Re: Amusing anti-cloning arguments

Nick Bostrom (
Wed, 28 Oct 1998 01:21:54 +0000

Robin Hanson writes:

> Bernard J Hughes writes:
> >> Something about this sort of topic seems to trigger cognitive
> >> reactions which bypass mental modules capable of more abstract critical
> >> analysis. I think it is very important for us to understand this
> >> cognitive process in more detail.
> >
> >Perhaps its some sort of antibody reaction to foreign memes. Societies that
> >accepted new ideas too easily were destroyed by random passing memes.
> We've seen dozens of suggestions at this level of detail - what we need is
> for people to dig deeper into such suggestions to get more detailed
> predictions from each, and to confront those predictions with more detailed
> data.

Here is one more suggestion at about the same level of detail: I wonder if not much of the fear surrounding everything to do with cloning and genetic engineering goes back to the trauma inflicted on our "collective mind" by the Nazi experience. Big taboos were created to prevent anything resembling Nazism from ever appearing again. And these taboos, or memetic defenses, don't take any risks; they attack memes that are not really Nazi if they bear any from of Nazi resemblance in the eyes of the unconscious mind of the people. (Gosh, this explanation is so obscure it begins to sound a bit Nazi to me!)

Nick Bostrom Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method London School of Economics