Re: Thoughts and Perceptions

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Wed Apr 10 2002 - 03:44:57 BST

  • Next message: Lawrence DeBivort: "RE: Thoughts and Perceptions"

    Received: by id DAA05046 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Wed, 10 Apr 2002 03:51:06 +0100
    X-Originating-IP: []
    From: "Scott Chase" <>
    Subject: Re: Thoughts and Perceptions
    Date: Tue, 09 Apr 2002 22:44:57 -0400
    Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed
    Message-ID: <>
    X-OriginalArrivalTime: 10 Apr 2002 02:44:57.0548 (UTC) FILETIME=[B3AFB8C0:01C1E039]
    Precedence: bulk

    >From: "Richard Brodie" <>
    >To: <>
    >Subject: Thoughts and Perceptions
    >Date: Tue, 9 Apr 2002 18:40:17 -0700
    >Scott wrote:
    ><<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.

    Chat with friends online, try MSN Messenger:

    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)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed Apr 10 2002 - 04:02:04 BST