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IEET > Security > SciTech > Rights > Vision > Technoprogressivism > Contributors > Richard Loosemore

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The Lifeboat Foundation: A stealth attack on scientists?


Richard Loosemore
By Richard Loosemore
Ethical Technology

Posted: Mar 8, 2011

It turns out that the Lifeboat Foundation (and this is a direct quote from its founder, Eric Klien) is “a Trojan Horse” that is (here I interpret the rest of what Klien says) designed to hoodwink the people recruited to be its members.

Okay, first: what is the Lifeboat Foundation? It is supposed to be a nonprofit organization dedicated to the study of existential threats to humanity (threats that could lead to destruction of the human race, or all life on the planet). It consists mainly of a very large number of invited members (sometimes called Advisors and sometimes Board Members) who are organized into groups known as Advisory Boards, which are dedicated to specific subjects like threats from artificial intelligence, from nanotechnology, from falling asteroids, and so on.

LBSounds like a good idea? Well of course! I thought so too, when I was asked to become one of their advisory board members a couple of years ago. Serving alongside Nobel laureates! Heady stuff.

But last year something strange happened. The person who runs the Foundation, Eric Klien, decided to add a new Advisor who was a little controversial. Some would describe her as an “extremist political blogger.”

Her name is Pamela Geller, and to give you a general idea of what she stands for, she and her organization (called “Stop Islamization of America”) has just been classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “Hate Group.” The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is, for those who don’t know, pretty much the gold standard for monitoring and classifying hate groups.

If you want a few quick references, here is Geller’s blog, and the link to Stop Islamization of America, and the SPLC 2010 listing of hate groups.

And, just in case you need some immediate evidence of Geller’s debating style, without having to go off looking at other web sites, here is a quick collection of ten Pamela Geller quotes, gathered from just the front page of one section of her blog (the “How the Left Destroys the Nation” category):

  • “These libturds are so sick.”
  • “The left is itching for civil war. What decent Americans would call themselves members of this party?”
  • “Looking at the Left ... Make no mistake, they have declared war on America. You will work for these collectivists, feed them, clothe them, enrich these pigs and thugs ...”
  • “The persecution of Jews on university and college campuses is another leftwing dirty secret.”
  • “It has become increasingly clear that the left will never lose its racism and its knee jerk reaction to blame and race-bait when called out for its failures. The leftists do not want to get past racism. It defines them.”
  • “Looks like a class action suit would have to be filed immediately on behalf of all parents for child abuse, sexual molestation, trauma and sexual abuse against the Federal government, the teachers union, the city and any other sick pervert who had a hand in this. The decaying left, a pox on America’s soul.”
  • “If this [demonstration of a sex toy] is what is taught at universities, then they [the universities] should be vanquished.”
  • “Everything the left and their media whores accused the tea party of doing, which they never did, never did—these moochers and looters are doing times ten. The Jared Loughner party.”
  • “Such suicidal stupidity is beneath contempt. More of the poisonous fruit of the left’s war on America. These same tyrants in America are rejoicing at the very idea of an Islamic crescent through Africa and the Middle East. All the hand wringing and whining about GITMO, never so much as a peep as to who and what they were doing there.”
  • “The Democrat heroes of the left have for decades been the worst subversives in our nation’s history, actively working against individual rights, capitalism, and basic Constitutional principles. Time and time again. Is it any wonder that we wound up in this current crisis, with an imposter [sic] at 1600 Pennsylavania [sic] Avenue? It’s a wonder that it didn’t happen sooner. We are in a chokehold, held hostage by the leftwing government’s union armies.”

Do you see where I am going with this? A group of scientists and thinkers dedicated to saving the world, on the one hand ... and on the other, the leader of a hate group? Can you say “strange bedfellows”? As a matter of fact a lot of people said “strange bedfellows” when Geller turned up on the Lifeboat Foundation discussion list last year. A number of Advisory Board members promptly resigned.

