Re: FW: virus: How Does a Shaman Pay?

Brett Lane Robertson (
Thu, 14 Aug 1997 09:20:28 -0500

At 08:45 AM 8/14/97 -0400, you wrote:
>From: Gifford, Nate F
>Sent: Thursday, August 14, 1997 8:42 AM
>To: Brett Lane Robertson
>Subject: RE: virus: How Does a Shaman Pay?
>I find the idea that selection does not operate on chance as offensive as
>you must find the idea that selection does operate on chance. I think this
>primary difference will color all our interactions vis a vis memetics.

It will color our genetic interactions as genetics may be chance--but chance
is zero sum. It should not color our memetics interactions since memetics
is a response to the non-intelligent action of DNA--a view that "natural"
selection holds little sway in light of intelligence and choice.

> Specifically I am interested in pathological memes that seem to contradict
>the egalitarian memes I hold dear. The basis for my egalitarian memes is
>the tit for tat strategy for the prisoner's dilemma. That is do good ...
>but don't be a sucker. Examples of really successful pathological memes
>would be: astrology, the beatitudes, colonialism ....

Your attitude is indeed a "dilemma".

>Please note that rivers don't always branch ... there is the Colorado in
>the grand canyon ... Rivers branch because at some point the bottom becomes
>harder then the banks. This is the way the earth is set up and not a
>mathematical necessity.

Many of the newer mathematical models disagree with this. I believe that
"Complexity Theory" is a good example. I just read a study which said that
the mathematical probability that life develops by chance is something like
the chance that you and every member of your family will win the lottery
every day for the remainder of your way past
*statistically* "impossible"...and would be considered in the statistical
realm of "miracle".

You are right that Darwin's explanation of
>mutation was a bit flawed ... but we've come a bit further in genetics
>since then. The idea of mutations being the result of new combinations of
>DNA combined with transmission errors does not seem flawed to seems
>to be the basis for most of biotechnology.
>I'm sure there are people in the group who can more adequately defend
>natural selection/Darwin/et al. better than I can.

Again, this is a forum for the discussion of memes. I think that
"selection" as defined by memetics is different from Darwinistic
"selection". The very definition of "meme" begins with the premise that
there is a "design" and a "purpose" (that is that a meme is deliberately


>Nate wrote:
>>" I think you are applying value judgements to natural selection which I
>>consider to be a fallacy. I would think of natural selection as a chaotic
>>process, so that trying to imply any kind of value to its results is

>Brett wrote:
>>There is no value to chance development. I do not buy into a selection
>>process which operates on chance. I buy into a developmental model which
>>says that things develop--like rivers develop, into more intricate
>>patterns--not because they compete, but because it is efficient for
>>to branch (Darwin had to devise a new way for things to "develop"...they
>>just "mutate" he said...that's akin to spontaneous generation, saying
>>flys develop from rotting meat through mutation...I think the theory is
>>flawed). I do see a place for competition, destroying those
>>things which are not efficient...through the "un" natural "de" selection
>>the theory of "destruction of the least fit" (Darwinism). I don't think
>>that will or judgement has anything to do with it as it is a
>>cooperative--and not a competive--system. I haven't implied "value
>>is arbetrary human judgment)", I have applied efficiency and
>>(the scientific standards of replication and validity).

>At 04:39 PM 8/13/97 -0400, you wrote:
>>Words don't mean whatever YOU say.... unless YOU say so ... in which case
>>again bow to your superior intellect.

>>1. Superior is not the same as successful.

>>2. Circumstantial success is tautological. Which was superior .. more
>>successful ... whatever ... the Chinese empire or the Roman empire?
> <Which
>>is superior western civilization or eastern civilization>. Which is
>>superior Bacteria or insects?

>>3. I am sorry if my sarcasm - although I'd label it satire - bothered you.
>> I think you are applying value judgements to natural selection which I
>>consider to be a fallacy. I would think of natural selection as a chaotic
>>process, so that trying to imply any kind of value to its results is

>Rabble Sonnet Retort
>Take what you can use and let the rest go by.


Rabble Sonnet Retort
Nobody wants constructive criticism. It's all we can do to
put up with constructive praise.