Re: virus: Faith, Logic and Purpose

David McFadzean (
Tue, 11 Nov 1997 12:04:37 -0700

At 01:24 AM 11/12/97 +0100, Reed Konsler wrote:

>That would mean that belief is binary...I thought you used a T-table
>system of evaluation in which belief ought to vary with evidence.
>I'm saying that self-positive and other-negative evaultions tend to
>be exagerated. A single doubt is sufficient to mitigate an absolute
>belief in such things, but not eliminate an extreme belief.


>This is your idea of a compromise? Couldn't you think of a less
>value-laden comparison to communicate the idea? Certian kinds
>of faith may be obsolete, just a certian kinds of reason are. But
>you must recognize that, whatever technical defintions you have
>used to construct the above paragraph, the CONNOTATION of
>the association between <faith> and <racism> is not neutral. You
>are still making connections between <faith> and <evil> through
>secondary signifiers and implicit association. This association,
>explict (as in "Sins and Virtues") or implict (as in the above
>paragraph) is spurious and unsupportable.

It is not spurious and I have supported it. <racism> is a kind
of faith; I think it is very telling that you won't admit it.
<racism> isn't objectively evil either, its evilness is quite
recent in our history. And there is little doubt both served
a useful purpose some time in our evolutionary past. If the
association makes you uncomfortable, perhaps it is time to
take a closer look.

>It's an interesting question. It would be most useful if we
>approached the issue from an unprejudiced position, don't
>you think? I'd be interested in what you think about the
>subject. :-)

Can agree the purpose is to accept reasonable beliefs while
avoiding unreasonable beliefs? I think I can come up with
a game theoretic proof that <critical analysis> is better
than <faith>.

>I suppose it depends on your perspective. In a sense, yes. If you want
>to build a new human being, the only way to do it is to grow one from
>those already in existence. What were you getting at?

That your view that humans are users of memes is like the view that
organisms are users of genes. Dawkins has argued convincingly that
there is another, more useful perspective. (Useful meaning greater
explanatory power.)

>>What if I have faith that you also hold this bias?
>Then I expect you will act on that belief.

My point is that since it is faith, there is no recourse for you to
convince me otherwise.

>Might creativity and kindness come from the same wellspring as faith?
>Would you at least entertain it as a hypothesis?

Sure, I'm open to the possibility (only because, I might add, I
*don't* have faith in that belief).

>>Because <faith> will prevent me from having any influence (if I
>>only use means that are ethical in my view). <faith> closes the
>>channel for constructive criticism. Isn't that reason enough?
>For you or for me? I don't accept the premise "<faith> closes the

The channel is between us.

>channel for constructive criticism" unless you mean something very
>technical by "constructive criticism". A sophisticated debater

No, if you have faith, then you cannot be convinced to change your
mind by rational argument. If you could, then you wouldn't have
faith, see?

>can find support for any position, hense our legal system. In a
>sense, then, <logic> also closes the channel.

You mean by using rhetoric or fallacious reasoning. Yes, but that
is exactly what I meant when I said I was unwilling to use these
types of influence. What kinds of influence are you willing to
be subjected to? What kinds are you willing to use on others?
Are they the same kinds? If not, why not?

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus