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Indefinite Life Extension: How To Convince Skeptics, Fence-Sitters, and the Uninformed

Posted: Tue, February 05, 2013 | By: Eric Schulke



One of Indefinite Life Extension’s primary jobs is “persuasion” - cutting through the status quo, the tradition. 

The best way to persuade somebody is to let them persuade themselves. The two main ways to do that are through information dissemination and debate. 

This works the same way for “fence sitters” who are uncommitted, as it does for skeptics and the uninformed that just need more information. Pro-aging trancists are - suggests Aubrey de Grey - people that have conditioned themselves to use ridiculous fallacy to excuse death, so they don’t have to face its horrors. A pro-aging trancist is just an uninformed person that has tried to solve the pain that death brings them by compensating with erroneous solutions. 

Below is a list of tips and techniques to use to effectively inform someone, and to streamline their concepts with this life and death cause.

Crash Course on How and Why People Change Their Minds

When to inform, when to debate 

Ask them 

Know the basics of influence 

Realize that some people have coached themselves to accept death 

Make sure you use the right terminology 

Don’t ask for money 

Use strong reasoning and evidence 

Use appeals to authority and success 

Know the FAQs

Use crowd mentality to your advantage 

Help stack credible sources 

Avoid trolls 

Try the Socratic Method 

Use the “used to, found, sure you would agree” formula 

Get back-up support where you can 

Carry literature 

Tell them about the organizations that seem best fitted to them

Crash Course on How and Why People Change Their Minds – Every person in the world filters everything they think about through their current traditions, attitudes and beliefs. It is hard to get a person to accept something all at once, even if it is true, urgent and extremely important, even if it is life or death.  People want to exist in comfort zones. It is not easy to get a person to step outside of their comfort zones. It is uncomfortable for them, it causes cognitive dissonance. 

Cognitive dissonance means that a person cannot hold two conflicting views at the same time. If people think that talking to others about radical life extension, reading and giving out books, petitioning, talking on the radio, or to coworkers, etc., is uncomfortable and socially awkward, then they are unlikely to step outside of their comfort zone and do those things immediately. They just don’t like it.

Gradually and incrementally a person gets used to anything, though, especially the truth. Eventually, the truth in the Indefinite Life Extension cause wins out and their comfort zones loosen and allow them to move more freely. You can expedite this process through use of the most significant, logical, emotional appeal that you can find. Instead of letting them gloss over the atrocity that is death, with comforting language, try to make them uncomfortable with the harsh realities of what it means to live in a world of death, you make their comfort zone less comfortable. Work to finesse it though. The more people we get the word out to, into the ears of, the more people have their reticular activating systems opened to this, and the more people will be able to move through their current limiting attitudes and march with us.

These techniques then can help you move people through this course.

When to inform, when to debate – We all need to spend most of our outreach informing, but most of us also have to know when to spot out key opportunities to debate, especially if we are good at debating.

a. informing - If you try to debate when you should be informing then it’s going to wear you out – and many times it leaves most people in the vicinity less convinced, or polarized against you. Inform people that are in market place type settings, like forums, round tables, chat rooms, with groups of friends, co-workers and other similar situations. By informing them and not seeking out their responses, like debating does, you are telling them, “this is how it is” rather than “what do you think, does this seem valid to you?” 

b. debating – debating at the right times is a crucial driver of a cause. It creates contrast between the realities of indefinite life extensions imminence and the status quo, and demonstrates the intensity and urgency in the situation. Then people check in to see what all the commotion is about and take sides. All you have to do is win more of them than your opponent. Some of the main places for debate are at rallies, meetings with officials, televised events, radio, newspaper, speeches, arranged debates, articles, a lecture, a YouTube video, other similar places and unique occasions. One on one is best in the beginning. After the information campaigns rake in enough supporters, and there are percents of supporters in any given group of people, then it’s time to take it to them, strike the deepest, rational contrast between your position and the opponents as you can. Confront anybody in any situation that isn’t unethical. This lively contrast in these situations is key. Everybody who is listening is being informed about the schism that exists between this information and the current state of society’s status quo, and the inherent life and death urgency of it. This opens their reticular activating system (ability to spot out similar topics in the future) and helps them begin or continue ‘stacking’. 

Ask them – You must first ask them if they support indefinite life extension. If you approach it wrong, you might spend all your time unconvincing somebody that was already on the fence or considering it. If you ask them and they kind of do, then you can get them to commit to that position up front which is important. 

Know the basics of influence - Be sure that you know How to Win Friends and Influence People by knowing the book of the same name. Some of its basics include, be positive, appreciative, friendly, listen, let them talk, be humble, don’t be condescending etc.. One standard technique is to avoid stating things in terms of absolutes, instead say things like, “It seems to me” and “as you probably already know”. 

Realize that some people have coached themselves to accept death - Don’t let them tell you how they have rationalized death. Just give them the authoritative information about what is going on with the movement for indefinite life extension and let it sink in. For many people, the rationalizations of death will no longer be appealing if they recognize that indefinite life is achievable.

Make sure you use the right terminology - Immortality, infinity, live forever, comprehension of morbidity, healthier lives, or life extension tend to conjure stereotypes and misunderstanding. Accurate, straightforward terms are things like indefinite life spans, indefinite life extension, unlimited life spans and unlimited life extension. 

Don’t ask for money - If the other person is new to the idea of indefinite life extension, don’t mention money. Especially don’t ask for money. Don’t mention how the cause would be advanced if we just had xxx many more dollars. The other person will rightly smell (though inaccurately so) a scam, tune you out, and look for the exit.

