Re: virus: CoV Memetics: Mysticism of the 90's

Peter Charlot (
Tue, 11 Feb 1997 23:47:31 -1000

2/11/97 PST, Erik Chelstad wrote:
>Again, at risk of placing myself into the smartass role, I've
>got to point out in full-on bumper sticker style:
>Science: Mysticism of the 20th century.

Right on Erik! I agree completely.

Let me continue in this vein and give a rational and objective foundation
for astrology, mysticism in general and then, while I"m having fun, take a
hearty whack at rational and objective thinking in general.

First, a short take on the current state of the discussion:

David Rosdeitcher wrote:
>> Mysticism is a disease of consciousness that blocks the mind's ability to
>>integrate reality.

David McFadzean wrote:

>One of the main purposes of the CoV is to infect people with
>critical thinking memes...Personally I don't think astrology has any
validity whatsoever.

Prof. Tom wrote:

>I keep seeing Astrology popping up as a symbol for hocus-pocus thinking
>and I want to speak up. Where you are a Objectivist, I am
>Phenomenologist. I see Astrology as the phenomena of people born at the
>same time of year having similar personality traits. This is a
>phenomena I have seen in my own interactions with individuals throughout
>my life...

Our minds are shaped the same way clay is shaped, if it rolls down a rocky
hill. Splat! Thunk! Wunk! Happily, we shape the hill, as well, in turn. As
clay and memes go thunk and wunk they do so according to what? Are the
interactions based on endless and infinite potential or does the nature of
matter, including memes, insure limits of some kind. If there are limits,
then there are cycles. Perhaps there are infinite permutations, but
essentially there is limited potential (nothing new under the sun). It is
not unreasonable or unobjective then to consider that there may be ways to
understand these cycles and therefore perceive the nature of a person and
just what changes and directions a person may have gone through, is going
through, or may encounter in the future. It is no different than predicting
a chemical reaction, given a certain set of conditions.

Is it not possible that certain philosophies have evolved that may contain
one, two or more pieces to this cycle perception puzzle? So whether it is
tea leaves, psychic hot-lines, lizard entrails or the I Ching the
practioners of these arts (assuming they aren't cons) may, indeed, have
legitimate insights.

With this in mind I just ran across a great article in the "New York Review
of Books" on a book by Carl Sagan (May he rest in entropic peace) where
Sagan promotes scientific reasoning over mysticism and wrong-thinking in
general. The author of the review, quite adroitly, points out that Sagan
uses all the assumptions and devices of rhetoric that mystics do in making
his own case.

Where is the empirical proof that criticial thinking works any better than
any other method of thinking? There isn't any. There is no way of testing
such a claim. Nobody could ever come up with a control group.