Re: virus: Virus Lexicon, etc

Duane Daniel Hewitt (
Fri, 7 Apr 1995 10:42:51 -0600 (MDT)

On Fri, 7 Apr 1995, David McFadzean wrote:

> Does that imply memes are not alive? Can you be more specific about what
> it means to "need" another organism in order to replicate? In some sense,
> humans need other organisms, don't they?

A Virus is a good analogy for a meme becuase without a host a Virus can
not replicate and the same goes for memes. Humans need other organisms
for raw materials whereas a virus needs to hijack a cells machinery in
order to replicate itself. I think that memes belong in the same category
as viruses which is to say borderline life but I think that on the scale
of complexity memes may vary from much simpler than viruses to much more
complex. Viruses may be transferred between species (Flu viruses often
are endemic in swine populations and emerge to infect humans) and the
same could be said for memes.

> I think complexity is a necessary condition for adaptability.

Is it? There are simple mechanisms that can increase adaptability (eg.
reduce mutation repair rate) and there are more complex ones
(intelligence). I think that we should examine what definition of
adaptability we are using.

> It is also
> a necessary condition for power, i.e. the ability to influence and control.
> In order for system A to control system B, A must be able to predict how
> changing the control variables of B will change the state variables of B.

Does a virus predict how it will take over a cell? Or are you meaning
that at a systemic level the inputs from the virus have a specific effect
that allows it to propagate and thus there is a selection for system A
(the virus) being able to control system B (the cell) in the most efficient

> To do that, A must understand B, i.e. possess of model of B. If B is very
> simple (e.g. a room with a temperature) then A does not have to be very
> complex (e.g. a thermostat). However, if B is a complex system (e.g. a
> human), then A must have a minimal complexity to control B (e.g. another
> human).

Is control solely a function of understanding?

> Bartley pointed out in _The Retreat To Commitment_ that it is impossible
> to justify anything within a logical framework. You can justify statement
> until you reach axioms and rules of logic (which are axioms, too), but then
> you can't go beyond that. He suggests that we don't have to justify. All
> statements should be open to criticism and no belief is beyond criticism.
> This is the basis of what he calls "pan-critical rationalism".

Yes, I remember this article now. It important not to get to caught up
defending the indefensible. It is better to make your assumptions and
operate on them until something causes you to check your premises.