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Biologist Mocks Technique of Hacking Things Up to Understand Them July 14, 2012

Posted by Summerspeaker in Technology, The Singularity.
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I can almost smell the formaldehyde again. Irony aside, PZ Myers critique of the Singularitarian project of reverse-engineering the brain has merit if you can stomach all the I’m-so-smart-and-rigorous-and-these-people-are-idiots posturing.

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1. Dale Carrico - July 20, 2012

I cheerfully declare that PZ Myers IS smart, that he says smart things on this topic on a regular basis, that it matters that he is smart about such things… but I disagree that the substance of anything he said is to trumpet the self-declaration “I’m-so-smart.” Some things really are ridiculous and some will ridicule them. Heck, some would say that some of what you say in this very post is describable on those very terms, you know? Satire, reductio ad absurdum, exposing what one takes to be nonsense as just that are all perfectly legitimate modes of argument and more to the point discourse would be profoundly impoverished without them, with less energy, less humor, less personality, less indication of real stakes of real stakeholders, even if it is also obviously true that sometimes they are misguided or unhelpful or even hurtful (as are many other modes of argument too). You know, a person who makes recourse to ridicule exposes themselves to ridicule in turn, to say the least it is a strong argumentative vantage to own up to, and a person indulging in it has to expect to take responsibility for it, to make real enemies, not to mention to eat some real crow from time to time. I don’t get your “smell the formaldehyde” joke or comment — which you also used in a comment on my blog, so I have to assume I am being very clueless. Would you explain it to me?

Summerspeaker - July 30, 2012

It’s an allusion to the experience of dissection in zoology labs. At least at NCSU where I did undergrad, we always cut up ancient specimens preserved in formaldehyde.


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