Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence

From: Douglas Brooker (
Date: Sun Mar 17 2002 - 16:33:21 GMT

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    From: Douglas Brooker <>
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    Subject: Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence
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    Thanks for this.

    If I were conducting a study, my instinct would lead me to pay special attention
    to what scientists participating in the 'love fest' receive or perceive they
    receive from the mystical side. We can understand the way the aura of science
    serves to enhance the claims of mystics, but less understandable is what
    scientists receive from the other side.

    Maybe 'migration' is not the best word to use, or maybe it applies only to one
    aspect of one phenomena, movement in one direction.

    In one, the migration is from a specialists language to the popular. In other
    the migration is from (?what?) to the specialist.

    There is migration in both directions, but one seems to predominate.

    In the specialist to the popular, the point in interaction between the two seems
    more diffuse? (bookreading etc). In the (?what?) to the specialist is there a
    different point of interaction? Does it arise at a personal level?

    Could two very different modes of transmission be at work? wrote:

    > In a message dated 3/17/2002 3:24:55 AM Central Standard Time, Douglas
    > Brooker <> writes:
    > > > >Hi Douglas.
    > > > >
    > > > >My earlier use of the phrase "the ineffable Quantum of being"
    > > > >a few months ago was also in reference to some of the mystical
    > > > >interpretations of quantum mechanics.
    > > > >
    > > > > > and memetics is a science?
    > > > >
    > > > >Just suppose that Eastern mysticism got attached to quantum
    > > > >physics in the early days, so that a substantial fraction of
    > > > >the physicists reading their first quantum physics books were
    > > > >asked to swallow a lot of mysticism. The word "quantum"
    > > > >would have gained a very bad reputation among serious
    > > > >physicists.
    > > > >
    > > > > > sounds like the pot calling the kettle black.
    > > > >
    > > > >Perhaps this is the old strategy of the best defense
    > > > >being a good offense.
    > > > >
    > > > >
    > > > Dawkins is right on the money. "Quantum" seems to be a popular adjective
    > > to
    > > > attach to a lot of goofy ideas making them more trendy in pop culture.
    > It'
    > > s
    > > > like a vague allusion to QM has hybridized with various kooky pet
    > theories.
    > >
    > >
    > > The migration of a word from a narrow scientific context to a much wider
    > > one would seem to be a
    > > perfect subject for memetics. One one extreme, the physicists; one the
    > > other,
    > > the 'kooky pet theories'.
    > >
    > > Question 1: describe the migration (or expansion) of the use of
    > > "quantum."
    > > Question 2: explain the migration
    > Contagious mysticism goes way, way back. Adding
    > pseudo-justifications in terms of "quantum" theory increases the
    > transmissivity, receptivity, and longevity in a more scientific and
    > technological society. People are more willing to express their
    > ideas if they think (rightly or wrongly) that they have scientific
    > legitimacy, such as might be conferred by a basis in quantum
    > mechanics.
    > Listeners can be more receptive to such messages too. Since
    > few people have any serious knowledge of quantum mechanics,
    > they often defer to the other person as the "expert" if that person
    > is referring to quantum physics. This confers receptivity.
    > Longevity might also be increased due to refutation-resistance.
    > Again, most people do not know enough about quantum
    > mechanics to effectively challenge misbeliefs about its
    > implications. Even those who do have such knowledge know
    > that it could take a very long time to explain, so that they
    > often do not even bother trying. Moreover, people with credentials
    > in physics can be bought by or sell out to mystical movements in
    > need of a credibility boost. Adding science and technology
    > to a society is evolutionarily similar to adding antibiotics
    > to a bacterial culture. Instead of drug resistance, we see
    > the emergence of non-truth contingent refutation resistence.
    > Ideas masquerading as quantum theory can thus help a mystical
    > belief system spread more vigorously in a society that reveres
    > science and technology. The belief systems can be more
    > contagious and refutation resistant. More about these concepts
    > on my site.
    > > In many of the social sciences there is a tension in the discipline
    > > between its prescriptive and descriptive urges. It's internal politics,
    > > perhaps. Linguistics is a good
    > > example. (and maybe the positive-natural law dichotomy in legal
    > > theory.) Prescriptivism is not much in fashion these days. But
    > > fashions, by definition, change.
    > >
    > > Dawkins sounds as if he comes from a prescriptivist school of memetics.
    > There may be reasons to doubt whether Dawkins really supports
    > evolutionary cultural replicator theory, but that is a long and old
    > topic.
    > > It's a bit like a lab scientist criticising germs because they are bad.
    > --Aaron Lynch
    > ===============================================================
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    > For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    > see:

    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

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