virus: Unknown Lands: Threat or Promise? (was: ESS's and Punc. Equil.)

Tim Rhodes (
Wed, 23 Jun 1999 02:34:34 -0700

Richard wrote:

>Yes, that's what I'm saying. It is a tautology and therefore is beyond
>dispute. That's the definition of meme. They self-replicate. To say that
>memes don't self-replicate is to try to redefine meme, which I know some
>people are trying to do but after almost 25 years I really think it's
>nonproductive. They should come up with a different word if they don't like
>meme (mental self-replicator), memeplex (cultural self-replicator), or
>virus of the mind (same but with more negative connotation).

Well now that we can clearly see where battle lines are drawn between the old guard and the new, I guess all that's left to say is, "Let the better memes win!"

But first, tell me, do you always discourage others from exploring novel approaches to knowledge just because you can't see how they could possibly be productive for you? Or is memetics a special case in that regard?

><< Are you aware that
>there are actual physical characteristics that are different in a
>self-replicating object (like a cell) and an externally replicated one
>(like book). I suspect any one of your programmer friends that
>works on anti-virus software would be willing to point them out
>for you.>>
>No, I'm not aware of it and logically there is no difference. Each must
>somehow manipulate external raw materials into a new copy of itself.

But the different ways that different replicators have of manipulating those raw materials is just simply FASCINATING! I'm so sorry you can't enjoy exploring that particular mental terrain with us at the moment. :-(

(But that landscape isn't going anywhere and I'm sure several others will have established a goodly number of signposts to guide the way when you finally decide to come down and visit it with the rest of us.)

><<Or you could try this experiment, put a living bacteria in a Petri dish
>with nutrients (food energy). And then beside it put a book in a bucket
>with wood pulp, ink, binding glue, and some movable type. (Hell,
>maybe even toss in a whole printing press while your
at it!) Now, come
>back later and see which one has made copies of itself.>>
>OK, if you'll put a living bacterium and the text of Virus of the Mind into
>a copy machine and press the start button.

I'm so glad to see you agree with me that understanding the mechanics unique to each replicator is an absolutely vital part to understanding how that replicator functions! Bravo!!! (And see, the weather's not so bad in these strange and foreign lands after all, now is it?)

>Mind viruses are not memes. All memes self-replicate by definition. All
>mind viruses self-replicate by definition. A meme is one piece of mental
>information. A mind virus is a web of external artifacts, words, and so on.

A good line in the sand--I like it! (But I'm on your side of it on the mind-virus question, just so that you know.)

><<And can you see how the difference between making-copies-of-yourself and
>being-copied-by-another could be an important and necessary distinction for
>someone with interests in the process which are fundamentally different
>than yours?>>
>No. In fact, the fact that there is no logical distinction is very
>important to the understanding of memetics.

The "fact" that you see no difference is very important to understanding the level of description that is useful to you for your Purposes. And there's nothing at all wrong with that. It's just your Purpose and not mine.

But do you really think I somehow don't understand the model that you've been using here forever? Can you imagine that I might understand it quite well and still have a desire explore other models, nevertheless?

"Can you picture that possibility in your mind, Richard? Imagine it with me for a moment. And now, while you hold that image in your mind, see yourself within the picture. You're happy and engaging with others in a positive and supportive way. You're glad that you're such an encouraging person, the type of individual you yourself might seek out to spend his time with. And now... fully aware of how contented and on-purpose you feel... and how fullfilling it is for you to know you're again helping rather than hindering those around you... slowly, open your eyes... and join with me here, once again by my side."

But really...

Tell me, what harm you see when others--those already comfortable at your level of description--explore these new, novel areas of thought? And although it is true that they could eventually just end up leading down a blind alley, why do you seem so unwilling to see others try to find out whether that's really the case? (Or are you simply unaware that that's what you keep on doing?)

I'm really quite mystified by your approach in regards to this question.

-Prof. Tim