Now let’s fast-forward to a few days ago, when there was a new spate of comments about Geller on the Lifeboat discussion list, prompted by her recent addition to the SPLC hate group list. Geller posted an entry, described her hate group as “a human rights organization” and pouring scorn on the credibility of the Southern Poverty Law Center. I decided that I had to speak up, so I directed the following at Geller:

You are a hate-mongering extremist, writing in the forum of a group dedicated to eradicating existential threats to humanity. You are not fighting any problems we are fighting. You ARE one of the problems we are fighting. Go somewhere else.

A few hours later, Eric Klien expelled me from the Lifeboat Foundation. My words were, according to him, not “polite.”

I contacted a few people to let them know what had happened, and in the ensuing online storm that began the day before yesterday, some dramatic new information emerged, shedding a spine-chilling light on Eric Klien and his motives for starting the Lifeboat Foundation.

It turns out that Klien has written—on Pamela Geller’s blog—that he is on a crusade against what he calls “The Religion of Science,” and that he formed the Lifeboat Foundation with the intention of deceiving its members about his true purpose:

I have developed Lifeboat Foundation with a Trojan Horse meme that tries to wrap our goals in the Religion of Science memes. For example our mission statement begins with “The Lifeboat Foundation is a nonprofit nongovernmental organization dedicated to encouraging scientific advancements.”

[NOTE: The article quoted above was available on Geller’s Atlas Shrugs blog until yesterday, when Klien had it removed.]

[UPDATE: Here is a link to a cached version of the article. Google says this shows the page as it appeared on Jan 27, 2011 20:56:38 GMT.]

[UPDATE 2: Apparently the Google cache version is no longer accessible. But an archived version of the Klien article is available at this link. (Thanks to reader ‘Luke’ for the info.)]

To me, the clear implication of that paragraph is that Klien’s mission statement is designed to give the impression that he encourages science, whereas his true purpose is to wage a war against it. That is a little disturbing. Not a good idea to give a mission statement designed to lure scientists in, when your real goal is something like hatred for them and what they do. But if you think this is disturbing, wait for what comes next.

In the first subheading of the above article he defines the “Religion of Science” as “The dangerous delusion that all scientific progress is good…” and he completes that heading sentence with the words “... and what to do about it.”

What does he suggest as an idea for “what to do about it”? He sets up the tone of the rest of the article by starting with a quote.

A quote from ... Adolph Hitler.

“It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge.” - Adolph Hitler.

So, let me see if I have got this straight. Eric Klien tells us (in the rest of that article) that scientists belong to a religion that they are not even aware of belonging to, and this religion believes that all scientific advancement is good under all circumstances, and that members of this religion must do whatever it takes to quiet people mentioning any dangers that might be caused by science.

And his position is that this religion must be destroyed. And he puts in a quote from Adolph Hitler about fighting against people of faith.

This is beginning to get very scary.

Klien admits that he used a Trojan Horse strategy when setting up the Lifeboat Foundation, so it seems like he is coming to the scientific world ostensibly bearing gifts (to wit, a foundation dedicated to science and the scientific study of existential threats), but any day now he and his followers are going to burst out of the horse and ... what? Use Adolph Hitler’s methods for eliminating religious people who opposed him?

Maybe I have read too much into this. I mean, lots of people put quotes from Adolph Hitler at the head of their essays. I suppose it’s true that I, personally, haven’t ever done that, and none of my friends have, and nobody I respect has…

But now here is one last thought that makes it seem that my first conclusion might have been on the right track after all. Where exactly did the name “Lifeboat” come from? Is it supposed to mean a lifeboat to rescue humanity?

I always assumed it did, but when I did some research into the Ayn Rand school of thinking (from which Klien and many of his friends seem to derive a good deal of their inspiration), I noticed that the word “lifeboat” crops up quite frequently in the context of something called the “lifeboat question.”

The lifeboat question is what to do if two people are stuck in a lifeboat with no hope of both of them reaching land, but with some hope of salvation if one of them is thrown overboard. The question—the big dilemma, for the Randians—is whether it would be ethical for one person to kill (and perhaps eat) the other person. If humanity is to be saved, perhaps it would be necessary to…?

Klien concludes the aforementioned article with these words:

By wrapping our meme with a Religion of Science coating, I hope to develop enough resources that we can make sure that unlike every civilization so far, we can have at least SOME people survive this dangerous religion.

