William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Vote For Transhumanist Zoltan Istvan For President: It’s The Intelligent Thing To Do

Zoltan '16 For President.

Zoltan ’16 For President.

I normally don’t vote in presidential elections because the choices are between flavors of progressivism—D-type, R-type, etc.—and I desire none. But scrappy “transhumanist” Zoltan Istvan has changed my mind. He has my support.

Istvan is taking on the Clinton-Bush juggernaut and offering an alternative to standard issue progressivism. Complete, total, ran-to-its-logical-conclusion progressivism. Intelligence as salvation.

Our candidate promises to “overcome human death and aging within 15-20 years”! How? By creating a “cultural mindset in America that embracing and producing radical technology and science is in the best interest of our nation and species.” You can’t get more progressive that that.

These goals, Istvan says, “are so simple and obvious, you’d think every politician in the 21st Century would be publicly and passionately pursuing them.” They don’t because they don’t understand transhumanism. What’s that? A “movement [that] goes back decades, to a time when philosophers, futurists, and scientists began understanding how fast technology could solve all the world’s problems.”

All the world’s problems!

Telescopes pick up an object the size of the moon barreling our direction. With zero uncertainty it is proved the object will slam into the earth in 13.4 months, pulverizing the object and turning our planet into molten goo. How would we react?

We’d gather the smartest guys in the world in one room—Zoltan would be there—and give them anything they want. Money, booze, computers, sharp pencils, plenty of paper, companionship—whatever they desired and in whatever quantity they deemed sufficient. And what would happen?

Our planet would turn to goo in 13.4 months.

Intelligence is overrated. Yet almost every person now alive believes the opposite. Just as every person believes the opposite of these true propositions: There are some “problems” which cannot be solved, “problems” that we are under no obligation to solve, “problems” so intractable that even attempting to solve them is foolhardy and harmful.

I can peer into the minds of some readers—those who have read a lot science fiction, for instance—who are now feverishly imagining “scenarios” where the object is diverted from its murderous path. That these readers do so proves my point. And if you can see why their actions prove my point, then you will have truly grasped why intelligence is overrated. I’ll leave it as a reader exercise to solve this “puzzle”.

As a hint, the same answer is found in these words from John Maynard Keynes on the behavior of arch-intellectual Bertrand Russell (words we’ve seen before):

Bertie in particular sustained simultaneously a pair of opinions ludicrously incompatible. He held that in fact human affairs were carried on after a most irrational fashion, but that the remedy was quite simple and easy, since all we had to do was to carry them on rationally.

As the late lamented philosopher David Stove commented, “Just two effortless sentences, and yet how fatal they are to any belief in Russell’s political wisdom, or even sense! They are like a bayonet thrust through the heart and out the back.”

Two of the greatest minds who have ever lived were not keen on the saving powers of rationality. After a lifetime of thinking the deepest thoughts man can think, one was forced to conclude he “knew nothing”, while the other, a man who wrote the subtlest and profoundest philosophy, pronounced his life’s work “nothing but straw.”

These recommendations are sufficient, one would think, to sober us up. They obviously are not. And they are not because intelligence in the form of rationality is the weakest form of knowledge we have, yet we insist on judging all things rationally! It is weakest compared to what Aristotle called the nous, the act of intellection which infallibly connects us to those most fundamental, consequential truths which we know are true but cannot rationally prove, truths which we must believe before any rational argument can ever start.

Saying you can solve all problems with rationality is thus like thinking you can leap over Mount Everest if you desire it strongly enough. Human perfection is only one transhumanist gene manipulation away!

There is no killing Russell’s and Istvan’s corrosive idea, which advances inexorably, zombie-like throughout our culture. Modern men march under the Rationality banner and find it inconceivable that they should not do so. So why am I voting for the man?

Because his extreme form of progressivism has the better chance of burning itself out quickly and leaving some traditional culture intact, whereas the alternative is like a black hole that will eventually suck in and crush everything.

Vote for Zoltan!

Oh. There is one way of averting that collision. Divine intervention. But don’t count on that. In these days of marrying and giving in “marriage”, it’s not likely, and it surely isn’t rational, to count on God’s support.

34 Comments

  1. Fr. John Rickert

    May 18, 2015 at 9:21 am

    He must be running as a candidate for the Gnostic Party!

  2. Have no fear! You too can be a transhumanist, for the low price of “several thousand dollars per day”, to ensure you are taking the appropriate supplements.
    http://www.businessinsider.com/ray-kurzweils-immortality-diet-2015-4

    Like all good progressive capitalists, you can purchase them directly from Ray and his friend Dr Terry Grossman as well.
    http://www.rayandterry.com/

    And Zoltan’s Site? I could swear it was written by the onion.

    http://www.zoltanistvan.com/
    “JOURNALIST” -National Geographic

  3. “Intelligence is overrated.” Love that quote!

