Re: virus: Models

Eric Boyd (
Mon, 17 Jun 1996 00:00:39 -0500

Tim Rhodes wrote:

> Question away!!!


I've been reading this mailing list now since about feburary or march,
and actually particiating for maybe a month. What I'm going to do here
is try and sum up the "most important insights" that the memetics
paradigm has provided. You've all seen these before. I think it's
important to sum them up.

The first is the one I mentioned in my first message here. The Reed

>> I think this ties into the discussion we were having earlier about
>> the idea of "Consensus Reality". Why didn't it get brought up
>> sooner? I wonder if it was becuase we were arguing while denying
>> our baser selves? Perhaps, to some extent, each of us was more
>> interested in seeing their "meme" triumph over everone elses: To
>> stamp their seal, to evangelize, to infect. It was only after we
>> all realized that that wasn't working that we began to pause
>> and say:
>> "Well, alright then...what do YOU think?"
>> And how many times have you read something and it just "passed
>> through" without ever really impacting you? And how many
>> points-of-view or interesting ideas do we ignore each day because
>> our mechanisms for filtering them out (for instance, by only
>> reading something refering to you specifically) aren't very good?
>> Object Lesson?

> Yes, and a good one. Maybe in future we can invoke the "Reed
> Principle" when we start to get too tied up in ourselves and seeing
> our memes win.

> Of course the parties invovled won't be able to see the need of
> invoking this, so we may need to count on others, not involed in the
> particular debate, to step in and tell us to chill out. (Yes, Eva,
> I got this idea from our conversation.)
> Can we all agree to step back for a moment and *just listen* when
> someone invokes the Reed Principle on us?
(Prof Tim said this, in reply to Reed Konsler)

This, as I see, it one of the facetts of what a level three mind would
always do. Level three is about understanding that all meme's infect us
and try to spread their dominance at the expense of the other competeing
meme's. Level three is about realizing that there is no need to become
"attached" to /any/ position. Use the meme's. Don't let them use you.
And David's point about the "point" of an argument fits in here too.
The point of an argument is not to "win" but rather to educate and
learn; to strive together to find a better, more useful, map of

If I may, I'd like to add a little something to the Reed Principle. I
think that after we have stepped back and read not only others' posts
but our own again; after we have released our death grip on the
"truth"[1] of our meme's and the "falsity" of their's, and after we have
waited maybe a day or two for "it" to sink in, we should sit down and
write out, in a full post, what we see. Endeavour to make the post
"complete", that is, to present both sides (or all of them) of the
issue, as you see it, and to not rely on what you have said before.
Write it like you are presenting the debate to someone who has just
entered the CoV. Clean. Bold. Spacious. If each person involved does
this, not only does it clarify their own position but it also clarifies
how they see the other positions. There will be new material to work
with, and the stagnation and feuds that probably caused the Reed
Principle to be invoked will be put under the scrutiny of a thousand
watt light bulb and a dozen keen eyes.

Look good?

[1] I really like what John's position on Post Structuralism does to
truth. I think that ultimatly /striving/ for truth would be valid, but I
do not think that any "absolute" truth can possibly be meaningful.
Truth can not be general, and apply to everything. Truth is relative,
_in_ the system, rather than above it. Science is a /map/; not reality
itself. Stones don't fall because of the law of gravity. Rather, we
know that the law of gravity is valid because stones fall!


Now, level three is about more than just that. If there is an error in
your thinking, don't /ever/ gloss it over. Admit you were mistaken, and
_fix_it. Pancritical Rationalism fits in very well:

The new framework permits a rationalist to be characterized as one who
is willing to entertain any position and holds all his positions,
including his most fundamental standards, goals, and decisions, and his
basic philosophical position itself, open to criticism; one who protects
nothing from criticism by justifying it irrationally; one who never cuts
off an argument by resorting to faith or irrational commitment to
justify some belief that has been under severe critical fire; one who is
committed, attached, addicted, to no position."

And, of course, this all flows into the latest Post by Prof. Tim:
(which I am going to repeat /again/ for all to read)

>One of my responsiblities as a Memetic Vector is to condense and
>redistribute the data I gather from eclectic travels so others don't have
>to. I would never ask everyone to go and read/hear/dance to/talk
>with/visit all the people and places I have just to understand something I
>say. Time is a very limited resource (for instance, I get about 1 hour a
>day to play on the computer, that's it. CoV alone can take up most of
>that time). As a vector it is important to package ideas in a manner that
>is accessible to others. By giving background and defining terms I can
>increase the odds that my insights get communicated. This is the theory
>at least.

I think we should all carry the letters M.V. after our names, just to
remind us not only of the responsibility that we carry but also of the
memetic insights that we have. If you wish to spread an idea, package
it well:

Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will
appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all,
accurately so they will be guided by its light. -- Joseph Pulitzer

Speak clearley, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let
it fall. -- Oliver Wendel Holmes, Jr.

But also understand that the memes you have could hurt someone. Like
John said not too long ago, at level two, people are /personally/
involved in their meme's. Attacking the meme's amounts, in their mind,
to attacking /their identity/. You can really hurt someone with words,
no matter that "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will
never hurt me". Just keep it in mind. Of course, this is something to
guard against yourself. If you feel any meme's taking to much of a hold
on you, go out and find someone who will flame you for them. Let the
critism fall on the meme's and not you, and your control over them will
naturally increase. Always remember, in a debate, that these are "your
meme's" not _you_. We've now come full circle in this post, becuase
that is the reason for the Reed Principle.

Now, here is the very latest of the insights:

Prof.Tim said:
> But remember: when you play the heretic I'll play the deacon. When you
> play the Christ I must play the Judas. When you play the Yin, I must
> speak for the Yang. When you play your role, I must play mine.

And you do this becuase you understand that it is the _variety_ in
meme's, and then our subsequent "rational"[2] selection of them that is
the primary path to valid meta-memes. If only one side of an issue is
presented, that leaves us with only a one dimesional meme space. On the
left, we have "nope" and on the right we have "yep" and in between we
have "I like this part, but not that". If both sides (or many sides)
are presented, the meme space becomes two -- or more -- dimensional, and
the possibiliies become much more rich.

[2] That is, selection of the meme's based on reason. Ie. Why did we
accept this meme and not that one? Becuase a) it (blah blah) b) the
other was faulty because (blah blah blah)

> Pick your part for the next act.

Can I play The Good Guy next time? Actually, can I play everyone? One
of the things that I've always thought would make a certain kind of
sense at level three would be to respond to /your own/ posts. Looks
kind of self defeating at level two, but when you realize at level three
that the debate is not about winning (or infecting the others with your
meme's) but rather about striving to map reality in a useful way, it
becomes obvious that if you see something in your own post that is "not
good" then /by all means/ reply to yourself. Of course, then you have
to reply to the relpy to yourself and then reply to the reply to the
reply to yourself and then... ahhh! But who ever said that infinite
loops were bad?

Anyway, hope this has refreshed your memories as much as it has mine.

PS: One last meme to push here. Memetics is the science of idea
_propagation_. Which is only a small facett of "the science of ideas."