virus: Richard Dawkins re: Science

Dave Pape (
Sun, 16 Feb 1997 23:14:56 GMT

People, here's a quote by Dawkins in his paper "Viruses of the Mind" (he
must've stolen the title from Richard Brodie): [Sorry, that's not a
mutated smiley, it's a bracket followed by a colon. Martz, no lower
intestine jokes. Richard B, I was only joking about the titles... ;)]

[Sorry, that's not a smiley with an abnormally square jawline, it's a... oh
Jesus, I can't be arsed with this.] Voici le quote de Richard Dawkins...

>Is Science a Virus
>No. Not unless all computer programs are viruses. Good, useful programs
>spread because people evaluate them, recommend them and pass them on.
>Computer viruses spread solely because they embody the coded instructions:
>``Spread me.'' Scientific ideas, like all memes, are subject to a kind of
>natural selection, and this might look superficially virus-like. But the
>selective forces that scrutinize scientific ideas are not arbitrary and
>capricious. They are exacting, well-honed rules, and they do not favor
>pointless self-serving behavior. They favor all the virtues laid out in
>textbooks of standard methodology: testability, evidential support,
>precision, quantifiability, consistency, intersubjectivity, repeatability,
>universality, progressiveness, independence of cultural milieu, and so on.
>Faith spreads despite a total lack of every single one of these virtues.

It's at the end of a paper aimed at slagging off unproven religious faith.

But... comments please! My personal view is that although scientific method
looks like it's rule-based, there's no scientists that follow the rules
100%, and I mean 0.0000001% more than 99.9999999%.

And anyway, scientific method is a meme-complex, isn't it? An emergent
ecological grouping of co-evolved memes?

I... erm... just wondered, cos I don't particularly like the idea of arguing
with a geezer who'll take on the Catholic Church and Islam in meme-scrsame time.

Youse can all check out the paper linked from

Looking under the link for "papers by Dawkins" or something, though I'm sure
it's linked from David MacFad's pages, or Principia Cybernetica...

Dave Pape
Ran out of sig. ideas.

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