[extropy-chat] (no subject)

Mike Dougherty msd001 at gmail.com
Sat Sep 30 06:26:32 UTC 2006

On 9/29/06, Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:
> On Thu, Sep 28, 2006 at 08:27:36PM -0400, Mike Dougherty wrote:
> >    "religion" is a dangerous meme?  Not a particular religion, just
> "religion" in general?
> Right you are, Sherlock.

>    Why denounce religion?  I can understand your personal decision to not

> Because in the modern world it's a major source of problems. You haven't
> heard?

>    partake of religion, but how is it productive to actively campaign
> >    against it?   Let's say you could 'wipe out' the religion meme, what
> It would remove a major source of problems.

I still don't understand the almost rabid counter-religion sentiment here.

>    would you go after next?  Prevailing public opinion?  That would be a
> Now that's a strawman. You sound somewhat miffed. Say, are you religious?

Miffed?  No.  mainly frustrated by my own inability to phrase the question
neutrally enough that anyone understands what I am saying.  I know the
burden of clarity here is on me (the sender) rather than the reader(s)

Me, Religious?  Definitely no.  I assume a high degree of probability to the
utility and fitness of my own world-assessment faculties.  I would imagine
this to be commonly true of any rational person.  Of course, believing that
probability to be absolutely 1 might lead to the kind of fanaticism that
"religionists" claim in the name of god.

I do wonder about the purely scientific approach to chemically induced
consciousness.  If where we are today as individuals is solely a matter of
genetic programming and environmental pressures (chemical fuel availability,
the presence of memes, etc)  then we're in an arguably depressing state.  I
know, depression can be 'fixed' by adding the right mixture of chemicals to
the consciousness computing platform - but that seems like even more
sinister mind control than brainwashing via memetic subjugation.  To go
further out the limb on which I may end up hanging myself, does the
rational/scientific approach preclude the possibility that something like
carbon nanotubes in the brain might be capable of (even weakly) detecting
quantum states?  Even if the net effect is immeasurably small, it provides
me with a possible explanation for why "we" are collectively entangled in
this observation of the universe.  I expect that when the final probability
wave collapses we will have experienced [a|The] Singularity.

>    good way to ensure that everyone is forced to think for themselves
> >    too.  Maybe once you accomplish that, you can denounce general
> >    consensus just for the fun of it.
> Now this is a yet another bunch of strawmen. Say, where are you getting
> these?


>    sorry about the sarcasm.  I'm aware of it, but rarely turn it off.
> >    Honestly though, I am curious what you think about the value of even
> >    attempting to 'fight' a religion meme.
> If mental illness was contagious, why should one use public health
> methods to prevent an epidemic?
> (It's a flawed analogy, because most mental illnesses are not dangerous
> to anyone else but the sufferers themselves).

It's not too flawed.  You (collectively/plural) are essentially saying that
religion is an incurable memetically transferred disease (STD of the Mind -
ha!)  Once infected, the host is unable to process rational thought.  The
widespread epidemic of "religious belief" in the mind of humanity is
responsible for the majority of historical tragedy.  For the sake of
argument, I'll agree this a true-enough model.

Suppose we engineer Artificial Intelligence using our own brains as the only
available model of working intelligence.  Wait, that does sound familiar...
(sorry, couldn't resist)  Let's start from an algorithmic bootstrap.  If we
do not engineer some method for hypothesis creation/testing, this AI will
never be able to postulate a theory.  That probably means it will never
really be AI.  If there is a method create and test AI ideation then, during
the testing of a theory, does this algorithm assume "belief" (or at least
suspend disbelief) in order to probe fitness of the model?  (Ok, I am
clearly not a cognitive scientist or AI researcher)  I think I have made
enough analogy here to support the idea that perhaps the prevalence of
belief in the irrational is part of a larger process of reality testing.  If
humanity's different god-memes are part of a evolutionary programming
algorithm, then the "strongest" will survive by best fulfilling its goal.
Arguably, this goal may be counterproductive to the rationalists here.  It
might also provide its own environmental pressure to further motivate
rational thinking.  Muscle-building requires repeatedly tearing and
rebuilding the fiber.  Irrational religious chaos may be a  catalyst for the
advancement of rational thought.  There certainly are plenty of examples
already cited in this thread about how much destruction has been wrought in
the name of religion, yet we are still here.  Rationality may be the
minority, but it holds considerable power.  (I picture one Rancher managing
thousands of heads of cattle - why?  because the Rancher can think...   or
because of opposable thumbs)

Well on that note, I think I'll end here and wait to see how miserably I
failed to communicate again as evidence by the inevitable chastising
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