Talk:Viruses of the Mind

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Copyright status[edit]

I wonder what the legal intellectual property status of the essay is... it's all over the web but i'm not sure it's public domain. susano 05:22 Sep 2, 2002 (PDT)

Published when?[edit]

The date given in the Wikipedia article is 1993, but the date given in this link is 1991. Which is right? Gaius Cornelius 16:39, 9 September 2005 (UTC)

It's possible that the 1991 date is an error. Viriditas (talk) 22:12, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
OK, I see now that 1991 is not an error; it's the date he wrote it ("While I was writing this, the Guardian (July 29, 1991) fortuitously carried a beautiful example"). However, the piece was first "published" in 1992 after it was given as a lecture. It was then professionally published in 1993. I'll fix the article now. Viriditas (talk) 01:17, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

I attended the lecture he gave in London back in 1993, so I suspect that is the correct date. Bastie 01:26, 28 October 2005 (UTC)

The lecture occurred on November 6, 1992.[1] Viriditas (talk) 22:13, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Additions[edit]

Honestly NBeale, please familiarize yourself with standard practice here as well as editing practice (references in particular).

Here's your text. Justify it before adding it. I've removed the ref tags in this version,

The claims that "God" and "Faith" are viruses of the mind was first analysed at length in John Bowker's 1992-3 Gresham College lectures, written in collaboration with the Psychiatrist Quinton Deeley (ref) published as Is God a Virus? (SPCK, 1995, 274pp) He is severely critical of the claims, and of the quality of Dawkins argument, suggesting eg that "Logic never interferes with Dawkins's arguments where God is concerned" (p73). The other quotes come from p73 as well.(/ref). He suggests that this "account of religious motivation...is...far removed from evidence and data." and that, even if the God-meme approach were valid , "it does not give rise to one set of consequences... Out of the many behaviours it produces, why are we required to isolate only those that might be regarded as diseased? And who ... decides, and on what grounds, what is diseased? ... there is nothing here as objective as the observation of chicken-pox... the observer...is highly relative".

Writing in the Journal of Memetics in 1999 John Z. Langrish, citing Bowker's book, comments that "There are two further problems with the memes as viruses school of thought. One is that it ignores Dawkins original use for memes - as the basis for a new kind of evolution, acting on top of genetic evolution. Epidemiology is not in itself evolutionary unless it asks historical questions about the viruses. The second problem is that it has not found a use for memes as such. Ideas about the spread of `foreign' ideas have been around a long time. Have they been improved by the addition of memes?" (ref) Different Types of Memes: Recipemes, Selectemes and Explanemes(/ref)

*Spark* 15:53, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Hi Spark. Constructive contributions would be really helpful. In your latest revert (is that no 100?) you say "You've already been told "first" is clearly wrong. You're cherry picking quote *fragments*, your references text is huge. Health effects are irrelevant to this. See talk we can discuss.)" To respond briefly: (a) these lectures were given within a year of the claim being made. Do you have another book that was first? But OK I'll say "within a year of publication". (b) These quotes are highly representative of Bowker's arguments. They are not cherry-picked. It is a major point in the critics of Dawkins that his "viruses" trope assumes that religious belief is bad for you but actually the evidence is that, on balance, it is good for you. NBeale 08:07, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

It isn't up to me to improve your contributions. It's up to you to justify what you add with verifiable, reliable, notable sources. Labelling it mindless reversion smells of personal attack. Try to keep that to a minimum. You consistently fail to follow guidelines, necessitating others to fix what you add, request verifiable references and even correct the simplest things like reference formatting. The fact that your "footnootes" often require a paragraph of information should tell you something about the quality of your references.

Your first reference, to someone who quotes the subject is pointless. I'm not certain why you put that there, that sentence not only doesn't need a reference, the reference you put there is irrelevant.

I see you agree Langrish is not notable, to the point of removing his name. Since he isn't notable, neither is his commentary. I'm failing to see Bowker's scientific credentials. Finally, the core of Dawkin's essay is about the propogation of religion, not the effects it has on the individual "infected" with it. While he does mention individuals taking actions based on religion, he doesn't make any statement regarding health, and in fact states viruses can be beneficial. So the statement on health is rebutting something that isn't stated.

You show no evidence that McGrath is referring to this piece of work. Disagreeing with Dawkins on a subject is one thing, but unless this particular essay is referred to in the work, it isn't relevant.

