Episode 61: Ghosts from a world away

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8 Responses to “Episode 61: Ghosts from a world away”

  1. Again Says:

    wow, tough stuff, again…


    We’re peace lovers here, but you wouldn’t guess it at that moment

    there are always things worth to be defended - like love, family, friends, justice, peace or the environment in which all of that can exist = democracy

    or in other words: to love peace doesn’t mean to end defense of what you think is right and good, on the opposite! It means to defend it always and everywhere - even against “only” words and ideas, even against memes constantly nibbling away at the principles of democracy, let alone a friend who is in need

    and even with physical force, but always in the famous tit-for-tat-strategy

    ahhh - i wish i would know Horace ;-)

    From Steve: This comment somehow ended up in Word Press’ spam filter (which I have not been checking often since there have been no prior problems).  If anyone has been having problems with comments not being posted please don’t take offense.  I will try to watch more closely.

  2. Chuck Says:


    But How do we distinguish between memes necessary for the survival of the specie, and just plain old revenge and/or meanness/ maliciousness?

  3. Again Says:


    But How do we distinguish between memes necessary for the survival of the specie, and just plain old revenge and/or meanness/ maliciousness?

    that’s not really difficult - the problem about it is, that it takes imagination (and enough information!)

    the first and maybe most hard thing is what is often reduced to the “Golden Rule”: reversibility. Look at a particular situation without regard of the individuals, look at it with anonymous players - ignore the real actors by changing their roles (remember Jane Elliot?) or by replacing them with varying friends and foes. If you are an “outsider”, imagine to be part of the situation - if you are an “insider”, change your role and even try to watch from the distance. Yes, that can be very hard, especially when you are a/the victim, but your brain is always able (and willing) to do it

    e.g - would you fight against George W. Bushs criminal war, if he would be your friend or your brother? Actually, that’s one of the things why i am against death penalty even in the worst cases, because if the criminal would be someone you love you would inevitably look for excuses - and the same you owe to anyone else: “equal rights for everyone” (another phrase for the principle of reversibility)

    btw: apropos “your brain is willing to forgive”: You know, how hard positional warfare is, a very “fine incubator” for revenge, i guess, but there is a wonderful example for the breaking of revenge: The Christmas Truce 1914

    ok, that’s just the “de-escalating” part of the equation, and Tit-for-Tat is not only about forgiving. It works, because it is more than “Always Cooperate” - it is also about being strong, able to defend rights and justice…

    because the second thing to evaluate memes as foundation of actions is the consequence for the future - the question, what will happen when something is stopped or strengthened?

    Easy example: the macho-attitude of Mr. George W. Bush. It doesn’t need a genius to understand that every other macho will feel attacked - the big and the little, the hot-blooded youngsters of the Middle East as much as Mr. Putin or the smiling Chinese Emperators…

    and it doesn’t need a genius to understand, that if you kill and maim and rape children in a war of greed and power-lust, their families will not be willing to forgive you. To stop the revenge you MUST allow justice, so Mr. Bush and his accomplices must be punished (severely!) as a very simple and basic sign of “equal rights for everyone” aka “equal duties for everyone” - punishment is a confession of guilt which is the only step towards forgiveness and forgiveness you need to work together for a better future (especially now, facing hard times to come) - think of Germany and Israel

    so - like America going into war to stop Hitler from flooding the Earth (actually, tit for tat because Hitler had already used the “tool” of war), you have to be strong to be able to defend what your brain/imagination tells you is right

    but warning: never listen to your emotions without distance - without using the principle of reversibility and the outlook into the future. That’s what happened with America (at least) after 09/11 - she did things she would never allow to anyone else because of fear, clearly without considering reversibility and the future. Without knowing anything else than that, you know - that’s wrong

    actually, i guess, it’s truly the Golden Rule - always the question: “how would i feel - and how would i react” and (the “modern addition”) “how would Earth react”….

  4. Chuck Says:


    Tell that to the Spartans, the Aztecs, the Incas. All acted according to their own memes. Did I leave out Taras Bulba? Pol Pot? Nixon? Johnson? Clinton? Never mind, there are too many names.

    There can be good memes and bad. Hisoricly, it seems the bad proliferate more than the bad.

  5. Chuck Says:

    Oops! I forgot about Genghis & Kublai Khan. Oh yes, I also forgot to put in the Aryans who over-ran the Indus Valley. I probably missed a bunch more, but you get the idea.

    Profesor Dawkins is probably right about about many things, he might also be right that memes might also be detrimental to the hosts. That seems to be the way humans are going.

