Re: virus: Memetics, Intent, and Salvation

Eric Boyd (
Thu, 21 Aug 1997 17:22:00 -0500

Reed Konsler wrote:

> >Ummm. How about the "moral atheist"?
> >
> >S/He beleives all sorts of "strange" ideas, and yet still acts good!
> I'll have to discuss this concept at lenght later.

(We're waiting)

> We are calcifying--becoming too conservative. We are professionallizing.
> There was a time when the science was we excommunicate
> heretics from our journals and ostracise the eccentrics from our scientific
> societies.

Funny how that works, eh?

I wonder if changes in intellectual property laws could affect this in a
good way?

> We groom the institution, and with each generation our aspirations tend
> to become more and more mundane.

And more and more expensive...

> IF scientists are in the pursuit of truth
> Well, are they? Often scientists are in pursuit of utility, which is
> different

Ahhh: but utility itself depends on the created object *working*... a
"true" model of the universe is at least *helpful*, even if it isn't

I do see your point now, though...

> Recomended Reading:
> Bruno Latour "Laboratory Life"
> A french anthropologist lives among the "natives" at the Salk
> institute for two years. Enlightening.

"required reading"... list now has 81 books!

> What if you begin with a different set of "guesses"? I think you are
> making the common arguement that eventually any "True" science
> will arrive at (more or less) the same principles of being...these
> being the "Natural Laws" we are endevoring to discover.

Hmmm. I'm reminded of Choas theory and the idea of "attractors"... are
you saying that if we start with a different guess, we may end up at a
different attractor in "objective" space, and thus a different
"scientific" theory?

> Replace the word "discover" with "invent" and you get closer to
> my meaning.
> Imagine a Chinese scientist. Do they use these same words? Are
> the words important?

Words aren't important, no.

But I'm still thinking there are some things in science that you just
can't argue with... like gravity. It's strengh, as a force, varies
inversly with the square of the distance between the CoM of two bodies.
I don't think it matters what guess you start with: you'll end up there,
if you test.

> Eventually, if you subdivide small enough, you hit a "ground" right?
> These are the "experiments" that Feymann refered to. This is the
> substance that ANY scientific theory must conform to.
> They do not exist.

unnnn. The world seems pretty real to me, Reed. I admit that as
*observers* of the world, we bring our biases into what we sense; but I
still think there are things "out there" which we can at least *try* to
model and predict.

They do exist.

It's just that we can't sense them without bias and assumption.

> SCIENCE is not in seach of TRUTH

Perhaps not. But my question is not this: what does "truth" mean?

For if science does not achieve it, spirituality is not concerned with
it, and it's not a high selector force for memes, what the f**k is the
idea of "truth" useful for? Some mythical quality that we can never

Would it not be more straight forward to just *define* truth to be a
property of a model; a higher truth value corresponding to a "better"
representation of "objective reality" (determined by intersubjecive

> SEMANTIC WEB is not and is not the cause of PRODUCT

errr. Mind saying that again?

> The "*S*elect" are not the "elect"
> "The medium is the message, content is irrelevant."
> --Marshall McLuhan

Very nice. Where are the T-Shirts?

> I agree with you, but you make a straw man. If I said prayer made
> me "feel good" and faith in God made me happier and more successful
> would you believe me?

Certainly. That, as far as I can see, is the entire purpose of God.
And spirituality, too. But I've often thought that it's far more noble
to stand *unsupported*.

"An atheist is a man who has no invisible means of support."
Bishop Fulton Sheen

Exactly! "The strongest man in the world is he who stands alone."
Henrik Ibsen

> Consciousness is a "useful illusion"

hmmm. I've been thinking about a question you guys posed here a long
time ago:

"Is consciousness *intrinsically* subjective?"

The question seems very daunting, the way it's stated now. But if we
change it into E-Prime, it becomes much better:

"Does consciousness seem intrinsically subjective to me?"

Now here's one I can answer!: yes. I can't verify consciousness in
anybody else, yet I'm sure *I* have it...

How about you other people? (for with intersubjective agreement, we can
at least make a stab at the original "objective" answer I wanted[1])

> The Body of Science is a "useful illusion"
> The Body of Christ is a "useful illusion"

Nice parallel. I'd say you are definatly a CoV heretic now. Be careful,
or David might kick you off the list. :-)

I also think a little E-Prime would make the statements more accurate.

The Body of Science seems like a "useful illusion"

... but perhaps it is merely distracting us from better illusions, eh?


[1] intersubjective agreement --> "objective"... in theory, this means
that if two or more Christians got together, and both agreed that God
existed (becuase they had both had personal experiences, or whatever),
it would be an objective truth! "When two or three gather in my name,
there am I with them" (Jesus)

The only way around this I can see is this: to arrive at an objective
truth from intersubjective agreement, *everyone* has to agree. But
since we don't have time to consult *everyone* on *every* issue (and, in
fact, such a thing would be impossible, for we can never actually say we
have asked *everything*... what about the little green men on mars?),
science makes do with saying that if everyone who *tests* for something
finds it, then it is objective.

Compromises, eh?