Re: virus: Sexuality

ken sartor (
Tue, 17 Sep 1996 11:10:27 -0500

At 09:14 AM 9/17/96 -0500, wrote:
>On Tue, 17 Sep 1996, Steve wrote:
>> Reed Konsler wrote:
>> >Holy shit! Is this culture evolving so quickly that we already have
>> >"memetic fundamentalists"? What ever happened to a healthy skepticism? A
>> >sense of irony? A little humility?
>> Written in the true spirit of scientismic fundamentalism. Let me catalogue a
>> couple of arbitrarily selected canons of the very unhumble world of
>[SUMMARY of ideas]
>> 1) The Big Bang [....]
>> 2) Consciousness programmed entirely from genes. [....]
>> 3) I keep on hearing about new, scientifically based studies
>> refuting old ones. This has become something of a sport where I look forward
>> to finding out what previous study will be refuted next. Butter versus
>> margarine, the greenhouse effect versus no greenhouse effect, new gimmicks
>> to refute old ones, etc, etc, etc, on and on and on without end.
>> No, it is scientism that is among the most fundamentalist of all the
>> fundamentalist religions of today. And think about how seductive is its
>> power - we don't even realize that we are in it! This is the truth of memes
>> at work - a truth about the truth of scientism.

Note that in science, one of the best ways to become famous is to
cogently oppose the standard interpretation of things. In the late
1800's we thought we were on the verge of knowing it all - all that
was left was a few details and anomolies. These became relativity,
quantum mechanics, the interesting physics of the 20th century.
Perhaps we have reached that point again, and thus some ideas _seem_
entreched. But i have every confidence that when new data that
disputes the current theories comes along, things can change drastically.
This is one of the *VERY BIG* differences between science and
fundalmentist religion.

>Let me add one of my own:
> IF random-mutation-based biological evolution is to be mathematically
>coherent, [as far as I know], one must have either the many-worlds
>interpretation of quantum mechanics, or a steady-state universe. [Roger
>Penrose's ideas ARE a steady-state universe.] The currently-inferrable
>space-time is woefully inadequate, and cannot even account for the
>Von-Neumann minimal life-form. [1500 bits, one-shot 10^(-450) against]
>[For reference: the smallest biological virus is larger than a
>Von-Neumann minimal life-form. The smallest computer virus I have data on
>DOES go under--by 4 BITS! This isn't really enough to make an impact on
>the calculations. There is not much difference between 10^(-250) against
>and 10^(-248) against. Besides, whether a computer virus is
>self-contained is an interesting question--biological life doesn't have
>the 'copy codon'!]
> All of which can be escaped by simply not requiring the mutations to
>be random. Saying that the mutations are random imposes a mathematical
>structure which allows numerical calculation. [Note that natural
>selection doesn't really alter these results. First, because whether
>pruning occurs immediately or later has no effect here. Second, because
>I'm talking about getting to the point where one has a sufficiently alive
>life-form to evolve!]

I don't know how one can reasonably compute the probabilities you
have stated here. However, seeing that life is here changes
everything. The probability of life arising in this universe is
1. Interesting data would be on seeing how prevalent it
is in the universe (and how diverse).

Note as a side issue that _random_ mutation may be considered a
reserved phase. I.e., it is restricted by the laws of chemistry
and physics and hence not totally random...