A Different Approach
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08-08-2012, 08:17 AM
A Different Approach
One of the big debates of our time and one of the things that brought me to this site in the first place, is the Creation vs Darwin argument.

It has been... colourful.

But it's been going on for, oh, say, a few decades and no real progress has been made. To repeat the same thing over and over and to expect a different result is insanity. So, I offer a different approach.

To begin, we must start with a premise. Reality is not the real. The real is actuality; that which exists, as it exists. We interact with actuality via our senses and subsequently, through a complex system of language, letters, numbers, shapes, pictures and so forth, essentially a symbol system that we use to abstract and represent actuality, we create meaning. Reality is the culturally contingent relationship between actuality and meaning.

This is why different cultures have different understandings of reality. Reality is not fixed, it is constructed and mutable.

Memetics is the science of cultural evolution and the meme, the unit of cultural transmission, is the Lego block of culture. Like a biological organism, culture is comprised of little parts, like a single meme, larger parts, like a co-adapted meme complex, or memeplex, and the system itself; the sum total of parts and their articulations.

In systems theory, articulations are the relationships between the different parts in a system. For example, the relationship between gas and a spark plug. Or air and your lung. Each part can have a single articulation with one other part, or multiple articulations.

The difference between a heap and a system is that you can pull whatever you like out of a heap and it makes no difference, while pulling parts out of a system makes it stop working. You can cut a heap in half and you have two heaps. If you cut a system in half, you have a broken system. It is this way because systems are comprised of interdependent parts; they depend on each other to run the system.

The fewer articulations a part has, the easier it is to remove, or disarticulate from the system, and the lower the chance the impact will be great. The greater articulations a part has, the harder it is to disarticulate from the system, and the greater the chance that the impact of its removal will be great. Parts, or nodes, with multiple articulations are held in place by lines of tendential force; just imagine a node with one string attached and one with a million; the more strings, the more strings need to be severed before you can pry the node out of the system.

The reason we call memeplexes co-adapted meme complexes, is because the memes involved in this subsystem co-evolved. They are not only interdependent, but they evolved that way together. It is remarkably difficult to separate out the two, or the three, or the million parts. This is why memeplexes, and indeed all systems, are resistant to invasion.

Invasion is simply when a foreign part, like a meme, or an entire memeplex, tries to enter the existing system. Systems aren't immune from invasion, but they're resistant to it. This is because of lines of tendential force, because of co-adaption and also because an invading part might cause the system to stop working.

Everyone has a world view because everyone has a construct of reality kicking around in their head. A world view is a system.

Most people have moderate world views. Especially in times of plenty and stability. Moderate views are inclusive and allow for complexity and the unknown. But every world view has an extreme version; one that is, on an increasing scale, exclusive, reductionist and that tries to answer the unknown with absolutes whether accurate or no.

In times of great crisis, there is a tendency for moderates, in their panic, to migrate out to the extreme. They want hard and fast answers because there is no more wiggle room and a poor decision could cost them everything. This crisis can be, and often is, material. It can also be a perceived attack; which represents a threat to one's stability, resources, way of life.... the list goes on.

Extremists thrive in times of crisis (and when they can fabricate crisis) because they are willing to give concrete answers. The more concrete answers they give, the more attractive they become. Moderates cannot argue with extremists because when they say, "No actually, it's complicated and there are things we still don't know, please allow me to introduce all of these ideas to you so you can see the larger picture," the extremist responds," No! I don't want to hear your fancy explanations. It's simple. We do know. And it's X." It's not a rational argument; therefore, no rational argument can counter it.

Today, we're faced with two memeplexes that have been articulated into various cultural systems; Creationism and Darwinism. On their own, the memeplexes have their moderate versions and their extreme versions. Some creationists are like, "Yeah, like God created the world," and some are like, "It's 6 000 years old, mother fucker!" Some evolutionists are like," Yeah, Darwin was the shit," and some are like, "Anyone who doesn't believe it is a fucking retard!"

