virus: "Investment principle"

Reed Konsler (
Sat, 28 Jun 1997 14:06:47 -0400 (EDT)

>Date: Fri, 27 Jun 1997 14:23:37 -0400
>From: "Alexander 'Sasha' Chislenko" <>

>There is a concept of an "investment principle", that
>people tend to stick with an idea they already spent a
>lot of time or effort supporting, be it a religion,
>a social formation, a habit, or a thought.


>I think the tendency to "respect the investments" was beneficial
>for early humans and helped maintain the balance between personal
>conclusions and advice received from others. Since then though, the
>communications dramatically improved, the balance got skewed, and
>this "natural" tendency to respect one's own investments is often
>harmful, and prone to memetic infections.
>If the evolutionary mechanism could adapt the genes to new
>conditions faster, maybe many stupid conservative things
>wouldn't exist? We can wait a little and see if Alife
>creatures start making sacrifices and forming fraternities...

"Respect the investment" might also be thought of as perserverence
in the face of adversity and/or frustration. I'm not sure if it
has become "skewed" ,but, such delayed gratification techniques
are the basis of infrastructure development and most scientific
research. I'm not sure if I agree, but the common wisdom is that
the world is going to hell in the handbasket of our RESISTANCE
to "Respect the investment". We are in the process of neglecting
our environment, our infrastructures (especially power and
transportation), our governing institutions and ethical technologies.

Now, I don't want this conversation to drift into making me
support a status quo, which I explicitly don't. We are in the
process of convincing ourselves that memes and genes are not
always working in "our" best interest. It is important, in doing
so, that we don't fall on the other extreme of insisting that
these replicators are always operating counter to "our" best
interest. We each define our own sense of "I" and must judge
personally which memes are useful to us and which act counter
to our purpose, and this is often dependent on circumstance as
much as structure.

<investment> is a common meme, however. I agree with
Alexander's analysis. Graduate schools take advantage of
this process by requiring students to go through
long periods (5 to 10 years) of relative poverty during their
potentially most energetic (if not most productive) years.
Afterwards the graduate is often internally inhibited from
altering course out of academics. Even should the graduate
change lifepath, the investment demanded by the institution
often remains an implicit part of their future analysis.
<Investment> makes the graduate a servant of the institution
in the form of donations, diversion of resources, recommendation
that younger individuals undertake the same training, positive
publicity, political muscle, etc.

In many ways this appears similar to commonly held
theories about female reproductive strategies. I wonder
if <investement> originated within the context of
reproductive strategies and was then generalized.


Reed Konsler