Re: virus: The "science" of memes?

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Mon, 16 Dec 1996 21:52:22 -0700

>From: Schneider John <>

>I showed two examples where the use of memes is 'useful', as you
>requested. I did not purport to prove anything.

And you have done a fine job of not proving anything. You didn't give
any examples. You just asserted it was useful in very vague and
general terms. Your mistake is that you believe that useful = truthful
when it clearly cannot mean that.

>>I'm not predicting anything. I'm asking for evidence that memetics
>>is not just another passing fad. I hope you don't mind me asking.

>Well, it has proven capable of standing against your attempts to
>poke holes in it, and it does have its uses. Why don't you tell
>us what would constitute the sort of "evidence" that you're after,
>then perhaps we can answer your question much more quickly.

I called it a fad and it is a fad. Your inability to show that it
isn't is proof of that. If you can't figure out what evidence is or
is not, then you have a problem understanding what evidence is.

>If you would be kind enough to point out the internal inconsist-
>encies, perhaps my viewpoint will change.

Refer back to my first posting to which you replied. I pointed out
several inconsistancies. Would you like me to repost it as proof you
don't pay attention?

>>But why guess? Either he is or he isn't. Is there any evidence that
>>he is "deprogramming" people with his book /Virus of the Mind/?

> Well, if someone reads his book, and discovers the ability to
> think for imself, and gives up some cultish belief or another,
> then I suppose it could happen. As to whether or not it's
> really happening, I don't know: ask Richard.

Well, IF this and IF that, I suppose MAYBE it could happen? You have
no idea. Why don't you admit that you are making things up? You have
no idea if it works, you are just pretending that it works without
one single piece of evidence. Maybe YOU should ask Richard. Then you
might just have a small piece of evidence for once.

>>There is no subfield of memetics...whether you want it to be or

>I said, "in the language of memetics", which you do not speak.

That statement still doesn't change the facts. I stated the
observation that there is no subfield of memetics. I stated a fact and
you stated meme speak.

>>So how do mutations get passed on? ESP? Psychic miricles?

>Replication. How else? (You might want to give a clearer
>example, including at least two generations of an example
>species, if you want a better explanation.)

Then why did you say that "Genes don't change. They either die off
or survive"? Genes do change and that is how mutations (=change in
genes) gets passed on.

>And whatever theory you use might be misleading you.

Now you are beginning to think logically. Now turn that logic onto
yourself instead of gullibly believing whatever meme speak dictates
you to believe in.

>Are you suggesting a different theory?

Yes...a more scientific theory would do.

>>It is obvious you don't know anything about evolution. Try
>>reading something about punctuated equilibrium for example.

>Which books have you read? Perhaps I'll have a look at them and
>see if they cause me to change my stance. In the meantime, perhaps
>you could give another example which is harder to wave my hand at.

If you want to remain ignorant the rest of your life, wave your hand
all you want. I suggested that you read about something before you
talk about something you don't understand or know anything about.

>A random mutant, of course, will not have survived long. The
>/species/ will only mutate as the environment demands.

Replication is not random until the environment demands it to be
random? Then replication cannot be you like contradicting

>>These aren't memeticists...they are self-proclaimed memeticists
>>(make up a word, add -cist to the end of it, and POOF! you become

>>>And, does it matter?

>>That you might be making things up? Yes it does matter.

>When I asked, 'does it matter', I meant: Does it matter whether or
>not some 'authority' supports the theory? You were appealing to
>authority when you asked your question.

I never appealed to any did (ie -- Dennet,
Hofstadter, Dawkins, etc). I appealed to common sense logic.

>>That observation puts an end to that "replication is random and
>>inexact" dogma.

>It would also put to rest any theories of evolution at all. The
>species which pass through unchanged are just based on /exact/
>replicators. But when we talk /evolution/ we're talking /inexact/

If replication were inexact, there would be no such thing as a
science of heredity since whether an organism inherited a trait or
not would be random and not predictable. Mendal and his genetic
experiments proved you wrong many years ago.

>>>Then again, if you have tons of kids, you'll probably have more
>>>'fit' kids as well, no?

>>No, that is not a gaurantee that they will be more fit.

>So? Nobody guaranteed they would be less fit. Statistically, if
>I've X% chance of having a fit kid, then as long as X% doesn't
>change from kid to kid, I might as well have as many as I can,
>in hopes of making more fit ones.

So, pay attention. Unless you *can* gaurantee they are fit, you are
wasting your time. You don't gaurantee fitness by making more bad
copies. Evolution is concerned with QUALITY and not QUANTITY. The
trilobites are extreme proof of that but you just can't seem to
understand that simple concept.

