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Of course, we could have a scenario where museums pay to revive us, and then keep us as an exhibit....

Chances are, it would look like most of what they found good and righteous in the world is gone. Would you inflict that on someone?

"The 'wild man' caught the imagination and attention of thousands of onlookers and curiosity seekers. He was then moved to the Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley where he lived the remainder of his life in evident contentment...."


Well, people exposed to very low temperatures have ended up in states where they were considered clinically dead,

13.7C isn't "very low" for the relevant purposes, and she wasn't dead before she got cold like cryonics purchasers would be.

even though "volatile" functions had been interrupted

I'm not sure we can conclude this at 13.7C.

Interesting case, though.

Also, lower mammals have been frozen and brought back with no ill effects.

I've only seen this with cooling and super-cooling, not with freezing or vitrification.

Don't take the computer metaphor too literally. There's no separate disk and RAM in the brain, after all.

Of course. I was riffing on Eliezer's metaphor.

Even if the probability of cryonics revival is miniscule, I would still bet that it's higher than (a) the existence of a deity, (b) who could be effectively prayed to, (c) who would care about my prayers and answer them, and (d) the existence of a soul separate from material existence.

The point isn't which tiny probability is tinier, it's that unless you place literally infinite value on immortality (and if you do, you'd be living very differently from anyone I've ever met), you have to conclude that some avenues aren't worth pursuing at $80-100K a pop.

Even if the probability of being revived is sub-1%, it is worth every penny since the consequence is immortality

By that logic, one should pay to have prayers said for one's soul.

One could make a Drake's-Equation-style estimate of that "sub-1%" probability, but the dominant term is this: what are the odds that evolution, with no selection pressure whatsoever, has designed the brain so that that none of its contents are stored in a volatile way? Why write everything to disk if the computer never gets turned off?

Without hard evidence that the brain does that, I don't see any reason to rate the probability of revival significantly higher than zero. That's without even getting into whether it's really practical to extract what information there is.

Maybe there is such evidence and I just haven't seen it. I repeat: can anyone point me to some?

Can you point me to any positive evidence that the information needed for resuscitation survives death and freezing, rather than being carried in volatile state?

Without that, it seems to me that your argument boils down to "you can't prove it won't work." Which is true, but not much of an inducement to part with cash.

And, sticking to conceptual art, I'll happily defend John Cage's 4'33": a few sentences on a piece of paper that read like a stunt, but when actually experienced gave me a new understanding of the process of listening. If that's not "a skillful archer send[ing] an arrow into an exceedingly narrow target," I don't know what is.

The same is true of LaMonte Young's X For Henry Flynt. But you have to hear it. Reading about it won't do much for you.

The ongoing popularity of Magritte's "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" and Escher's "Ascending and Descending" as logic/science illustrations would seem to indicate that rationalists are comfortable enough with conceptual art when it suits them.

Please point to at least one item available online which exemplifies that which you think I'm ignoring or missing.

Here are the four exhibits I saw last time I went to SFMOMA:

http://www.sfmoma.org/exhibitions/232 http://www.sfmoma.org/exhibitions/266 http://www.sfmoma.org/exhibitions/264 http://www.sfmoma.org/exhibitions/292

All of them "delight the untrained senses of a mere novice" (not so much on a computer screen--these are large and/or detailed works). None of them was there because "sophisticated critics praised their rule-breaking."

Those exhibitions are gone, but if you go down to SFMOMA and see whatever's on now, I'm confident the same will be true.

Modern Art cannot delight the untrained senses of a mere novice.

Whatever gets sophisticated critics to praise your rule-breaking is good Modern Art, and whatever fails in this end is poor Modern Art.

Both these statements are complete bullshit, as any visit to a modern art* gallery will confirm.

I think what you're trying to mock is conceptual art, a small sub-field of modern art, but your straw man bears so little resemblance to anything that actually happens in the art world that it's impossible to be sure.

*Scare caps are as bad as scare quotes.

the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

This definition has the advantage of eschewing the pointless essentialism of trying to decide whether any specific object "is" art. If you drive a nail with an unshaped rock, it's a tool, at least for the moment; if you get an aesthetic experience from something, it's art, at least for the moment.

There is no 'natural joint'.

In which case, "natural joint" is as good a category as any, no?

But sure, it's just shorthand, for me anyway.

Well, I'm glad to hear that I'm off the hook, since I have no problem regarding Python as art (although I'm a Ruby man myself). That said: do you really mean that, given the set { Python, The Rite Of Spring, Beethoven's Ninth }, the natural joint is { Python, Rite } | { Ninth }, and that this is so obvious that people who disagree deserve to be called rude names? If so, why? If not, what do you mean?

Also, it's been a while since I read the Tschai books, but my recollection is that The Dying Earth is way better.

(This would mark you as a gullible philistine, but you could argue it.)

I'd much rather be marked as a gullible philistine than be blind to the wonder of Joyce, Messiaen, and Rothko.

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