Re: virus: Holy Fire

Vicki Rosenzweig (
Thu, 26 Sep 96 14:35:00 PDT

I missed some of this discussion (I was out of the office for
a while), but it seems to be that there's a distinction between
teaching something that simplifies what you believe in (for
example, in elementary school you teach that 3+3=6, and only
later if at all do you introduce modular arithmetic, in which 3+3
might equal 1) and something that you consider false. If I teach
"thou shalt not kill" as part of a broader idea that people should
not harm each other, that's not hypocrisy; if I taught "thou shalt
not kill" because I wanted to be able to attack people with
impunity, it would be hypocrisy.

My immediate thought on "what techniques can we lift from Tarot"
is that Tarot appeals to people who think visually, and maybe we
should try to create a set of Virian images that would promote, or
serve as reminders of, our ideas. Also, Tarot images are somewhat
plastic: there's always a Fool, for example, but the exact appearance
of the card changes from deck to deck (and different people who care
about such things have different ideas of how much alteration is
possible before a set of cards with pictures on them stop being a
Tarot deck).

From: owner-virus
To: virus
Subject: Re: virus: Holy Fire
Date: Thursday, September 26, 1996 2:05PM

On Mon, 26 Nov 1956 23:12:25 +0000 David Leeper <> writes:

>Preliminary Objection:
>If we sell what we do not believe we are hypocrites.

No. Frequently people an unable to see our ends as desireable because
they are focused on what's close to them. To get them to take a longer
view it is sometimes necessary to direct them to some intermediate stage;
a stage from which they will be able to recognize larger or more abstract
ends as desireable. Put another way, it is helpful to provide people
with a relatively simple conceptual framework (simple in comparrison to
where we eventually plan to lead them - complex from the standpoint of
their intial state), allow them time to assimilate it and grow
comfortable with it, and then point out the flaws and the inconsistencies
which will force them to move closer to the end we are trying to

When I was teaching logic I would introduce the distinction between
inductive and deductive reasoning by telling the students that inductive
reasoning draws a general conclusion from a number of specific
observations and that deductive reasoning is the process by which we
start with general principles and use them to generate specific
conclusions. Shorthand version: Induction is specific to general and
deduction is general to specific. This is dead wrong, but it works in
enough cases that it gives the students a feel for the difference.
Later, after they've demonstrated that the intial framework makes sense
to them I introduce the problem cases that show the framework to be

In many Buddhist sutras the Buddha advocates doing just this sort of
thing. It's called employing expedient means. Rather than being a
hypocrite, the Buddha was a teacher who knew that understanding
proceeded in stages.

>Heart Of The Matter:
>Tarot & Company have survived to this day in the face of opposition
>every quarter, from religion to science and everything in between.
>These meme complexes use memes such as "Predict the future" to infect.
>Without such a meme the entire complex would have become extinct a
>time ago. We could learn alot from these "psuedo-sciences".

What survival and replicative techniques do you think the Church of the
Virus could lift from Tarot & Company without sacrificing our commitment
to the promotion of rationality? That's not a rhetorical question. I'm
quite prepared to discover that there is a vein of propagative strategy
there waiting to be mined.

Take care. -KMO