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Meme Update #15

In this issue: 
    Fish Wars


Conciseness Department

Thanks to reader and friend Tim Rhodes for the following:

A university creative writing class was asked to write a concise essay containing these four elements:


The prize-winning essay read:

"My God," said the Queen. "I'm pregnant. I wonder who did it?"

Fish Wars

For some time now, we've all seen cars with little metal fish screwed into the rear end where the model and dealership's name sometimes are. Most people know that the fish is a symbol of Jesus Christ, whose name is often spelled out in Greek inside the fish. It's a way of spreading the evangelistic Christian meme complex.

Evangelism is an essential component of a virus of the mind. If a religion does not evangelize -- contain as part of its teaching that it is important to "save," "convert," or "pass the favor on" -- then it is at a severe disadvantage when competing with other belief systems for a share of people's minds. The fish on the back of the car is but a small means of taking the message into the age of advertising. Televangelists have done a much more effective job at the same thing, consistently increasing their "market share" at a time when most religions see their membership ("memebership"?) dwindling.

More recently, there's been a new fish in the sea of cars: a little fish with legs growing out of its bottom. Inscribed inside the fish, in place of the Greek "Jesus," is the word "Darwin."

I laughed the first time I saw this, but then started to think. Have scientific-minded folk finally figured out what is one of the main points in my book "Virus of the Mind": that it's evangelize or be evangelized, meme or be memed? Did this Darwinian fish disseminate from the Simonyi Chair at Oxford held by Richard Dawkins, his mission to popularize science by peppering it with good memes? If not, it's the kind of thing that should be done.

Most people's experience of science is a boring high-school class with impenetrable textbooks and difficult exams. If scientific ideas could be as fun as astrology, and be as good ice-breakers at parties, we'd be on our way. I myself have begun to ask "what's your blood type?" instead of "what's your sign?" and launch into an informal research project along the lines of Dr. Peter D'Adano's ideas about diet and blood type.

Meanwhile, though, the fish wars continue. Last seen was an escalation on the Christian side: A big Jesus fish, mouth gaping, about to swallow the little Darwin fish. Heh heh. But it's sad that religion vs. science has to be seen as a competition. The purpose of religion is to guide us in living meaningful, fulfilling lives. Science should compliment that, not compete with it. Much of the fuss is about conflicts between scientific theories of the past and religious creation myths. These are not the most important things to be thinking about anyway. What kind of future do we want to create? How will we accomplish it? When I meet in San Francisco next month with many other concerned individuals from around the globe at the State of the World Forum, we will address these issues. They are big, almost imponderable issues, but thinking about them is a step in the right direction.

Final fish note: not to be left out, the Jews have gotten into the act. The other day I saw a fish with a Star of David. Inscribed was one pithy word:


Hypnosis Update

Several readers wrote to assure me that hypnosis was indeed a useful and effective tool. I agree! When I said I thought it had fallen from favor among PhDs and MDs, that was a personal judgment derived from various conversations I've had with such people. To be fair, there is at the very least a core of professionals with whom hypnosis has definitely NOT fallen from favor.

Virtual Pet Update, Part I

Reader James Weissman offered the following URL for people wanting to raise a virtual fish on their PC (Windows 3.X or 95 only):

Virtual Pet Update, Part II

Reader and friend Andrew Sigal sent this:

Microsoft Sues Bandai Over Tamagotchi

Redmond WA, (AP). Microsoft (MSFT) has announced a 54 million dollar lawsuit against Tamagotchi maker, Bandai. Microsoft is claiming that the Tamagotchi (the Japanese electronic pet that's all the rage with the kids) is an infringement of its intellectual property.

Microsoft spokesperson, Erik Loregard stated "Software that needs constant, even hourly attention, or else it dies? Sounds like Windows to me. This is clearly an infringement on our technology".

The Bandai company spokesman refused to comment on the suit.