Re: virus: Rationality

Eva-Lise Carlstrom (
Thu, 27 Feb 1997 23:07:55 -0800 (PST)

On Thu, 27 Feb 1997, Alexander Williams wrote:

> Richard Brodie wrote:
> > It sounds to me like you've backed off your "memes cannot be
> > transmitted" heresy and now are saying "memes can never be copied with
> > 100% fidelity." I suspect you'll have less disagreement with your new
> > stance.
> I'm still saying that `memes cannot be transmitted,' Richard. The fact
> that they cannot be transmitted, that it is merely `signs and portents'
> that are interpreted by a seperate memesphere that can misunderstand,
> have a different interpretation context or whatnot leads to the
> representation even in a perfect protocol, which English itself is far
> from, that leads to the resultant meme given rise by the interpretation
> of the signs to be unlike the meme that was intended.

Well, it didn't sound to *me* like Zander had backed off, and I see it
didn't look that way to him either.

Personally, I claim that ideas can't be passed from one mind to
another, though it's often convenient to pretend they are, and thus the
sentence 'memes are transmitted' contains equivocation at
either the 'meme' end (approximation from signals interpreted as
instructions?) or the 'transmitted' end (copied? reconstructed? built?).
It's a useful sentence, for some contexts. Let's just not go thinking
it's True.

That reminds me, in a sidelong way. What makes the Gaia Hypothesis a
hypothesis? As far as I know, it's not a disprovable statement, but
rather a way of looking at the world, and a useful metaphor, much like