In other words, if you kill the other guy in the lifeboat, then at least SOME people survive…?

So, to summarize, Eric Klien has said quite openly that he is waging a war against what he believes to be a “Religion of Science” (which he claims that all scientists subscribe to even though they don’t know it), and that he is using a Trojan Horse strategy to gather a lot of scientists and intellectuals together in a place he calls a “Lifeboat”, and that when he thinks of what to do about this problem his first impulse is to quote Adolph Hitler on the subject of how hard it is to fight people who belong to a religion….

Something is seriously wrong here.


It is worth adding that the Lifeboat Foundation is also spectacularly ineffectual. All it seems to do is have a discussion list where a few people argue occasionally, and a set of boards where (as far as I can see) nothing happens.

Or, looking at it another way, the Lifeboat Foundation is very effective indeed. It raises money, and it supplies a very high profile to its founder, Eric Klien. As far as I can see, that is all it has ever done.

Special thanks to PJ Manney for originally doing the sleuthing that led everyone to the web page on which the latter parts of this essay are based.


Richard Loosemore is a professor in the Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at Wells College, Aurora, NY, USA. He graduated from University College London, and his background includes work in physics, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, software engineering, philosophy, parapsychology and archaeology.
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COMMENTS


If you still have the link, you can still pull up the page on Google Cache or Archive.org

Post the link!





Your hypocrisy is stunning.  The ‘hate group’ labelling of others which you slap on people’s brows with routine sticky fix nonchalance is the word ‘irony’ etched into a mountainside.

History’s battleships of ideological hatred have moved in many directions - outwardly and inwardly.  You clearly need a moral compass to take stock of the course set by your own nihilism.  Peter (United Kingdom).





Between James O’Keefe and Eric Klien it appears the Right has embraced the Aston Kutcher Punk’d method of research: achieve personal gratification and verification at the embarrassing expense of others.





Ted,

Seems O’Keefe has a Transhumanist connection as well:

http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/4571





Peter - lolwut? There’s no irony in calling a hate group a hate group. But thanks for hella trolling the boards; we clearly need tons of that here.

Dr. Loosemore, thank you for posting this. It’s pretty awful to find out that a group is masquerading as something quite the opposite of what it is. Just glad I donate money to the IEET (and hadn’t given a dime to the Lifeboat Foundation). And glad the Lifeboat Foundation hasn’t proven highly effectual in… stopping the religion of science? Halting scientific progress? Picketing vaccinations? Whatever it is their Super Secret Strategem is, it seems to be doing not much. Except accidentally revealing their Super Secret Strategem on a blog comment! Can’t see why they’re not super effective.





Lifeboat Foundation has always seemed incompetent and funny to me, and I declined a position when Eric Klien approached me with one of those offers that he has been making to—well, anyone and everyone really—so I’m glad that this article of yours, Richard, wakes more people up to said organization’s incompetence and weirdness.

However, upon reading your article, I was actually kind of disappointed… Even though there are rather serious negative things that can and should be said about Lifeboat Foundation, you to an extent manage to say *the wrong* negative things. Wrong as in not supported by the facts.

Take this statement of yours for example:


“And his position is that this religion must be destroyed.”


Where does Eric Klien say anything like that? That active measures to destroy what he calls “the Religion of Science” should be taken? You seem to just be making that up.

What Eric Klien actually seems to think, is that the “Religion of Science” will likely destroy itself and most of the world in a spectacular fashion, and we should try to shield ourselves from that destruction (with a “lifeboat” strategy). Here’s a quote from his article that you were commenting on:


“So the solution is to develop a world as open/transparent (thus inherently safe) as we can make it, to try to build up defenses against bio- and nano- weapons, and to develop self-sustaining colonies in space and elsewhere that would help us weather such attacks. [...] By wrapping our meme with a Religion of Science coating, I hope to develop enough resources that we can make sure that unlike every civilization so far, we can have at least SOME people survive this dangerous religion.”


But yeah, on the actually relevant point we agree. Eric Klien is a silly and incompetent person, and no-one should support an organization that has someone like him in a leadership position, never mind at the very top.

