Re: virus: Have a Coke and a Smile!
Sun, 07 Mar 1999 13:07:05 -0500

Richard Brodie wrote:
> Jake MemeLab wrote:
> [Brodie]
> << I think the concept of "self-fulfilling prophecy" might be the closest I
> could get to something that would be meaningful to you with your worldview
> and still have value. Faith can move mountains, in other words.>>

Richard, why is it a good idea to water-down your point or use terms you might not find the most effective to accomodate another person's limited "world view"? Just wondering.

> [JML]
> <<What would be an example of this?>>
> Men who believe they are more desirable than they really are, or that a
> women is more interested in him than she really is, are more successful at
> scoring than realists.
> Salesmen listen to motivational tapes to improve their performance.
> Someone who believes in himself gives off vibes that attract people.
> Someone whose loyalties transcend reason wins loyal friends. Someone to whom
> ideas are more important than people rarely does.
> << Is something being a "self-fulfilling
> prophecy" necessarily a good thing?>>
> No, nothing is necessarily a good thing unless it brings about good. It's a
> tool, like reason.
> << Can you have a self-fulfilling prophecy
> without faith? I would view this as goal setting.>>
> Yes, you can have goal setting, of course. But the theory is that if you
> believe you are capable of achieving your goals, you have a better shot at
> it than if you don't. I'll quote some of what I wrote on the subject in
> ----------
> When his team is behind at half-time of a football game, does the coach sit
> down with the players and say, "Listen, fellas-we're down by a touchdown.
> Statistically speaking, we have only a 23% chance of coming from behind and
> winning the game"? No! He says, "Come on, men! We're better than this team,
> and every one of you knows it! And we're going to win! We're going to come
> out fighting, hit 'em left, right, left, right! Go! Go! Go!" This is known
> as "psyching up"-creating a positive self-fulfilling prophecy. The team is
> more likely to win, and if they lose, they probably enjoyed the second half
> all the more for trying harder.
> The opposite of this is known as "psyching out"-creating a negative
> self-fulfilling prophecy in your opponent, as when a tennis player shows off
> a new, $900 racquet and mentions that he felt like he had to buy it since he
> was just named number-one seed at the club. His hope is that you will buy
> into his manipulative act and create a belief that he is better than you,
> which will sabotage your chances of winning.
> ----------
> << Not all mountains should
> be moved, however, and trying to move some mountains can be very
> detrimental.
> If your commitment is irrational, it would be difficult to be able to
> appreciate that. Sinking all of a person's extra money in next week's
> lottery
> based on their faith in fortune cookie numbers might be a self-fulfilling
> prophecy for SOMEONE, but does that mean that it is good that they do so?
> Does the outcome justify the decision?>>
> I don't see how that could be a self-fulfilling prophecy since the outcome
> or a lottery would not be influenced by the gambler's belief -- in fact,
> gambling games have evolved to take advantage of the USEFUL optimism we have
> evolved to have around low-probability results (see Virus of the Mind for
> more details).
> No one is claiming that irrational faith is good or useful in all or even
> most cases. What you may look back on this discussion as having changed your
> mind about, though, is the idea that reason is not good or useful in all
> cases. Does using it bring about good? Usually, yes. Always, no.
> Richard Brodie
> Author, "Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme"
> Free newsletter! Visit Meme Central at

"Contrariwise", continued Tweedledee, "If it was so, it
might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it
ain't. That's logic."
Lewis Carroll