Re: virus: SM

David McFadzean (
Fri, 26 Sep 1997 09:46:52 -0600

At 10:10 AM 9/26/97 -0400, Reed Konsler wrote:
>>Date: Thu, 25 Sep 1997 12:02:28 -0600
>>From: David McFadzean <>

>>Do you really believe things disappear (don't exist) when no-one looks at them?
>I don't know. Certianly, my observations imply that things have some existence
>outside of my consciousness of them. But the question you are asking is
>unanswerable. I guess I must believe that it is not the case that things
>when no-one looks at them based upon the proponderance of my actions. But
>that is based upon my own defintion of "belief" which you don't accept.

I'm willing to provisionally accept your definition.

>Do you mean:
>Do you really Reed-believe things disappear (don't exist) when no-one looks
>at them?
>My answer to that question would be: "Of course not." After all, I try to be
>internally consistent.

OK, we agree on that point. Now, do you think it is possible for something
to exist before you detect it? (e.g. planets orbiting other stars before
last year)

>>When you first brought up this example I wanted to suggest that we
>>stay clear of using color to make our points. It is so problematic
>>that is has its own discipline now: the philosophy of color. Why don't
>>we stick with something simpler, like did T-Rex exist before anyone
>>had a concept of <T-Rex>? I claim that yes indeed there existed many
>>of them around 65 million years ago. How about you?
>I'd say the fossil record implies the existence of such creatures.

I'll take this as a "yes" to my last question.

Therefore you have to admit, even using your definition for Reed-belief,
that it is possible for something to exist independently of being detected.

>It isn't that I don't agree with your sentiment, David. But the way you
>express it leads me to question you. I'm a scientist by occupation, so
>I certianly act as if T-Rex existed before <T-Rex> to the extent that
>that statement is woven into the scientific model that my actions would
>imply my belief in. Frankly, I'm very skeptical about what existence
>T-Rex ever had independent of <T-Rex>. Were they warm or cold
>blooded? Did they care for their children? How intelligent were they?
>Are their nearest reletives lizards, fish, or birds? Why did they all
>become extinct? All of these questions are part of the existence of
>T-Rex, wouldn't you agree?

No, I don't agree. At one time stars were merely tiny holes in the
sky mantle. Now they are vast balls of nuclear fire unimaginable
distances away. Somehow they managed to exist untouched by the
transformation of our human ideas.

>I interpreted "consistent (non-contradictory)" as "identical". I agree that was
>probably not a good substitution. I didn't understand what you meant by
>"consistent (non-contradictory)", and still don't. I thought that by floating
>a synonym I might be able to clarify...but if I'm making a strawman of
>you I apologize.
>When you say that "objective" is "consistent" do you mean within an observer,
>between observers, or both?

Let's say between agents[1], where an individual observer can host one or more,
and a group of observers can host one or more. An individual observer can
be internally inconsistent because it is possible for an individual to
simultaneously use more than one definition. A group can also act like single
agent, "Microsoft believes that Java is just another programming language".
But it is easiest for purposes of this discussion to assume that I'm talking
about a group of people, each hosting a single agent (which is essentially
true when you say something like "astrophysicists agree that universe is
more than 2 billion years old").

[1] agents, in a Minksy "Society of Mind" sense.

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus