Today’s Inspirational Tale

At a Foresight Gathering some years ago, a Congressman was in attendance, and he spoke to us and said the following:

“Everyone in this room who’s signed up for cryonics, raise your hand.”

Many hands went up.

“Now everyone who knows the name of your representative in the House, raise your hand.”

Fewer hands went up.

“And you wonder why you don’t have any political influence.”

Rationalists would likewise do well to keep this lesson in mind.

(I should also mention that voting is a Newcomblike problem. As I don’t believe rational agents should defect in the 100fold iterated prisoner’s dilemma, I don’t buy the idea that rational agents don’t vote.)

(See also Stop Voting For Nincompoops. It’s more applicable to primaries than to the general election. But a vote for a losing candidate is not “thrown away”; it sends a message to mainstream candidates that you vote, but they have to work harder to appeal to your interest group to get your vote. Readers in non-swing states especially should consider what message they’re sending with their vote before voting for any candidate, in any election, that they don’t actually like.)