2/. This is my blog, not yours. You've said your piece, and I've not got the time to be wasting rebuting someone who doesn't know what they're talking about. Conversation's over. Maybe you should think about that.

I'm willing to admit my prejudice about the show, but I merely made my original statements as a general warning about believing the opinions of the show and the interviewee. I admit I can't go into specifics about what was said in the show, but if you told me that you saw Tom Cruise endorsing a product, I feel I can claim enough knowledge of that man to warn you to take what he says with a pinch of salt, and that's no different to what I said regarding this show. I didn't say the show or the interviewee are definitely not worth paying attention to, I just said it's worth considering the source of information.

But, as I say, the larger issue is cryonics in general, and I have enough knowledge of that to make an informed opinion. To have that opinion dismissed because I didn't watch 60 Minutes is frankly insulting. I have all the information I need to form an opinion of cryonics right at my fingertips and inside my own head. And here's my opinion: cryonics is bullshit. It won't work for a whole host of reasons, and it's hubris to think you have the right to live beyond your natural lifespan in a world that can barely support the people already on it.

3/. You've got a shiny blog all your own. Maybe you should think about that.

Thanks for sharing your opinion. Next time, some netiquette would probably be a good idea.

And here I am. My real reason for ranting here is completely beside the original topic of cryonics, it's about the point you raise about netiquette. Netiquette is a two-way street. Yes, your blog is your own, and yes you can do what you want there. However, at the bottom of every entry you have a link that says "post a comment". That's an invitation for others to join in the discussion and add their own opinion, you are effectively inviting people in to your blog.

So, let's run with that analogy. You invite someone into your home. They say some things you don't agree with, but they are generally polite, they aren't yelling or threatening or hurling insults. Do you throw them out just because you don't agree with them? I mean, sure, it's fine to ask me to end the discussion, like you might politely ask someone to leave your house. But saying "discussion over" and freezing comments is effectively throwing someone out the door and slamming it behind them. I would have expected such a treatment if I had been uncivil, but I was merely making polite debate.

Invite comment, and you invite criticism. If you can't bear that criticism and feel you need to censor it, don't invite comment in the first place. If you don't feel like rebutting my every argument, then don't, but to slam the door on me is just plain rude, especially when you are getting in a sucker-punch as you do so.

EDIT: And now he's banned me.
I've added no further comment on his blog and was not planning to, but I've been banned just in case.
He's acting like I'm some evil troll.
This really saddens me.
Current Music: Penn Jillette - Penn Radio - August 18, 2006
Jacobyak_boy on September 2nd, 2006 02:49 am (UTC)
I admit that there's a possibility that the technology might work. However, I think it's a hugely outside chance, and also I think it's beset with all sorts of problems.

Not the least of which are legal problems. Right now cryonics is legally acceptable because it's simply freezing dead people (the motivations in doing so are largely beside the point). If we had the technology to bring these frozen people back to life, I think anyone trying to do that is going to find themselves fighting some pretty major legal action to stop them.

I mean, let's roll with the assumption that it's going to be at least a century before we cure death. Do you think, if we currently had the ability to bring back to life people that died in 1906, society would allow us to do that?
Robet Éivaayvah on September 2nd, 2006 05:44 am (UTC)
I'm not sure that's quite the same though. These people have been deliberately frozen in order to be brought back. But the major problem I see is, how would we decide when the right moment is to bring them back? With a dying cancer patient, you just use the best cure you can find. Okay, modern technology means we can bring this guy back with 40% of his brain in tact. Is it good enough? Or do we wait until we've got a guarantee of 50%, 60%?

If you're talking just the generic "playing god" issue, I think that argument would end up pretty weak if society goes secular. On the other hand, if we do "cure" death, then we'd likely end up with population control issues. (Although I think parenthood is declining.)

Nonetheless, it's the closest thing there is to a secular afterlife, so I can't say I blame people for seeking it. I think the majority of people who provide cryonics services earnestly believe in it.
Jacobyak_boy on September 2nd, 2006 06:18 am (UTC)
"Playing god" isn't just a religious argument. It's really about whether or not we should be messing about with the natural cycle of life and death - and the possibly unforeseen ramifications of doing so.

As I said, population control is already one of the biggest issues facing the human race. Prolonging our lifespans even further is only going to cause more problems - at least until we find a way to more reliably sustain our ecosystem with the weight of humanity placing pressure on the environment.

I guess part of the promise of cryonics is the possibility of waking up in a better world where all these problems have been solved - but would such a utopian society really want to contaminate their world with the people of the past?
Robet Éivaayvah on September 2nd, 2006 07:45 am (UTC)
Once people were deemed dead when their heart stopped. Then we learnt to bring people back from beyond this point, so we had to redefine death. You still hear people talk about "dying and coming" when their heart stops, but most of us have gotten past any related ethical issues. It's unlikely it'd be scientifically regarded as "bringing people back from the dead", because we'd have already redefined death.

Indeed, the "playing god" argument can exist outside of religion, but your argument could just as easily be used to justify killing off everyone who lives past 80. As far as overpopulation is concerned, I'm only worried about protecting the planet (and oxygen, etc). As for our own "personal space", we shouldn't have to rely on people dying just so we can each have a nice backyard with a few peach trees.

But hopefully, the looming "peak oil" crisis will be a great help for the environment.