>My point was: why not have two fit kids instead of one fit kid?
>Why can't a species perfect both 'making fit kids' and 'making
>many kids'?

My point was having more kids isn't serving my genes. Quality
raising of kids is serving my genes. You can't raise quality children
when you have thousands of them.

>I can recall that from the top of my head: a random disaster. The
>environment is random. This example has no bearing on selfish gene

But you can't seem to recall that gene replication is not random.

>>Science doesn't have boundries...people do!

>Have you ever heard of "Godel's Incompleteness Theorems"? Logic
>has bounbaries and so does science.

Name one boundry.

> Well, instead of arguing about it, let's just wait and see.

> A bold statement. We shall see.

Why wait? What is there to stop us from finding out now instead of
gullibly going along with the crowd for nothing?

>Good grief! Evolution just isn't that scientific! It is about
>explaining facts which are already there.

Like I said, you don't know what evolution is all about then. It is a
science (and always has been). You are just being sidetracked by the
media hype surrounding it and not knowing how to sift between
pop-science and real science. Many christians have that same problem,
but I guess that is because they don't want to believe in facts but
in their own little fantasy.

>Evolution is repeatable. OK, I'll by it: and we can control it
>by playing with genes, which strengthens theory of evolution
>based on genetics.

But not random replication since random implies we could never
control it.

>You fail to realise that your reasoning cannot accurately reflect
>reality. You /must/ experiment.

That is right. Now tell we what I have been asking you all along,
what experiments have been performed with memetics to prove it's

>Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle tells us that our knowledge via
>experiment is limited, thus our knowledge of 'reality' is limited.

It is a principle and not a law or even a theory. Scientists don't
understand what happens at a quantum level so they are just
quantifying their uncertainties in reasoning and not their
uncertainty in reality. You are confusing the two again.

>Knowledge is limited. When we go beyond its limits, we are left
>only with 'useful'.

Your knowledge is limited. There is no limit to what we want to
choose to learn. Attitude and belief limits your knowledge.

>Your examples have shown no inaccuracies. If inaccuracies are
>there and you can see them, then you have failed to communicate
>them to me. So far as I'm concerned, selfish gene theory is
>useful for accurately reflecting evolution. If it weren't useful
>in such a way, I likely wouldn't even be on this list.

Appeal to authority again (ie -- this list)? I'm sure there is a UFO
abduction list out there on the Internet. Bad argument. Communication
takes time, all I ask is that you learn how to be a good student and
stop limiting your knowledge.

>You are limiting yourself to a search for truth, when no such
>beast exists. The best you can do is find facts, explain them,
>and maybe predict new ones.

Wrong, there is no such thing as "absolute truth". Truth exists (the
operation of your computer using the cmp and jne statements for
example). The goal of science is to continually search for a "more
truthful" theory and not for absolute truth.

>Superstring theory is the physicist's "theory of everything". It
>is quite logical, although experiments are impossible (requiring
>energies higher than we can achieve).

There you go limiting yourself again. They aren't impossible, we just
don't have the equipment to do it right this very moment.

>>>So, while the collective group of scientists does not support any
>>>single the theory, it is a big part of science to go out on limbs
>>>and to see how far one can get before the limb breaks. The limb
>>>'memetics' has not yet broken, that I can tell.

>>That's because there is no limb. Fads can last forever no matter
>>how weak they are in logical reasoning.

>You have not pointed out any logical weaknesses in logical
>reasoning. You have tried to provide contradictory facts,
>but have not done so. You have not attacked reasoning at all.

I have attacked your "logical reasoning" very succesfully.

> You tell me: is "I pursue it" the same as "I accept it by faith"?

Of course it is the same (does the words "blindly pursuing" mean
anything to you?). Duh.

>Prove that /anything/ isn't your imagination. That argument goes
>absolutely nowhere..... Can you not see that neither can be proven?
>Can you not see that neither can be disproven? Such things are
>/outside/ of your precious scientific method... PLEASE!

That is done everyday. Much of what is around you has been proven to
not be mine or anybody else's imagination. Your argument is weak.
Stick your hand in a live socket and let's see if electricity is just
your imagination. I know electricity is real. We have evidence that
it is. Nothing outside the scientific method here.

>Study quantum theory to rid yourself of that silly delusion that the
>scientific method can make everything 'reasonable') Can you not see
>that this is exactly why we go by what is 'useful'? This is Richard
>Brodie's reasoning (or, it's similar, anyway.)

I am studying quantum mechanics right now, so that is how I can tell
you don't understand that either. Stop reading these pop-science
books and get the real thing! I never equated the scientific method
with reasonable or even logical. It is a method that gives results
whereas your "useful method" doesn't.