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

psypher (
Wed, 23 Jun 1999 11:55:45 -0400 (EDT)


...please excuse my intrusion into your discussion. In any case - Richard, didn't you insist on a revised definition of "memeplex" a la Blackmore because you no longer consider the old lexicon definitive? And isn't this, in essence what Tim is trying to arrive at - a reconfiguration of existing terms because the established terms muddy up a certain line of inquiry?

> Hahaha... your NLP has seduced me and I am now your slave... no I'm
> not trying to stand in your way at all. I am taking a stand for
> stability of the definitions of a few existing words. You want to
> explore other models, please invent new words to avoid confusing
> people.
> Richard Brodie
> Author, "Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme"
> Free newsletter!
> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On
> Behalf Of Tim Rhodes
> Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 1999 2:35 AM
> To: Church of Virus
> Subject: virus: Unknown Lands: Threat or Promise? (was: ESS's and
> Punc. Equil.)
> 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
> 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
> a bucket >with wood pulp, ink, binding glue, and some movable type.
> (Hell, >maybe even toss in a whole printing press while your at
> 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
> unique to each replicator is an absolutely vital part to
> understanding how that replicator functions! Bravo!!! (And see,
> 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
> 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
> 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 Fastmail's Free web based email for Canadians