Re: virus: Rationality

David McFadzean (
Sun, 02 Mar 1997 19:26:47 -0700

At 08:42 PM 02/03/97 -0500, Alex Williams wrote:

>Except I disagreed. And most vociferously, at that. I do not think
>that /you/ are receiving the same exact memes that /I/ intend to evoke
>with this bit of English. It is quite likely to be `pretty close,'
>even more likely to be `good enough' for the most part, but its not
>perfect replication and, as we move past each others' memespheres, the
>memes you spawn are likely to have widely variant spawn.

Well, yes. But I didn't ask if they were the "same exact memes". I asked
if it is reasonable to assume that there is no significant difference.
If the memes are good enough (and you say that is likely), then it
seems obvious that it is a reasonable assumption.

>You're making a lot of assumptions here. That I'm not a masochist, or
>delusioned, or simply pursuing it for my own sake, not to communicate
>anything meaningfull at all. All of the above apply to both
>situations, perversely. For the same reasons you can't actually know
>the contents of my memesphere, you can never, fully, understand my
>motives and aims.

True, but I don't think my assumptions are unreasonable.

>YOUR interpretation may not have changed, but we still don't have
>assurance its the same as my intent. In fact, from the ensuing

Only if you ignore my replies.

>discussion, I feel pretty certain from your evidenced behaviours that
>what I intended to convey is not what you're operating with ... of
>course, that assumes that your intent is to react based on those
>spawned memes ... if, in fact, the spawned memes are very close to my
>intent but for some reason or another you're deliberately reacting
>differently ...

OK, one more try before I give up. I'll quote exactly what you said,
then I will paraphrase. From that you should be able to surmise
whether or not I understood what you said. Of course you will not
know with certainty, but that isn't the point.

> From: Alexander Williams <>
> Date: Friday, February 28, 1997 7:39 PM

> Then we got lucky. Either I'm amazingly good at communicating my meme,
> or you're amazingly good at interpreting my communication, or we just
> flat out got lucky. Or have developed an amazingly good protocol that
> reduce the probability of encoding/interpretation, I suppose.

You are saying that if the memes that I reconstruct from your signals
resemble the ones that caused those signals in the first place, then
we are fortunate. Either you are highly skilled at generating signals,
or I am highly skilled at reconstructing memes from signals, or it
is merely a coincidence that our memes are similar. Or the format of
the signals deserves credit (by built-in error-correction or something
like that I'd guess).

Now, if you recognize your originally intended meaning in my paraphrasing,
then chances are really good that my memes generated from your message
are not significantly different than yours.

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus