RE: virus: FAQ: version 1.0

Richard Brodie (
Fri, 25 Jun 1999 09:10:10 -0700

Carl wrote:

<<To suggest to a pure "believer" that the scientific process requires you
to expect that the things you have "faith" in should be overturned, and indeed to work towards that end, is a "faith" so strange to him, that the use of an alternative word seems to be indicated in the interests of clarity. The difficulty is, that in English, "faith", and its cohort, "belief", are used as portmanteaux words into which many tend to hide their "buried assumptions".>>

Science is not my God. The scientific process doesn't require anything. I own it; it doesn't own me.

The point is that faith is used to live a good life. Sometimes people whose greatest faith-based position is that Truth and Science are all-important forget that there's a deeper purpose to living than simply knowing the truth. Suppose in the future we were able to download all the scientific truth into your brain at birth. Then what?

<<I do not find the use of a new term to abbreviate, and indeed to
describe, a complex thought or process alien at all. It happens in every complex field and is usually called "jargon". Jargon is useful, because it allows practitioners to shortcut all the myriad qualifications that would otherwise be needed everytime one referred to a concept which is non-intuitive. Especially where the best descriptive terms necessarily overload conventional words in strained analogy.>>

Most people place great value on belonging to groups of people. Jargon is appropriate inside such a group. Outside such a group it is alienating. To someone approaching such a group it is distancing.

<<If "phaith" is useful, it will be assimilated into the jargon, if it is
not it will die. And time is, in my opinion, the only suitable judge.>>

I am appalled at the lack of accountability this statement seems to show for creating the future. Do you think our minds are useless in shaping history?

<<But if, as you have indicated, it is an obstacle to understanding, then
it's use will not be sustained.>>

So now you think memes are selected based on whether or not they are an obstacle to understanding?

<< As such, it would be better not to use
it. Which naturally leads me to ask if you would you care to explain the grounds for your objection and perception of whatever "reality" we are discussing? I phail ( :-) ) to see how the creation of a new word which, of course, does not alter the meaning of the existing word, can be "insulting"? Or even "distancing". So I fail to see the point which is being made, and would like at least to try to understand it.>>

The implication is that there is something wrong with "faith," which there isn't. People of faith, successful, enjoying life, will laugh at your attempts to "fix" them.

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