virus: CoV Memetics: Mysticism of the 90's

Reed Konsler (
Wed, 12 Feb 1997 20:26:44 -0500

>From: David Rosdeitcher <>
>Date: 11 Feb 97 14:41:45 EST
>Subject: virus: CoV Memetics: Mysticism of the 90's
> Memetics, as studied in CoV, is not science. Science, unlike CoV memetics,
>assumes that 1)there is an external reality of which to study, 2)a
>competency of
>the scientist(s) to study it, and 3)that which is studied has a nature to be
>understood. CoV memetics is built upon the assumption that memes-units of
>information that get copied and transmitted to other minds-control individuals
>and that individuals are simply vehicles for a memetic evolutionary process.
>This implies that 1)any so called "external reality" is a construct of language
>and not objectively real, 2) individuals, being mere vehicles for memetic
>evolution, are not competent to understand anything, and 3)that nothing has a
>specific identity. While memetics, the study of the spread of memes, can be
>scientific, in the case of CoV it is not.

I don't believe any of the thing you stated about CoV are necessary
implications of the concepts above. And who said "individuals are SIMPLY
vehicles for memetic evolutionary progress" There isn't anything simple
about it, brother and there are a lot of other considerations. You seem to
be accusing CoV of "greedy reductionism" (from Dennett) which is bad, and
to which we all fall victim on occassion. I feel a straw man commin' on.

Do not assume that CoV consists of a set of people with identical
viewpoints, or that our beliefs are consistent over time. This list hardly
bespeaks monolith...check the archives.

> Such so-called study, in which people themselves are part of the
>"experiment" in which memes are competing for "survival", leads to drug-like
>delusions, similar to other experiments in which the scientist himself is part
>of the experiment, like in "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". Once you enter the Mr.
>Hyde state of believing you are just a construct of memes, all scientific
>objectivity breaks down because most people, because of a disease of mysticism
>already in their minds, have no way of determining whether they are in
>"experiment space" or "objective space".

If I say I am a construct of genes does this mean I'm unable to
"objectively" study genetics? Is it the "SIMPLY..." which is worrying you?
Is it the apparent lack of "free will" in the agents who are supposed to
be acting? Don't you think our conciousness possess some structure? What
if that structure contradicted long cherished views of the individual?
What is truth in this case...personal subjective perception or consensus
objective perception. What if scientists, after careful study, conclude
there is no "free will" as we understand that concept; would they all be
unfortunately deluded?

>1. There is a higher reality than the one we perceive.

All belief systems posit this in one way or another.

>2. You, the individual are not competent to know reality and you need a
>higher authority to guide you.

I think you are confusing Richard Brodie with CoV. I don't know if Brodie
thinks the path to enlightenment is through him. If he does he is wise not
to say it here.

>3. You are not important and you should sacrifice yourself to a higher cause.
>Memetics version: Don't hang on to your current beliefs, submit to a "belief
>crisis" in which dominant memes will take over for your own good.

Those concepts are not analagous in my mind. I don't by your
simplification of CoV posts, but if I did I'm not sure the sense you see
this as similar to sacrifice.

>4. A strong centralized State is more important than individuals...

Bullshit. I don't believe in this statement or in the (also quite
contrived) application to memetics. I declare Straw Man!

> The main point of my article was that during the coming cyberrevolution,
>the world will become more decentralized and would require more and more people
>to use critical independent thinking, as opposed to mindless following of

Assertion. High-speed communication may be just the tool for oppression of
free thought on a heretofor unimagined scale, God (joke! joke!) forbid.
But I'll fiat...

>In such a scenario, I contended, objectivism, which is a philosophy
>geared toward critical independent thinking, would gain more popularity, than,
>say astrology...the change from an authority following mode to a rational
>thinking mode that would accompany a change from centralization to
>decentralization throughout society. Such lack of clarity about essentials and
>non-essential is how CoV gets and keeps its "memebers".

I think you are confusing lack of agreement with lack of understanding. I
understand what you are saying. I do not agree. I am rational. This is
not paradox.

1) The cyberrevolution is as yet's ultimate result is unknown.
2) People are sometimes irrational, even highly intelligent and talented
3) Objectivity is a myth. All questions are circumscribed in preconception.
4) You are confusing two different arguments of Rand. The first is that a
centrallized state is less efficient than individuals acting in their own
enlighted best interest. The second is that people, under the proper
conditions, will behave rationally and can be trusted to make acceptable
independent decisions. Astrology is an affront to the second, not the
first. There is little connection between Astrology and least not to me.
5) As yet, there is no evidence that people ae becoming more rational.
The only trend that I have noted is a startling tendency for people to
accept "alternative medicines" starting with chiropracty (no offense to
anyone who thinks this is valid) and ending in homeopathy and aromatherapy.
"Hard Copy" is news.

I feel a little like I'm arguing with a Marxist (no offense ;>) ). You
cling to the ideology despite the fact that it is refuted (or at least not
supported) by observation. Under what circumstances would you consider
Objectivity disproved or refuted? Is there an experiment that could in
theory be done? If not your ideology is non-falsifiable, which isn't bad
(a lot of theories are) but means that sckeptical people won't accept your
ideology unless it seems very useful.

> Here is how CoV works off people's inability to know what's essential and
>what is not essential: Basically, someone makes an assertion (thesis). Another
>person takes that assertion and takes a meme within that assertion and distorts
>that meme out of context and sends the original statement off on a
>tangent. This
>confuses the person who is not "hip to what's going on" (ie. new people) and
>this confused person enters a "belief crisis" and then becomes susceptible to
>manipulation from "higher authorities".

And what, exactly, have you been doing in this post...leading us to
enlightenment? No offense intended, but the reason I responded to this
post is becuase I think you are falling into a bipolar fallacy. This list
is not Richard Brodie and others. It is not you against him, or
Objectivism against CoV (which is not Richard invention and not connected
to him in any way that I know of). As you try to set the argument in those
terms you are distorting our "original statement" off on a tangent. This
confuses me. Hell, I'm not even part of CoV...I just post here. I think
you are attacking an entity that you perceive as a result of your
subjective experience on this list but that, nevertheless, is non-existent.

I don't buy Richard's Level stuff. I also don't by Objectivism. If you
deconstruct CoV and make obvious it's inherent structural flaws we are not
left with the sole alternative of Objectivism. In the end you do what each
of us present, as cogently as you are able, your conception. If
you are looking for agreement this is not the place. This is a discourse
between independent critical thinkers...very like the community you assert
would be most receptive to Objectivism.

You are left with two alternatives (this is bullshit but I can't help but
get caught up in the rhetorical form):

1) We are infected with some counter-structure which prevents Objectivism.
Doesn't that make this list a direct refutation of your assertions? Or
are you saying that we are kidding ourselves and that the end is nigh?
Apocalypse does not worry me.

2) We are not infected. We possess free will. We do not (all) accept
Objectivism. Isn't this also a refutation?

As an exercise: compare Plato's precepts to your own posts.


Reed Konsler