RE: virus: God and Level-3

Richard Brodie (
Fri, 28 Mar 1997 20:32:36 -0800

David McF wrote:

>Which brings up Level-3 again. Richard often insinuates that there are
>times when it is better to delude yourself than to worry about what is
>true and what is not. (If that isn't a fair characterization I hope he
>will jump in and correct me.)

I'll tell you a story that illustrates my position well. When I was
training to be a facilitator of personal-growth programs, I studied for
a year under a woman who used to be a writer for Jeopardy. Obviously,
she was quite smart, which is not always the case with people involved
in these self-help groups.

Anyway, she was really the only one outside of the founder of the
company with whom I could ask serious philosophical questions about the
material we were presenting. The reason for that was that not only
didn't you NEED to understand the philosophy to teach the course, but it
was a detriment to the course to have such intellectual discussions
while facilitating -- you started to lose people quickly.

But, being who I am, or was, which is similar to who many of you are
now, I wanted airtight intellectual justification for the positions we
were presenting. She was up to the challenge and provided me with
answers, book references, assignments, and so on. It was a crazy and
wonderful year!

One time, I asked her a question similar to the one David and I are
discussing now. I asked, supposing, as we teach, that your experience of
life depends upon your context (the set of all your memes, though we
didn't call them that). Are you justified in adjusting your context,
even if it doesn't match reality, just so that you can have a better
experience of life? Just so you can feel better?

She wrinkled her nose, which makes it seem like I asked a harder
question than I did, but really it was just something she learned to do
at the age of three or five to be cute and was still cute at the age of
50. She said that Randy (the founder of the company) really believed
that, but that for her, it meant going through life with an unacceptable
level of self-deceit. And she walked around the room a bit, then she
turned to me and abruptly continued, "But...maybe we all go through life
with a certain amount of self-deceit, and the trick is really to pick
the right set of self-deceit to support whatever you're about."

> I'm still stuck in the [mode] where I
>believe that one is always better off with true beliefs. (Not True
>beliefs, I don't want to get into the Absolute Truth argument here.)
>Even in extreme cases where someone is going to die a painful death
>and there is nothing that can be done, aren't they better off knowing
>so that they can make the best use of their remaining time? When is
>it better to believe something that isn't true?

For eight years I enjoyed umpiring high-school baseball. I did my very
best every game, saw myself as improving, and honestly thought myself to
be one of the best umpires in our association. Then we instituted peer
ratings. For the first two years, I got ratings slightly below average.
I quit after the second year.

David Buss, in his book The Evolution of Desire, details research in
which men were shown to consistently overrate women's interest in them.
He concluded that believing women were more interested than they really
were was a successful mating strategy and therefore evolution selected
for it.

Richard Brodie +1.206.688.8600
CEO, Brodie Technology Group, Inc., Bellevue, WA USA
Do you know what a "meme" is?