Re: virus: Re: virus-digest V1 #117

XYZ Customer Support (
Sun, 22 Dec 1996 00:38:44 -0700

> From: Ken Pantheists <>

>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...?

You didn't pay attention did you? I said logic *could* do that but
that is why the scientific method was developed: to conteract that
weakness in logical thinking.

>>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.

Knowing "how to read them" is called biasing. They are uncertain if
you just read them as they are. Pure logic is independent of culture
or else it wouldn't be called logic, it would be called prejudice.

>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?

There is no such thing as a "scientific word". I am just speaking
plain english, so please interpret it as such.

>If you do -- then Yes we have a system for determining this. Useful
>or not useful.

Useful or not useful is a system for rationalizing things like
dictatorships, racism, ethnic cleansing, and so on. Just because you
can find a use for something doesn't mean that we can be certain that
it is a truthful or accurate system.

>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

There are many very useful theories posted on the Internet that will
never be used by science. It isn't enough for a hypothesis to be
logical or useful, it must be more accurate or truthful. This
criteria of useful/useless just doesn't work in the real world,
because anyone can make up a theory (read: story) that accurately
describes the world, but that doesn't make it anymore true. New
religions pop up all the time trying to do that very thing by forcing
their hypothesis to fit the facts.

>Of course. Continue to use them [logic and science]. 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")

If memetics follows its own rules or makes them up as it goes along,
the memetics would seem to be existing on level -1 right now. It is a
step backwards for mankind to start accepting things on faith or just
because they have value or they are useful. These are all things the
Catholic Church taught people to believe during the Dark Ages.

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

This is magical thinking (ie -- it is above logic and reasoning).
Science cannot explain things which do not exist, it can only explain
those things which do exist. If what you say is true, the memetics is
a psuedo-science.

>Can you logically explain racism? It is invisible. We cannot see it.

I will let you answer that question for yourself...

>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?

Of course we can, or else we no one would know what you mean when you
say someone is racist. They would say, "What is racism?" instead of
"Oh really? That's too bad for them".

>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.

Science starts with observations (read: the collection of
information) and then it builds a model, IF a model is necessary. A
model isn't necessary to collect the information: A pen and a piece
of paper can do pretty nicely.

>Memetics offers that model.

But it doesn't explain anything. What good is a model if it doesn't
explain anything? The only insight that memetics offers into racism
is that "racism is meme infection". It says nothing *specifically*
about how it started or why it continues to propagate or how it might
be stopped. It certainly hasn't helped to stop the meme infection of
anti-science that you are helping to propagate.

>...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.

It wasn't a prophesy since it isn't a prediction. I was describing
what life was like before the scientific method.

>Memetics cannot be logical by your definition because it invokes a
>necessary subjectivity.

Then why would you call it a "science"? Wishful thinking?

>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"

What is "hard" art? Are you making things up? Are you trying to imply
that I can't appreciate art because I won't agree with your poor
analogies? Guess again then!

>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

And your example of an analogy is as a chicken is to a dog house.