    In spite of watching “Armageddon” and “Independence Day”, I remain firmly convinced an asteroid is completely unstoppable and that if aliens made it to earth, Will Smith and few nukes are not going to deter them.

    The most frightening applications of the intelligence-can-solve-anything category are the geo-engineering ideas of how to solve climate change. Huge mirrors in space, atmosphere seeding with reflective particles, etc. Some very smart people are seriously proposing these. (Or claim to be, anyway.)

    Your example of jumping over Mount Everest as a flaw in the theory that rational thought can take us anywhere is interesting, since using our irrational side, God said we could move mountains with enough faith. My guess is he was counting on the rational side to understand this was not literal. (Or if it was, no one has achieved that level of faith.)

    It does not seem to me that rationality is what is being preached. It is the outer wrapping of what is a most irrational behaviour, that of intimidation and bullying. Even when the political candidates say they are backing rational science, they are actually backing bullying and silencing those who disagree by name calling, etc. If anything, we are a truly schizophrenic bunch, guilty of double-think all the way.

  4. Brandon Gates

    May 18, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Our planet would turn to goo in 13.4 months.

    The smart money would be watching from Mars.

  5. An excellent example of why I don’t believe we are running on our “rational” side:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3085183/Apocalypse-Shocking-photos-mankind-s-destruction-planet.html

    If that isn’t emotional blackmail, I don’t know what is. And apparently there are a lot of irrational, emotional people out there or we would not see this. (JMJ: NO, I am not for pollution. I am for a rational discussion of how to deal with the problem, not a lot hyper-emotive photos and not a real answer to the problem anywhere in the article. Pictures do not solve anything, yet that’s all we get here.)

  6. Brandon Gates

    May 18, 2015 at 10:11 am

    Tabloids selling images their readers want to see is perfectly rational.

  7. umm.. no?

    I am inclined to believe that intelligence is not itself the issue – it is intelligence combined with mis-information and the power to persuade that causes the problems. Smart people often admit they don’t know something and that’s great, because it’s smart people who think they know and then get others to agree when, in reality, what they know isn’t so. that cause most of our problems.

    As for that moon sized object: this will surprise you, but we know how to save ourselves from it, although I rather doubt even 13.4 years would suffice to get the decisions made and the actions taken – hint: to geoform Venus and Mars at the same time, exchange part of their momentum by passing a near c object between them. (the idea is from a 1950 (?)s sci fi book whose title etc I do not remember.)

  8. Brandon: It’s the people buying the tabloid that I was referring to, not the seller. The seller is just a opportunist person with very low concern for society, but a knowledgeable marketer.

  9. I see you haven’t read his novel “The Transhumanist Wager” which is pretty much the Atlas Shrugged of transhumanism (including 50 page speech by the protagonist). I wouldn’t say he’s a progressive in the Tumbrl sense.

  10. Intelligence is overrated. Yeah, lets try the artificial kind for a change. Try anagramming Zoltan Istvan and see what you get.

  11. Briggs

    May 18, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Gary,

    Ha!

  12. RE: “…object the size of the moon barreling our direction. With zero uncertainty it is proved the object will slam into the earth in 13.4 months, pulverizing the object and turning our planet into molten goo. How would we react?

    Technically, it would be possible that the object would collide just right with the moon & divert without impacting the Earth at all…causing a non-goo, or partly non-goo (‘gooey’), outcome.

    Consider:

    Barack Obama
    Zoltan Istvan

    Another odd-name dude (with one more letter!) … people bet their money on horse races with about as much thoughtful consideration…so why not?

  13. Lol! Great post once again! And I couldn’t agree more, ‘intellectuals’ are the bane of modern day society! Argh!

    I think the key difference between now and one hundred plus years ago is in the statement ‘I know nothing.’ People realized that before, even if they were a genius in one area, that they were not experts in all areas and did not pontificate about things they knew nothing about. Not anymore, now every pop culture scientist, actor/actress, successful businessman thinks they know it all and all of the intellectuals and low information voters go gaga over their drivel. Example Zuckerberg and yes I can hear peoples wheels turning, but he’s a genius, he came up with facebook and made billions! Do you hear me Billions! He must be a genius in everything!

    Zuckerberg undoubtedly came up with a creative idea and made billions on it and I am sure he can code extremely well. But other than that, he seems like the typical skull full of mush produced by academia. Same thing with Stephen Hawkings or any of the other luminaries, Hawkings is a great astrophysicist, other than that he should shut his trap he sounds like an idiot.

    On another note with not so famous people, it is interesting, the more PhD.s I get to know the less confidence I have in ‘educated’ people!

