virus: Absolute Usefulness

Tadeusz Niwinski (
Fri, 24 May 1996 03:02:22 -0700

I've had enough of this Absolute Truth discussion! Let's talk about
something more useful.

Before we program ourselves with "the most useful memes" we should explore
the Absolute Usefulness.

Jason wrote:
>Richard Brody wrote:
>> 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.

Exactly. Besides, how does one know if blue is the best? If the Chief
Memetic Engineer says so? Can we adopt a standard we can compare the
"usefulness" of memes against? Well... this would force us to believe in
some Absolute Usefulness... (or Infinite Usefulness). I can see two ways of
qualifying a meme as "useful": (1) to compare with some standard or (2) obey
the Chief Memetic Engineer (possibly without questioning). (The third way:
to wait for evolution does not seem to be too practical).

How else are we going to measure "usefulness"? If we are not going to
measure it, we are going to follow some prophet. Can anybody see any other
logical solution? I think this is an important question.

>> 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.

Thank you, Jason. This is exactly what I meant. I see a more interesting
question I have been trying to bring up: if genes evolve to be well suited
to their environment, what is the direction memes evolve towards? Well
suited to what?

>> >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 :-)

Yes, that's what I said. Untruthful memes are not useful in the long run.
Truthful memes are.

As I am trying to understand Richard so far, there are no "truthful" memes,
only "useful" ones. The truth does not exist so we cannot measure
"truthfulness". The only way to tell if a meme is useful is to wait for
evolution to verify it -- or to buy a copy of the "Virus of the Mind" where
all the answers are ready for you (soon available in Polish...)

OK. Let's make it a scientific goal to program ourselves with the most
useful memes so we can lead a principled life. Those who are not with us
are against us and will be disinfected (not to worry, it's a painless process).

Tad Niwinski from TeTa where people grow
There is no Absolute Truth, although we are getting closer and closer to IT.
PS. For those of you who do not like color blue, spaceships to planet TeTa
leave every 2000 years on odd millenniums (reservations required).