virus: Re: virus-digest V2 #295

Reed Konsler (
Sun, 9 Nov 1997 06:07:29 +0100

>Date: Thu, 06 Nov 1997 09:23:04 -0700
>From: David McFadzean <>
>Subject: Re: virus: Faith, Logic and Purpose
>At 06:15 AM 11/6/97 +0100, Reed Konsler wrote:
>>Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
>>A statement accepted or supposed true without proof or demonstration.
>>To me, anyway, they appear identical.
>I've given this some more thought and I see your point. They do appear
>to be identical, but appearances can be deceiving. The difference lies
>in the why. Why is there no recourse to evidence? Is it because the
>evidence has already been examined? (assumption) Is it because the
>evidence doesn't support the belief? (faith) Is it because the belief
>comes from someone we have good reason to trust? (assumption) Is it
>because the belief comes from someone we don't have good reason to
>trust? (faith) Because we are too lazy to check the evidence? (faith)
>Is the belief non-falsifiable, but somehow useful if true? (faith?
>assumption? I don't know.) Is the negation of the belief unthinkable
>for some other reason? (faith) Because it is logically implied by
>other beliefs? (assumption) Because it is in a special category that
>doesn't need evidence? (faith) Because we never questioned it? (faith)
>Because the truth of the belief is irrelevant? (faith)
>I hope enumerating a few examples helps communicate the differences I see.

David, I agree with you. The "why" questions are imponderable, though.
We can make reasonable guesses as to our own motives and as to the
motives of others. But those guesses are themselves non-falsifiable and
prone to the lens of interpretation in which "my" view is always right
and correct and "yours" is misguided.

This is my point of view: There are two ways to approach "faith" as it
is commony defined...religion, superstition, conspiracy theory, paranormal
obsessions, hysterical anti-communism, fanatic patriotism, alien abduction,
etc. etc. etc.

The first is to assume they are a problem and ask "how do these viruses
infect us? How do they continue to propogate and how can we control

The second is to assume they are the products of evolution and thus serve
some adaptive purpose. Then you ask "what is this good for, how can we
us it, and how can we make it work for us in modern society".

The BEST view probably is ambigious, accepting both as true at the
same time. Faith is useful and faith is a kind of infection. Faith serves
us in some contexts and cripples us in others.

The REALISTIC view is to admit that we all live with a woefully
incomplete ontology...that each of us entertains a number of a priori
axioms of all the types (and more) you have described. Furthemore,
we have a tendency to see the axioms we hold as "reasonable assumptions"
and the axioms others hold (especially when they conflict with our own)
to be "blind faith".


Reed Konsler