virus: Four Principles Digest

Reed Konsler (
Thu, 3 Apr 1997 13:11:21 -0500 (EST)

>From: "Wright, James 7929" <>
>Date: Wed, 02 Apr 97 09:50:00 EST
>Tony Hindle wrote:
>> What about spreading benign strains of the smallpox virus so
>that to allow imuninty systems to evolve?<
>This is an interesting proposition. How do you test a "benign strain" of
>a virulent toxic meme? How do you contain it?
>Imagine that a given meme-ecology, say the French body-politic (randomly
>chosen) needs innoculation against a virulent toxic-meme complex, say
>Nazism. How can you test a hopefully-benign strain of French National
>Socialism for efficacy? Do you later deliberately introduce virulent
>French National Socialism and observe for atrocities?
>The penalties for failure are enormous.
>Should we be trying to develop antibody memes for general application
>against widespread forms of antisocial behavior? What might such memes
>be, and what test protocol would demonstrate their efficacy? How do we
>locate a control group (uninfected) for comparison purposes?
>I realize the above stretches the meme/virus analogy to difficult limits,
>and it may already break down in the above examples. If CofV is to create
>product memes that improve the global societies, however, I suspect that
>some type of resolution must be found for the questions/problems above.
>What do you think, Tony?

One of the safest forms of vaccine is to expose the individual to
heat-killed organisms
in which the genetic information has been denatured but the protien capsule
is still intact. It isn't effective for against all viruses, but it served
well in a number of cases.

Live virus innoculations are still somewhat dangerous. It has been
proposed that AIDS might be combatted by infecting the population with a
reengineered "benign" strain that could out-compete the virulent natural
disease. I think the dangers of this approach are apparent, but with
sufficient testing it may turn out to be the least risky alternative
(eating grams and grams of synthetic chemicals also poses some long term

I think CoV was intended as an attempt to create a counter-virus of sorts.

You could also imagine creating a cult whose "memetic code" is so
dysfunctional that it acts essentially as a sort of heat-killed organism.
Raising your memetic defenses (fnord!) without being very dangerous. The
Discordians (hail Eris!) and the Church of the Subgenius (hail "Bob"!) are
potential examples.

You could also try to package "right-thinking" ideas into a good viral
package, which is what Richard B. is attempting.

The tough part is that meme evolution is much more rapid and chaotic than
gene evolution. One has much less confidence of the ultimate outcome. Not
that one shouldn't try to control things...but that the greater risks make
conservative approaches more appealing.

On the other hand, the current meme-ecology is pretty toxic, so how much
more dangerous can
an intentional manipulation be?

Knock on wood. ;-)


Reed Konsler