virus: Re: virus-digest V1 #116
Fri, 20 Dec 1996 12:36:42 -0500

Responding to XYZ on logic being anti-memetic:

I agree, partly, that "the concept behind logic is to kill ideas' and not
propagate them." This is one way of describing the inductive methods
fundamental to scientific verification. The idea being killed is doubt.

As I understand Hume's empiricism, testing kills that doubt over and over and
over again. But, as Peirce explained, once doubt is resolved, a habit
results. Hume didn't deny the habit. Peirce elevated the idea, putting it on
par with deductive and inductive methods. James and Dewey then explained its
fundamental role in pyschology and society. This "will to believe" is the
logic of abduction, and also includes the formation of new hypotheses,
selection of criteria, counting, naming, perpetuation of dogma, etc.

A formal definition of logical abduction is "inference to the best
explanation." To be cognitively honest, we must be willing to invent new
hypotheses when existing ones are shown to be fallible. We need to name
things to communicate about them. Those habits coordinate us.

What brings me to this list, therefore, is that social abduction seems to fit
fairly well with some of memetics (my other objections notwithstanding). To
reword the statement (begging XYZ's permission), the concept behind abduction
is to create ideas in order to propagate them. Inductive science will "kill"
the bad ones.

Deduction, by the way, may also facilitate new ideas, since it works as a
method for extracting parts from the whole, and contains internal mechanisms
for "killing" incorrect statements.

I confess I'm not a trained logician but I don't think I've stretched too far
out of my league in trying to explain these concepts and their relation to

Craig Simon