RE: The Myth of medicine, mysticism and magic was - RE: virus: BraveNew World

Richard Brodie (
Thu, 11 Mar 1999 20:33:04 -0800


I'm glad you're on the list. This list does seem to attract Objectivists. You might get the impression that we are anti-reason here, and if that's the case, it's a terrible failure on our part. David has set this list up to spread a religion that isn't based on falsehoods and bogeymen. Is that unreasonable? But when we try to make a model of how your mind has more power than it has locked in the prison of rationality, it often comes across as something that you need to chew on for awhile, then it suddenly makes sense and, looking back, it's hard to imagine that your current dead-certainty was shattered, leaving a much deeper and more powerful understanding.

<<I find the "golden rule" a
perfectly adequate basis for an ethical system, so IMO preach on (and as the Wiccan's might say) "and you (will) do no harm".>>

The ability of people to self-organize for good or evil is like a computer flip-flop. When we are stingy, selfish, and distrustful, it seems like there's no way out because our whole society hangs together in a net of negativity. But when a critical mass of people have the faith to be generous, community-minded, and trusting -- when enough people do that for long enough -- it can mean the difference between people living in misery and people living in joyous abundance.

<<It is only worthwhile listening rather than speaking only so long as the
speaker is making sense, especially in an environment where potentially susceptible people are present.>>

It's easy to listen to a speaker if the speaker is making sense -- that is, what she says fits into your current worldview. That doesn't mean it's a good idea. I recommend listening to people with lives you like, whether or not they make sense. They will eventually and you might learn something that will make your life more like theirs. Avoid listening to people whose lives you find repugnant. You can catch their ideas like a virus.

<< I rather think that the relatively few
rational people in the world owe a duty to themselves and their descendants to attempt to promote rationality in the face of unreason.>>

Well, I kind of think that's what schools are set up for. It's not like we're not doing anything about it. My personal opinion is that, while we're about to see a huge and wonderful transformation in education methodology, we're already pretty good at teaching people reason. A couple things we're not too god at are teaching people to question their assumptions and teaching people how to make the most of their lives.

<< The forces of

"faith" may not be particularly knowledgeable, persuasive or literate, but they are strong in numbers and the underlying idea pushed by most belief systems, that its members can "have it all" without needing to work is a strong attractor to the demagogue.>>

Which faiths are you speaking of here? Where can you "have it all" without needing to work?

<< After all, the purveyors of this claptrap
are quite secure from ever having to deliver on "richness in heaven". >>

Now I hope you're not speaking of the purveyors of claptrap who are members of this Church. I haven't heard anyone posit an afterlife in all the time I've been on this list.


that rationality offers is that if you work hard and think carefully, that you could have a lot of fun, may make some money in the here and now, and that other rational people will possibly respect you.>>

Absolutely. Even many irrational people will respect you.

<<In this forum, there are a number of vociferous people who seem to me to
attempting to convey the impression of being "elder members". In my opinion, if one is in an environment such as this, and one does not speak up when these wanna-be-leaders talk nonsense, if one then remains silent, then one conveys a sense of undeserved countenance, approbation and justification to these willful proponents of nonsense. While I am attempting to decide whether to remain on this list or to leave, I am making sure that my position remains clear. >>

You are most certainly welcome to speak up and participate. It's an open floor, always.

<<Approval (even passive approval) of people who
attempt to use reason to attack reason and cannot see or will not acknowledge the impossibility of their position, is the last thing I intend. If as you seem to imply, this position is a sham, then it is the most obscenely malevolent unethical display I have ever had the misfortune to observe. Fascinating though it may be, it is like watching a snake playing with a young bird.>>

Great image. Or maybe a snake playing with its own tail!

The position is not a sham, it is ... a position. One of the things that happens on this list is that people who are ready get assisted to Level 3, in which a different kind of model of reality is used. It's impossible to understand it fully until you get there.

Richard Brodie Author, "Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme" Free newsletter! Visit Meme Central at