Re: virus: The Battle of/for Ideas

Tim Rhodes (
Tue, 11 May 1999 21:36:20 -0700

Eric wrote:

>See, I saw it from exactly the reverse angle. By seperating ourselves
>from our memes, we destroy the environment in which most memes
>thrive -- we allow ourselves to lose memes much faster, if reason
>shows them to be wrong, and we avoid the negative emotions which those
>same meme's try to invoke in us for thinking about their negations, or
>their competition. The winners are thus us -- we gain *conscious*
>control over our memes, instead of letting their evolved memetic hooks
>(one of which is "dogmatic faith") control us, we control them. I
>personally am more than my ideas -- and much of that "more" simply
>cannot be carried over the internet via email. You can battle only
>with the ideas I express -- not with me personally. Sticks and
>Stones: they cannot be found in cyber-space.

I understand this perspective and its value. In fact, I would have been very disappointed had you failed to point it out.

>The fact that two people can see this situation from exactly opposite
>view points is perhaps telling.

More than just "perhaps." There's a phrase I used to hear a lot that I hardly ever hear anymore that we may need to resurrect:

"This is, of course, a point on which reasonable people can disagree."

>I agree with the first sentence[1], but not with the conclusions you
>draw -- people get hurt only if they have some kind of irrational
>theory that says "If I'm wrong I should feel bad", rather than the
>much more extropian "I'm glad I found this mistake I have carried
>around with me all these years -- what a great oppourtunity!"[2]

<If I'm wrong I should feel bad> could be the same meme that kept you from becoming a Christian a couple years ago, you know? It's an essential part of our internal feedback loop. I think you may be being hopelessly optimistic again. How people "should" feel is often a long way from how they "do".

>[1] Interestingly, the intentional stance for a memetic perspective is
>exactly opposite -- if you truly feel this way ["It isn't <a battle of
>its a battle of individuals _with_ideas."], perhaps memetics should be cast
>out as an "evil" science?

If you watch two bucks fighting for a mate, you would be right to characterize the struggle as a "battle of genes". But it is not the genes that go away bloodied by the conflict, is it?

-Prof. Tim