Re: virus: New Ideas

J. Houston Williams (
Fri, 23 May 1997 23:04:49 -0400

At 12:09 AM 5/24/97 +0100, you wrote:
>I kind of see producing linguistic output
>and sending it back into myself later, as being quite /similar/ to other
>people reading it.

I think that's a fairly canibalistic concept, in a way. Consider: when the
host either dies or becomes incabable of supporting a virus, the virus
dies. If, on the other hand, you pass it along to someone else, the virus
has a better chance at survival. Memetically If later on you die (a likely
event) or you become so memetically modified you can no longer "buy" the
older meme, then the virus-meme will be pretty much dead -- unless you
passed it on to someone else. (Don't mean to make this sound like AIDS,

>>3) For knowledge to spread, it must reach a receptive audience.
>This seems a tiny bit black-and-white...

It does appear to be kindof a "well, duh" statement, but I'm amazed at how
few people grasp this... I'm convinced that a good number of the "yOu GyEzz
su(k, KriST is KinG!" type arguments are not just picking a fight but
actual attempts at convincing someone. Alow me to diverge for a sec:
At work, someone left a little box with a tag on it that says
"free!," hand-lettered. Inside, are a stack of fake $1US bills,
that are approximately 50% of the length of a normal bill (same
width). I know this is a flyer of some kind, so I pick it up.

The back reads: "Dissapointed? You won't be if you accept Christ!"

Does this person expect to win converts? I suspect so. That seems
to be the target audience. However, what it more than likely does
is: a) entrench old-school Christians in their convictions that people
are money-grubbing and will jump at the chance to pick up an extra
buck[1] b) repulse non-Christians, liberal Christians and neo-Christians
who knew perfectly well that it was not $1, and also know that the
Christians who put it there are feeling really upitty because
of their conviction about a).

>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,

I think acceptance without evidence is a positive virtue, to an extent. i
accept many things based on an expert's say-so. IE: that this or that drug
will cure my sinus infection, that this or that drug will give my offspring
four hands. Have i seen evidence? No: I've only heard of it.

Faith, of course, is a bit more of a cognative leap.

As for whether or not Religion has the ability to abuse this power, I
dare-say it does. But no more perhaps, than advertising (which also
requests that you accept without evidence -- *and* without an attempt at
any sort of justification, philosophical or otherwise.)

>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.

I'm a Progressive. I know I'm right, and what i want to do is for the
betterment of everyone. If it's Machiavellian, so be it. :-) [Sound of me
taking cover from the ends-justify-the-means guns]

(incidentally, back in my really active MUSHing days, I was known as
"Machiavelli." I'm a little more goofy, though.)

>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.

Stuff like this interested me in Language and Sociology. :-)

>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!

IOW, I'm a receptive audience, but not a passive one. (Not that many
audiences are passive, although you prolly should have tapped that MC a bit
and told him that a mouth was for speaking, a nose for breathing.)

I love picking up new memes. I love collecting them, modifying them, and
kicking them out again to other people. More fun than TV! :-)

[1] Perhaps a likely event at where i work, which, as I mentioned before,
is a newspaper.
John Williams ICQ Address: 1213689
Various Artists: Raising the Tide of Mediocrity for Two Years