[ExI] The mosque at Ground Zero

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Fri Aug 6 15:05:32 UTC 2010

As the old saying goes, the sheep will find the butcher.



----- Original Message ----
From: Keith Henson <hkeithhenson at gmail.com>
To: extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
Sent: Thu, August 5, 2010 7:44:54 PM
Subject: Re: [ExI] The mosque at Ground Zero

On Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 3:35 PM,  John Clark <jonkc at bellsouth.net> wrote:

> On Aug 5, 2010, at 11:09 AM, Keith Henson wrote:
>> Islam is a meme set that affects humans
> Agreed.
>> the same as every other religious meme set.
> All religious meme sets are stupid and destructive, but some are more stupid 
>and destructive than others.

The reason we have religious meme sets at all is to drive stressed
populations into irrational behavior that (in the stone age) was to
our gene's advantage.  A particular meme set will drift in the
direction it needs to accomplish this in a stressed population.  When
the stress goes away, the memes mellow out.  As you know, there have
been times in the past when Islam was fairly mellow.

>> The current xenophobic nature of it to be expected since the majority of its 
>>holders are facing a bleak future. The same goes for the fundamentalist sects in 
>>the US for exactly the same reason.  A majority of them were members of the 
>>middle class, now much shrunken.
> I have no problem with any of those explanations, except that I don't see what 
>it has to do with what we were talking about. Explaining the complex 
>environmental social and genetic factors that came together to produce a 
>tangible object in the real world, an asshole for example, does not prove the 
>asshole in question does not in fact exist; rather it is yet more confirmation, 
>not that such is needed, that the physical property of existence is possessed by 
>the aforementioned asshole.

I happen to be concerned about the environmental conditions that will
drive fundamentalist Christianity to excesses in stupidity beyond
those of Islam.  It's happened.  Read the Wikipedia page on pope Urban
II to see why.

>> Between fundamentalist Islam in Arab countries and fundamentalist Christianity 
>>in the US, can you really make a judgment call as to which is worse?
> I don't see why judging which turd stinks worse is necessary, but if you insist 
>I would say fundamentalist Islam because as seriously as Christians take their 
>religion they don't take it as seriously as Islam takes theirs. Yes that means 
>Christians are more hypocritical, but in this case hypocrisy is a good thing. 
>I'll take a hypocritical Christian who says he believes everything in the Bible 
>but doesn't act that way over a sincere Muslim who says he believes everything 
>in the Quran and actually does act that way.

At least in the US, fundamentalist Islam has had relatively few
consequences such as the nonsense you get at airports.  Fundamentalist
Christianity is having a very serious effect on the science education
of the population.  In the long run this may be more serious.

>> Unless economic conditions get substantially better, wired in human
>> psychological mechanisms from the stone age will make memes like those
>> of John increasingly common and eventually lead to wars.
> Then I guess economic conditions need to get substantially better, but that's 
>easier said than done.

No kidding!

> And yes some (perhaps most) of my likes and dislikes are wired in, but unless 
>you are of a different species than me much the same could be said about you.

Of course.  I must say that stating you have a standard set of human
drives is not a particularly good idea.  People will hate you for
enumerating human psychological drives.  Fooling other people is an
essential social strategy among humans.  To do so, it seems we have to
fool ourselves as well.  I think this is the origin of the bias
against understanding what motivates us.

>> Without some wild card such as nanotech, AI or other aspects of the
>> singularity, the odds are that John's attitude will eventually become
>> dominate in the US.
> The trend seems to be going in the opposite direction, yet more people in the 
>west making lame excuses for Islam, or assuming that if you can explain why 
>Islam became destructive and stupid that means it's not destructive and stupid 

The people making lame excuses are not the segment of the population
where the highly xenophobic memes are gaining strength.  What used to
be the middle class in the US is under great "bleak future" stress.

It's not that in absolute terms they are bad off, it's mostly that
they were better off 20 years ago and people respond to relative
economics just like they do to temperature.  I.e., a cold room will
feel warm if you have been out in the cold.

It's hard to say which of the many potential targets the xenophobic
memes in the US might settle on.  In Nazi Germany the Jews were the
main target, but a number of other groups that were also targeted.

>> It is relatively easy to understand such things as the current direction of
>> Islamic memes or the meme set that has captured John, but it doesn't
>> suggest courses of action that are sensible or acceptable.
> It's true that I don't have a solution to the problem, but at least I know 
>there is a problem that needs a solution. By the way, do you have a sensible or 
>acceptable course of action?

The stone age problem was always too many people for the ecosystem to
feed.  And the solution that worked every time was to kill the
neighboring tribe(s) and take their land and young women.

Other than engineering projects to increase wealth, the sensible
solutions are not acceptable.  At least, not yet.  It's hard to say
how nasty things might get if the increased wealth is not forthcoming.
"Civilized" countries are still populated by humans with stone age
psychological mechanisms.  With enough pressure for a long time, what
happened in Rwanda could happen anywhere.

But to answer your question, I don't have a sensible or acceptable
course of action.

Except to work on the engineering aspects.



More information about the extropy-chat mailing list