The Moriarty Experiment
At the end of 2015 I got worried about the low level of activity within the Fractal Future Forum. That motivated me to start a rather desperate experiment. I invited one of the most notorious troublemakers of the transhumanist community, Peter H. Meadows, into the F3, in order to stimulate activity. We talked about this strategy and he agreed to leave, if I asked him to. Yesterday I asked him to leave, for reasons I will explain soon.
Peter H. Meadows was registered as “notatroll” initially. After a strategic meeting, I suggested to him to call himself “Moriarty”, the most notorious “Sherlock” villain. The intention was to have him as “forum villain” who forced the forum community to step up their game, in order to beat him. That strategy didn’t exactly work out as planned. PHM didn’t seem to embrace his role properly, and instead pretty much stayed in his regular persona, which is pretty disruptive and provocative anyway.
Contrary to my expectations he wasn’t as destructive and chaotic in the F3 as I had expected him to. That’s probably because of our clear agreement that he would leave the F3 (voluntarily or not), if he behaved too badly. Instead, he displayed his usual provocative style on Facebook, and the transhumanism Slack, in order to recruit members for the F3. While this strategy was not entirely unsuccessful, it might have slightly hurt the (almost non-existing) reputation of Fractal Future. Recruiting itself worked not too badly, but very few of the newly registered members have become active in the F3. This was the most positive outcome of his efforts. He actually succeeded at increasing the activity level within the F3.
On the other hand, he managed to poison the atmosphere of the community with his confrontational, provocative, delusional, and monomaniacal communication style, which urged me to distance myself from him and to argue against him. Debating with PHM is an arduous task, which sooner or later depletes neural resources, because he just won’t accept that he makes mistakes and that he’s not perfect. Under usual circumstances, the best strategy to deal with a lunatic like him is to ignore him, or even to flee from him. Neither argumentation nor insults have any discernible effect on him. He’s pretty good at stealing time from people by offering some kind of potential value, which he won’t deliver. For example, he offered to implement Quantified Prestige in his Pharo based application, which he never actually presented.
PHM is known in the transhumanist community for trolling and causing drama needlessly. He has been excluded at least from:
He seems to be fond of questioning authorities and criticising people for not sufficing his subjective standards. His disregard for social norms, his self-righteousness (he sees himself as transhuman who makes no mistakes), and his unwillingness to accept compromises make dealing with him a pain in the ass. The plentiful time he has at his disposal is used by him to entangle transhumanists into unproductive, pointless, nerve wrecking discussions or flame-wars. As such, he is a drain to the scarce temporal and mental resources that the transhumanist community possesses.
Even though he seems to have benevolent intentions, his character, and his communication strategies usually have the result that he amasses antipathies from a lot of the people he interacts with, which makes him quite ineffective at achieving any kind of positive result. He also doesn’t realize that his strategies and his behaviour are counter-productive. He’s furthermore not willing to accept that he might be wrong, and he certainly doesn’t have a growth mindset, because he seems to believe that he’s perfect already, even while his flaws are obvious to any normal person. Therefore, dealing with PHM is a waste of time. The chances of him improving his approach or his character or his people skills are very small. He’s not worth the effort dealing with him – it would be a massive waste of time and energy trying to change/fix him.
The best one can do is to avoid or ignore him. Because he’s skilled at luring people into discussions nevertheless, he poses a serious hazard for the transhumanist community and should be blacklisted and exiled as effectively as possible.
I do not make this assessment lightly. Dozens of hours of interaction with PHM have led me to this final conclusion. Sure, you might be willing to question my judgement, but that means you will waste precious hours of your lifetime dealing with a person who is likely to annoy, belittle, enrage, and frustrate you deeply. I suggest that you avoid him as completely as possible. You certainly have better things to do than dealing with PHM.
If this doesn’t convince you, then you should consider that PHM has the habit of threatening the persons who he sees as important and who disagree with him – he has also threatened me personally. His threats are harmless, but they leave the impression of him being an aggressive stalker and antagonist who disregards social norms, rules, and laws. Furthermore he is highly manipulative and will mobilize potential allies against his targets. He will always plead not guilty, arguing with the letter of the law, and with his simple and subjective version of rationality. Don’t buy that crap! He’s just trolling, manipulating, and harnessing people for his own purposes, as he pleases. He’s a self-righteous, deluded, relentless, uncompromising, blunt, socially awkward and disrespectful fanatic. Trying to use him for productive purposes will almost certainly backfire. I have made the mistake of assuming otherwise, so you don’t need to repeat that.
It may be relatively rare to see such a horrible person with such good intentions, but those persons exist. These people are very toxic, so they need to be avoided, unless one wants to fall sick.
PHM has the tendency to create drama, conflicts, and a toxic atmosphere in the communities he haunts. This corrosive influence threatens the vitality of those communities. This is why I have come to the conclusion that PHM acts against the interests of Fractal Future, and therefore I have asked him to leave Fractal Future.
In the best case, he will accept that he messed this up, and leave us alone. If not, I am going to suspend or delete his accounts, and will advise the admins and moderators of Fractal Future to do likewise.
I am sorry for having caused this inconvenience for everyone, but I hope that this can be a valuable learning experience.