  6. Again Says:


    Tell that to the Spartans, the Aztecs, the Incas

    i know, what you mean - alas, you are perfectly right…

    but what does that mean? While the Aztecs and the Incas at least could build an empire, the Spartans were not really more than a footnote in history - i guess, Hollywoold likes them just because they noticed some similarity between Alamo and the Battle for the Thermopylae and the Nazis liked them because they also wanted “Military men [as] dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy” (Henry Kissinger) and therefore used Sparta as propaganda…

    on the other hand - while the empires of the Aztecs and Incas didn’t survive for more than about 200-300 years, Sparta at least “persisted” for about 800…

    even the Mighty Rome didn’t last much longer…

    Taras Bulba? Pol Pot? Genghis & Kublai Khan

    (i didn’t mention the American presidents - you forgot Bush! - not because i would bet that they didn’t want to be dictators, but because until now they couldn’t manage to realize it)

    you forgot my favorite: Alexander, the Great - whose father had invented the professional army, so that he could “conquer” the countries of peaceful farmers (that is as if the Navy Seals fight against the Volunteer Fire Brigade - for me, the men of the Fire Brigade are the “Great”, not the professionals)

    alas, Chuck, you’re perfectly right - all those men succeeded in creating empires via terror and brute force

    Europe’s languages tell us about the horrors until now - but what about anything else they did? Their empires didn’t last much longer than they did

    the Aryans who over-ran the Indus Valley

    over-ran an empty country - the Indus-Valley-culture had vanished since hundreds of years when the Aryans arrived and war seems not to have been their problem…

    actually, the thing about the Indus Valley is the (more or less well) known history of about 600-800 years - doesn’t sound very long, but think of California. The Indus Valley was a culture of planned cities (like California) - not “organically grown” cities, so there must have been a culture “before”, long enough to develop the engineering skills they had and to gather the wealth to realize it

    or think of the people of Stonehenge and Avebury - Stonehenge is build in several construction phases - spanning 3,000 years

    there is only one empire in the whole history, which was able to survive (nearly) that long - China (and my bet is, China survived because of something like “historical lethargy” - constancy without much change and evolution)

    yes, alas, Chuck, you are totally right - history seems to prove that always the killers and terrorists win…

    but what if that is just a consequence of their “ability” to be remembered? Like the Europeans storing the suffering in their language calling murderers “berserks” and “vandals” and “huns”, but there are many more tribes in Europe - not only stored in the languages, but speaking the languages…

    think of the bees - we know so much about mass extinction, we think of vulcanos and comets and melting methane and glaciers, because we can find some traces, but bees don’t leave marks - what if? What if mass extinctions are a chain reaction starting with the vanishing of key species?

    we are - historically - so much impressed by the violence which “leaves marks” that we call it “success” - a role model for ambitious alphas - so that we do not focus on the ability of that “role model” to create survivability…

    but at the moment, our top problem seems to be Global Warming - aka survivability…

    That seems to be the way humans are going.

    as you mentioned, history seems to tell us that humans are just violent killers not able to create long-lasting societies: that’s the Status Quo

    but the Status Quo must be changed - we know that from our helpless scientists. We have to change things or we may go extinct like thousands and thousands of other species

    Kublai Khan cannot teach us anything to help us against climate change and tornados and over-population, you cannot kill Global Warming by brute force - so where to look for help?

    it might be the “bees”, not the “sharks”….

    The memes of Stonehenge, built of people working for life, not for death and that for 3000 years - left no marks except for the stones? Using feet and yards, you are something like an inheritor of Stonehenge - ever thought of that?

    There can be good memes and bad.

    yes - and we are the generation knowing more about memes, history and environment than any other before - while in former times, the bad memes may have proliferated, because memes ruled the uninformed people - we may be the first generation to “rule the memes”. We have the knowledge and the tools to stay informed, so we can detect and evaluate memes and decide which to support and which to oppose

  7. Chuck Says:

    As the professor said, a culture tends to pass certain traits or characteristics between members and to pass those along from one generation to the next with some changes over time. My answer to that is DUH!, isn’t that why the are called “cultures”? Mr. Dawkins professed to know the obvious and just decided to come up with a new name for it. Tenure and all that, I guess. Publish or perish.

  8. Again Says:


    My answer to that is DUH!, isn’t that why the are called “cultures”? Mr. Dawkins professed to know the obvious and just decided to come up with a new name for it.


    and yes, before i knew what information is and how information processing systems work, i thought the same about “new names” - especially when you work in IT for some years you really get annoyed by the tendency to pour old wine in new skins - inventing new words doesn’t mean to invent new ideas…

    but i’ve changed my mind - look at my posts. So many words and despite of that i never say enough to convince people. Mr. Dawkins created a new word - and everyone knows what he talks about - just a single word and communication succeeds. I often made that experience - i tried to convince people how important it would be to construct software in roughly independent complex components, others tried to promote “loosely coupled back-boxes”, but then someone created the acronym “SOA” and now you can easily discuss it - or think of Web 2.0 or Ajax…

    so have a little mercy on Mr. Dawkins - at least he made my life easier ;-)

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