Re: Meme: A call for help

Michael Lorrey (
Tue, 21 Jan 1997 17:35:50 -0500

Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote:
> [Michael Lorrey said:]
> > The reason why dogma has the upper hand, is because since it is always
> > easier for most people to not think rather than think, dogmatic memes
> > are those crutches of the mind that perpetuate their own existence most.
> Hmmm... demonize religion? Certainly there's been quite a bit of that
> here. I don't really recommend making it an integral part of the
> Extropian meme-set, since (1) many religious people are perfectly decent
> (2) they might fight back and (3) I *hate* the "Stupid Masses" meme!
> --

I hardly demonize religion. I think that it has many benefits for our
society, and can be at least partly credited with helping to root the
idea of being nice to each other for a change among people who would
typically prefer to brain the next guy as look at him. While it has
greatly descreased the amount of personal animosity and violence in
civilization, it has at the same time been the cause of much impersonal
institutional animosity and violence.

Properly practiced, religious traditions of many types can provide one
with the educational/community support for a peaceful and tolerant life
of searching for truth and justice. One thing that interferes with this
type of life is the sort of blind acceptance of dogma that too many
associate with a religious life, or attempt to enforce on others.

As for the "Stupid Masses" meme, while I tend to have little respect for
idiots, I also acknowledge that many people in this world are so busy
simply trying to get through a days work that they typically don't have
time to think about the deeper questions in life. This is a phenomena
that is expected in a civilization as highly developed and intensely
concentrated as ours is. We are living on a planet with a limited
resource base, which we are not making much effort to expand at this
time (although the opening of the communist nations resources to western
exploitation has given us a temporaty reprieve), so by the laws of the
market, there is less and less to go around, with rising expectations of
what a minimum standard of living is, so people must work more and more,
and become more and more specialized.

With increasing specialization comes greater dependence on and trust
towards the conclusions of other specializations in their fields. Many
would not presume to question the findings of the majority of scientists
in a field they have no knowledge of, and if they have no real level of
interest in learning more about that field, they typically accept what
they hear at face value. Given our present mental limitations,
especially of those less mentally astute than those on this list, this
is unavoidable, but will probably will slowly cease to be a problem once
augmentation technologies become commonplace, so we can each become
generalists once again, as is our natural evolutionary advantage.


Michael Lorrey ------------------------------------------------------------ President Northstar Technologies Agent Inventor of the Lorrey Drive

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