My estwhile colleague Dexter Johnson who also blogs for IEEE Spectrum received a number of plaudits from readers of the Foresight Institutes Nanodot blog after daring to suggest that the sunny optimism of current President J Storrs Hall might be rather displaced and that the assertion nanobots will save us may be rather missing the point.
Illustrating the difficullty of contrsuctive engament with fanatics, the discussion consited of
Pessimists like Dexter get a pyschological kick out of declaring that “things are bad man, get real”, much like the fundamentalist christians who claim that we are living in “the last days, the most awful phase in human history”, when in fact (for Europe at least) the 14th century is probably the best example if you want war, death and misery in abundance. Did armageddon happen? No it did not.
Dexter Johnson’s bad attitude is borne of ignorance.
“Dexter Johnson is an ignoramus whose ignorance leads him to view optimists with contempt.”
and even J Storrs Hall who waded into the debate with a comment that is simultaneously naive and hare brained
@Dexter: Saying “just some people who made some bad investments” is a very incorrect characterization of what I said. The bad investments are the effect: the cause is the widespread coordinated incorrect beliefs. There were lots of them, ranging from fund managers who thought they could use Li’s Gaussian copula without understanding its assumptions and applicability, to investors who thought they could trust the managers.
Nano-hype — the overpromising of near-term nanoscale bulk technologies — was clearly a very minor part of the problem, but it was real. I’ve been amazed how many people asked me for investment advice once they heard I’d written a book on nanotech. (My stock answer: “Buy land.”)
So that’s another argument settled. The various nutcases, fruitcases, burned out hippies and galactic megalomaniacs that orbit the Foresight Institute are always right, and scientists, governments, investors and anyone else who disagrees with them is an ignoramus.Whatever next? Crucifixians, gas chambers, or plagues of nanobots to root out any dissenting thought? It rather looks like “the leading think tank and public interest institute on nanotechnology” has been taken over by the nanotech equivalent of the Taliban, or at least some kind of set of nerds that have been driven to the brink of insanity by the thwarting of their plans for global domination and the inability to get a real live girlfriend.
Dexter got off lightly – the last time I questioned anything from this bunch a number of people wished various diseases on me. I wonder what Richard Jones’ postbag looks like?