Interested viewers can find a reader of Singularity-relevant literature here.
I'd like to get other's opinions on this subject.
A recent thread at singularity_now has degraded into a pool of vomit.
I haven't had regular Internet access for a while, so I was a little late to the party.
It began some time ago with a post by kmo regarding Gathering of Healers and Scientists: A Shamanism Conference in Peru.
Readers of singularity_now were not supportive, and the comments were clearly inflamatory.
- ripebastard: "Unless Kurzweil is dancing naked in the forest in Peru, then I don't see any relation to this or the Singularity."
- baikonur: "I'm tired of all this new age crap in this commmunity."
- mathemajician: "Since when did the singularity turn into a New Age movement of faith healers? I always figured that one of the good things about the singularity would be that hard science would finally crush this kind of religious pseudo-science once and for all."
In response to the flood of negativity, kmo posted Rival Singularity Popes Excommunicate One Another. The conversation on SL4 - a Singularity-related list-serve community - had grown to include McKenna and Shamanism.
I am summarily banning any discussion of McKenna's theories. Not
interesting, period, let alone proper to SL4.
I also think the Shamanism thread has played out, unless someone has an
original, unobvious comment to make on the problem of misguided souls who .[..]
Comments suggesting that McKenna might be read - give me a farking
break. Exercise some common sense. You know how some propositions are
TRUE, and others are FALSE? This stuff is FALSE. Get over it already.
There's no point in keeping a mind so open that anyone can dump in
random garbage, and you'll nod wisely and say, "By golly, there might be
something to it." There's not. Some ideas are just completely wrong.
Accept it and move on.
SL4 List Owner.
This prompted Paul Hughes, the owner of FutureHi (a psychedelic-friendly futurist community), to follow-up with the following:
Dear Transhumanists and Scientific Materialists,
If you are reading this please tell everyone you know that we are no longer aligning ourselves with the transhumanist movement. We are looking to create something better. The reason is that transhumanism in its current form has become almost entirely coopted by an exclusive form of scientific materialism and reductionism. Although there are exceptions, and I counted myself among them, the overwhelming thrust is against all things not totally rooted in hard science (i.e discussions of soul, spirituality and mysticism will get you flamed beyond belief). Therefore, the label and movement called 'transhumanism' has become so dominated by those voices, that to further align with that philosophy as I've tried to do with this site, has done nothing but harm to the deeper message here. The overriding drumbeat of Transhumanism has becoming nothing more than tiresome and arrogant attempts to convert everything to materialist descriptions and computational metaphors.
So if you are one of them, please walk away, dismiss us as you would some rambling psychic reading tarot cards. If you are staying because you think you might convince one of us misguided hippies to your way of thinking, we've already walked your path. We've moved on. We're post-transhumanists now. So look in the mirror if you dare, perhaps you are the one who has become lost. No worries, we are a compassionate bunch here, and we feel your pain. If what you're really looking for is something bigger, better, happier, more exciting, joyous, fullfilling and meaningful than transhumanism, you've come to the right place!
For those of you who still insisting on sticking around, Take Five, then:
Imagine as you're looking at Future Hi, what you're really seeing is some ultra-silly, non-sensical, unscientific, and flimsy bunch of off-their rocker charlatans who make up lies about our claims to psychic experiences, and who don't care about evidence, validity, or scientific reproduceability. Just pretend we are a bunch of goof balls who don't take materialist descriptions for EVERYTHING seriously anymore. Besides, it's all a big joke to us, and we are still waiting for the rest of you to lighten up. You see, we are a bunch of silly new age people with funny hats, silly clothes, and even sillier beliefs in funny channeled beings and other mythical fairies and hobgoblins. We believe Harry Potter is a real person, along with Merlin, Gandalf and Frodo. We worship funny incarnations of our imagination, and we play flutes in the sun while dancing naked with green jello all over our bodies.
Don't worry, it's never too late. If after the Singularity you finally get it, we'll be happy to let you back in. There's room for everyone in heaven. In the meantime,
Nothing to see here, move along.
ripebastard came back with more brilliant comments:
"The reason I can bash McKenna as an LSD junkie is because I done it way more than is probaly healthy for most humans (although I won't say I didn't enjoy it at the time, but I've probaly got a few holes in my head and my memory is akin to that guy from Momento movie). You see, it was the very drug and MDMA that made me realize how non-spiritual the mind really was. I could simply gain "enlightenment" by dropping acid. Yet, I could not retain the emotion or thought patterns that went with it. I could love something for no reason at all just by chemicals. [...] I also began to doubt free will as I would often black out during heavy drinking binges (and lack of eating) yet I would remain fully functional and have conversations and do things I could not remember."
