Re: virus: Re : TT and Absolute Truth

Alex Williams (
Thu, 21 Nov 1996 07:19:54 -0500 (EST)

20, 96 03:01:07 pm
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> Have you ever heard of the Ebola Virus? Or better yet, have you ever heard
> of a "book"? These self-replicating entities can be called dormant, yet
> when given the right environment - from which they whence came - they can
> be reactivated. If the reactivation is different from the original form -
> then we'd have to call that a "mutation".
> Without this principle, human knowledge as we know it today would probably
> be based on stories at the fireside in the forest. So what exactly is
> "dormant" anyway? Is my e-mail dormant until I read it? Do the ideas
> fade away if I read them too late? To me genes, memes, words, all
> that is "order" which can be "recorded" on paper, DNA, disk, is code.
> This is the sequence as I see it :-
> 1. Code (pattern : raw ordered data)
> 2. Meme (information : interpretation of data by similar species
which wrote code)
> 3. Behavior (emotion : caused by meme, encouraged to replicate meme)
> Meme replication takes place by oscillating between 1, 2 & 3.

The problem is that "books" are far /less/ self-replicating than
virii, which while they do attach to cells to hijack their resources,
they are aided in the process by the physics of the material world.
The memes encoded within text can't rely on that process, they can
only rely on the reactions of other meme-complexes which note their
spoor-like pattern. In this, memes and virii differ greatly. The
idea of a ball doesn't bounce.

In your above discussion, I would consider the story itself, spoken
around an open, roaring campfire or not, to be another encoding
pattern created by memes rather than containing memes itself.
Considering the widely variant resultant memes that arise in listeners
from a single source (terror, mild fear, amazement at the
storyteller's skill, boredom) it simplifies the concept to suggest the
storyteller's meme-complexes are creating cooperatively a pattern,
transmitted to other meme-complexes, which is designed to rouse
certain meme-complexes in them, to varying degrees of effect. If only
a single set of memes lay `dormant' in the story itself, one would
expect to see far more consistancy across the board in, at least,
immediate reaction. So, too, with all forms of media communication,
from hand-shaking to the Eddas.

I can't argue with the hierarchy of order you posted above, since I've
already supported that PoV in prior articles here and in this one,
itself. I, however, don't consider data in the `code' stage you list
above as memes at all, which it appears from your argument, you do.

In my mind, communication-patterns are like source-code which gets
injected into a running system upon recipt and /after/ interpretation.
Before the interpreter gets its little grubby hands on it, the data is
just that, data without meaning. Its only after its interpreted,
after the data is changed to /information/, that memes can be `born,'
if you will, from other currently running memes.

> I live to simplify ideas and have them simplified for me. If I'm dead wrong
> at least simplify the argument without dumbing-it down.

I do my best; as a software professional, I find following the maxim
`if you can't explain it to a 10yr old in 10min, its too complicated'
to rank up with Occam's Razor in my hierarchy of mental tools.