Re: virus: Rationality

David McFadzean (
Sun, 2 Mar 1997 22:37:43 -0700

> From: Alex Williams <>
> Date: Sunday, March 02, 1997 8:45 PM

> I'm wagering on there being significant differences; that's really the
> main reason it seems people exchange information via communication,
> especially in fora like this; the hope that other people will

I see now that we've really been arguing over the meaning of
"significant". What may be a significant to you might not be a
significant difference to me, it is subjective. I was using it in
the sense that if the reconstructed meme is close enough to the
original that coherent dialog can take place, the differences are
not significant.

> misinterpret in `just the right way' and clarify on the new
> perspective and, in so doing, illuminate the target from another
> perspective.

That's an interesting way of looking at it.

> > True, but I don't think my assumptions are unreasonable.
> Assuming I'm not a raving psychotic is /never/ reasonable. Mind you,
> I have greater doubts about some of our list compatriots, but ...

I'll keep that in mind :)

> Looks fairly close, if I'm not projecting the meaning I'd /like/ to
> see on your text and we haven't just got phenomenally lucky again.

True, but your confidence should go up through repeated exchanges
because the probabilities of getting phenomenally lucky multiply.

> Look, I'm not saying communication is impossible. I'm not saying that
> memes and their progeny don't propogate. I /am/ attacking the basic

Great, that's all I wanted agreement on...

> assumption that the means aren't important, that they get abstracted
> away into the details. A lot of modern memetic debate is at an
> /extremely/ high degree of abstraction away `from the metal,' if you
> will. I like grovelling around and getting my hands dirty at that
> level of approach.

... and I don't have any problems with this either. I guess I'm just
saying we have to start in the middle (quoting Dennett, I think).
Abstraction in necessary to make any progress. If we always have to
figure out underlying mechanisms first, then we'll keep delving down
to lower and lower levels. I doubt DNA would have been discovered
if scientists hadn't made a lot of progress on Mendelian genetics

> Think of it this way ... at least its not a polemic on "neo-cheating"
> or teaching Manipulation ...

We need another way of saying, "thank God for small miracles". :)

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus