[extropy-chat] re: embedded in open hearts (Meta/EP)

Keith Henson hkhenson at rogers.com
Sun Apr 10 22:50:47 UTC 2005

At 01:45 PM 10/04/05 -0700, Olga wrote:
>From: "Amara Graps" <Amara.Graps at ifsi.rm.cnr.it>


>I don't know about Hubert, but to me it's friggin' scary.  It seems humans 
>may do well to examine and try to overcome this tendency - I don't mean 
>the tendency to survive, but the tendency to become "one with the mob."

Before you try to overcome some psychological trait, you should at least 
try to see where it came from.

The reason humans become one with the mob is that "the mob" in 
evolutionarily significant times was your more or less close 
relatives.  Acting as a mob in either offense or defense made it more 
likely that your genes (in Hamilton's inclusive sense) would be represented 
in the next generation.

>>Why do I have no trouble laughing about the events of last week?
>Do cynical, sardonic smiles count?
>>A related topic is: how can extropians/transhumans
>>complain about the intolerance of the religious, if they
>>are equally or more intolerant in their own attitudes?
>>So for EP: I would think that there is a survival value
>>for tolerance (or at least humor :-) ).

Tolerance is a meme, particularly a meta-meme.  This is what I said in 1988 
or so.

    "In historical times a meta-meme of tolerance (especially religious
tolerance) has emerged in western culture.  This is a remarkable event,
since memes inducing tolerance to other memes would be expected to lose
in the competition for mind space to memes which induce intolerance to
other beliefs.  Within small, isolated social groups, this is still the

     "But in larger cultural ecosystems, when traders come with obnoxious
ideas and customs, but desirable goods, at least limited tolerance is a
requirement if any trading is to be done. There were many other factors
in the development of modern western tolerance such as the Renaissance
and the indecisive religious wars that swept back and forth across
Europe.  Still, the advantage of trading goods may have been the primary
force at work in the memetic ecosystem which caused many belief systems
to adopt a tolerant-toward-other-beliefs component. Cooperative behavior
is known to spontaneously emerge from groups (even groups at war) when
certain conditions are present. Free trade may be similarly linked to the
emergence of the meta-meme of tolerance, and in turn to the
respectability of free thought.  Testing these speculations would require
rating the trade/tolerance of many groups and seeing if there is (or was)


I now think the meta-meme of tolerance only arises in groups of people who 
have not been stressed for a long time.

Humor is a psychological trait.  I can't improved on Minsky's speculations 
as to why it evolved.  (To get us out of loops and disrupt dangerous thoughts.)

>Would be an interesting topic.  Again, I think it is important to 
>distinguish between:
>1) being tolerant of others (i.e., letting "others" have a place at the 
>table); vs.
>2) necessarily respecting the others' beliefs.
>In other words, keeping in mind what Voltaire said:  "I disapprove of what 
>you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it."

Voltaire was well fed.

Keith Henson

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list