RE: There is No Altruism

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Fri Mar 25 2005 - 11:38:44 MST

I wrote

> >...memes affect people strongly, and can take
> >over to the point that people do lots of things that
> >are "unnatural". Yet we have evolved just this ability
> >to be controlled by memes, and many people here have
> >testified that they'd die for rather abstract reasons.

and Keith responds

> Hominids lost serious predation a *long* time ago...
> When... hard times were looming, a behavioral switch
> turned up the "gain" on the circulation of xenophobic
> memes in the tribe, and eventually the hyped up
> warriors went out to do or die against neighbors.
> ...
> Assuming no logic errors, this is the origin of the
> power memes have to control people.

Enough of *origins*, already :-)

The way the world works now, it seems obvious that one
useful way to describe people's idealism and altruism
is via memetics.

>From "I have but one life to give for..." through "just
say no" and "mind your own business", our behavior indeed
is deeply affected not only by sound bytes, but by ideas.
So the recent spate of noble testimonials we've just
heard on this list doesn't surprise me.

This manifestation of altruism is definitely less selfish
than the more directly gene-based variety!

(This buttresses the point that altruism exists. For what
it's worth I too debated Ettinger through dozens of emails
on Cryonet on the subject of altruism---it seems hopeless
to get him to try to broaden his concept.)

> There is a 20 page paper on this topic that I am trying
> to have published.

Good. I will be requesting a copy; perhaps it reflects some
of your earlier ideas on memetics.


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