Re: virus: New Ideas

Dave Pape (
Sat, 24 May 1997 00:09:59 +0100 (BST)

At 22:14 22/05/97 -0400, John wrote:
>At 11:25 PM 5/22/97 +0100, you wrote:

>1) Knowledge follows a circular path, but doesn't often come out the same.
>If I had a dollar for every time Pop told me a story I told him a day
>before, I'd have half my student loans paid off.

Yeh, this is the "feedback is like replication with mutation" bit...

>2) Knowledge -- especially created knowledge like Art, Literature, and
>Philosophy -- does not occur in a vacuum. One can not be creative if one
>has no contact with anyone else. "If a novelist writes a book in a forest
>and there's no one there to read it, will he recieve any royalties?" Or,
>perhaps more accurately, has he actually used language? Has he "written?"

Erm... well... I kind of don't see people as unitary concepts... erm... as
in, /I/ am the dominant self-referential ideas being expressed in my
brain/body at the time... so... I kind of see producing linguistic output
and sending it back into myself later, as being quite /similar/ to other
people reading it. And I'm usually quite receptive, unless I leave the
re-input for more than a year, which seems to be my time-period for looking
back and thinking "Seethe, I was a wanker then"...

>3) For knowledge to spread, it must reach a receptive audience.

This seems a tiny bit black-and-white... I'd rephrase and say that if memes
transmit to a mind which contains dominant memes which are largely
incompatable with the new arrivals, then the new memes /won't do as well/ as
if the receiver-mind contained memes in agreement with them. Knowledge
spreads better, the more receptive the audience is.

>In your pub
>analogy, Sound enters the mic -- the receiver -- and is repeated. Without
>the voice, there is no sound. Without the mic, there is no communication
>(and hence the sound stops). The two together create a loop in which sound
>is indefinately replicated. (Albiet with some distortion.)
>Point #3 contains the purpose for my "faith as positive value" argument.
>IE, we accept the general, nebulous definition of "faith" so that we can
>positively affect the ideas of those who claim to have "faith." By being
>"on the same side," we can lead them to our viewpoint -- a much more
>effective, gentle, and humane position than scaring the crap out of someone
>by spouting the exact opposite of what you believe in frightening,
>threatening terms.

I've been lurking for ages (time constraints and shit) but have ducked the
faith argument cos... I think that scientists accept a LOT of things
technically on faith, in that they haven't done the relevant experiments
themselves but just accept other people's word on the matter in question (ie
a meme comes in and meshes easily, unchallengedly, with their memecologies).
BUT I worry about religions that seem to promote acceptance without evidence
as a positive virtue, and prefer the scientific version where independent
groups try and replicate each others' results, and complain when they can't,

>This serves as a good argument for mostly-adapting to your target
>audience's vocabulary. If you alienate them, you've done the same thing as
>shut off the mic. There's no audience, so there can be no repetition. Or,
>the audience you have is the audience that already agrees with you, so
>there really isn't any worthwhile spread of the meme you generate, and it
>eventually becomes as useful as noise.

All fairly valid, I think... I'd like to look at the memetic processes
underneath. I think that, if you just come out and say "everything you say
is bollocks, here's what I think, and here's why I think it, just accept it
cos it's better", then, given that you're transmitting memes that're
genuinely dominant most of the time in your memecology, what you're doing is
like a direct memetic "attack" (I'm enquoting that because I got picked up
before for talking about debates as if I was talking about wars. I /am/, as
it happens, because I think they ARE, but don't worry, it's the kind of war
you can have with {part of} someone you love and then be friends again
thirty seconds later).

If you do things like go along with someone else's vocabulary, I think
you're fighting a kind of more undercover, behind-the-lines kind of battle.
Cos in the end, "lead[ing someone] to our viewpoint" is, IMO, making sure
the memes dominant in their minds are replaced with memes transmitted from
ours. It's just that the way you do it is to introduce your memes in
disguise as their memes. If this seems nastily machiavellian to you, sorry,
but I'm a bit of a darwinist.

>Now, you tell me: am I reading you correctly? Or am I just imposing my
>views on your structure, and you don't see what you've said leading to
>something like that at all? (Sometimes happens with me.)

Hey, of course it does! Wouldn't have it any other way, kidder. Top source
of "new" ideas. I think, a bit of both. The stuff about you and your dad
sharing stories is a cool example of ideas triggering other ideas which
back-trigger the original ideas, in a two-brain context.

My guess is, this kind of feedback-tightening process happens at the start
of conversations. You're nattering away about various things (like memes and
jello, for instance) and soon, overtones appear which hijack (in the
naturalest possible way) the memetic interchange, and soon you're talking in
a focused way about those topics. There y'go: things that appear as
overtones (emergents) become the explicit focus of the memetic process. READY!

Hmm. Notice ME taking YOUR input, and disappearing off on my own sweet
tangent there? Ironic really... Oh yeh, I was trying to say that you'd done
a bit of /both/("am I reading you correctly? Or am I just imposing"). You
transmitted memes that resonated VERY closely with mine (and indeed caused
feedback and retransmission, see previous paragraph), and you then flowed
off into your own memetic basins of attraction, at which point our
viewpoints diverged a little.

In summary: you're not JUST imposing your memes on my structure. My memes
have hit your mind, and in part those memes have implanted well enough to
retransmit back, but in part their assimilation into your memecology has led
to transmission of memes which, when they hit MY memecology, don't quite
mesh. Although they kind of do, partially. Phew!

Dave Pape
I am ready.

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