Re: virus: Response to Zander

Alex Williams (
Mon, 9 Dec 1996 20:19:10 -0500 (EST)

<> from
"Richard Brodie" at Dec 9, 96 03:44:21 pm
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> How about the science OF salesmanship?

I'm not terribly keen on that, either, since I joined the Virus list
to work on theories of memetics, but the applications thereof. Much
like being dropped into an applied math course rather than a
theoretical one, many people, myself included, consider that a step
down. (Ivory tower academian? I wish, but sometimes I'm tainted.)

> Curious that it seems that way to you. Are you attributing those quoted
> phrases to me? I don't even know what an "obscured relative view" is, so
> I doubt I said that. And just because you don't like the fact that the
> answer to many questions is "look at it from Level 3," that doesn't mean
> that isn't the answer. As to suggesting that Level-2 people are
> "lesser," you may be reading in an insult where none is intended.

I read your opinion of the Level-2 mind only as you communicate it,
which seems to partake of a certain level (excuse the pun) of
condescention. Telling someone you've labeled Level-2 to `look at it
from Level-3' would appear to be condescention of the highest order,
akin to my suggesting to a technical novice `OK, now pretend you're an
expert.' It doesn't help get them there, it just rubs in their face
that they're not.

> > You apply the concept of
> >relativism to all arguments but your own. That would seem to proclaim
> >it loud enough, wouldn't you think?
> Once again, I state many times in both my books that these are models,
> not Truth.

But you /state/ them as unequivocable Truth and defend them from the
PoV of defending obvious Truths and not mutable theories, or so it
seems from over here.

> >Be careful ascribing `what I know' if you will, I'm not interested in
> >setting precedent for that. I can't say what you intellectually know,
> >its quite possible you intellectually, consciously and intelligently
> >confuse the two; that's certainly one possible take on the entire
> >Level3
> >thing.
> I'm not making sense of your argument here.

You defended by suggesting that perhaps, if you suggested that you
confused the theory of your Levels for the Truth, it was dichotomous
at the intellectual and emotional/subconscious level. I riposited
that it would seem to be equally valid to suggest you consciously
present the image you do; the implication being that you do so
consciously to confuse your questioners.

> It's up to each conscious person to decide which memes he wants to
> propagate and which, if any, he wants to suffocate. It's unconscious,
> militant ignorance that fuels viruses of the mind.

An argument can /easily/ made that your Level structure is nothing
more than another virus of the mind. Are you sure you want to level
such a large gun at your own foot?

> I can't let you slide in your unstated assumption that it's somehow
> better to be unobtrusive. What makes you think it's sensible to be timid
> and conforming in your rhetorical style? Have you experimented? Do you
> think Shaw was a net minus to the world?

I can't let you slide in your unstated assumption that to not be
obnoxious is to be unobtrusive. I like to lie to myself and suggest
that discreet, intelligent and subtle commentary rouses the respect of
one's peers in a way that unprofessional discourse does not. I admit,
this may be purely illusory, but it makes me feel better to proceed
under such assumptions in unheated discourse.

I've experimented with different kinds of discourse in many ways and
fields; if you find being obnoxious is the only way you can draw
attention to yourself and your ideas, that might be a subtle
suggestion to re-evaluate what you're selling, as it were. Shaw was
not a net-minus to the field of discussion, but he did have the odd
side effect of stiffling perfectly valid opposing viewpoints, not by
the weight of his own but by the poignancy of his ridicule. Do we
want to judge ideas that oppose ours by the strength of the fun they
poke at us?

> By the nature of Level 2, you are unable to see how different your
> consciousness would be when you achieve Level 3. Sorry. I know you hate
> that answer. Wish I had a better one.

By the nature of Level-4, you are unable to observe how much your
viewpoint is undifferentiated from that of the Level-2s.

Anyone can level (another pun, I'm on a roll) unsubstantiated
allegations at anyone they like, consisting of anyhing they like, but
just as the Christian who says, `Alex, you just can't see how much
better your life would be if you stopped your sinnin' ways and gave
your life to God,' you're advocating a means of argument that plays on
similarly empty words.