Re: virus: The Virus Homepage stuff

Dave Pape (
Thu, 6 Feb 1997 13:44:56 GMT

At 16:49 05/02/97 -0700, David McFadzean wrote:
>At 11:13 PM 05/02/97 GMT, Dave Pape wrote:
>>Hey wait a minute. I just looked at the Virus homepage (I think I found the
>>list by AltaVista-ing "meme memetics mailing list", thus bypassing it) and
>>am a bit upset that it does seem to have the intention to become some kind
>>of alternative church.
>Why would that upset you?

Because always having to think about which ideas you should propagate and
discuss in order to benefit your social organisation puts an instant and
heavyweight selection pressure on the memes which will flourish in that
organisation's group memetic processing resource, meaning that the
opportunities for novel DESCRIPTIVE ideas are curtailed for the purpose of
promoting a lower bandwidth set of PRESCRIPTIVE ideas.

>>If religions didn't have some element of benefit to the human race, why
>>would they persist as memes for so long?
>Because viruses of the mind exist for their own benefit.

Sorry, but no... Dennett and Dawkins and Speel all agree that one of the
major selection pressures on memes is whether or not they confer a genetic
benefit on their host organism. Thus a high proportion of the variation (or
lack of) in memes can be explained by the influence of selection pressures
arising from memehosts being genetic organisms.

I am committed to the view that there are benefits of established religions
to their members, probably to do with social laws which, when obeyed,
promote group cohesiveness, and maybe better channels of communication
between members of that religious group (eg Catholicism involving
information transfer across Europe... Islam linking arab tribes, etc)

>>Another thing about established religions: they're continuously integrating
>>better (more accurate, more useful) concepts, like eg Catholicism accepting
>>the idea that the Earth moves round the sun, and other scientific concepts.
>I wouldn't call the Catholic church very progressive when it comes to
>adapting to new ideas. It took them over 300 years to admit Galileo was
>right after all.

So? They DID it, and I'd argue that during that 300 years there was a
continuous process of memes impinging on catholics' memetic ecologies, of
more and more catholics experiencing those memes outcompeting opponent
Earth-centric memes in their personal brainspace, and I'd claim that the
"300 years later" part is just a late stage in this continuous memetic
assimilation process, where Galilean memes reached a critical level where
they convincingly outcompeted Earth-centric memes in overall Catholic group
brainspace... and were recorded as such in writing etc.

>>No belief system remains static, surely? I rewire as a personality, as far
>Some do. But they don't survive.

Which is my point exactly. Saying you want to create a religion which
assimilates ideas as it develops is a bit of an empty idea, because I reckon
all establishes religions are like this anyway. My favourite christian
church assimilation recently was some UK denomination basically throwing
raves, all banks of lasers and strobe lights, only with hymns instead of any
decent tunes... assimilating elements of club culture so as to develop
towards the memetic content of kids' heads. Ha ha.

>>AH: You're using "promise of immortality" memes as hooks.
>Of course. Join us or die! (literally :-)

As far as I'm concerned, I've joined a group of people that natter about
memes. Cool.

Dave Pape
The memetic equivalent of a G3 bullpup-design assault rifle blowing a full
clip at my opponent. (Alex Williams 1996)

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