virus: The Greeks Would be Geeks

Reed Konsler (
Fri, 21 Feb 1997 11:32:13 -0500

You know Tad, you're an interesting guy. But sometimes I swear you are
intentionally baiting me. Instead of getting all irate I'm going to try to
be constructive. On a purely emotional level, however, I was quite
offended by the implication in the post below. If that was your aim then
you were successful, whatever juvenile satisfaction that may give you.

>From: Tadeusz Niwinski <>
>Date: Thu, 20 Feb 1997 15:25:33 -0800
>Subject: Re: virus: Manipulation 101
>Lesson #4
>Pack an "honest effort and individual accomplishment is worthless"
>poison in a simple ridicule package:
>>And what must Dawkins think of HIS bastard child by now?
>>Does he realize that the frontier has moved beyond him...
>>that his shining ideas have been widely accepted, and are
>>now like all models...obsolete?

Just becuase models are obsolete doesn't make them useless or
insignificant. By saying all models are obsolete I was trying to shift us
out of a "search for THE ONE TRUTH" mode into a more flexible context of
continious improvement. In effect all of our ideas are bastard
children...and our creations nonetheless. To recognize them as ad hoc is
not to dismiss their value. To admit those we most admire have limited
persepectives is not to characterize them as fools. The insinuation that I
have no respect or am trying to reduce anyone's respect for Professor
Dawkins is yours, not mine. If I could contribute such fresh and useful
ideas in my lifetime I will have considered myself wildly fulfilled.

On the other hand, I don't worship him. I observe, criticize and distill
what I personally find useful.

>Make a suggestion the achiever was "just lucky":
>>To Dawkins "Memes" were a one-off, a clever idea stuck
>>amidst the "meaty stuff".

Dawkins is a zoologist and an evolutionary biologist. Other than Selfish
Gene and the article "Viruses of the Mind" I haven't seen anything about
memetics from him, and I've looked. Just becuase he coined the word
doesn't mean he finds the concept worthy of his primary attention. If you
asked him to list his major idea-contributions he might include "memes" but
not (I guessing here) as #1. I don't mean to insinuate that his is
anything other than an articulate genius. The idea simply is not where he
invests the majority of his effort. The conclusion I would draw from this
is that there are things other than memetics worthy of attention...not that
Dawkins is misguided.

>Then suggest it's really YOUR work, or better yet, share it
>with your co-hosts (you can discredit them later):
>>We have cut out his creation's gall bladder and made it the heart.
>>Is any one surpised he doubts it beats?

Man, this is where I get really annoyed. MY work? The statement as
written was "We..." and that we was meant to broadly include all
memetically minded people. I certianly can't think of a single
contribution I have made to the larger discussion of memetics. I confine
my insane rants to you guys. The concept that I claim personal or even
general credit for any of these ideas is yours, not mine.

>Pretend you are sorry for the original inventor:
>>What must he think of the beast which is driven by such a thing?

Again, you are interpreting this from the assumption that the only
inteligent way to think is memetically. This is not the assumption I made
in writing it. My assumption was that from other intelligent and coherent
perspectives this whole discussion about memetics appears to be an insane
and meaningless dance. I presumed a lot about Dawkins mind-set based
simply upon his apparent current lack of interest in memetics. That was
metaphor, poetry, make-believe...a parable of sorts. What the esteemed
professor actually thinks is his to tell you...I was simply using him as an
icon, a mythical figure in the world of memetics.

Is this so different from staging an interview with the word "objective" or
claiming that you are someone else, or that two people are, in fact, the
same. All of these are attempts to communicate messages via

>Caution: This one is a really "well" designed virus (has anybody
>done the search for "Four Principles", Richard asked for?).
>After finding the quotes, I am amazed myself how easy it
>is to make an SOB look like a simple idiot and let the poison
>sink in your brain.

This doesn't make any sense to me. Exactly what name are you calling me:
SOB, idiot, or con-man?

I guess your interpretation of what I said is a possible read. Usually in
these kinds of things I say to myself "well, you'll just have to be more
articulate and explicit next time". I wonder, though. If one is paranoid
the statement "I come in Peace" is an obvious lie. How can I be more
explict than that?

Perhaps it's like creating models. Communication of a point-of-view is
impossible...but it is the attempt to comminicate, and not the end result
which is of significance.



Reed Konsler