virus: Re: virus-digest V1 #51

Reed Konsler (
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 18:13:47 -0400

>From: ken sartor <>
>Date: Wed, 16 Oct 1996 09:29:00 -0500
>Subject: Re: virus: Memes and Genes

>I assert: for the majority of people genetics plays a very important
>role in memetic development. Furthermore, this can be seen in the
>genetic component of intelligence.

All right! now we have a disagreement! ;)

>Analagy - if a large number of individuals all do exactly the same
>physical exercise for a period of time, large differences will be
>seen in there physical development. Inquiry - why would we expect
>mental exercise to have different outcomes?
>(Furthermore - some people are tall and thin, others short and
>stocky. Why should our brains not be molded by the same bell
>curve that determines the rest of our bodies?)

I'm not arguing that people are identical. Sure, there are ectomorphs and
endomorphs. But everybody can run and everybody can be a decent marathon
runner with serious commitment. Excercise during puberty has a significant
effect on your final body structure...enough that if you take up jogging
late in life you'll never be as fast or have the endurance of a twin who's
been running forever.

I'm not arguing that there aren't genetic dispositions...I'm arguing that
they are at least an order of magnitude less significant than
evironment/development effects. Given this position, I don't accept
arguments like "maybe some people just can't get athiesm (or quantum
mechanics) because they are genetically incapable of understanding it".

>The point is that intelligence, like body type or hair color is
>extremely variable.

I'll agree that people demonstrate wildly varying aptitude at a number of
tasks. The question still is: why?

>While you can modify within limits, there are
>extremely strong predisposions.

I disagree with this.

>Date: Wed, 16 Oct 1996 11:04:00 -0500 (CDT)

Quoted from me:
>> I assert: For the vast majority of people (95%) genetics plays little or
>> no role in memetic development.

>This is inobvious.

I didn't say it was obvious, nor do I claim it to be absolute truth. My
assertion is based upon the evidence that I have encountered to date and my
subjective analysis of it. If you will, I'm attempting to spread that meme
and kill memes which propose memetic variation resulting from genetic
variation. I expect conflict over this issue, but no guts no glory, right?

>Occam's Razor requires the appropriate linguistics to use correctly.

Can you point out my specific error?

>I violate your last presumption--"not handicapped by significant mental
>defects". Most concretely, I find social intelligence and 800 math
>equally taxing mentally and physically...I must consider 3
>different mental illness syndromes as partial matches.

Like I'm not mildly schizophrenic, obsessive-compulsive, and
manic-depressive? My family has a history of severe depression and 3 of my
relatives have been diagnosed as suffering from anxiety-attacks serious
enough to leave them homebound. But, hey, everyones a little crazy, right?
I don't particularly feel like getting doped up (well, only on
weekends...) either...exactly how is this relevant?

>It would take some extreme education to increase intelligence. Most
>education doesn't affect intelligence, just the knowledge base.

I disagree with this.

Define intelligence in a testable way. How does the Princeton Review help
people increase SAT/GRE/LSAT/MCAT scores...they teach you how to psyche out
the test: provide you with the proper memes, huh? They have a pretty high
success rate in increasing peoples "intelligence"...if you don't think
standardized tests measure intelligence (and I don't, either) what should
we use in place

>Date: Wed, 16 Oct 1996 11:10:43 -0500 (CDT)
>Subject: Re: virus: Memes and Genes

>Resistance to classical conditioning techniques correlated with an
>electric-potential response anomaly in the skin, and with resistance to
>"peer pressure" which resulted in atypical behavior relative to the
>norming group. When the norming group is law-abiding, this increased the
>chances of "criminal behavior".

Hey, did you hear that head circumference correlates with intelligence? I
suggest Gould's "The Mismeasure of Man" as a lesson in how careful one must
be doing these experiments. In this study, for instance, one needs to
define the "norming group", "atypical", etc. Observer bias crawls in these


Reed Konsler