virus: Re : Excerpt from "Good Times Virus Hoax FAQ 5/9/9".

Hakeeb A. Nandalal (
Fri, 08 Nov 1996 11:26:17 +0000

A couple days ago a friend of my wife's who works at a newspaper
sent her an e-mail note warning her about the "Good Times" e-mail
virus which is supposed to erase hard drives and probably bring
The Prince of Darkness over as well. She doubted that
such a thing was possible (she's a Reservoir Engineer, not a programmer
dammit!) and called me to clarify. I told her e-mail was data and not
executable code so that couldn't happen unless there was an attached
file which was a program. Lo and behold I'm surfing a
Mac shareware site and I see "Good Times Virus Hoax FAQ". I figured I'd
e-mail wifey and send her the file. While speed reading the sucker I see
this :-

>From "Good Times Virus Hoax FAQ 5/9/9" by Les Jones <>
[Open Quote]

In _The Selfish Gene_ (1976, University of Oxford Press), Oxford
evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins extends the principles in his
book from biology to human culture. To make the transition, Dawkins
proposes a cultural replicator analogous to genes. He calls these
replicators memes.

"Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions,
ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate
themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperm or
eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from
brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called
imitation. ... As my colleague N. K. Humphrey neatly summed up an
earlier draft of this chapter: "...memes should be regarded as living
structures, not just metaphorically, but technically. When you plant
a fertile meme in my mind you literally parasitize my brain, turning
it into a vehicle for the meme's propagation in just the way that a
virus may parasitize the genetic mechanism of a host cell.""

Amazingly, when I read alt.folklore.computers looking for research
material, two people had already mentioned Dawkins' memes. One of
them referred to an article in the April 8, 1995 _New Scientist_
about something called the Meme Research Group. (The article
erroneously stated that the group is at the University of California,
San Francisco. In fact, they are at Simon Fraser University in
British Columbia.)

The Meme Research Group is collecting chain letters to analyze them.
The more copies they get, the more information they have to analyze.
Send those unwanted chain letters to

I am not a memeticist, and a real memeticist might take umbrage at my
explanation of the concept. To learn more, visit the alt.memetics
newsgroup on Usenet, and especially the alt.memetics home page on the
World Wide Web ( Though
we've talked about memes in terms of viruses (a common analogy), the
concept of a meme is neither good nor bad. The idea of "Do unto
others as you would have them do unto you" is as much a meme as the
Good Times hoax.

What's the best way to control a thought virus?

Create a counter virus like this one as an antidote. To make the
counter virus contagious, include instructions such as, "The Good
Times email virus is a hoax. If anyone repeats the hoax, please show
them the FAQ."

[Close Quote]


So here's the beef : A rumour about an e-mail virus proves to be a very
infectious meme. A FAQ message proves to be a very effective counter meme.
People are basically sheep.

I feel used even writing this up but to paraphrase Dennis Miller :
"I'm too much of a showbiz whore" to resist.


Hakeeb A. Nandalal
"Nothing unreal exists"