You’ve said the bit about Paul Graham twice now in this thread; do you actually consider that good reasoning, or are you merely being flip? Paul Graham’s followers may or may not be cultish to some degree, but that doesn’t bear on the question of whether your own promotional strategies are sound ones. Let me put it this way: you will need solid, technically-minded, traditionally-trained scientists and engineers in your camp if you ever hope to do the things you want to do. The mainstream science community, as a matter of custom, doesn’t look favorably upon uncredentialed lone wolves making grandiose pronouncements about “saving the world.” This smacks scarily of religion and quackery. Like it or not, credibility is hugely important; be very careful about frittering it away.
Not going to win, that should read.
RE: the reek of cultishness and dogma, I agree.
Regardless of whether you want to argue that being in a cult might be ok or not anything to worry about, the fact is this sort of thing doesn’t look good to other people. You’re going to win many converts—at least the kind you want—by continuing to put on quasi-religious, messianic airs, and welcoming the sort of fawning praise that seems to come up a lot in the comments here. There’s obviously some sharp thinking going on in these parts, but you guys need to pay a bit more attention to your PR.
“Is there any data on whether atheists or more rational/intelligent people self-report lower levels of happiness?”
Apparently they don’t, judging by selected responses to the recent “Survey: What Do Atheists and Christians Believe (and How Strongly Do They Believe It)?” by Sam Harris. The relevant statement is probably: “All things considered, I am very happy with my life”, the fourth one under “Survey Results: Psychological Beliefs”.
I am not a moral realist, thus I imagine my behaviour wouldn’t change all that much.
My motivation to act one way or the other in any situation is based on a few things: my sense of rightness or wrongness, though other factors may override them (thirst, hunger, lust, etc), not on whether or not the act is “truly” right—I’m not sure what that would mean. I am skeptical of rightness being a property of certain acts in the world; I have not seen convincing evidence of their existence.
I nonetheless have this sense of right and wrong that I think about often, and revise according to other things I value (logical consistency being the most significant one, I think).