RE: Words and memes: criteria for acceptance of new belief or meme

From: Francesca S. Alcorn (
Date: Mon Feb 18 2002 - 15:59:50 GMT

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    Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 10:59:50 -0500
    From: "Francesca S. Alcorn" <>
    Subject: RE: Words and memes: criteria for acceptance of new belief or   meme
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    > >Not at all. It simply gives a high truth value to certain propositions.
    >>Faith is not specific to irrational religious beliefs. Wade, for instance,
    >>has supreme faith in empiricism and is unwilling to consider models that
    >>lack empirical testability. I would guess he is happy with his faith and the
    >>results it produces in his life.

    Joe said:

    >Richard, in his memetically leveling mindset, has filtered the
    >telling difference between knowledge and faith, that is, the
    >presence or absence of testable evidence (that is, repeatable under
    >controlled conditions), according to the verification principle, for
    >proferred contentions. In fact, since empirical testing routinely
    >produces useful results as to what will and will not work, and thus
    >ceaselessly proves itself to be veridical to a high degree of
    >probability (unlike faith, which can only manifest in the absence of
    >Popperian falsifiability/verifiability), the evidence for its
    >functional efficacy is ubiquitous.

    Yes, but I think Richard has a point. Empiricism is *just one of
    many* different ways of experiencing the world. Even those who
    ascribe to it do so "imperfectly" - we all lie to each other and to
    ourselves. (Freud was onto something with his anxiety/defense
    mechanisms formulation. But that's another post.) I don't think
    that Richard is unaware of the distinction that you point out - he is
    just saying that the measure of fitness of any judgement mechanism is
    *not* it's verifiability. It is whether or not it allows it's
    adopter (as an individual or as a culture) to function effectively
    enough to reproduce.

    Where I lived in Africa, the people believed that lightning was
    "called down" on you by people you had pissed off (or rather by the
    witch doctor who was *paid* by the people you had pissed off. - a
    sort of lightning-for-hire scenario). While this may not have led to
    an invention of the lightning rod, it certainly made people a little
    more cautious and careful around each other - which probably
    strengthened social bonds/community. So it may not have been
    verifiable in the sense that you are talking about, but it had it's
    pay offs.


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