RE: virus: May the best meme win?

Schneider John (
Mon, 18 Nov 1996 02:05:27 -0500

Richard Brodie wrote:
> David McF wrote:
> >Interestingly Darwin himself understood memetics. His friend and
> >colleague T.H.Huxley suggested "survival of the fittest" in place
> >of Darwin's "natural selection". Darwin said they should throw
> >both of them out to the public and the best encapsulation of the
> idea would survive (or words to the effect).
> But this is committing the naturalistic fallacy in the worst way!
> "survival of the fittest" -- the WORDS -- did replicate, but
> evolved to mean something simple and inaccurate. Not the best
> encapsulation if the idea survived, but through the children's
> game of "telephone", the most memetically fit idea survived.
> This touches, by the way, on one of the most common phenomena I
> see working against the spread of science. I call it distinguish-
> and-discard mode, and I spoke about it for the first time at the
> Western Washington Mensa meeting last Sunday on my birthday.
> Here's how it works.
> The Level-2 mind has one fixed model of reality. Any new input
> must fit into that model (usually called Truth) or be discarded.
> In distinguish-and-discard modem the Level-2 mind "recognizes"
> broad classes of dissonant input -- such as new theories,
> unpleasant people, disturbing political views, and so on -- and
> lumps them into a class of memes "known" to be valueless.

What is the difference between a level 2 mind concluding that
some thing is "valueless," and a level 3 mind which determines
that some thing is "useless"?

I think science is doing just fine. On the other hand, I think
that your use of this peculiar 'level 3 mind' distinction meme
is inhibiting your progress in evangelizing the paradigm of the
'meme point of view' of reality.

> This shows up constantly when I speak about memetics. The educated
> Level-2'er will listen for a few seconds, then think, "ah, this is
> sociobiology, it's been discredited" or "this smacks of self-help, >
which is pop psychology, no need to pay attention." My challenge
> is to break people out of that mode and let them learn a new
> paradigm.

Are you sure that's what they're thinking? I might suggest that
they are making a level 3 argument: concluding that the idea of
classifying minds as level 3 is not useful... and here you are
confusing yourself into thinking that they don't understand your
ideas, (a confusion which is, evidently, based upon your own "one
fixed model of reality"?) You've built your own virus, and it
has taken over your mind: you should reread the book you wrote
in order to cure yourself of the virus it contains.

The paradigm of the 'meme point of view' is very easy for people
to learn. The concept of 'usefulness' is very easy for people to
learn. The concept of 'mind viruses' is easily understood. What
is difficult is figuring out what is the use of this 'level 3'
distinction meme. I fail to see the use for it....

- JPSchneider