I just hoped that when attacking such an easy target, a target very deserving of an attack indeed, you would have managed a higher quality attack better supported by the facts.





@ Peter.  You seem to imply that I was the one who put the label “hate group” on someone…!  Did you actually read the essay, or just did you just do a quick glance-and-comment?

The label was put on Pamela Geller’s organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is respected the world over as being THE authority on the study and classification of hate groups in the United States.

The rest of your comment degenerated into raving, so sadly I cannot reply to that.





I encountered Eric Klien about 20 years ago in cryonics circles. He claimed he had made a lot of money through some stock market investment strategy, yet he drove an old car which repeatedly broke down. He also tried to start a libertarian seastead, like today’s Patri Friedman. I wrote him off as a four-flusher and a crank.

It seems like Eric hasn’t gotten any wiser in the intervening two decades.

BTW, if you want to see how a real lifeboat situation works, you might want to study Ernest Shackleton’s example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_Trans-Antarctic_Expedition





I’d never heard of the Lifeboat Foundation, so I find this story more fascinating than disturbing. I’d be interested to see a response from the author to Aleksei Riikonen’s criticisms. I guess my initial reaction (after fascination) is to consider this as an example of the severe neurosis of the religious right in the US. Sadly, my namesake and compatriot “Peter” seems to share this neurosis, so it’s clearly not an exclusively US phenomenon, but it seems to be particularly prevalent here.

My explanation is as follows (and it applies to Muslim fundamentalists as well): some people are very attached to the or religious beliefs, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to hold such beliefs in the modern world. It’s just too obvious to everyone that there is no evidence to support them. So to avoid the pain and confusion of giving up on these beliefs, they increasingly distort their natural mechanisms for processing information, until eventually they lose all sense of reality, or indeed decency. To put it simply, they go mad.





Has that cached page been backed up and archived somewhere?





Thanks.  I checked this organisation’s 2009 accounts on GuideStar.  They reported assets of 13,545,446 USD.  Being an anti-science, luddite organisation pays - it seems.  Perhaps the byeline should say: “Scamming Humanity”.





@ Tim

That’s a different Lifeboat Foundation. Klein registered this one in NV. Their 2009 return shows $26K in income.

http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2009/800/034/2009-800034805-06a4d030-Z.pdf





@Peter Wicks:  Unfortunately, I wrote a long reply to Aleksei, but then had an electronic mishap just before I sent it, so it got lost :-(.  I will endeavor to recreate it as soon as I have a moment.

Richard





Klien is not opposed to science or even to technology. What he calls the “Religion of Science” in that essay, is a form of what used to be called belief in progress: the belief that the science-driven increase in human knowledge and power is inevitably making the world a better place.

As for the supposed stealthiness with which he obscures his true purpose, it’s not very stealthy. It takes a few seconds of looking at the foundation’s homepage to see that it is concerned with possible causes of human extinction, including those arising from advanced technology.

So maybe there are two real issues here. The first is whether the Lifeboat Foundation is an effective organization. Apparently it is just a website, a long list of people who have agreed to be advisors, and a small mailing list. Well, it may not be doing much so far, but it’s still something. The problem with trying to address “existential risks” all together is that they belong to different categories. The risks from nature are different to the risks from technology, and the risks from technology are different to each other. A division of labor makes sense - you don’t ask a fireman to also be a financial advisor, even though fires and bankruptcy are both “domestic risks”. So Eric Klien may eventually need to ask himself where he wants to focus his attention.

The second issue is the universal one of political antagonisms within a broad grouping. It is very likely that Richard Loosemore’s reaction to Pamela Geller would be shared by many of Klien’s other advisors (I’m thinking academics with liberal political views): Geller is an Islamophobic hate-mongering crazy woman, I’m not sharing a “lifeboat” with her! There might be a few, perhaps like Peter from the UK, who are explicitly in Geller’s political camp, who would call the SPLC itself a hate group and part of what’s wrong with the world, et cetera ad infinitum as seen on thousands of American political blogs. There might be quite a few who just don’t care about Geller’s activities. But I think that undoubtedly Richard has unearthed a potential political liability for Eric Klien here, and Eric may have to issue a statement taking a stand, or make some strategic decisions…

That’s not my affair, but I think I can at least clarify how the situation came about. Pamela Geller is on the list because of the WMD element of the war on terror. The use of advanced technology by small groups (e.g. Aum Shinrikyo) for destructive purposes is one of the pathways to doom that the Lifeboat Foundation is concerned with, and that obviously includes terrorists with WMDs. So that’s a point of contact between “people concerned with existential risk” and “people trying to win the war on terror”, and that’s how you end up with a polemical political blogger like Geller under the same roof as an AI designer like Loosemore.





