virus: The "science" of memes?

XYZ Customer Support (
Thu, 12 Dec 1996 00:40:22 -0700

Well, I just finished reading Richard Brodie's book, "Virus of the
Mind" and it is just as I suspected. Meme is just a metaphor for
something else more familiar. That something else is called
brainwashing, propaganda, and persuasion. Therefore memetics is not a
science but an art. It reminds me of a book I saw in the New Age
section titled, "The Science of Numerology". Science? If it truly
were a science, then it would do more than rename something else more
familiar...unless renaming it would give new insights into the
subject which memetics does not. There is no scientific research on
memetics and no college courses are being offered on it.

The only known method for "disinfecting" a person who has
successfully succumbed to a brainwashing session is a thing called
deprogramming. For propaganda and persuasion, it is simply learning
to think for yourself, avoid logical fallacies, and learning the
scientific method. Richard's suggestions for disinfection would never
work according to professional deprogrammers and I personally think
that it would make matters worse instead of better.

Richard makes a common mistake in forgetting that evolution is not
the evolution of individuals, but of a species. Any one of you out
there could have a 1000 children and I none, yet it could still be my
DNA that outsurvives yours. That's because my DNA is in my species
and it is my species that evolves, not me. I will still contribute to
the evolutionary process of my species, although not in a direct way.
Does "serving my DNA" mean contributing to the overpopulation and
reslutant suffocation of my species?

If evolution were a random process, Richard would be correct, but
evolution is not random. Sure, if a sudden disaster were to strike it
would seem that the more numerous species would have a more numerous
chance of surviving. But more numerous does not mean more fit. All I
need to do is mention the triolobites, and that fallacy is easily put
to rest. Despite being a world-wide species, not a single living
trace of them remains today, despite the survival of far less
numerous species that coexisted with the triolobites.

Speaking of "serving my DNA", I also noticed that Richard has a
fondness for Richard Dawkin's pet theories. Actually, theory is a
misnomer, since what Dawkin's is really doing is speculating.
Speculation is speculation, no matter who does the speculating. The
scientific method says that "argument by appeal to authority is of no
value whatever, even if the authority happens to be right". Dawkins
may be an authority and he may be right about what he speculates but
that in no way makes it a fact. It doesn't even make it a hypothesis
much less a theory. Dawkin's has nothing to back up what he says and
much of what he says is illogical when compared to the actual
evidence available. How many authority figures believe in God? Will
that statistic that make that belief true or false also?