Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id DAA05046 (8.6.9/5.3[ref email@example.com] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from firstname.lastname@example.org); Wed, 10 Apr 2002 03:51:06 +0100 X-Originating-IP: [18.104.22.168] From: "Scott Chase" <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Thoughts and Perceptions Date: Tue, 09 Apr 2002 22:44:57 -0400 Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed Message-ID: <F179TFiPdLXbV5jiHxz00006507@hotmail.com> X-OriginalArrivalTime: 10 Apr 2002 02:44:57.0548 (UTC) FILETIME=[B3AFB8C0:01C1E039] Sender: email@example.com Precedence: bulk Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
>From: "Richard Brodie" <email@example.com>
>Subject: Thoughts and Perceptions
>Date: Tue, 9 Apr 2002 18:40:17 -0700
><<Is visual observation pure seeing? Is there any processing before
>makes it to the status of an observation as filtered through limited
>channels each replete with tuning biases and possibly processed along
>further steps up the hierarchy towards conceptualization and its
> >From _Virus of the Mind_:
>The universe is full of stuff. However, anything we say about that stuff is
>purely a concept—a set of memes—invented by human beings. All concepts are
>composed of memes. For instance, the United States are only States because
>we have invented 50 distinctions—memes—carving out that territory. Alabama
>isn’t a reality, it’s just there because we say so, because we are
>programmed with a meme for Alabama. If we didn’t have an Alabama meme, that
>land would just be more dirt.
>Likewise, the earth is simply a distinction—a meme—we invented because it
>was convenient to put edges around the place we live in order to
>it from the rest of the universe. To the universe, it’s all just stuff. You
>may say, “But there really are edges! There’s where the dirt ends and the
>atmosphere begins, or where the atmosphere gives way to outer space!”
>Really? Dirt, atmosphere, outer space—they’re all memes. If you think dirt
>is really dirt, not a meme we invented for our convenience, then all you’ll
>ever have is dirt. If you see it’s a meme, and not the Truth, you open up
>the possibility of other memes to talk about the same thing: elements,
>crystals, subatomic particles. Remember, viewed through an electron
>microscope, it’s all mostly empty space!
>How about this one: you are simply a distinction—a meme—we invented because
>it was convenient to talk about the parts of the universe that feel pain
>when hit with a hammer. To the universe, there’s no you, or human beings,
>giraffes, or solar systems, or galaxies. All those are human-invented
>distinctions. They are all memes.
>Now one more point: everything I just said, about the distinction between
>objective reality and concepts, is a concept. It’s a meme. To the universe,
>there’s no such thing as a concept. I just drew this distinction because it
>was convenient to use when we’re talking about memetics.
>Distinctions are one kind of meme. They are ways of carving up the world by
>categorizing or labeling things.
>When you create a distinction, you gain access to some things and lose
>access to others. It’s useful to be conscious of what distinction-memes
>re programmed with, and to know that all the distinctions you draw are
>human-invented and not reality.
>Distinctions, as I just mentioned, are one kind of meme that contributes to
>your programming. Someone educated (programmed) in the memes of French will
>behave differently in France from someone who has no knowledge of the
>language—his mind will recognize meaning where others will hear only noise.
>Someone programmed with the distinction Coca-Cola will be more likely to
>Coke than the store brand of cola. Her mind will recognize the familiar red
>can with the white swish; the store brand will not register because she has
>no distinction-meme for it.
>The Coca-Cola company knows this, by the way, which is why their logo has
>grown bigger and bigger over the years until today the entire front panel
>a seven-foot-tall Coke machine bears the distinctive red-and-white
>Advertisers, politicians, and anyone else who wants your money or support
>are very interested in programming you with certain distinctions over
>others, and understanding the distinctions you see the world through so
>can take advantage of them. What are you more likely to buy for breakfast:
>slice of chocolate cake or a “chocolate-chip muffin”? Calling a round piece
>of high-fat chocolate cake a “muffin” takes advantage of the distinctions
>you have around breakfast food and increases sales. My local cafe has just
>come out with scone-shaped brownies! Of course, no one would eat brownies
>for breakfast, but scones—!
>You may also be interested in a communication model posted at
Though tempted to drop "meme" out of the picture I liked your distinction
meme ideas in _Virus of the Mind_, especially the one about how when you buy
a new car and subsequently start distinguishing other cars like it from the
crowd. I noticed this when I bought my new car last year. It seemed like
everybody was copying my purchase, though I'm sure they had bought their
cars before I bought mine.
I'm looking on page 50 of my copy of your book and would point out that when
you say: "The distinction-memes you are programmed with control what
information you perceive. They actually make reality look different to you."
this definitely bears on the recent discussion here.
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