Pamela Geller is anti-muslim and anti anything she reards as the ‘left’ (which in Europe might well be considered centrist or even slightly to the right). As a result, people on the left or center are being persuaded that if you criticise Islam no matter how rationally, you’re some kind of fascist (she is focused on by certain pro-Islamic sites such as Loonwatch who attempt of course to suggest that anyone against Islam is a fool). A dangerous woman.

Thanks for the info on ‘Lifeboat”. It seems transhumanism and futurism will also have to watch out for scammers jumping on the bandwagon.





@Richard.. I hate it when that happens! Looking forward to the reconstituted reply…

@Mitchell Porter.. But surely there’s a difference between worrying about the dangers of technology (indeed an important and legitimate concern) and talking about a “religion of science”?





The Lifeboat Foundation has one impressive achievement: It got a lot of talented and successful people to endorse existential risk reduction. (Seems obvious, but it’s not). LF has done nothing else, which is annoying.

I don’t care too much about these political squabbles, but it seems that what is needed is for someone else to take over this cause, whether through the LF or another group; to leverage the lineup of stellar endorsers.





@Richard Loosemoore

“...the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is respected the world over as being THE authority on the study and classification of hate groups in the United States.”

Just out of curiosity, how does one become an authority on the study and classification of something that is intentionally undefined?

1. There is no legal definition for “hate group,” which is why even the FBI does not track “hate groups.”

2. The SPLC uses the deliberately meaningless term “hate groups” in its fund-raising propaganda precisely because it allows them to denigrate their perceived opponents without accusing them of any actual crimes.

3. The SPLC’s “Hate Map” is a fund-raising tool, nothing more. It provides no information whatsoever on the alleged groups, in fact, the SPLC didn’t even bother to make up locations for 262 of the groups; that’s 26% of the total.

http://wp.me/pCLYZ-8u

Many of the alleged “groups” are listed twice in the same location.

4. Since the SPLC is the sole arbiter of the meaningless “hate group” label, AND because SPLC fund-raising is directly tied to creating the illusion of an ever-increasing threat, it is in their direct financial interest to raise the numbers each year.

Last year the SPLC took in $31 million donor-dollars in donations and earned $26 million in interest on its bloated “Endowment Fund.” That’s $57 million dollars for last year alone. Since 2003, the SPLC has taken in more than a third of a BILLION dollars in tax-free cash, and yet the number of “hate groups” always goes up.

http://wp.me/pCLYZ-82

5. The most ironic (read: “hypocritical”) thing about the Southern Poverty Law Center is that NOT ONE of its top ten, highest paid executives is a minority.

http://wp.me/pCLYZ-7m

In fact, according to the SPLC’s hometown newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser, despite being located LITERALLY in the back yard of Dr. Martin Luther King’s home church, the SPLC has NEVER hired a person of color to a highly paid position of power in its entire 40 year history.

Some “experts”





@Aleksei.  Finally I have found the time to answer your question.  Sorry about the delay.

You said, in your above comment:

> Take this statement of yours for example:
>
>> “And his position is that this religion must be destroyed.”
>
> Where does Eric Klien say anything like that? That active measures
> to destroy what he calls “the Religion of Science” should be taken?
> You seem to just be making that up.

When I made that assertion about Eric’s position, I was thinking of the following part of his essay:

“The Religion of Science is too powerful to try to fight it with controls on certain technologies or any particular set of regulations.  Remember this is a worldwide religion which will soon have the ability to commit human sacrifice a world at a time.  If the religion was still alive in even one country, it would doom us all.”

