virus: Re: virus-digest V1 #117

John P. Schneider (
Sun, 22 Dec 1996 03:06:00 -0600

Stephen wrote:
> John and XYZ:
> I am, after all,
> a scientist at heart, and little would please me more than to be
> a part of turning memetics into something better resembling hard
> science.
> > If we boil away all the sensationalism behind the current think-
> > ing behind memes, we will be left with a valuable nugget of facts
> > that can be used to build up something more valuable.
> *****************************************************************
> This is disheartening to me. I am not a scientist.
> This list has been a gift. I would never, in any "real life" situation
> sit at a discussion table with scientists and sociologists and political
> theorists. I have commended this lists openness and inviting character
> to friends. Why do we have to bend to meet your criteria?

By "better resembling hard science", I merely mean that I would like for
really 'do' something. Put a man on the moon, so to speak. I do not
that we should remove our personalities and certainly not that we should
quit our current speculation and open-minded discussion. For instance,
the discussions of NLP earlier on were interesting: people are trying to
'make stuff happen' there. It may be sensationalist, but if it could
actually yield results.... I am always interested in results, and even
the possibility of results.

> I could say something like:
> Why don't you go out and get a degree in Fine Arts so you can talk to me
> about things *I* find valuable??

That is a very good argument, and I do like very much the aesthetics of
memetics. For me, the 'useful/truth' thing is like 'yin/yang':
1. If we decide to go with what's useful, we still face the question:
"Is it true that such-and-such is useful?"
2. If we decide to go with truth, we do so because it is useful.
There is little scientific value in that observation, but that doesn't
mean that I don't dig it. It has considerable metaphysical value to me.
Unfortunately, metaphysics is largely ineffable, so it's hard for me to
explain that value, other than to say that I really dig zen.

(I do play some guitar and write the occasionally poem, although,
I certainly couldn't fool you into believing that I've any degree
in fine arts.)

> John wrote:
> OK then: let us call out for suggestions on:
> - - How can we work to make memetics have greater appeal to the
> purely logical, scientific thinker?
> *****************************************************************
> Memetics contains logic and science. Both are inherently memetic.
> To say that they are not (and I've used this arguement before) is
> like saying the Host on a Catholic Altar is not made of atoms.

I agree. A poorly worded question on my part. But XYZ does raise a
question with, "Where are the results?" That's why I refrain from
memetics 'science'. I think that it is the result of perfectly logical
scientific inquiry, but until it produces results, it ain't hard
so someone like XYZ has every right to come along and call it a fad; (of
course, I think he went too far in his denunciation, but I've buried
hatchet already) Anyway, so my question should have gone more like:
"Can we use memetics to make sound predictions governing any objective
experimental situations?"

> Now-- That's assuming the problem that "logical thinkers" have with
> memetics is the simple content.
> If it's not content, but rather the form of the message that's causing a
> problem. (Which is a totally new stance from XYZ since every arguement
> s/he has given so far has been about content)
> Then you are arguing about pure cosmetics-- the packaging should not
> bother you if you pay attention. Yes-- we can have a meme list that
> appeals to logical poeple, to black people to Americans, to gays and
> lesbians, to adult children of black American lesbians....... but we
> would only be propogating the very behaviour we seek to analyse--
> memetic engineering.

Isn't it kinda hard NOT to?

> Example:"Let's make our discussion about round things more appealing to
> billiards players" Well, You've just created a list that discusses
> billiard balls.

Bad analogy. If you discuss memetics by using billiard balls examples,
then you are discussing memetics. If we discuss memetics aesthetically,
then we are discussing memetics. If we discuss it scientifically, then
it is still memetics. They are just different fourier transforms of
memetics. Darn! Now I've gone and brought fourier analysis into it...
But am I talking fourier analysis, or learning about memetics? Answer:
I'm learning about memetics: the fact that the meme 'fourier analysis'
helps me to better understand memetics is entirely besides the point.

> Can you not understand the ironic component of the Church of Virus????

Yes! Can you? You do need some 'truth' with your 'useful', whether you
like it or not. (Just as XYZ needs some 'useful' with his/her 'truth',
regardless of his/her predisposition about it.)

> Has logic completely castrated your ability to do the phasing between
> true/false that irony requires? Can you not read it?

Ouch! I ask the same of you, as above.

> John's final note:
> - - How can we do this in such a way as to not lose the (supposed)
> appeal of CoV to non-scientific thinkers? Possible?
> *********************************************************
> I did not come across this statement until I had already written most of
> the above.
> Thanks for the sentiment John.
> But its placement in your message makes it look back handed.

It was not intended as such. The post was, after all, directed at XYZ,
in hopes of directing our discussion towards a constructive as opposed
destructive path, by appealing to and building upon the parts of his
ments that actually did appeal to me. You just rejected my attempt to
that, and now you are leading back towards the destrutive path.