Re: virus: Being uncomfortable isn't always bad

Norene Cashen (
Fri, 05 Feb 1999 07:07:55 -0500

Tim Rhodes wrote:
> First off I want make it clear that what I'm about to say isn't a direct
> comment on what Reed said below or on the conversation so far. But this
> ties in so startilingly well with another conversation I overheard today
> while at lunch that I simply must use it as a springboard into the subject:
> >Kristee wrote:
> >>It says a lot when it becomes a dreaded chore to respond to CoV posts,
> >>simply because I chose to speak my mind. prdla,
> >Reed replied:
> >That is a memetic defense mechanism. You are experiencing cognitive
> >dissonance. The force of your present way of thinking is resisting
> >the reasonable part of you, which is confronted with inconsistency.
> >It is a very unpleasant experience...a "dreaded chore"...I agree. I've
> >been right where you are and I know exactly what you mean.
> >
> >Two things can happen.
> >
> >1) Your present way of thinking overcomes reason and you
> >become more resistant to change. For instance, you will begin
> >to automatically discount anything Richard or I say...perhaps you
> >will log off COV to avoid further input along these lines.
> >
> >2) Your present way of thinking will be overcome and your mind
> >will assemble a new way of thinking accomodating your new
> >experiences.
> Now today, while I was out getting lunch I was eavesdropping on the
> conversations around me, as one always does when dining alone, and at a
> table behind me a well meaning Xtian woman was evangelizing to her less than
> responsive lunchmate. The obviously unwilling evangelizie was doing that
> uncomfortable verbal dance one does when trying to end the conversation--or
> at least change the subject--without offending her friend or her friends
> beliefs. But her friend was having none of it and kept preaching on
> about the Glory of God. "Ah! This is an interesting dynamic!" I thought to
> myself, as I positioned myself for a better earful.
> After a little bit of this dance the heathen simply gave up, seemed to
> resign herself to her friend's inability to pick up on the hint, and
> resorted to becoming completely unresponsive. The best the Christian woman
> could get out of her was a grunt now and then or the odd, bitingly
> dismissive, "Fascinating!" as she turned her attention back to her salad.
> The lines of communication had completely broken down and question quickly
> became, would they be restored or would the rest of the meal go on in
> uncomfortable silence?
> There was a long pause--too long for two people sitting opposite one another
> across a small table--and it became clear to me that the heathen felt she
> had done her part to save the relationship before it could get to this point
> and was not about to restart the stalled conversation. The ball was clearly
> in the Christian's court. I half expected her to go for the easy out,
> whatever the female equivalent of, "So how `bout those Yankees? Think
> they'll take the pennant?" might be. But instead, she surprised me.
> "I know this makes you uncomfortable." she offered. "I felt the same
> way when I first heard the Word. Satan doesn't let go of his hold easily. He
> does everything in his power to keep people from seeing the true love of God
> and the truth about his son Jesus Christ."
> "I think deep down you know the truth," she continued, unrelentingly.
> "But you're so locked into this worldly life that you refuse to listen to
> your heart. And that conflict is making it impossible for you to hear what
> I'm telling you at all. It's like there's a war going on between your head
> and
> your heart--and there is a war going on; a war between Satan, who doesn't
> want to give you up, and Jesus, who will never give up on you no matter
> what."
> And then it happened. I couldn't believe what she said next:
> "The psychologists call it `cognitive dissonance'," the Christian mouthed,
> "It happens when you're faced with the truth, but are just too afraid to
> accept it all at once."
> "ARRGHHHHHHH!!!" I thought to myself, dropping my burrito and spilling half
> its contents across the table and down my front. "WHO THE HELL TOLD THE
> I missed the rest of their conversation. My mind was reeling from the
> possibilities. Was Pat Robertson clueing them in to this new term--and how
> to employ it--behind our backs every morning on his 700 Club? Was she one of
> those hip, new yuppie Christians that sings rock songs at their services and
> hold prayer meetings over grand-slams at Denny's? (She didn't really look
> it, but who could tell what she was like without that business suit on?) If
> they've already begun to co-opt the term, could we, would we, ever be able
> to get it back? Were they turning out to really be the superior memetic
> engineers, after all? Could we ever hope to hold a candle to them at a game
> they've been perfecting for almost 2000 years?
> The mind reels.
> -Prof. Tim

This sort of spurred an idea in me. You know, the Xtian thing is a tough one, especially when it is this radical. I mean, I have to deal with the memory of things I did out of faith, like speaking in tongues, which I only can say now was a sort of psychological phenomenon (to be kind). So I had a lot at stake; I had to admit that I did something like that. I still can't figure it out... But I was a teenager, but no, that's not it either.

Anyway, I find that I can't get rid of the need for answers about why I am here. And in a sense, I have sort of refocused my need for a source of compassion and "soul" from Born Again faith to ideas like Kurzweil's. I suppose you've already discussed Frank Tipler's book here?

If we can make machines which exceed us and carry on evolution, if they could scan my brain into a machine, but program it, enhance it to a level close to perfection (as I perceive it), wouldn't I then have a sort of God? I mean, it would be like praying and hearing a voice. I always thought HAL was a very God-like character.


To stay in place, you have to run. To get anywhere, you have to run even
harder. --The Red Queen