virus: Re: virus-digest V1 #117

Ken Pantheists (
Fri, 20 Dec 1996 21:37:53 +0000

XYZ wrote:

What is logic? What is truth?

Those are excellent memetic questions. (Rhetorical, of course)

Logic deals with the concept of the resolution of uncertainty in any
statement or thought. This makes logic anti-memetics since the
concept behind logic is to "kill" ideas and not propagate them.

I'm not sure I get your angle on killing ideas. I suppose Logic would
kill any ideas that were illogical...? But it *would* propgate ideas
that are logical...?

This makes it sound like an absolutely logical thinking person could
never be infected by memes since any uncertainty of an idea would not be

I can see the hole in your statement which I will get to in a bit.

And most of the memes we are confronted with have uncertain ideas behind
them or inherent in them.

They are only uncertain if you don't know how to read them. There are
cultural texts in everything... including logic.

Therefore to be skeptical of logic is to be more susceptable to them
since you have no system or method to determine uncertainty in memes.

Me: I wish I knew what you meant by uncertainty. That's not a very
scientific word. Do you mean uncertainty over where they came from,
whether they are true or false? If you do-- then Yes we have a system
for determining this. Useful or not useful.

Now don't even bring up "But what about things that are absolutely true?
like fire is hot and 2+2=4?" because we have BEEN THROUGH it and I don't
want to do it again.

Things that are true are true because they are very useful at describing
the world and that's why they propogate. Fire is hot has lasted longer
than the world is flat, because once we found out the world is only flat
from a certain viewpoint-- it became less useful at describing the

But that isn't completely true because of flaw in logic: <snipped for
brevity> (good points though)...Logic, together with the scientific
method, make an unbeatable combination in determining the accuracy of
any statement concerning the knowledge and understanding of reality.

Of course. Continue to use them. They are useful. Memetics doesn't exist
on that level. You haveto go one directory up. (Richard Brodie calls it
level three which pisses people off because the think it's like a
grading system for how well you think. But it isn't. It's just the third
directory "up")

On this directory you will be considering what we, as human things,
decide to call science and why. What cultural, genetic and ideological
impulses drive us to consider things the way we do and what our
hierarchy of "values" is.

It exists outside of logic because it has to, logic cannot contain it.
Science cannot help explain it.

You have accused us in the past of chasing invisible memes as if they
were imaginary butterfies or something.

Is that not the method of science? to make visible what was previously

There ARE invisible things.

For example:

Can you logically explain racism?

It is invisible. We cannot see it. Sure, we see the effects of it. We
can see kids in playgrounds being racist, but then how do you
scientifically nail WHAT racism is?

We can say racism is learned, but try looking for the Racism class that
was taught in grade school.

We can trace it to a great number of possible influences that taught a
kid to be racist. But without a model to contian that information the
search is meaningless.

Memetics offers that model.

We can say. Okay, rather than look at it from the kid's point of view.
Let's look at it from the information's point of view. Where did it come
from? How did it get to the kid? How did he pick it up? etc.


<snipped a bit>
...indeed science says there can
never be any such thing as absolute truth. But without it, progress
will grind to a slow halt, new knowledge will come to light only by
accident, and people will eagerly accept any idea no matter how
obvious it contradicts reality.

You are using a "dark prophesy" meme to convince me to side with you.

So when I posted my email about the "science" of memes, I wasn't
trolling so much as eliminating fadish-meme-infected thinkers. To say
the memetics was a science, and yet not even understand the method or
concept of it, was blasphemous and outright stupid.<snip>

Me: I have responded to this part of your post in another message.

You obviously have some deeply held convictions about what is right and
wrong in using the term "science".

I have encountered it in other circles with the term "art".

Suffice to say that my deeply held conviction on this is that "Snobbery
is cheap to practice."

I suppose the reason why you are so disturbed by all of this is that you
see memetics as lacking a virtue that you value. You have this idea of
Hard science-- and memetics is qualitatively flaccid in your books.

I have posted this opinion before-- Hard science is a tool. It's great
for counting electrons and curing cancer. But it is only hard in an
environment that responds to its hardness. When you are talking about
ideas-- well you are getting into terrain that the french philosophers
and cultural theorists have more experience with.

In a discussion with Reed Konsler I likened it to being an excellent
judo fighter, and then having to fight under water. There are different
moves because the points of reference are different.

Memetics cannot be logical by your definition because it invokes a
necessary subjectivity. Everyone KNOWS information is not like a bug
that flies around infecting people. Information is not something you can
catch and look under a microscope. We all know that, but it is an
interesting and fertile model for discourse.

This post is getting far too long so I will end t with an example.

There is a painting by Magritte which depicts a huge rock floating in a
blue sky over an ocean. The painting produces an immediate response in
the viewer.

If you want to be logical and make the painting into "hard" art you
would say "The painter forgot to paint the cables that are needed to
suspend that rock over the ocean"

If the cables were there the painting would not have the same meaning.

Memetics is science in the same way that Magritte's painting is a

  Ken Pantheists