Perhaps the implication of this statement did not jump out at you as clearly as it jumped out at me:  he says that if the “religion of science” is alive in “even one country” it would “doom us all”.  That really does strongly implied that he seeks a situation in which the religion is “not alive” in ANY country (not even one), because otherwise he believes we are all doomed.

Now, having said that, he does also later talk about leaving the planet to escape from it: so he seems to be considering either fighting the religion, or running so far away from it that he can escape it.  But all through his essay there is almost no talk of running away, and no explanation of how he running away to a space colony would help…. he would need the help of huge numbers of scientists to make the escape, and they would arguably bring the religion with them during the escape!

He starts the essay with a quote from Hitler about the difficulty of fighting people of faith, and the whole tone of his essay combative.

I think that a reasonable interpretation of his essay is that he wants to fight this religion, and that he believes that the problem is so serious that the planet is doomed if the religion is “still alive in even one country”.

Would you not agree that, in light of this, my statement “his position is that this religion must be destroyed” is very well supported by the most straightforward interpretation of those remarks?  I think it really would be less than fair to say that I was just “making that up”, do you not think?

Richard





@Richard Keefe.  I think most fair-minded people would find your comments odious in the extreme.

They would also notice that your comment is filled with false accusations.  Does the FBI monitor hate groups?  The following comes from the FBI’s own website:

“Does the FBI investigate hate groups in the United States?

The FBI investigates domestic hate groups within guidelines established by the attorney general. Investigations are conducted only when a threat or advocacy of force is made; when the group has the apparent ability to carry out the proclaimed act; and when the act would constitute a potential violation of federal law.”

You appear, then, to be wrong about this.  And if you find that the label “hate group” has no meaning, then I can only conclude that it has no meaning for you. It clearly has a meaning for the vast majority of peace-loving people the world over.





@Richard.. I’d be interested to know what you think about Joshua Fox’s suggestion that someone else take over the cause that Lifeboat Foundation has ostensibly been advocating. I don’t entirely share his disinterest in what he calls “political squabbling” - I think it’s important to expose bad behaviour, and I find your replies to Aleksei and Richard Keefe convincing - but I do like his willingness to look for positive outcomes, and the idea of leveraging the high-profile line up of endorsers seems to make sense.





@Peter.  I am very much in favor of the Lifeboat Foundation continuing, and getting back the people who have resigned in protest at this situation, if at all possible.  It has certainly never been my intention to destroy it without cause.

At the moment it looks as though it may reform itself slightly and eject Pamela Geller.  This would be good.  But should it continue with Eric Klien at the helm?  That is a far harder question to answer.

To me, an organization led by a person who says that he used a “Trojan Horse meme” when he founded the organization, and who quotes Adolph Hitler in an essay that he posts on a website managed by a hate group, is .... well, the word “bizarre” is the least of the adjectives I would reach for.  This is about as big a red flag as red flags get.

I really do not know what to think of a scenario in which Geller left, Klien stayed, and people decided to overlook the fact that he wrote that essay.  To me, that would say that the remaining people in the Lifeboat Foundation had either compromised their integrity, or been too apathetic to even bother themselves with the issue.  Either way, the effectiveness of the organization would be in doubt.

But in general, yes, I am looking for some kind of positive outcome.  I am not looking for destruction:  not at all.





Before taking the assessments of the Southern Poverty Law Center regarding “hate groups” seriously, you should to go their web site and review the criteria used to: discover organizations that might qualify for inclusion, verify their existence, evaluate them, remove organizations included in error, and confirm the continued exist of listed organizations.

When you find that page, let me know.  I’ve been wanting to see it for years.





@Eric Harris.  Thank you for your comment, but I no longer take the time to respond in depth to people who rail against the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The rest of the civilized world finds no substantive fault with the SPLC.  Hate groups and their supporters despise the SPLC.

Sadly, that means you are in poor company.





I was not aware that warning people of a lack of transparency on the part of an organization was considered “railing”.

I’m thinking their sources aren’t always reliable, and not always validated well.  Until we know more about their processes, all we have to rely on is guesses, or accusations.

