[ExI] to install

Tom Nowell nebathenemi at yahoo.co.uk
Thu Jun 3 09:41:59 UTC 2010

Spike wrote:"  In my own case in having to instill moral values in my own 3 yr old son, I am stuck in a wildly paradoxical position.  I can allow him to go with his mother to church, but I am in a position of having to carefully explain that while the ethical and moral values are OK, the entire theory behind them, the entire memetic infrastructure in support of
it, is *completely* wrong, no truth there at all.

So what would go on in the mind of a child, given such instruction?  I
haven't said anything yet, but I flatly refuse to tell him anything I know
to be false.


Here we hit the big question - how to install a filter against memetic infiltration that will last until adult reasoning is sufficiently developed and will hopefully provide backup when they're adults. 

A three year-old is still at the stage where magical thinking comes naturally. You read the them a fairy tale and read them a short story by a master of western literature, and they'll probably think the fairy tale makes more sense than the literature. As psychology is full of contradictory studies, I honestly couldn't say how long a period of magical thinking is necessary for normal development.

The traditional method of keeping your child free from the strange ideas of people not like yourself is to ram their brains full of the traditions and ideas of people like yourself so anything they're exposed to will bounce off your pre-installed ideas. But you've dumped the traditions of your people in order to embrace shiny and new philosophical ideas of the future.

 So, do you try and teach them sensibly and hope they don't pick up strange memes from the people they meet at school? Or do you go radical transhumanist and make up fairy stories about the future - teach Nick Bostrom's parable of the great dragon as if it is prophecy, read Dr Broderick's tales for children each night, and tell them that there's no such thing as a soul or how do you hope to be uploaded? Admittedly, this may cause some dogmatic thinking on their part when they're grown up, but looking at this list's arguments there's plenty of Idees fixe amongst articulate and apparently rational transhumanists.

Finally, to play devil's advocate - what if your children just aren't as rational and intelligent as you? Of course, your child is special and will go on to do great things and live out your dreams by proxy. But just suppose for a minute your cosy illusion is utterly wrong, and there's nothing special about your child - they're firmly in the 95-105 IQ range, no more given to logic or dreaming than any other kid in their class - are you quite sure your methods for protecting them from harmful memes will still work?



More information about the extropy-chat mailing list