Re: virus: _____ of Virus

Ken Kittlitz (
Mon, 24 Nov 1997 18:52:31 +0000

At 05:06 PM 11/24/97 -0700, you wrote:

>I've found it useful and rewarding to interpret messages such that
>I would agree with them. Sometimes it takes more effort, and sometimes
>it leads to misinterpretation, but generally it is a good strategy.

Thanks, I'll give it a try.

>What criteria do *you* use to decide when enough is enough :)

Not a silly question. After I write something, I usually try reading it
over as if I were an anonymous reader, to see if what's written makes sense
and conveys the ideas that I as an author was trying to present. One thing
I particularly look for when reading is unintended vagueness and ambiguity.
I use this technique very often when writing fiction, but it works well
for non-fiction too, and also for what I write to this list ;->

>Agreed, but not in this case. Consider:
>"Stop the violence or I'll kill you!"
>"Trust me when I say trust no-one."
>"God told me to tell you to question authority."
>It is of little use (other than maybe for humor and zen koans) to send a
>message that undermines itself.

But don't traditional religions use such prescriptions all the time, more
or less successfully? I agree it is somewhat dishonest and hyprocritical,
but in some cases can the end justify the means? One instance where I
think it did is Richard B.'s use of button-pushing in _Virus of the Mind_
to teach people how to avoid having their buttons pushed (you brought up
this example a week or two ago).

Sure, a Virian religion that made use of the Virian sins to draw people in
would be less elegant than one that didn't, but I'm willing to bet it would
be more successful. And perhaps its hypocracy would be forgivable if in the
long run it made pan-critical rationalists out of its members. If Virus
doesn't adopt the tactics of conventional religions at some point, I doubt
it it will ever move beyond the stage of choir practice. (Yes, even though
we often don't sing in tune, the members of this list are the Virian Choir ;-)
Ken Kittlitz
Kumo Software Corp.