Re: virus: re: truth, science, and the American way

sean laraway (
Mon, 31 Mar 1997 19:11:40 -0500

>You see behavior is a weighted average of individual tendencies and the
>situation. the cool thing about weighted averaging is that the sum of
>the weights is always equal to 1. so.
>behavior = (weight a) x (individual tendency) + (weight b) x (situation)

this looks like hullian psychology, are you familiar with the neobehaviorists?

>Once more, your behavior feeds back into the equation as a determinate of
>individual tendencies (cognitive dissonance). so if I were to increase
>the relative weight of the situation to 1, then your individual desires
>drop out and you do what I want (like if I hold a gun to your head and
>make you do something). The odd thing is that the second time I ask you
>to do something against your will I don't have to increase the weight of
>the situation quite as much, maybe just to .9 because I have changed your
>individual tendencies ever so slightly to agree with me.

sounds good, i would be interested to see your sources.

>The point I'm trying to make is that there is no truth. Reason is an
>illusion, science is an illusion, and most of all truth is an illusion --
>there is no objective reality.

i didn't really get how this followed from your previous paragraph. if you
could change my individual tendencies "at will" then i think that you would
have what most people would call science or technology. if you can reliably
reproduce a phenomenon, then you have something that is, or leads to, what
we call science.

although science and reason may not deliver everything that we expect them
to, the very fact that we repeatedly use them successfully and speak of
them suggests they are not illusionary.

as for truth, it doesn't seem very practical to think of it as some ideal
standard by which to objectively judge all of our theories. "truth" seems
to be a term of confidence in a theory or statement in that it meets our
criteria for what we (whomever we consider when we say "we") accept to be
reasonable or counting as evidence; truth may be decided much the same way
a shot counts as a goal in soccer, only that we all get to be the referee
throughout the whole game. the problem comes when a group of the other
referees decide you're out of line.

as for objective reality, in a sense you may be right, but this seems to be
somewhat unimportant (the ol' realist vs. antirealist talk). if we can't
decide whether or not there is an objective reality, yet we can still live
our lives and make certain strides in culture and science, it doesn't seem
very important. so maybe we have not an objective reality, but rather an
intersubjective reality where we all participate to some extent to create
this reality. i am part of your reality, and you're a part of someone
else's, etc.

>So how does this fit into a discussion of memetics? Memes exist because
>they are adaptive in some way. If they were not adaptive they would be
>replaced by better memes. Seek therefore not for truth or reason but
>practicality. For some people it makes sense for them to have irrational
>memes because it allows them to do extraordinary things. Would I post
>messages to this newsgroup if I didn't have the irrational meme that says
>someone actually cares what I have to say?

are you saying memes "exist," as in: they are "really there," or because
they are "not dead" yet? also, some would call both truth and reason
practical (as opposed to ignorance and irrationality), while some would
call whatever proves to be practical "truthful" and "reasonable".

but i could be wrong,


"in order to climb into the depths one does not need to travel very far;
no, for that you do not need to abandon your immediate and accustomed
--ludwig wittgenstein