Now, if you can back up these claims with quoted text from the essay followed by a rebuttal from a notable commentator, please do so. At this point, you've failed to do that. *Spark* 11:21, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

Hi Spark. thanks for being more specific. I've changed the text to address your concerns. NBeale 17:10, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
NBeale, you do this constantly. Please stop. Someone removes something you inserted and states a concern. If you reply, it is with a statement of "concern addressed" in talk or the edit summary and re-add it. Don't do that. Reply, in talk, before adding the material back. Let those expressing concern comment on your proposed addition before you insert it again. There's a reason you're often reverted, and it has nothing to do with the subject of the articles you tend to edit. *Spark* 17:37, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

Could someone please provide a translation of this recent addition: 'Dawkins describes religious belief as suggests that this "account of religious motivation...is...far removed from evidence and data." ' I simply fail to understand this. I assume some crucial words have been omitted. Snalwibma 17:16, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

On reflection... I have tried to make sense of it and have failed. I have therefore removed the addition. If anyone knows what it is trying to say, and can edit it to make sense, please go ahead! Snalwibma 17:28, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
Hi Snalwibma. Sorry - the reference got tangled in with the text. I have now straightened this out as requested. If others expand the article further by notable positive citations of this trope, it would be great NBeale 23:12, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
And you completely ignored, again, the request to discuss here before adding it, claimed you "addressed a concern", and put it back in (which is exactly what I said you tend to do). And once again there's questionable unsourced material in the article. I suppose there's something to be said for consitency. Please don't feign you're going to work with other editors before adding material when you obviously have a POV to push regardless of guidelines. *Spark* 02:38, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
OK - thanks - at least it now makes sense! But it looks suspiciously like a quote-mining POV attack on Dawkins' article to me. What do others think? Snalwibma 23:19, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
I have had a go at editing the article and addressing my concerns - though I am handicapped by not knowing the McGrath and Bowker sources! It seemed inappropriate for Dawkins' parasite metaphor to be referred to only in the sentence describing Bowker's comments, and in a footnote - so I have moved it to the first paragrph to form part of the description of what Dawkins himself says. I am still very suspicious of all the ellipses in the Bowker and McGrath quotes. What has been omitted? I am also concerned that the term "god-meme", which occurs in both these quotes, does not appear in Dawkins' article. How far is the article straying from an honest discussion of the Viruses of the Mind essay? Snalwibma 23:45, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
I can't see how a criticism with the word "diseased" in it can be associated with Dawkins' essay as he doesn't use this word (or disease). It's a strawman argument by John Bowker and/or Quinton Deeley. The whole 2nd half of that para that has John Bowker and Quinton Deeley in it needs to go. The Alister McGrath criticism is also a red herring in which Alister McGrath again tries to associate "virus" as something inherently bad and misses the whole point of the essay i.e. it is about propagation mechanisms. I wonder what McGrath would think of endogenous retrovirus ? That aside the 2nd 1/2 where McGrath misses the point should go. Fine otherwise - this essay is 15 or so years old and it's still just as relevant today. Ttiotsw 23:54, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
I was just about to make the same point! (1) Dawkins does not say it's a disease. (2) Not all viruses are bad anyway. The point of the essay is not that religion is bad, but that it is propagated like a virus. As far as I can see from the selections from the two critics that NBeale has given us, both of them misunderstand what Dawkins is saying. Snalwibma 23:59, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
Ttiotsw and Snalwibma. In his essay Dawkins describes people with the "mental virus of faith" as "afflicted", as "sufferers", and as "conned". Dawkins' scope extends well beyond the means of propagation. He writes: "Happily, viruses don't win every time. Many children emerge unscathed from the worst that nuns and mullahs can throw at them." Anyway, Dawkins is a master of rhetoric -- of course he means the reader to infer the negative "disease" connotation of "virus". He is using what are normally so keenly detected around here: weasel words. TimRR 03:24, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
Good point, TimRR. OK - I concede that Dawkins makes it clear that religion is bad for you (though I would dispute the "weasel" tag - the virus idea is a straightforward analogy, not an underhand way to infer connotations - he is anything but underhand about his feelings towards religion!). BUT it is still a wholly inadequate criticism of the essay to say "but religion isn't like a virus because religion is good" - and this, if the quotes from Bowker and McGrath are truly representative of those writers' responses, is all that is offered as a critique. Unless someone can come up with more relevant critical comments which address the central theme of the essay instead of missing it entirely, I think the Bowker and McGrath bits should be deleted. Snalwibma 06:37, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
Hi Snalwibma. Thanks for improving things. But I don't think we can/should be taking a position on whether these criticisms are valid - we are merely recording the fact that these criticisms have been made. Inevitably short snippets from two considerable books give a simplistic idea of what they are saying, and if you think it would be helpful if you give a specific point in the essay that you think Bowker or McGrath may have missed I'll try to find what they say about it and add it. Of course one of the fundamental points against Dawkins is that he never produces any evidence that religion averaged over the phenotypes and populations has net negative effects. He merely offers anecdotes about the harm done "by religion" (although it is usually "by religious people claiming to act in the name of religion" which isn't the same thing). The main reason why he doesn't do this is that all the evidence is that on balance relgious belief in general (and probably Christianity in particular) on average enhances your survival and well-being. Hence the resort to un-substantiated name-calling in the "bacillus" tradition, alas. NBeale 22:00, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
I missed this one: You cannot honestly expect to bring up the temporal benefits of the Christian religion without taking some criticism. I'd just like to point out that may be true in say the UK but not say if you are a Christian in an Islamic country. Then claiming being a Christian is probably quite seriously damaging to your survival both as an individual and a contributor to the gene pool. You can only make the claim that having belief consistent with the rest of the population on average enhances your survival but not present a specific religion as being any better. I think you'll find that it is simply having a belief system (of which even secular humanists have very strongly) which is congruent to the rest of society that is essential for on average survival. This is presented by Dawkins as the case for religion though not a reason to have religion per se as we are now able to have an ethical framework (namely human rights laws) which need not have a divine inspiration. As I have said before, it took 2000 years of Christianity before the population of the UK got into law the Human Rights Act (1998). This shows that the Christian religion, though it's heart may be in the right place, it somewhat tardy in implementing tangible evidence of what it is to be of a christian character into our laws and in fact required the secular revolution that has grown from the Englightenment movement to drive this reform. Ttiotsw 08:05, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
NBeale, with most other editors when a request is made, they discuss it. I'm still waiting for anything detailing how Bowker is notable on the topic, more importantly how a lecture at Gresham from him is notable (your cite is a book published by a nonnotable publisher), or that McGrath was talking about this particular work. You've already acknowledged implicitly that Langrish is not notable, neither is a link to his commentary which you did not bother to remove. Since Snalwibma states that it should be deleted unless something more relevant can be cited and I agree, I'm removing all of it. It can be worked on here in talk, until consensus is reached on its addition. Thanks. *Spark* 23:53, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

