Re: virus: Tools of the trade

Martin Traynor (
Wed, 18 Sep 1996 10:34:42 +0000


On 17 Sep 96 at 17:13, Wade T. Smith wrote:

> >For my own part, I believe in the power of science. However, I
> >equally believe that there is wisdom to be found everywhere and there
> >are some questions which science, by definition, cannot even try to
> >answer. This is where we require other tools.
> >Martz <>
> Oh dear. What other tools could you possibly be talking about? More to your
> metaphor- what other _toolbox_ are you talking about, cuz that 3/5" wrench
> may not be used too much, but it sure as hell is an in-this-universe
> in-this-natural-world tool.
> And what question may science 'by definition' not even try to answer?

Questions of a philosophical nature, for example.

> Seems to me the only answers come from the scientifically explored world.

The only answers that can be proven *scientifically* come from the
scientifically explored world.

> A lot of nice fairy-tales are not answers, and a lot of old fish-tales are
> not questions.

Do you mean to include in that everything which is not formal
science? If so, I'll respond to it but if you meant something
specific rather than the generalisation which you appear to have made
then it doesn't apply to what I was saying. We could toss examples
around for weeks and probably agree on most of them. I'm dealing with
generalisations here.

To follow on from my previous post (which I realise now shouldn't
have been cut short) is that our species has shown itself to be a
very capable toolmaker. If our aforementioned mechanic had access to
a decent engineer with a workshop it would make no difference whether
or not he'd kept that 3/5 spanner, he could just get another one
made. I reckon that we'll develop those self-same toolmaking skills
with relation to memes. We'll figure out how to decide what meme is
needed to do what job, how to structure complexes, how individual
memes interact, mush as we are doing with the gene. In fact, I think
that's what we're attempting to do here. We're at least asking the
questions which has always been the starting point for progress.
However, we're nowhere near the stage yet where we can manufacture a
stable, enduring and helpful meme-complex to order, hence my sense of
caution. If there are no engineers, you'd better keep hold of what
tools you have. Please don't respond to this with examples of tools
we've *had* to throw away because they were harmful or just plain
wrong, I've got no arguments with you on those lines. But other ideas are
being ridiculed and are in danger of being lost for no other reason than
'it aint science' and I think that's a shame.

Anyway, enough for now. I'll take the risk again and cut this short.

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Martz <>
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