RE: virus: FAQ: question (a) - Level 3

Richard Brodie (
Mon, 21 Jun 1999 10:04:54 -0700

The bridge I'm not crossing with you is from where you say self is an epiphenomenon to where you say self is JUST an epiphenomenon. I think I see where you're coming from, but it's really a projection of the old Free Will paradox. The meme model breaks down at some point, and at that point people really do have a degree of conscious control, though probably not as much as and not working in the way that most people think.

There's no way to really disprove a "greedy reductionist" argument, which is what I think you're making, other than to point out that your model doesn't produce good predictions and the model that says there is conscious choice does.

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

-----Original Message-----
From: []On Behalf Of Eric Boyd
Sent: Monday, June 21, 1999 9:28 AM
Subject: Re: virus: FAQ: question (a) - Level 3


Richard Brodie <> writes:

I read this three times, but I still don't understand your objection. I agree with you that people are deluded in general about the mechanism by which they make choices. This is one obstacle that must be overcome in order to get to Level 3.

Well, I may be misunderstanding level 3, but I'll attempt to explain it again.

Level 3 is about a conscious approach to life -- it's about choosing a life purpose and committing to it, so that all major decisions are made in it's light; in the hopes that this brings one happiness/sex/status (whatever). In this sense, the 'user illusion' of self-hood is central, because it is the ultimate benefactor, and is assumed to be the one who does the choosing.

But the brain study I mentioned in the last message shows that 'the self' in fact makes no decisions: it is merely informed of decisions made a half a second earlier -- and the illusion we experience is that we have some kind of 'conscious control'. The actual name of the study is "The experimental evidence of subjective referral of a sensory experience backwards in time."

So if the study is right then 'level 3' represents buying into the illusion of the selfplex all the way -- pretending that "I" have control when in fact "I" am just an epiphenomenon.

Now, that doesn't deny the value of level 3 (decisions are still made in light of purpose, of course), but level 3 does embody a profoundly wrong understanding of mind and self.

I think that covers my point -- let me know if it's still not clear.