  14. RE: “…the more PhD.s I get to know the less confidence I have in ‘educated’ people!”

    IT HAS BEEN SAID that: (intelligence) x (education) = Constant

    Thus, if education in some area increases, practical intelligence in some other area(s) must necessarily degrade.

  15. “overcome human death and aging within 15-20 years”
    I predict they will be as successful as the National Cancer Institute. In 1971 the National Cancer Institute predicted they would find the cause of cancer within 5 years. They have spent over 40 years and billions of taxpayer dollars and they still don’t know what causes cancer.

  16. Sander van der Wal

    May 18, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    Addung insult ot injury, not only will humans be immortal in 25 years, the treatment will be paid for by the employers.

    There’s just one downside: no retirement .

  17. Here is another paradox to contemplate. How Dr Brigg’s can write some of the most interesting and insightful articles found on any blog anywhere, and then write an article as silly as this one.

  18. Briggs,

    “Intelligence is overrated.”

    The problem is not intelligence but its definition. It is not overrated it is miss characterized.

    Rand Paul and Ben Carson being doctor surely think they are more intelligent than the rest. The problem is that being a good doctor doesn’t mean you are intelligent at policies, and being intelligent at policies doesn’t mean you are smart at politics.

  19. The difference between societies will small quantities of rationality (the US, Australia, NZ, Europe, etc.) and those that posses none (most of the Middle East) makes me think rationality is actually underrated.

  20. And somehow he’s still better than anyone from the GOP!

    JMJ

  21. JMJ

    Not reading again

    Briggs said : I normally don’t vote in presidential elections because the choices are between flavors of progressivism—D-type, R-type, etc.—and I desire none.

  22. JMJ: Your comment tells any rational person why the Dems should be voted out of office ASAP before they take down the country. Thank you for clarifying that.

    (It also add to my claim from several years ago that Democrats would vote for Homer Simpson before they’d vote for a Republican. That explains how Obama got elected.)

  23. Zoltan cannot seriously be this person’s first name. Is that from scientology?

  24. Mark,
    I knew a man with the name Zoltan, from Hungary, who I used to play chess with. It was the name of a Hungarian King and is similar to the title Sultan.

  25. Briggs

    May 19, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Mark C,

    There is a well known meteorologist named Zoltan Toth (ensemble forecasting). Zoltan Toth of the Space Patrol!

  26. Ironically, the metaphor you use (a meteorite crashing into the Earth) illustrates your false belief: just the US and the Soviet Union have ICBMs that could easily escape the Earth’s gravity well, travel through space and explode in the path of such an object (assuming that we are given enough warning time – which your example generously gives us), thus diverting it.

    Frankly, it wonder if that is the root cause of conservative soul-rot: the lack of imagination that things can ever be made better.

  27. Brad,
    ICBMs are sub-orbital and cannot reach escape velocity. A system with the capability that you suggest would have to be designed from scratch. Also the moon sized asteroid that Briggs postulates would be unaffected by any nuclear device currently available. This scenario is reserved for moderate sized asteroids of a kilometre or so in diameter. On the other hand I don’t think that there are any moon sized objects out there wandering about the solar system, as opposed to orbiting a large planet. But you never know as one could suddenly pop out of deep space as in this story:

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_Worlds_Collide

    Have you never heard of Robert Conquest’s first law?

    “Everyone is conservative about what he knows best”

  28. I stand corrected. Zoltan it is! Our great Magyar tech-overlord. Still, he reminds me of that creep, Stefan Molyneux and his weird cult-for-cash scam. I can’t help but think that the Transhumanist Party is akin to a Nigerian royal email.

  29. Brad: I note that you apparently are living in a sic-fi world where anything is possible. That’s typical of progressives. No grounding in reality whatsoever.

    Mark: You’re so cynical! 🙂

  30. In terms of capabilities, ICBM’s are generally NOT “sub orbital”. The primary US ICBM is the LGM-30 Minuteman. Their targets are primarily ground based but sat based targets are possible and they have been adapted for satellite launch roles in the past. During the early stages of the space program, both Russians and Americans used variations on ICBM’s as their primary space launch vehicles.

    A nuclear weapon would not be used against an incoming asteroid to destroy it as they might simply results in multiple fragments striking the Earth. The most plausible strategy would be to land on the object and fire rockets to push the object off its trajectory. Only a very slight shift in trajectory would be required.

  31. Sorry, Sheri. Blame the Modern world. It’s taken its toll on my delicate psyche.

  32. Mark: Yes, it can certainly have that effect. 😉

  33. Since when would a Malthusian count as someone intelligent?

  34. You would vote for someone who’s name is an anagram of “Nasal zit on TV”?

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