Wednesday, August 12, 2009

TED: Dan Dennett - Dangerous Memes and Inoculations

This isn't a new idea. Neal Stephenson went on and on about it in Snow Crash. Ideas are memetic infections--and they can be dangerous. However, I came to a realization that I hadn't thought of until the end of Dan Dennet's TED talk: Ideas like the Flying Spaghetti Monster are a form of viral inoculation. It's like a flu shot to prepare you for the next idea--a more dangerous one--but, having experienced the vaccine, your mind is capable of fighting off real diseases. We must make satire in order to fully develop our minds around ideas and work out any kinks that may be laughable--but that may not be apparent, which without discovering leaves the unwitting to suffer the agony of believing in half-baked information.

From TED:
"Starting with the simple tale of an ant, philosopher Dan Dennett unleashes a devastating salvo of ideas, making a powerful case for the existence of memes -- concepts that are literally alive."

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