Spark. Excuse me if I am butting in on a discussion between you and NBeale, but I have some comments. John Bowker is notable on this topic since, judging by the references in his Wikipedia article, he has considerable academic pedigree in the realm of science and religion. (I note that you have commented on the lack of sources referenced on Bowker's page, but surely there is no question about much of what's there -- a discussion on the deletion of the page last June thought him clearly notable and a Google book search for "John Bowker" turns up impressive material.)
Above you question Bowker's scientific credentials... even if they are weak (which I suspect that are not, glancing at his book "Sacred Neurons") why might that make him not notable as a commentator on Dawkins' essay? Dawkins' essay is a provocative polemic, not a scientific work: look at Section 4 where Dawkins lists characteristics of science, then think about whether the essay measures up to those standards. But anyway, even if it is worthy of being labelled science, why should that exclude a non-scientist from making notable comments on it?
As for Gresham lectures, look at the Gresham College web pages and the Gresham College Wikipedia page for details of a long history of distinguished speakers.
I don't have a copy of McGrath's book to hand to check that reference, but a Google Book search for McGrath "Viruses of the mind" does turn up direct references made by McGrath in "Genes, memes, and the meaning of life" to Dawkins' essay. I leave it to others to pursue this more closely.
I think that critiques of the essay focussing on the idea that religion is disease-like are highly relevant. I believe Dawkins is attempting to belittle religion through loaded language (and other devices) -- that is the sense in which I consider him to be using weasel words. And I think that the propagation mechanism stuff is a device to assume, disingenuously, a cloak of dismissive and specious scientific objectivity. But that's my POV, and perhaps the claims that you and Snalwibma make on the irrelevance of the critiques are rooted your POVs. So, as NBeale essentially suggests, let's focus on whether the critiques are notable, encyclopaedic etc. TimRR 01:32, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