The SPLC put me in poor company when they incorrectly put that organization on one of their lists.

As for the insult, should I forward it on to my mother and my ex-wife, so they can enjoy it too?  They also find that to be a fault of the SPLC.





@Eric.  The vast majority of rational, moderate people look at the SLPC hate groups and find them to be so *obviously* deserving of that label, that those people wonder how anyone in their right mind could fail to reach the same conclusion.  To use a colloquialism, this is a “no-brainer”.

As for the transparency of their procedures, the proof is in the pudding:  the hate groups engage in activities that outside observers can scrutinize, so those outside observers can easily come to a verdict about whether they think the SPLC is making a good judgment call.  They look at the behavior of people like Pamela Geller, then say “Yes, this seems to be quite clearly a hate group”.

In the cases where those outside observers are reasonable, neutral people, they say in utterly overwhelming numbers that YES, the SPLC seems to be doing an extremely good job of identifying the hate groups.  This is as much transparency as they need, given the behavior of the groups themselves.

When those observers are, however, the people who support the hate groups, they start complaining about the SPLC.  I put my money with the overwhelming majority of people.

It’s as simple as that.

I will not be responding again to your comments.





As to SPLC, I suspect the reason they aren’t especially transparent is to stop hate groups weaseling around the letter of the classification rules. Their railing can be paraphrased as “no fair, if you won’t tell me the rules how can I be expected to play the game”. To which the answer is: it’s not a game.

As to the Lifeboat Foundation, I find it ironic that Klien’s imagined scientific community attachment to progress at any cost has caused him to waste time covering up a purpose that would be far more effective revealed. He could simply have said “we are studying amongst other things, the areas in which progress ought to stop, or be halted pending progress in mitigation technologies, lest we endanger the species”.





Julian Morrison: Any evidence to support that hunch about the reason for the lack of transparency?  Perhaps more to the point, can you give an example of a type of rule that perhaps could be “weaseled around”?

More important is the the problem of “false positives”.  As far as I know there is no procedure for an organization which has been—for some mysterious or non-mysterious reason—been incorrectly listed as an SPLC-certified “hate group.





Julian Morrison: ‘He could simply have said “we are studying amongst other things, the areas in which progress ought to stop, or be halted pending progress in mitigation technologies, lest we endanger the species”. ‘

But Klien isn’t especially committed to the tactic of ‘relinquishment’ (Bill Joy) or delay. He’s also interested in space colonization, for example. It fits the name of his foundation: lifeboat! He wants there to be other human worlds, so that the destruction of this one won’t mean the destruction of everything.





Just wanted to note that while the google cached version isn’t working any more, you can still find cached versions on archive.org (though their copies are sometimes slow to load, so be patient):

http://replay.web.archive.org/20080127202529/http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2007/08/atlas-exclusive.html

http://classic-web.archive.org/web/20080127202529/http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2007/08/atlas-exclusive.html





What I see here is the usual problem with humans trying to solve a problem.  It ends up engendering endless squabbles about this or that, without getting to actually solving the original problem. 

Until we learn how to work together toward a common goal, I see no hope of our ever solving the problem of human survival, let alone the usual “taking back America”.





Richard Loosemore, your plea reminds me of similar pleas against the ACLU when it joined a court suite claiming a corporation is a person. Since I joined Lifeboat before reading your plea. I guess my response should be to send another donation to the ACLU. The ACLU only trashed part of its history of accomplishments. Pamera founded SIOA, Stop Islamaization of America, which fit nicely with the organization Osma founded SIOI, Stop the Westernization of Islam. Osma was determined to stop Muslim values from seeming inferior by proving Islam could be far more ruthless than the West, and scared some of his followers when he had names and antiliaries of several al Qaeda operatives turned over to the West, to win the confidence to be in a meeting to suicide-bomb five top CIA operatives.  But mostly bin Laden defeated himself by not following script, in his last moments. Imagine yourself a hero want-to-be, hoping to be chosen for a glorious victory though death, only to discover that your leader didn’t even bother to booby-trap the computer files.

