Memes and War [was: Tomorrow is a new day]

From: Michael Roy Ames (
Date: Sat Nov 06 2004 - 19:01:38 MST

Keith Henson;

It is prudent to be aware that human mentality is not all sweetness and
light, and you are performing an excellent service by reminding us of this
fact. As a broad statement, your "Unhappy people with a bleak future were a
fertile substrate for xenophobic memes..." fits some of human history very
well. However, the explanation you provide: "psychological mechanisms into
our brains that under some circumstances shuts off rational thinking" may be
incomplete or perhaps even incorrect. The psychological mechanisms that
implement xenophobic memes may well be the same ones that implement
cooperative memes. Evolution is notorious for re-using existing
architecture in multiple ways. Perhaps the human meme-machine works the
same way no matter what meme happens to be in a person's mind. If this is
the case, then your warning is even more timely because there will almost
certainly be multiple memes that are "scary".

You wrote: "CV could come to the conclusion that high average happiness
required periodic population culls too." -- This statement is so strange,
and seems so disconnected from how people think, that I cannot see how you
arrived at it. While an analysis of history might allow one to infer that
people believe that "high average happiness requires periodic wars", it is
unreasonable to suggest that people want the wars. A more reasonable
inference would be that the people wanted *happiness*, and some leader
convinced them that the way to get it was thru war. There have been leaders
who promoted methods other than war, and have done so successfully.

Let us be vigilant, but not paranoid.

Michael Roy Ames

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