RE: virus: Church of Virus/Memetics/Faith

David McFadzean (
Wed, 28 May 1997 14:17:42 -0600

At 10:57 AM 28/05/97 -0700, Tim Rhodes wrote:
>On Tue, 27 May 1997, David McFadzean wrote:
>> Acting on instinct isn't necessarily irrational. In fact it is almost
>> always rational (which is why the behavior evolved in the first place).
>> Instincts tend only to be irrational in an environment significantly
>> different from the environment in which it evolved.
>Your definition of rational, David, is starting to look like John's
>definition of faith. So everything that works is rational? What /isn't/
>rational then?

I resent that too :)

No, everything that works is not rational. And everything that is rational
does not necessarily work.

Some people that play the lottery get rich. It isn't rational given the probabilities
involved, but it sometimes work.

Some people die because they are wearing a seat belt. It is rational to wear
a seat belt but it doesn't always work.

I think my (apparently unique) view of rationality is tied to game theory.
What move should one make given one's current knowledge and goals? The move
can be any possible action: standing on your hind legs and squealing when you
spot a hawk, invading Poland, quitting your job, seeing a movie, growing
towards the light, blowing the head off an intruder, etc., etc.

Often the best way for a human to act rationally is to think about one's
current knowledge and goals, consider many possibilies, predict potential
outcomes and consequences, then formulate a plan. Often it doesn't pay to
think about it (like when your foot is in the fire). The point is that
thinking is not necessary for rational behavior.

Does any think that Deep Blue beat Kasparov without playing rationally? Does
anyone think Deep Blue thinks?

Since my non-standard definition of (ir)rationality seems to be causing so
much confusion and distress, I'm willing to use another term if someone can
suggest one.

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus