RE: playing at suicide

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Sat Jan 12 2002 - 18:00:00 GMT

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    From: "Grant Callaghan" <>
    Subject: RE: playing at suicide
    Date: Sat, 12 Jan 2002 10:00:00 -0800
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    > > GRANT: <<I am defending my theory because the only way to test it
    > > ideas
    > > is to defend it. My objective, though, is not to sell it, but to test
    > > The parts of it I can't defend I will discard.>>
    >Consider this: What if nobody bothers to 'refute' your theory or any of its
    >parts, and you take this non-response to confirm its validity? And, what if
    >someone attacks your theory, but you are unable to defend it even though it
    >is correct? Does your methodology for 'knowing' not leave you vulnerable
    >1) the degree of interest people have in examining it, and 2) the level of
    >your own skill in defending it?
    >Is your formulation truly the best way for 'knowing what you know'?

    My method may not be the best, but the tools I have available to me are few
    and limited. I expect the majority of people with established views to
    ignore my ideas. That's human nature. I also expect a certain amount of
    ridicule for my ideas. That's also part of the way things work. But out of
    all that, I still hope to find a few kindred souls who will engage in the
    debate and help me shape the substance of my thought on the subject.

    If I can't defend my ideas, I feel at the very least they have to be
    reconsidered. Either I didn't state them properly or they were misguided in
    the first place. In their arguements against my ideas, people tend to lead
    me to new sources of information that can change how I think about the
    subject. My theory is not carved in stone. It's still very much a work in
    progress. But I have to find ways to use the minds of others to lead me to
    new information that will either confirm my views or cause me to revise
    them. Reading the work of people who have already made up their minds and
    are just preaching to the choir doesn't seem to help me much. I keep
    shaking my head and muttering, "That's now how it works." as I go along.

    The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins was an epiphany for me. But a lot of
    the people who grabbed his idea and ran with it seemed to me to be heading
    in the wrong direction. Unfortunately, Richard Brodie was one of those who
    fell into that category. Even animals (as Dawkins pointed out) use memes.
    But I have seen no evidence of thought contagion in animals. I haven't
    found any real reason yet to believe in the idea, in spite of having read
    Brodie's book. It didn't make me sout "Eureka!" as Dawkins' book did nor
    did it stop the muttring as I read it. In Dennett's book and others, I only
    mutter here and there. Too many of them are trying to apply the principles
    of genetics to the theory of memetics.

    When I look at culture, both here and abroad, it doesn't seem to work that
    way. The force of nature and the force of culture often seem to work
    against each other and I want to know why. What is it about culture that
    gives it the power to change the world and override the laws of nature?
    These are some of the questions I'm seeking answers to and a mind exchange
    like this one gives me a place to at least focus my mind in a way that might
    produce answers. It may not be the best way, but how many ways are there?


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