RE: virus: Faith, Logic and Purpose

Robin Faichney (
Mon, 17 Nov 1997 18:35:06 -0000

> From: David McFadzean[]
> At 01:35 PM 11/15/97 -0000, Robin Faichney wrote:
> >It's obviously nice to be able to apply an
> >understanding, but I find the "enlightenment
> >experience", that "aha moment" and the rush
> >that goes with it, to be sufficient motivation to
> >keep me seeking. Anything else is a bonus.
> I will believe that if you destroy all the copies of your book
> as soon as you finish it.
If I get some kind of income from it, that will allow
me to spend more time on such stuff in future, and
get that experience more often. Or even if that
didn't apply: did I say the bonus was insignificant?
No, only that it wasn't necessary.

> How much understanding do you need before you can
> start applying it?

Seriously, in the ideal case, of course, your
understanding would be perfect, but short of
that it's a judgement call that it's difficult or
impossible to generalise about.

> >It's your methods that I, and I think they,
> >would disagree with. And if you want to
> >drop names, I think the onus is on you
> >to show that these people really are with
> >you.
> Both have publicly stated their respective objections
> to faith. What exactly is it about my methods that you
> think they would disagree with?
Susan Blackmore is into Buddhism, and has
talked about its anti-memetic-viral properties.
I guess she, like me, would see either
Buddhism, or something like it, as a better
way of controlling memes than is rationality.
Dawkins I don't know about, but why don't
you write to him and see what he thinks
about the CoV?

(BTW, it doesn't help my case to say so,
but I first heard of this list from Susan
Blackmore! On the other hand, I'm
fairly sure she's not a member. David?)

> >> Perhaps you are right. Maybe it would be better if
> >> we kept our thoughts to ourselves. The future will
> >> happen just fine without us. Does anyone else vote
> >> for shutting down the mailing list and web site?
> >>
> >Did I say that? Take it easy, David, you seem
> >to be taking it personally, and getting irrational!
> Get a grip, Robin. You essentially called into question
> all of my beliefs and work, and the only thing I did
> was say maybe you're right.
David, I have your card right here, you're
Director of Technology for Kumo Software
Corporation. And you say I called into
question all of your beliefs and work? C'mon,
lighten up! Maybe you need a broader
portfolio, as regards your *personal*
investments. Just "count your blessings",
as the Xtians say! :-)

> >Seems to me that the biggest single insight
> >memetics has to offer us is the realisation that
> >just when we think we're being perfectly
> >reasonable, we are being used by these
> >pesky memes. Advertisers are the nearest
> So? The only way to avoid memes is to avoid
> thinking at all. If you want to continue thinking,
> you might as well choose the memes you want,
> otherwise they will choose for you.
The point that I'm trying to make is that if you
really believe that rationality is the answer,
then a memetic perspective is redundant.
You spend all your time arguing against
faith, and the like, and memetics seems like
icing on the cake, if that. And I don't
believe that the concept of "choosing your
memes" is compatible with a thoroughly
memetic view, because on that account all
that's happening is competition between
memes, while "you" are utterly irrelevant!
Which, as Susan Blackmore says, is where
memetics and Buddhism come together.

> >Memetic
> >engineering and rationality are alternative
> >ways of trying to propagate ideas, and
> >they do not complement each other.
> Are you claiming that they can't possibly
> complement each other? If so, why not?
Because memetics is about irrationality. Every
time you attempt to push peoples' buttons, you
are exploiting their irrationality, and therefore
compromising your own ideals. You should
either give up on button pushing, or admit
that irrationality sometimes has advantages.