virus: Re: manipulation 101

Tadeusz Niwinski (
Fri, 28 Feb 1997 00:19:08 -0800

Stephen wrote:
>*I'm* the one who called memes "Dinky Little" things. Richard was
>prepared to take the flack for it so I thought I'd see what happened.
>(sorry Richard-- But it *is* fun seeing what happens to an idea when
>people think you said it.)

It's nice of you to take responsibility for what you have said, Stephen.
I appreciate it. My point was not WHO said it, though.

As I understood from your "Getting Past" post, Richard has
managed to turn you "on to thinking about things like evolutionary
psychology and memetics without a lot of jargon and alienation." Very good.

I hope you will be able to help me understand the concept of "conflicting
ideas" one can believe at the same time or (using jargon) how to "flex one's
meme-space on the fly".

To me A is A as long as I believe it's A. When I change my mind (as I learn
new things) A may become B, but then B is B. For example if I believe in
Santa Claus I believe he is someone who brings presents (I don't care where
they come from, as long as I get them). When I grow up, learn more and get
more curious, I realize that Santa is a way of giving presents to children
and maybe also manipulating them into obeying parents. Once I figured out
the Santa engineering, I never go back to my old belief (unless I want to
*pretend* in hope to get more presents, ie. if I want to cheat). Those
ideas about Santa are conflicting, but an honest person can not hold both at
the same time.

>"Dinky Little" was meant to illustrate how people can be dominated or
>oppressed by ideas that are essentailly conquerable. Some ideas take a
>long time to conquer or to give way to better more efficient memes that
>are better for more people. An idea may have a whole economic and
>military stucture supporting it, but it is still an idea, you are still
>able to escape it, improve it elaborate on it. It is not Cast in Iron.

What do you mean by "conquerable"? How would it fit to the Santa example?
I don't mind another example if you prefer, but I really need some examples.

Let me get back to your post. BTW, I really think it's a very good -- no
jargon -- way to express one side of what we've been struggling with for the
last nine months. If ALL ideas are just dinky little viruses than we are
not able to tell which idea is better than other -- they are all equal and
it's entirely up to an individual which little virus to use at a given
moment. The ones which impede me can be ignored or eliminated from my
meme-space, and more convenient ones, more useful ones can replace them.
This is the way I understand what you and other members of this list are
saying, and please correct me if I am wrong. In order to discuss anything
we should be able to clearly define out differences and discuss those

If both sides believe in Santa, for example, there is no point in discussing
if Santa exists. If one person does and another -- does not -- there is a
good start for a discussion. A discussion can take place if both sides
agree to look honestly at what the opponent is saying. For example if a
"believer" says "Santa exists, because he brings me everything I ask him
for" -- that's a good start, and the other person may ask "will he bring you
a helicopter if you wanted"? You see where it leads.

Here is your "dinky" post:
>My post (recapped) is about the viral nature of all ideas, that ideally,
>once recognizing them for what they are (dinky little viruses) you
>can exert conscious control over them, eliminating the ones that
>impede you. (One would hope that they are racism, homophobia,
>jealousy...) But if your particular career path is with the Louisiana
>State Police-- you may need those memes.

I am interpreting your example as a need for some kind of nasty memes to
deal with the Louisiana State Police, although I may be wrong (is my
experience with KGB type police an asset in this case?). Can you please
explain your example? How does it relate to elimination of memes that
impede you?

Regards, Tadeusz (Tad) Niwinski from planet TeTa (604) 985-4159