My hope is that Pamela Geller would likewise defeat herself. Nevertheless, Richard Loosemore I don’t think trashing the Lifeboat Foundation helps make this a better more secure and safe world. The extremely good news is that bin Laden’s defeat trashes Pamela’s hopes, for a west free of any Islamic values.





Richard Kane.  You are not paying attention, I believe, to the core issue.  The LBF claims to be an organization dedicated to combating existential risks.  Its founder, Eric Klien, invited a racist, homophobic, right-wing extremist who appears dedicated to fomenting a new civil war in the United States between the Left and her vision of the Right.  Klien not only refused to apologize for this invitation, he wrote an article on Pamela Geller’s website in which he implied that he was trying to deceive the people he was inviting into the LBF, in order to use them to support Geller’s agenda.

If you do not see a glaring problem in that situation, worth writing an article about, there is probably nothing I can do to make you understand what I was writing about.





I have three core problems with the LBF:

1) Lack of transparency.

2) Segregation/classism. Embedded within the philosophy there seems to be an idea that only the “cream of the crop” (I assume they mean scientists, engineers, intellectual “elites”) have a reserved seat on the “lifeboats”.

3) Centralization vs. Open Source. They appear to want to deal with these existential risks through consolidating power and information in the hands of centralized organizations.

I’ll illustrate points one and three with this quote from their site:

http://lifeboat.com/ex/getas?background=white#blue

The decision whether to publicly announce Threat Conditions shall be made on a case-by-case basis by the LF Executive Director in consultation with the LF Scientific Advisory Board. Every effort shall be made to share as much information regarding the threat as possible, consistent with the safety of the planet. The LF Executive Director shall ensure, consistent with the safety of the planet, that supra-national, national, state and local government officials and law enforcement authorities are provided the most relevant and timely information. The LF Executive Director shall be responsible for identifying any other information developed in the threat assessment process that would be useful to supra-national, national, state and local officials and others and conveying it to them as permitted consistent with the constraints of classification. The LF Executive Director shall establish a process and a system for conveying relevant information to supra-national, national, state and local government officials, law enforcement authorities, and the private sector expeditiously.

The LF Executive Director shall ensure that a continuous and timely flow of integrated threat assessments and reports is provided to the Secretary-General of the U.N., Presidents of countries, Vice Presidents, Assistants to Presidents and Chiefs of Staff, the Assistants to the President for Homeland Security, and the Assistants to the President for National Security Affairs. Whenever possible and practicable, these integrated threat assessments and reports shall be reviewed and commented upon by the wider international interagency community.

I highly suggest to them to study up on Clay Shirky, and to adopt the transparent, socially media driven wave.

Open it up. Invite the world in, rather than try to create another walled garden.





The Google cache is down. Here’s the Internet Archive version:

http://web.archive.org/web/20080127202529/http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2007/08/atlas-exclusive.html

And here’s a ZIP of the HTML and graphics from that Internet Archive version:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/163098/Eric Klein Lifeboat Foundation ‘Atlas Exclusive’ article.zip





Dear Eric

Can you explain me that ? Are rightist jerk so powerfull in the US ???

What is your understanding of faith and religion exactly ? Do you know which are mines, and why I asked you to be firstly from the religion/spirituality board, if ever (that you didn’t answer) ??

Thanks

http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/4610

Etienne





Can’t stand to read about intramural procedures of LBF, or any other org.—sounds like kangaroo courts going through the motions even though the organizations in question are too small to make a substantial difference to begin with. Republicans are something to worry about, though.
“They” are not monolithic, naturally, there are all sorts in the GOP; nonetheless they are a very large, motivated, disciplined party pushing at the very least cultural luddism. LBF is as nothing—scarcely worth observing—to the GOP and its allies.





... sure, the concept of lifeboat is worthy, but a chicken-scratch group run by, from what has been presented here, cons, is something I personally would ignore. We can learn something from fringe groups, but that’s that.
Gingrich’s people have a great deal to offer, but who wants to wade through their seas of obfuscation?





Your questions, in order.

#1, #2:  I don’t understand what you are asking.

#3: Don’t see the relevance.  I didn’t say anything about faith or religion.

I don’t recall that question.  Maybe it has been too long.

When did you ask me a question, and where is this question?





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