It should be obvious to anyone who has intently studied psychedelia that this irresponsible behavior - and the irresponsible consumption of sacramental aids - will not produce healthy, enlightened individuals. We've all known people who ate too many drugs and wound up drooling and incoherent. PSYCHEDELICS ARE NOT TOYS. If you really want to benefit from your psychedelics, study the literature, follow the instructions (yes, there really are instructions for how to get maximum benefit from your drug-of-choice - even narcotics!), practice dilligently, expand your information-base and grow in areas you never before imagined. Simply taking LSD 200 times will not produce a Buddha.
I would likewise argue that the person who frequently - or even mildly frequently - engages in binge drinking probably hasn't devoted enough effort and energy into their own psycho-spiritual development. Alcohol, being a depressant, falls within the "angry drugs" of our fathers. It has a place and a function, to be sure, but abuse of an "angry drug" provides a glaring window into the neurotic.
ripebastard continued with: "Scientific materialism is the only way to save humanity and the 'soul'."
If scientific materialism is the only way to save humanity, we're straight fucked.
ripebastard: "You are on the internet are you not? You use the tools of materialism and take advantage of science do you not? You smoke do you not? I'm not saying it is a bad thing and I have nothing against it, but isn't that materialistic?"
In case you were wondering, no, using material tools does not make one a materialist. I have little patience for scientific materialists, fundamental materialists, logical positivists, objectivists and their ilk. Why? (copied from a comment I made in singularity_now):
Discussion of the integral implications of the Singularity seems absolutely relevant in a community of this nature.
Materialism, quite contrary to your over-generalizations, entails quite a different attitude towards reality than simply making use of materialist items. Foremost, materialism prioritizes these gross forms of reality. In materialist perspective, the emic surplants the etic. The materialist accepts the illusion of separation and fails to achieve any experience of the etic1 at all - not that they could speak about it anyway.
Psychologically we find that materialist perspectives include isolating features of consciousness, preventing sustained growth of awarenenss - including non-local awareness. Materialist perspectives isolate the individual and leave less room for empowerment. Integral perspectives focus on the persistent development and empowerment of the actualized individual. In a sense, one mistakes reality for an isolated box whereas the other experiences reality as an infinite ocean. Through Jung's archetypes, allowing for modern revisions and additions, we see that the materialist sacrifices individuation for hyper-development of specific archetypes. Eventually this disparity manifests in some form of neurotic/psychotic compulsory behavior. I'm not confident that the actualized individual never suffers from similar issues, but the process of individual awakening certainly better prepares the individual for consistent and drastic "metaprogramming of the human bio-computer", in the words of Lilly. We also have NeuroLinguistic Programming and Korzbyski's general semantics to further entrench the integral paradigm.
Simply making use of tools doesn't make one materialist. Prioritizing the exoteric and trivializing - or renouncing - the esoteric, however, does.
Spiritualist perspectives do not endorse a total disillusion with gross reality, but plenty has been written of the challenge of living in the world but not of the world. Ken Wilber in particular has written extensively about this.
If we hope to make it, we cannot favor materialist perspectives. Society must begin the widescale adoption of integral memes. You'll find many brilliant authors with similar views - Fritjof Capra, Frank Tipler and Ken Wilber to name a few. On the other hand, the materialist advocates leave no hope for actualization. They discuss a tomorrow of un-integrated psychologically deficient animals. One does not become human by birth but through a painful process of individuation. Birth creates animals. Humans have little in common with animals. This process does not receive priority in materialist perspectives, and thus they will not sustain us in the face of the Singularity.
Contrary to your opinion, the materialist perspectives seem incredibly moreso out of place. They will limit, confine and destroy. The integral perspectives seek individual freedom, growth and dissolution.
Undoubtedly the materialists themselves don't understand their chosen paradigms.
cybercerberus: "There is no singularity that is not technological."
Another statement that can be categorically refuted. The Singularity represents a CONVERGENCE of different INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES, culminating in growth and advancement faster than what wet humans can maintain or predict.
THE CENTRAL ASPECT OF THE SINGULARITY IS INFORMATION SATURATION, NOT TECHNOLOGY. Technology can be viewed as a by-product of information. Without information you have no technological innovation.