Now the culture war occurring between the two camps has one goal in mind. Invasion. The Darwinists want the Creationists to articulate evolution into their cultural system and Creationists want Darwinists to accept Genesis into theirs. Both cultural systems are resistant to this invasion because the parts that would need to be disarticulated for this to happen (the Creationist and Darwinist memeplexes respectively) are held in place by strong lines of tendential force and because the system that they are nested in would COLLAPSE if they did.

If you're a creationist and you accept Darwin, your socially constructed reality can't function. It collapses. This leaves people suffering from identity crisis and forces them to adopt a new reality model. This is why so many Atheists reject religion all in one go. They hear something and poof, their whole world implodes. The reverse, of course, is true for Darwinists.

So the reason that this culture war is intractable is not because people are stupid or stubborn, but because the nature of cultural transmission is such that if one side articulates the other's memeplex, their cultural system collapses. That outcome is not desirable and, more to the point, their cultural systems are naturally resistant to such invasions.

So what is the different approach?

Leave Creationists be.

Don't try to convince them that you are right and they are wrong.

This has two important effects.

The first is that you are currently creating the extremists. In order for extremists to recruit, they need to have a bogeyman. There needs to be a threat, perceived or otherwise, that they can flog. Without that threat, people are more likely to host the moderate version of the memeplex. In a nutshell, the harder you push, the more they circle the wagons. For example, Muslims under military attack the world over are turning to extremism and Americans, faced with the increased threat of terrorism that results from this shift, have turned to extremism as well. Once you cease the attack, it's still possible for them to use your mere existence as a threat, but it's far less effective than a straight up attack. The extreme will always exist. There is no eliminating it. There is only reducing their effectiveness. Not giving them a reason to feel that they are under attack is a powerful way to do that.

The second effect is that it frees up all of the energy being used to fight them so that this energy can be used to build. The Darwinist memeplex is always under development. Focusing on building what you have strengthens it and makes it more attractive to others. It doesn't have to exist in opposition to other ideas. It's strong enough to exist on its own.

If the attack is called off, the ranks of the extremist position will diminish and more people will migrate back to the moderate position.

Extreme versions of a memeplex are more prone to collapse because they place so much emphasis on absolutes. An absolutes is like untempered steel. It's stronger, but more likely to shatter. It can't afford invasion.

A moderate memeplex that doesn't emphasise absolutes is more malleable, stretchy. The moderate position is more likely to allow for invasion because it places less focus on absolutes. They can allow for complexity and for competing ideas. A moderate creationist might allow the articulation of, "Well, sure, God created us and all but I'm pretty certain we evolved from primates."

As the Emperor told Darth Vader, "In time, he will seek you out."

Under the watch of extremism, the other idea is taboo. Calling off the dogs reduces the ranks of the extremist and creates a climate in which it's OK for creationists to investigate Darwinism. Whether they accept it themselves, or simply no longer feel threatened by it, either way is a win.

This of course is true of any culture conflict.

We must abandon the notion that the best way to influence another culture is to attack it because we know that if memetics and socially constructed reality are right, then attacking has the exact opposite effect. It entrenches. When people entrench, it means that the only option is to shift the attack from the idea to the person. This is why we have things like the Christianisation of Europe the Salem Witch Trials. We must abandon Conan:





What's best in life is loving your enemies, watching them live their lives while you live yours, and allow for the stress free flow of ideas.

Build it and they will come.

Quote:In the application of Satyagraha, I discovered, in the earliest stages, that pursuit of Truth did not admit of violence being inflicted on one's opponent, but that he must be weaned from error by patience and sympathy. For, what appears to be truth to the one may appear to be error to the other. And patience means self-suffering. So the doctrine came to mean vindication of Truth, not by infliction of suffering on the opponent but one's own self.
(Mohandas Gandhi, from a letter, 25th of January, 1920 CE)

Thank you for reading.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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08-08-2012, 08:27 AM
A Different Approach
So what you're saying is, let sleeping dogs lie. Big Grin

It was just a fucking apple man, we're sorry okay? Please stop the madness Laugh out load
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08-08-2012, 08:32 AM
RE: A Different Approach
Matt - Nice post, long winded Wink - but good.

