Re: MEME: History, Nazis, and >H

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Sun, 05 Dec 1999 21:15:02 -0600

Robert Owen wrote:
> I don't want to believe there are two kinds of people, but then neither
> do I wish to regard myself as a psychopathic predator who has learned
> to impersonate a civilized being, deceiving myself and others in the
> process.

For myself, I am not foolish enough to participate in the cosmic joke of regarding Nazi Germany as being peculiarly German, or Hitler as being "inhuman". I believe I can claim a passing familiarity with cognitive science, and particularly what it means to be human. Hitler and the Nazis strike me as being human, almost archetypally human. The Nazi memes mesh with the built-in human mindware, which is how they took over the whole country. There hasn't been any point in reading _Rise and Fall_ where I said: "But how could people do that?" It isn't a very pleasant experience, but it does reaffirm one's faith in transhumanism.

"Hitler was inhuman", you say. Why? Because you think of yourself as being "human", and everyone in your group must be good guys, and all the bad guys must be in another group. This group polarization reflex is, of course, one of the same pieces of mindware underlying the success of the Nazi racial-superiority meme. By calling Hitler inhuman, one is demonstrating (1) that one shares the same basic mindware with Hitler and all other human beings, thus demonstrating (2) the falsity of (a) one's own statement, (b) the Nazi philosophy, and (c) the mindware itself.

A cosmic, cruel, and Hofstadterian joke.

           Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Running on BeOS           Typing in Dvorak          Programming with Patterns
Voting for Libertarians   Heading for Singularity   There Is A Better Way