MEMES: superstitions

Joel 'Twisty' Nye (
Wed, 22 Jan 1997 14:52:08 -0800


Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
>Why do I care about digital communities?
>Why would I die for a divergent version of humanity?
>What emotional powers are backing these phrases?

>Sometimes self-interest isn't enough to propagate a meme! Immortality
>and digital communities are very much in my interest, but they don't
>take advantage of the built-in *political* emotions, the ones which lead
>us to instinctively share our views with others. You have to either (1)
>attack the current political system, (2) defend it, or (3) use a memetic
>sleight-of-hand to utilize the emotions powering (1) and (2) above.

It appears to me that a common mistake about rationized memes is
found in the overestimation of its strength: If one "purifies" the
rationalizations by eliminating emotion and/or politeness, one thus
reduces its *persuasiveness.*

Perhaps some memes can help improve discernment of Sense vs. Sensation,
but the two are not mutually exclusive. The strongest memes would
have the teeth and claws that defeat both the apathy of flatness
and the torture-tests of rational validity.

>The problem with Extropian memes is that they involve goals which will
>benefit *everyone*, *equally*. You just can't do that and propagate
>your meme. There has to be someone to take the fall or it isn't
>politics. Frankly, I think the Christians hit on the best solution with
>Satan: Pin all the blame on a fantasy entity. The only problem is that
>we'd have to lie. Maybe we could demonize death?

Yes, Demonize DECOMPOSITION. We are all actively *perishing* the moment
we hit adulthood, and it's all been accepted as "natural." Death and
taxes have been accepted as the only inescapable truths, and it's time
we made liars of them both.

The success of the Satan meme is not trivial... notice that even the
recent "Freddy Kruger" and "Jason" flicks depict their villians as
being "Straight from Hell." It's one thing to blame things on "Sin"
as those obstacles we let stand between ourselves and God... Yet, it's
a much more powerful suggestion to say that there is a malicious
intelligence that is stalking us, bent on the goal of our destruction.

Extropians usually want to disempower superstition. I for one
wouldn't mind seeing the start of a discipline called "Y'shuaism"
which would be everything Christianity was meant to be, without
the superstition and judgementality. (One can be a disciple of
Jesus' teachings, similar to Confucianism, without the need for
the Divine mythos that was later built around it. Jesus was a
healer, not a rabbi or soldier, and his only true "diety" is that
he was a "son" of the "God is Love" equation.)

Actually, there would be a great many benefits to such a discipline.
The now-ambiguous term 'Love' could be replaced with 'Compassionate
Concern,' which would help defeat ignorant hatred. It could once again
be emphasized the need to Discern "the Sin from the Sinner" and
"the Act from the Actor", realizing the massive potentials of choice
we all possess. We could mature beyond intollerance of differences and
eye-for-eye judgementality, learning instead that our problem-solving
choices are not bound to the flaws of others. We could follow an
example to offer others Life and Life more abundant, raising up those
who would save us from (physically and emotionally) perishing.

Let us, as Extropians, raise up Saviors in our Land. Let us fight
the forces of invalidation, ignorance, and the agents of perishing!
So long, entropy! ;-)

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