RE: virus:Logic

Richard Brodie (
Thu, 16 Oct 1997 08:53:22 -0700


I've been thinking about how to best answer you. You take an awful lot for
granted. First, you have a simplistic view of the Christian mindset. For
many, Christianity is more like a mood than like a scientific belief
system, like having a pleasant, motivating melody playing in the background
of your life. You think that the kind of belief system you have is the only
possible one or the only valid one, yet you're not happy, and you
illogically ignore the fact that others are happy. Why?

The conceptual trap you're in is more of a meta-trap. You can't expand your
worldview from within your worldview. I would suggest you spend some time
in Thailand or come to Seattle and have some fine cognac and smoke cigars.
This will give you new data which will require you to rethink your
positions on certain things and transcend your positions on others.

As to the value of harboring unscientific/false beliefs, I've been thinking
about that too. Here's a "scientific" explanation that may interest you.
Suppose a man, for whatever reason, finds himself in the middle of the pack
as regards his perceived status in his peer group. This perception is a
very old mechanism that has evolved to control/regulate the man's
behavior/mood at a very low level. I am familiar with studies that measure
seratonin level in men at various times in their lives. Buss refers to a
study in which a man was elected president of his fraternity. His seratonin
level went up and at the same time he was observed to act more relaxed,
more confident, and to take more social risks. This made him more

Now imagine that your mindset is like a flip/flop. When inputs come in
(such as rejection from desirable females, berating by more powerful men,
etc.) they tend to send the flip/flop into a certain state, perhaps
regulated by seratonin or something else. In that state, you tend to behave
in a certain way conducive to propagating certain DNA in the ancestral
environment. These behaviors may include not taking social risks (because
you might have been killed or ostracized had you been living in the Stone
Age), accepting your lowly position, and so on.

But if instead the inputs were positive -- if you were approached by many
receptive females, if other men looked up to you and offered submission --
it would flip your mental state into another mode, a mode in which, like
the young man who was elected president of his fraternity, you would behave
in ways that communicated a high social position, which would in turn cause
others to treat you that way -- a self-reinforcing behavior.

So it's possible to "bootstrap" yourself into the preferred flip/flop
position by such techniques as affirmations, listening to motivational
tapes, and so on. And while these affirmations may not be true at the
moment -- indeed, may never be true -- if they have the effect of raising
your seratonin level so that your unconscious mechanisms work to make you
behave in more attractive, powerful ways, then this self-deceit will have a
powerful, valuable effect on your happiness.

Richard Brodie
Author, VIRUS OF THE MIND: The New Science of the Meme
Visit Meme Central:

On Wednesday, October 15, 1997 3:11 PM, David McFadzean
[] wrote:
> At 02:47 PM 10/15/97 -0700, Richard Brodie wrote:
> >"Beauty," yes, "truth," no. It just doesn't come up when you really
> >look at what had made you feel like life is worth living.
> I guess there is a first for everything.
> The most deliriously happy people I have ever witnessed have to
> be born-again Christians. And no wonder! I would be too if I believed:
> 1) All my favorite dead people were living in a beautiful place
> where I would eventually meet them.
> 2) All my least favorite people are destined for eternal pain.
> 3) The most powerful being in the universe is my personal buddy.
> 4) All the terrible things I see around me can't be as bad as
> they seem (otherwise He wouldn't let them happen).
> I truly believe I would be much happier if I believed as they do.
> But I *choose* not to. Some kinds of happiness are not worth
> pursuing. Does this mean I'm in some sort of conceptual trap?
> --
> David McFadzean
> Memetic Engineer
> Church of Virus