These "debates" tend to be very divisive (sub X for creationism; sub Y for Darwinism) - it leaves people bitter and more entrenched, or doubling down on idiocy...

Anything to stop the spread of extremism is something we should try to support Smile

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08-08-2012, 08:42 AM
RE: A Different Approach
So. with 2 armies fighting a war of ideals, you're suggesting that the best tactic is for 1 of those armies to surrender? We'll have peace, but it will be a peace where every school has creationism taught as fact, because nobody opposed them introducing it.

So more of your children end up believing that evolution is no more true than creation. Evolution is pushed to the extremes and (eventually) 150+ years after Darwin published his work, he is consigned to the crazy bin, only accepted by people who didn't allow their children to be brainwashed into thinking something differently?

Uhm... no thanks.

In the USA, this might seem like a more-or-less parallel bell curve. In the UK, creationists are at the far extremes of cultural normality - and are openly mocked, by Christians and non-theists alike.
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08-08-2012, 08:48 AM
RE: A Different Approach
In the USA, Darwin is a bit like the Beatles. Introduced from the UK, with the claim that it is more popular then Jesus; which got a lot of Americans hating the new import.

Perhaps if Darwin had included a few songs in The Origin of Species, his popularity might have had more longevity.
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08-08-2012, 08:52 AM (This post was last modified: 08-08-2012 10:14 AM by AmishLatinJew.)
RE: A Different Approach
I usually leave them alone. But there are a few pet peeves I have if certain things are said around me. I try to keep my mouth shut, but sometimes it just doesn't work. I think evetually the younger generations will weed it out.

And yet another interesting topic I am not interested in.
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08-08-2012, 08:54 AM
RE: A Different Approach
---------Yes-------

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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08-08-2012, 08:55 AM
RE: A Different Approach
Nice thought, but it is the creationists who are on the offensive. They keep trying to inject their religion into science classes.

I am not going to stop defensive measures on this, and if that defense is perceived as offense, so be it.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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08-08-2012, 09:16 AM
RE: A Different Approach
(08-08-2012 08:55 AM)Chas Wrote:  Nice thought, but it is the creationists who are on the offensive. They keep trying to inject their religion into science classes.

I am not going to stop defensive measures on this, and if that defense is perceived as offense, so be it.

I think that you're addressing something different than what Matt is alluding to.

Fighting for separation of Church & State is something that every citizen should fight for, even if they are a theist/deist, particularly in matter concerning education.

However, when it comes to general discussion with a creationist, I completely agree with Matt.

It's why I've begun shifting my own advocacy efforts towards the youth (e.g. young kids) as well as towards glorifying science, technology, and critical thinking skills like skepticism.

Sure, there are folks that are making a difference by debating creationists in real life and online (the Atheist Experience comes to mind) and that those efforts result in the occasional creationist deconversion, but I think that the more important and ultimately successful route is to plant seeds with the youth and attempt to inoculate them from indoctrination.

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08-08-2012, 09:36 AM
RE: A Different Approach
(08-08-2012 08:42 AM)Red Celt Wrote:  So. with 2 armies fighting a war of ideals, you're suggesting that the best tactic is for 1 of those armies to surrender? We'll have peace, but it will be a peace where every school has creationism taught as fact, because nobody opposed them introducing it.

So more of your children end up believing that evolution is no more true than creation. Evolution is pushed to the extremes and (eventually) 150+ years after Darwin published his work, he is consigned to the crazy bin, only accepted by people who didn't allow their children to be brainwashed into thinking something differently?

Uhm... no thanks.

In the USA, this might seem like a more-or-less parallel bell curve. In the UK, creationists are at the far extremes of cultural normality - and are openly mocked, by Christians and non-theists alike.

Matt said:
"... the nature of cultural transmission is such that if one side articulates the other's memeplex, their cultural system collapses. That outcome is not desirable ..."

Why is it not desirable? Is that not what has happened in the UK with the CofE accepting the Darwin meme?

And we might also be witnessing the beginning of the end of the catholic meme for the same reason (or because of the pedophile meme or the internet-awareness-raising meme)

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