RE: virus: C of V: Another Religion

Dan Plante (
Sun, 02 Feb 1997 00:50:05 -0800

I apologize to whoever it may concern regarding the length of this reply.
I felt that the initial post deserved to be reposted, especially for those
who may have missed it, and also because the added comments made more sense
in full context.

Hugs, kisses, and warm, squishy salutations,

At 04:55 PM 2/1/97 EST, David Rosdeitche wrote:
>This post addresses these topics:
>1. Why cyberspace, more than any other medium, promotes rational ideas.
>2. How the coining of a new term-'meme'-has created confusion or 'cognitive
>3. Objectivism-what it is and what it is not.
> Here are some reasons why I think that cyberspace is a forum where good ideas
>outcompete bad ones.
> When people interact in cyberspace, they are usually alone, thinking
>independently, without the influence of a collective group.
> They are interacting by communicating back and forth as equals, as opposed
>to a lecture scenario in which one or more people are dictating to others what
>to think.
> Ideas themselves are the main focus, as opposed to say, pleasing an
>authority, getting a degree, keeping a job, joining the club, being
> People would be in a more rational state if they are neither exalted nor
>intimidated by their 'status', unlike various institutions where some
people are
>"undisputed experts" and others are "ignorant proletariat".
> Ideas are more open to challenge and can be looked at from a wide
variety of
> Ideas can be edited, modified and developed much more easily than, say, a
>courtroom or political debate where people who sound best when they are put 'on
>the spot' can "win".
> While there are several reasons why cyberspace is more conducive to good
>ideas than other mediums, this does not mean it is not open to various scams
>such as the "Good Times" computer virus, chain letters, etc.

And as the "system time-constant" (or feedback duration) of the Net gets
shorter and shorter, so too does the half-life of stupidity. The
points above highlight very effectively how the particular dynamics of
idea-interaction on the Net go a long way towards mitigating those aspects
of human nature that interfere with its effective operation. Derisive terms
like "designed-by-committee", "popularity contest", "cult-of-personality"
and "beurocratic insanity" are derisive for a reason, and human behavioral
dynamics such as charm, emotional rhetoric, vocal steam-rollering, distraction,
personal aesthetics, predjudices, etc, while not being eliminated, are
attenuated by at least an order of magnitude, in my estimation. The positive
effect within the medium of the Net regarding the formulation and evolution
of ideas is predictable.

> Richard Dawkins coins a new term: the 'meme'-to denote a unit of
>that gets passed around and copied throughout society. Then, people see that
>there are many different categories of memes, like those for food, sex, danger,
>population control, etc. And, suddenly, there is a new field of knowledge,
>memetics, which can integrate with other fields of knowledge and might even
>practical money-making applications. Memes, which were not noticed before 1976
>when the term was coined, is suddenly a point of focus for many people.
> This situation, in which a word is coined and defined, and then people see
>things they didn't notice before, can imply that the act of creating and
>defining words leads to creating and defining reality.

Which they don't (and I know you're leading up to this, David). This process
leads to re-defining each individual's /interpretation/ of reality. Quite
a horse-of-a-different-color entirely, but I notice that some don't make that
subtle but critical distinction.

>This would make reality
>seem like a very subjective phenomena. Furthermore, this new term in
>question-the meme-happens to be a unit that influences notions about
reality and
>has no regard for objective reality.
> Consequently, many people in the growing memetics community have
embraced a
>school of thought which holds the idea that one's view of "external
reality" is
>merely a result of one's language and that reality is a subjective
>experience.This school of thought, popular in the 1920's and known as 'logical
>positivism', calls all of our beliefs 'linguistic conventions'. This ideology
>is self-refuting since, it too would be just a linguistic convention and not
>worth serious consideration. So, how do we clarify a confusing situation where
>it appears that language can change reality? With the philosophy of

Perhaps it should be refered to instead as "acknowledging the obvious", for I
truly cannot conceive of any coherent alternative.

> Objectivism rests on 3 axioms-existence, consciousness, and identity. These
>axioms are implicit in all knowledge and require no proof or explanation.
>mathematical axioms, these philosophical axioms have no alternative since an
>alternative would imply a contradiction such as 'existence does not exist' or
>refute one's own statement, such as "I am not conscious".
> Existence implies only one reality-objective reality. Consciousness is
>to perceive existence,and it perceives existence directly. Consciousness does
>not simply perceive a subjective definition of existence, but existence itself,
>(even though each person has a different point of view, has limited knowledge,
>different sense organs, biases, etc -a different experience, they are still
>perceiving existence directly.) Since consciousness is valid, the senses (means
>of consciousness)are valid. If the senses are valid, then concept formation,
>which is a function of the mind integrating various sense perceptions, is
> Forming concepts (like book, table or meme) involves a method of
>identification or classification according to attributes that one observes.
>These attributes can be anything, so many identifications and classifications
>are possible. Such concepts could be those that have existed for a long time,
>such as 'book' or they could be original identifications-like when Dawkins
>identified the 'meme'.
> This is an example of how objectivism can clarify situations. However, as
>Richard mentioned, no idea system including objectivism is the "be all end all"
>and no one has the "ultimate truth". Objectivism does not make people
>and many objectivists are not doing things that are creative or successful. But
>in a sense, objectivism is like an anti-virus program that can clean out
>impurities in thinking.

The meme "I can shoot myself in the head with physiological impunity" would
quickly find its environmental resources (ie: the memesphere made up by people
with the neurological predisposition to accept that meme) quickly shrink,
slating that meme for extinction, because memes operate within the framework
of objective reality, regardless of the particular /interpretation/ of reality
that the guy with the bullet in his head may have had.

As with /all/ emergent phenomenon, memes are, in the end, /completely/ dependant
on the heirarchies of systems preceeding them, from cognition, through neural
systems, down through self-replicating cell chemistry, to sub-atomic processes
and, ultimately, the very nature of objective reality from which the fabric of
our existence is manifest. A meme's efficacy (its ability to survive in a host
or propagate) will therefore correlate with objective reality; it can never be
independant of it.

> Richard asked about what I thought of his chapter on "How We Got
>Progammed". Basically, I agree with his observations about techniques of
>programming, such as repetition, conditioning, Trojan horses, etc. But there
>seems to be an underlying behaviorist assumption with which I disagree.
> How I got into objectivism-I might get into that later-But, like memetics,
>it has to do with new identifications. -David

Thanks, David. Clear and concise.

I can't see myself contributing further to this thread. Unless someone
has a rebuttal that isn't logically inconsistent, a counter-proof that
isn't self-referential, self refuting or semantically imprecise, then
I'd love to see it die an ignoble death :-)

Cheers, everyone!

The Metasystem Transition History of the "Dan Plante" System

initial conditions = data (conception)
control of data = information (conception to puberty)
control of information = knowledge (puberty to marriage)
control of knowledge = wisdom (marriage to divorce)