RE: virus: Absolute Truth

J. McVean (
Thu, 23 May 96 10:28:11 MDT

Richard Brody wrote:
> Tad wrote:
> As I have stated, the scientific method is a way to steer the evolution
> of memes toward practical, useful, and accurate ones. Now you may say
> that there are memes that are practical and useful, but not accurate.
> The scientific method doesn't help us with those, does it? Could it? I
> think so, if we made it a scientific goal to program ourselves with the
> most useful memes.

I don't think this is a reasonable goal... just as painting
everything the prettiest shade of blue isn't a reasonable
scientific goal.

> >What is a "better repicator"? The better the genes match the reality
> >the
> >better they can replicate. An organism with an eye is a better tank
> >for a
> >gene than a blind organism. "Better replication" is a *consequence* of
> >being able to receive and process more information about the
> >environment.
> >"The fittest" are not the fittest because they just happen to know how
> >to
> >replicate well.
> That's an interesting point of view, but it flies in the face of modern
> evolutionary biology and I would need to understand why you believe
> that. Ferns (their DNA that is) are darned good replicators. Do they
> have a particularly good ability to match reality and/or process
> information about the environment?

Ferns have evolved to be well suited to their environment. That
is how they are able to be successfule replicators. Tad's choice
of words was perhaps a bit sloppy but the intension was clear. To
be successful, an organism must be suited to its environment. A
fern that required sulphuric acid and temperatures above 300 C to
survive would not survive on Earth but it might flourish on
Venus. It (its genes) must evolve toward someting that matches
its environment.

> >These are perfect examples of "My Truth" memes. It was Hitler who was
> >saying "we need to use all the tricks in the book to spread our
> >ideology"
> >and he did. The reason he lost is not that his memes just happened to
> >be
> >poor replicators, but these memes were not consistent with the Absolute
> >Truth about how people can co-operate on Earth (which we may not
> >exactly
> >know yet, but after Hitler's experience we are getting a little closer
> >to).
> This is a little far out. Are you saying that if I bet with you that a
> coin flip will come out Heads, but it comes out Tails, that my meme
> wasn't consistent with Absolute Truth? I sniff some wishful thinking
> here.

My take on what Tad's saying is not that Hitler lost due to a
random event. He lost, despite the fact that his memes were
incredibly virulent, because what he was saying simply wasn't
true. If a meme spreads very readily but is in the long run,
detrimental to its host, it will be discarded. I think Tad is
saying that untruthful memes are ultimately detrimental, even if
they are initially very catchy. (please correct me if I'm wrong)
And if he's not saying that, then I'll say it :-)


PS. I think there were other factors that lead to Hitler's
downfall, but the fact that people started to see where his
version of the truth was leading certainly didn't help.