TimRR, chime in all you want, if this were a "private" conversation it would be taking place in email. I am and have been focusing on whether the critiques are notable, etc. The claims made by myself and Snalwibma are rooted in WP policies and guidelines, which NBeale consistently fails to follow or even acknowledge.
Regarding your individual points: Bowker may be notable. Is he published by any major publishers? In the deletion discussion for that article there were many comments regarding expanding the article, but since then it hasn't gotten references, etc. If you can improve it, please do so. On this topic, I'm still failing to see it. Again, provide references you feel are appropriate.
I know about Gresham, and while it has a history of distinguished speakers, speaking there doesn't make you distinguished. The McGrath cite is very good, exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about. If you can flesh out a paragraph using that cite I'd most likely support inclusion. Though I will say the paragraph as it was put McGrath in a poor light for seeming to misunderstand the core of the essay and is arguing against something Dawkins did not state. *Spark* 02:26, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
Yes, Bowker is published by a number of notable publishers such as OUP, CUP (several times), Dorling Kindersley, Canto -- look, for example, here and here for details.
I would rather leave composing a McGrath reference to someone with unfettered access to the text. TimRR 03:23, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
My problem is not so much whether McGrath and Bowker are notable, but whether what they say adds anything useful to the article about Dawkins' essay. As they stand, the two critiques could be adequately (well, almost) summarised by saying that a number of Christian commentators objected to RD's negative portrayal of religion but did not disagree with the central idea that it is propagated like a virus. NBeale (a few paragraphs above) has asked for suggestions on what from Bowker and McGrath should be included. Here's one: It would be interesting (and maybe notable, and certainly worth including) if either had anything to say on the central theme of Dawkins' essay. Snalwibma 08:31, 5 December 2006 (UTC)


Controversial?[edit]

With respect to the opening words, is it a fact that the essay is controversial, or is this a weasel word inserted in an attempt to undermine RD's argument? I don't know the answer - I'm just asking. Snalwibma 16:02, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

I feel it should say "seminal" to be consistent with the Faith-sufferer page. It is a work from which other works have been derived more so than any controversy it has created in the minds of critics. For it to be controversial we'd have to have some big-name call it that or have it clash with existing science whereas we can describe it as seminal as that matches the dictionary definition plus I'm amused by the nuance of seminal given we're discussing viruses and indirectly genetics. Ttiotsw 00:06, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
Describing something as "controversial" is to say that it provokes disputes, particularly public ones, which Dawkins' essay evidently does. To say that an essay is "seminal" means that it is highly influential in an original way. As NBeale's "Historical Context" comment above indicates, that would not be an accurate description of Dawkins' essay. TimRR 01:51, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
I am very happy with "controversial", as long as it means "which has provoked controversy" - but not if it means "which I disagree with". Has it provoked any notable controversy? (and no, you can't count the discusion on this page!) Equally, I am happy with "seminal", as long as it means "which has led to important work by others" and not "which I think is wonderful"! What important scientific or religious research has been inspired by the essay? Either way, I think evidence is required, or the adjective should be deleted. Snalwibma 08:43, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
Yes, it has provoked notable controversy. Here's some evidence to add to the Bowker and McGrath comments under discussion above. There is a critique of the idea of religion as a "virus of the mind" in this FT review of ' 'A Devil's Chaplain' '. Here is an article in which it is argued that the blanket view of religion as a disease, advocated by Dawkins, is inconsistent with the principles of parasite ecology. Indeed, Dawkins comes close to describing the idea as controversial himself when he writes (p. 117, "A Devil's Chaplain"), "To describe religions as mind viruses is sometimes interpreted as contemptuous or even hostile. It is both."
"Seminal" does not just mean "which has led to important work by others". It also implies originality. As NBeale's reference points out above, the idea of religion as a virus precedes Dawkins' contribution. Indeed, according to this article, the analogy of viruses of the mind for religions was suggested to Dawkins by Nicholas Humphrey. TimRR 15:40, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
If originality is key then we need to update the Wikipedia seminal article as the case for originality isn't clear as it being the sole criteria for use of the word. Merriam-Webster http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=seminal has it as "containing or contributing the seeds of later development" but others refer to originality. Arguing like this means that even Darwins work wasn't original (read Alfred Russel Wallace ); very little in science is truely original as it builds on other work. A seminal work is when it presents a new twist and people "ah yes, I'll have to use that one" and then go on to write their own stuff. Though the Guardian link you provided mentions Nicholas Humphrey suggested to Dawkins about virus, it is unclear if the twist of using the computer viruses was discussed or if Humphrey published any work using this idea (anyone help here ?). Most people get worried when something solely original gets presented in science. I do not think you have presented the case that seminal must be totally original discounting that the work leads to new works. The key issue is if the work causes other works and this is clearly the case. I propose the wording, "seminal , yet controversal," as more a more neutral term. Ttiotsw 07:43, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for those thoughts. I still think originality is a necessary feature of being seminal, but agree this is nuanced along the lines you explain. (The Merriam-Webster link you give actually does refer to originality.) Sorry to be difficult, but I still don't see a case for saying this essay is seminal. What is the notable body of work that has grown out of this essay? (It is not memetics: if this web site is correct, then that concept is introduced in The Selfish Gene.) Also, having identified a candidate body of work, given other the sources we've discussed, we had better be careful to check that it really grew out of this essay to some reasonable degree. TimRR 05:34, 9 December 2006 (UTC)

