Talkers Versus Doers

There are more people who talk about taking action than who actually get out there and do the work in any community, but this is especially true for those using the Internet as a primary medium of communication and coordination. This is simply the nature of things, and there is nothing wrong with having a broad base of less active supporters for a smaller core of activists and advocates.

However, it's also true that a small number of obnoxious talkers can hinder the efforts of active members of the community or otherwise be a liability. It's people like that that prompted the following post on Cryonet from John de Rivaz:

Please take this as a general comment to these lists, I am not going into individual details.

The cryonics community is made up of "doers" and "talkers". As far as the biological science is concerned, I am a "talker", although I try to do things (like help new cryonics members in the UK) that relieve "doers" of work and hence enable them to have more time to "do biological science".

However I have noticed recently that there are a growing number of "talkers" who do the opposite. They spend lots of time researching and finding fault with some things "doers" have said. This is usually not with the science, possibly because they don't know enough to criticise it, or maybe the work is totally correct and beyond criticism (unlikely - look hard enough at anything and there is usually some tiny fault). Instead it is more often about some chance remark that is a non-sequitur or triggers a reaction in the commentator.

When this happens, the "doer" has to spend quite a lot of time replying to the comments made against him or her.

This is done at the expense of time that would otherwise be spent furthering the scientific aims of this entire movement, ie extending healthy human life as much as possible. I don't say never criticise, but perhaps if you see something wrong say so privately and **briefly**, and if it is really important the "doer" may do something about it. But don't engage in a long series of detailed emails where you have the days to spend researching them and he would have to take days off important work to answer you.

So yes, the "talker's" criticism may be factually or semantically correct. But the act of making someone else spend time defending their reputation over some relatively trivial issue when they would be better employed working towards a longer life for all is counter-productive to the movement as a whole.

There are fine lines between helpful criticism, legitimately differing viewpoints and unhelpful harassment, but trying not to cross the lines can only help the community. We're all pretty much in the same boat, aiming at the same broad goals. Infighting - or even just acting as a counterproductive "talker" - is not pretty and not helpful. Despite tremendous progress to date, a great deal of work remains to be done in the fight against aging.


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