Use strong reasoning and evidence – This is all summarized and explained throughout the MILE guide. Read the guide through, take notes, and read again as necessary. Exponentiality is one key concept, similar research that has had success is another. Appeal to the value of life, the MILE premise, the opportunities that existence presents, and so forth. 

Use appeals to authority and success - International conferences have been held, and books have been published. Proponents of indefinite life extension have been on CNN, BBC, 60 Minutes, The History Channel, The Colbert Report, Barbara Walters Special, and many other programs. Much research has been done, some of it crowdfunded by supporters like us. The cause has already raised its first millions. Steven Seagal supports this. Larry King wants cryopreservation, etc. 

Know the FAQs – Many organizations for this cause have FAQ’s. Seek them out and learn them because it’s important to have the ability to rebut people’s basic, initial questions and comments.

Use crowd mentality to your advantage - Try to discuss indefinite life extension with people when they are by themselves, when you can. When you talk to a group, the first person to peep out a heckle will often times get the whole crowd going.

Help stack credible sources - If you tell somebody about indefinite life extension and they don’t catch on right away, don’t despair. People usually have to hear about a new concept from around 3 or 4 sources that they view as credible before they begin to consider it. Help fill in those first and second and third times they’ve heard it. 

Avoid trolls - If you can see that the person likes to argue for the sake of argument, want to be right and are always contrary, just avoid that person. Don’t let them waste your time when you could be persuading sensible people. Trolls are characterized by things like their use of red herring fallacies like ad hominem, well poisoning, Texas sharp shooter, and others. We can come back to such people at a date later down the road after they’ve had more time to mature. 

Try the Socratic Method - Socrates would use the method of asking people questions to get them to start arguing his point for him. This also tends to do things like cause your opponents natural inclination toward devils advocacy to work for you instead of them. Read up on this method and try it out.

Use the “used to, found, sure you would agree” formula - It’s a positive way to get a sincere win-win situation. The general formula is “I used to think that… What I’ve found is …. I’m sure you would agree.” For example “I used to think that overpopulation might be a problem too. What we find is that its on a decline in industrialized countries, among other things. Here check out this study, Im sure youll agree.” (From the late great Steven Covey’s 7 Secrets of Highly Effective People.) 

Get back-up support where you can - If you are going to a party, a social event, evangelizing in the halls of your school, etc., bring a life-extensionist friend. People are often better persuaded if they can sense any sort of consensus on a given issue. 

Carry literature - There are studies that show that people are more inclined to believe what they see in writing. The various organizations have pamphlets, books and other things you can use. Keep this literature handy, in your car, at the office, etc. Don’t sell it to them; give it to them if it comes up naturally in conversation. 

Tell them about the organizations that seem best fitted to them – 

Mile currently supports the following key organizations, but there are a variety of others as well. Use your judgment depending on the group or person.

1.) Fight Aging 

2.) Longecity 

3.) SENS Foundation 

4.) Methuselah Foundation 

5.) Campaign Against Aging 

6.) Coalition to Extend Life 

7.) Maximum Life Foundation 

8.) Lifeboat Foundation 

9.) Singularity Network 

10.) Foresight Institute 

11.) Cryonics Network 

The more people that believe we can have indefinite life extension in our lifetimes, the more positioned for success unlimited life spans become.

Note: Gennady Stolyarov II assisted with this essay



Comments:

Funny how no one understands my point that you can’t test the effectiveness of “indefinite life extension” therapies any faster than the rate at which humans happen to live. The results showing you can live, say, 200 years in good physical and cognitive shape can’t arrive any faster than in 200 years or so.

By Mark Plus on Feb 05, 2013 at 7:42am

How did you come to the conclusion that working to gain more support to continue to move forward to see if we can’t make these things happen, says or implies that we know that the potential solutions to indefinite life extension will definitely all be effective all of the time?

By Eric Schulke on Feb 05, 2013 at 12:51pm

Not necessarily, Mark.  As we get better at understanding the mechanics of aging, we should be able to measure how well a treatment is working without actually waiting 150 years. 

Demonstrating that a treatment is “better then nothing” at slowing the effects of aging is even easier; double-bind study, group of 80 year old people, half get the drug and half get a placebo, and after 6 months compare morbidity rates, cognitive function, ect.  (Or, as some anti-aging treatments become standard on the market, you can compare “90 year olds on treatment A with 90 years olds on treatment A and treatment B”, for example.)

Granted none of that is proof that you’ll live to be 200, but you should be able to prove that the specific anti-aging treatment will extend your life.

By Yosarian on Feb 08, 2013 at 3:38pm

Also, not merely the length of life, but also the quality of life can be extended. If you eat a really good diet, you might not live more than a decade or two longer than you would on a McDiet—but you may v. well feel better.
One sure way to get others interested in life extension is deceitful but permissible: reverse psychology. Tell others you are into life extension but want to keep what you have learned to yourself and—human nature being reactive—they are almost guaranteed to be more interested in life extension than they were before.

Volunteering at soup kitchens I noticed that though the overwhelming majority of clients are uneducated, many are extremely bright—or at least some have photographic/near-photographic memories. They know as much about sports stats as a doctor knows about medicine. Leads one to thinking that if street people could be made interested in life extension, those memories might do them good (but if they are homeless, it might not do them all that much good!: there’s a distinction to be kept in mind between living and existing).

By Alan Brooks on Feb 15, 2013 at 7:58pm


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