RE: virus: Power

ken sartor (
Tue, 30 Jul 1996 13:27:28 -0500

More random, probably disjointed, thoughts...

At 02:25 PM 7/29/96 -0700, Richard Brodie wrote:

>I do not agree with this. Censorship of cigarette ads in the US has
>directly resulted in drastically lower smoking rates here while they are
>increasing in countries with new cigarette advertising.

I am unsure that the limiting of information had the effect you
describe here... there has been a large amount of counter information
that makes starkly clear the effects of smoking on health. I expect
that the labels may eventually read something like: "smoke this pack
of cigarettes and you will die a slow, horrible death" (which, if true,
would not be offensive to me). The campaign to counter
alcohol is also beginning in earnest (not just alcohol abuse but
alcohol consumption in general).

I think when ones position is weak then one is forced to make
decrees: no cigarette ads on tv, wear seat belts or we will fine
you, if we find drugs in your house the house will be confiscated,
etc. When ones position is strong, one can simply have ads or
counter ads that argue your position (as i think the surgeon
general has done with cigarettes). I.e., i think natural selection
of memes can solve these types of problems - and probably more
efficiently than strong arm techniques.

>My point is that if good people do nothing with their knowledge of
>memetics, the militant ignorance of cultural viruses and the evil of
>designer viruses will take over. There is no turning back.
I agree! But rather than repressing information (who is to decide
what to censor, among many other problems) i think launching
countermemes is the solution. And let the best meme win ;)