Re: virus: Manipulation 101

Eva-Lise Carlstrom (
Sat, 22 Feb 1997 12:23:34 -0800 (PST)

The Manipulation 101 lessons are interesting, but I can quite understand
Reed's taking offense at being targeted by their presentation. "I'm not
insulting or accusing you, I'm just using you as a Horrible Example" is
not exactly an honest and friendly approach to interaction.

So, anyway, the general feeling I see in the 'lessons' has seemed to be
"these are pretty low-down ways to interact with people". But Tim writes:

> You know, Tad, if you had STARTED this thread with this introduction we
> could have had a useful discussion about the way people interact. We
> might have even been able to do it without being as judgemental as you
> about the perceived "viciousness" of these viruses you speak of. But,
> to be honest, you didn't.
> Now, if you really want to re-frame this discussion, I'm all for it. It
> could prove a quite constructive use of our time. Why don't you, Tad
> and David, restate your "Lessons" in terms of how people attempt to
> influence others (for good or bad, after all, we use the same devices
> for both), leave off the examples (if we need 'em we'll ask), and let us
> see what you have to say about the way dems wacky humans be interactin'.

Tim seems to feel that the useful core of the 'lessons' idea is that these
are potentially powerful means of influencing people, and is interested in
the *descriptive* aspect, how people in fact use these techniques. Tad,
on the other hand, started off on a *prescriptive* tack, stating that
these were dirty tactics and shouldn't be used, at least not in this
context. So, how about it, people? Are there moral requirements on us as
memetic beings? Moral and ethical ideas are, of course, just another kind
of meme we may or may not host or propagate; just because they're
metamemes (affecting how we host and propagate other memes to a large
degree) doesn't exclude them. Or are they? What about "natural ethics",
which some people believe in? If you come up with an idea about ethics
without having it communicated to you directly, is it non-memetic? It
must either arise from

1.) Some universal rule you have observed, independent of cultural
transmissions (this is probably impossible in the case of ethics, but is
possible for other kinds of learning),

2.) Genetic determination (You were born to think this way), or

3.) Latent content in your memetic makeup (Given the way the rest of your
memes interact, you were bound to come up with that one--it might even be
implied by some small set of memes communicated to you from the same
source, which is basically the same thing as if that source had
communicated it to you directly).

Actually, there could be endless combinations of these three sources, too;
A person might observe something in the physical, non-memetic world,
relate it to something learned culturally, and be predisposed by genetics
to come to a particular conclusion. Is the conclusion then a meme?
Obviously, if the host then transmits it to another host, it is. But
before being transmitted?

Oops, I just presented two topics for discussion when I was aiming for
one. Sorry about that, my memes are fucking like bunnies.