Our good friend ripebastard shared some more wisdom:
"The singularity will finally allow hard science to crush all remnants of spirituality. [...] Heaven will come in form of virtual reality. God will come in the form of a microchip. [...] Spirtual concerns are irrevalant seeing materialism, technology, and science are pretty much it for salvation. [...] Spirtuality is a waste of time. It won't cure your diseases. It won't make the economy go. It won't put an end to war and suffering. It won't make you immortal. It won't solve the worlds problems (other than make you feel better about life being shit). Only technology can do this."
"As far as I am concerned, my problem with this shamanistic hullabaloo that you always post is that it *is* non-scientific. [...] [Y]ou ought to keep in mind that just because some barbaric shamanistic practices may have stumbled upon something that in the light of scientific analysis is worth knowing, it doesn't validate the shamanistic barbarism. Whatever seed of scientific data is valuable ought to be extracted and the kookery ought to be shunted aside. [...] [I]t just seems like a bunch of vague references to acid tripping plant eating hippies[.] You value irrational spirituality, we think it is worthless. But simply because we don't want to demean ourselves by accepting the lowest common denominator of an explanation for a phenomena, or because we don't guise our feelings, self worth, fundamental values, goals, ambitions, and aspirations in a bunch of religiosity, doesn't mean we don't have those things. This sort of hive mind communal hippy bullshit is so repugnant to me, and many others precisely because we value ourselves as individuals- to want to destroy that or subsume it to a bunch of irrational mumbo jumbo is sickening."
It will be immediately apparent to anyone with any basis in esoteric or magikal tradition that baikonur has absolutely no idea what he has been ridiculing.
Science grew out of alchemy. I bet you think all alchemy "is sickening" "hippy bullshit", eh?
I bet you also fail to understand the massive parallel systems that accompany the "kookery" in shamanism and ceremonial traditions. When a magus of the Golden Dawn dons robes, the process has a psychological value - internal and external. When you externalize the sacred, experience shifts. This has been backed up time and again with studies in neurology and neurochemistry. But, since you seem to think that "shamanistic hullabloo is non-scientific", I can well imagine that you think a good majority of other integral research "is non-scientific". I bet Dean Radin "is a communal hippy [spouting] bullshit", right? Likewise, I bet the extensive data accompanying TM, tantra and kundalini "is bullshit", right?
Your inflamatory simplifications don't "win the argument for you". You don't seem to understand what integral systems say about the individual or the degree of extrinsic programming that dictates the behaviors and attitudes of materialists. But then, seeing that you list "objectivism" et al as interests, I suppose one shouldn't expect much understanding of transpersonal and interpersonal psychology.
Feel free to denounce the "spiritualists" as "barbarians" or whatever else you can come up with. You merely betray your ideologic unsustainability and psychological immaturity. Don't worry, we were all there at some point.
His response? "bla bla bla"
kmo followed-up with a poll, viewable here, in which he attempted to ascertain the preferences of the community in regards to spirituality. Feel free to contribute your opinion and vote according to your preference. As of now, it seems that there may be plenty of support for both perspectives.
cybercerberus provided further evidence of his mistaken understanding of the Singularity in another post, in which he wrote:
"[There is no] other view of the Singularity [than the technological aspect].
It has become clear to me that many people have a very confused idea of the Singularity. I'm guessing these people "heard about it from a friend" or "saw something about it on the 'net" or something, because they clearly have no idea where the term actually came from. They've co-opted and corrupted the term to mean something absurd."
He goes on to explain that the Singularity has nothing to do with "magic, plants, herbs or LSD", but everything to do with "TECHNOLOGY".
Again, this represents a fundamental mistake. The Singularity is driven by information density, NOT technology. Technology is merely the harbinger, the after-effect of the information saturation.
baikonur: "This shamanism bullshit is getting old fast."
puf_almighty: "Wtf would 'plant magic' have had to do with infinite human advancement, anyway?"
Well, 'puf', I suppose we should clarify something: species-centric absolutism doesn't work. The Singularity involves much more than human advancement.
1Etic Reality would be the unknowable reality beyond human experiential range. Emic reality would be the individually created realities that we all construct and modify on a near continual basis. You can think of the emic as being a lense through which we just can't see the etic, but all our experience of reality falls within the emic. We can never speak of Etic Reality. It is presently - and potentially intrinsically - undefinable. Experience of the etic may be achieved through various methods of actualization. Kundalini yoga, for example, may enable an experience of Etic Reality.
So, with all that background, what do folks over here think?