Re: virus: God and Level-3

Tony Hindle (
Sun, 30 Mar 1997 02:00:20 +0000

>> David McFadzean writes
>> >When is
>> >it better to believe something that isn't true?

I responded.
>> Sometimes one needs to believe one will achieve a goal in
>> order to increase one's chance of achieving it.
>> Suppose we consider 100 such goals (including some
>> impossible goals). If person A never attemps self delusion they
>> will achieve say 50 of the goals. Person B who succeeds in
>> believing that they will achieve all 100, goes on to achieve 60.
>> Doesnt person B presents an example of occaisions when it
>> is better to believe something that isnt true? If not why not?

Prof. Tim wrote:
>This reminds me of something someone else said (Nate, maybe?) about a
>powerful advertising meme changing the ways you perceive reality and as a
>result making if harder to remove that meme from you head. If we are
>meme-ecologies, to what extent does changing our memes change that
>ecology, and as a result the change the selection pressures within that
>ecology? Can a new meme create a niche that wasn't there before that meme
>was introduced? Does the introduction of the "if you think it will work
>it will" meme re-align the meme-scheme so that it can become a
>self-fulfilling prophecy? Does "I can't do that" have a similar, albeit
>opposite, effect?
I want to explore this line of thought further.
Why is it not wise for an inexperienced mountaineer to
look down? I reckon this is an example where perceiving the danger
clearer is a disadvantage. This all reminds me of how we might
conduct an internal dialog telling ourselves "this really isn't
that big a deal so dont be frightened" to reduce our anxiety to
increase our performance (e.g., public speaking.) Even when on
another level we know it is a big deal (win this competition and
the rest of your life will improve dramatically).
Suppose one is asked to walk across a 12 inch red strip
painted on the floor, easy right? Now same task this time 12 inch
wide wall with shark infested pools on either side, still as easy
without training?
I think these examples and others in this thread are
begining to delineate a category thus:

Examples of when our innate fear circuits are a
disadvantage and we consciously try to teach ourselves to bypass
them. (now I've written it I realise Richard's book explains it
much better.)

A related category of events are delineated by these
A shoplifter might be more successfull if when passing the
security guard he "didnt know" he was a shoplifter. (e.g, if he
could successfully convince himself that the hot item had fallen
into his pocket accidently.

>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.
(one of Richard's examples.)

I remember Robert Wright's Moral animal giving a clear
evolutionary account of how self deception can be a benefit to
humans (To deceive others it is best to first deceive oneself).

I therefore believe that self deception is sometimes a
useful tool. I have long suspected this and have been frustrated by
how difficult it is to achieve. (I cant pretend to myself that I
have deceived myself.)

I definately dont believe in an objective god at all. Which
is a shame because I imagine if I did I would find this process of
self deception a lot easier, an intuition that I was going to
succeed at X might be atributable instead to a certain reassurance
from God. Thus deluding myself into believing I would achieve X
thus increasing my chances of achieving X. Of course where X was
still not achieved some creative retro-explanations would be
needed, (God works in mysterious ways)
Come to think of it isnt this process a little like we all
did as kids? If we wanted something when we accepted god we might
pray and then be surprised if we didnt get it. This process would
eventually lead us to the scientific position, God works in random
All this leads me to my current position which I want you
all to see before I lose it. As it stands I see that my future life
has an element to it which I have yet to invent. I can now choose
to invent my future and whatever part of my invention I can believe
will come true. Then I can begin to live it. It feels a bit like
what I imagine a religious experience would be.
Ok all of this follows from many hours thinking with and
interacting with CoV (and reading V.o.t.M.) and remembering my
posting yesterday (Fucking, Murder & eating quantum memetics) in
which I compared your collective voices to God I begin to feel that
the comparison has some truth in it.
Ok now I remember the anthropomorphic fallacy and I realise
that I would be commiting it if I thought this version of God was
any realer than any other. But it is a version which I can
temporarily delude myself into believing in, so that I delude
myself into believing I will achieve X long enough to achieve X.
Once Ive done it I will have a marvelous laugh at my own delusional
stupidity for ever believing it was possible. I have known what X
is for a long time now but I have never believed I will achieve it.
(to be honest it's been more of a resignation that I will die

Richard quoted an ex-philosophy teacher (with a cute Elisabeth
Montgomery bewitching nose-twitch.)
>"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."
Yes, and learning the trick is the hard part.

Let me try to sumarize with a more memetically
orientated analysis (since we are all lucky enough to now be
infected with this powerful mind tool.) We are meme ecologies and
as meme ecologies we can be infected with memes that have a drag
effect on our goal achieving behaviour. Memes infect us against
"our better judgement". This we can turn to our advantage by
deliberately exposing ourselves to memes we want to "identify
Ok I think I have glimpsed level 3, which is fucking
brilliant because when I was there I could see how to get back to
level 1 where frankly I am at my happiest.

I havent read a book twice in succession since Darwin's
Dangerous Idea. Carl's Demon haunted world was next for a re-read
but frankly I think I will give Virus of the mind a second read
instead, (and to think I thought I might have wasted my money
during the first 50 pages.)
I enjoyed writing this. Thanks.

Tony Hindle.
I want to deceive myself but I am not prepared to lie to myself
and tell me I've done it until I truly have.