For the purpose of this discussion, a dangerous meme is one that we
accept, but isn't true. A meme that completely destroys a
valued concept isn't necessarily bad, if it leads to greater clarity and
So, how do we practice 'safe-thinking' ? How does one sort through
our shared reality, that tangled mess of derived abstract reasoning, to
find what is real?
Most memes spread only when encountering little resistance. It
doesn't take much thinking to stop a meme if it disagrees' with us, we
reject it out of hand. Therefore, a memetic immune system needs to
be based on either: (1) an arbitrary belief system (weak, dangerous,
and all too common), or (2) logic and reason. The scientific method
is the ultimate tool for finding truth via logic and reason, so it's the
The scientific method
The scientific method is just logic and deductive reasoning... applied
rigorously. You carefully build lines and systems of reasoning from
initial, proven assumptions... then you prove the new assumptions. Our entire civilization was built
with logic and deductive reasoning ... so it does work!
There is one true reality for any observation. A logical
(scientific) examination will usually uncover that truth. A failure
to uncover the fundamental truth is probably due to a poorly executed or
designed examination (theory).
How does this relate to daily life?
It just means... you have to ask the right questions, and reason your
way through the results. Never accept a new idea as fact without
considering it first. And perhaps you should re-consider some things
you currently accept as fact... they may not be true at all!
You must have at least some knowledge (on any
subject) before you can even start to
think about a new concept within that subject. Don't assume a new concept is true or not
until you reason it out!
Synopsis of the scientific method, in 3 easy pieces:
(1) Every theory must be falsifiable
What you think to be true, must be able to be proven wrong, if your
results dictate. If you are considering something that can't be
proved right or wrong, you're asking the wrong question! If the
results trash a cherished belief, so be it. You learned something!
e.g. If you vote for a candidate who promises many things and does the
opposite, why would you still believe in them? Many people vote this
way over and over. People want to believe everything is OK, so
they just continue making the same wrong choice! That's very dangerous
(2) Observations must be seen several times to be considered real, even
in a correctly controlled examination.
One instance of something doesn't prove anything... it could be a
faulty or biased observation. You need more data than that.
Don't just grab onto an idea because it sounds good... stop and think!
e.g. Just because you looked up the street before you pulled up
to the stop sign, doesn't mean you can enter traffic before looking again!
(Not looking could be a one-time mistake.) The same idea applies
even more critically to any abstract idea... because there are no immediate
repercussions to careless reasoning.
People often make several correct steps of logic after an originally
wrong assumption, which trashes the whole line of reasoning.
Just don't tell your boss that... take my word for it!
(3) Conclusions can, at best, only answer the question(s) posed by the
You have to ask specific questions, and realize the answer doesn't necessarily
solve anything else, no matter how badly you want it to! Yes, it
requires you to wait for your answer, but then you'll have the real
answer... and be further ahead in 'the long run'. It seems many
people just can't wait, so they accept whatever seems plausible, or
So, don't extrapolate the answers you get to solve something
else. You need to build complex concepts one step at a time.
Too many people have whole belief systems that are messy piles of
dangerous memes... 1/2 baked conclusions and fanciful extrapolations that
cloud their thinking. We all learn as we grow... it's just that
people often build (and vehemently protect) an entire world view based on
But! Carefully constructed theories CAN answer many questions at
once... if the entire structure is falsifiable, and observations prove
true. A multi-faceted, properly executed theory is truly beautiful!
====> OK, still wondering what the heck I'm trying to say?
- Just don't blindly believe in something because you want to.
Investigate a new idea... think about that meme carefully before allowing
yourself to be infected. Hear something that challenges your world
view? Give it a chance... you might be surprised at what you learn!
- No individual can be clear about everything, but we can at least
TRY! You will be rewarded with a clearer world view, and a new
awareness you otherwise couldn't enjoy!
- Why I wrote this
Yes, I am frustrated both with other people and myself for being
illogical, but my real reason for posting this to the web is much more
The acceleration of technology is already pushing us into a new and
radical existence, and it's urgent that we learn to think clearly... NOW.