Like Viruses + Spread Like Viruses[edit]

Hi Snalwibma. The argument about "Spread like a Virus" is a little complicated, and if I quote it extensively I bet Spark will object that it's too long - ah well. But having re-re-read the Essay I don't think it's correct to say that this is the central point. Far more space is spent on characterising beleif in God as a virus (The Infected Mind section is 4258 words). I think it is fair to say that the essay has 2 central ideas: Reglious ideas are like viruses and are spread like viruses. Now McGragh's criticisms of Dawkins's ideas on this second point are quite extensive. He argues inter alia that:

  1. There is no evidence that "Memes" exist. Obviously ideas do but these correspond to phenotypes - where are the genes? (pp. 121-125, 128-135)
  2. There is strong evidence that ideas are not spread by random processes, but by deliberate intentional actions on the part of humans. (p126)
  3. Insofar as there is "evolution" of ideas it is not Darwinian but Lamarkian. (p127)
  4. There is no evidence that epidemiological models usefully explain the spread of religious ideas - and certainly Dawkins presents none. (p137-8)

Bowker's book treats the essay at much greater length and it is correspondingly harder to identify the "killer quotes" But maybe this is a useful start for you? NBeale 06:31, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

NBeale, you've been told by both myself and Snalwibma that it's better to talk here before adding your content. And yet you continue to add disputed content without doing so. Do you not understand that your actions could be considered disruptive? What part are you misunderstanding? ++*Spark* 12:15, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Achieving balance[edit]

Three questions for NBeale (and others):

1. What is meant by “balance” and WP:NPOV? Does it mean that half the text should be taken up with refutations of the argument of Dawkins' essay, however pertinent and specific those refutations are? Or should the focus be on what the essay itself says, with rather less space given to the reactions?

2. Is there a danger that an article which is 50% “this is what Dawkins said” and 50% “and here is how two people have criticised his argument” looks (a) more like an article about Bowker and McGrath than an article about a Dawkins essay, and (b) more like an effort to win an argument than an attempt to state the facts clearly?

3. Having decided what constitutes balance and NPOV, how should we achieve it? Is the best way to proceed for one editor or group of editors (faction A) to insert the sources which support case A, then for another group (faction B) to try and counter it with a bunch of stuff which supports case B? Or should we all be working together, regardless of our personal opinions, to achieve what is best for the article, and for the naive reader?

Snalwibma 08:09, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Of course we should work together, before adding content to the article that doesn't have consensus. I tire of certain editors dumping whatever material they can find into articles without regard for policies and guidelines while expecting others to clean up the mess they make. The new additions have all the significant failures mentioned previously by other editors. If the editor in question removed the additions and brought the talk here before adding them again I might be willing to accept said editor is willing to work within the guidelines of the community. ++*Spark* 12:23, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
Well, it would help to have an accurate, and fairly detailed, account of what Dawkins actually says. That should be what the article is mainly about. I've started work on that. Metamagician3000 09:32, 23 December 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, Metamagician! Good work. I think it's quite likely we will want to build in some of the content from Faith-sufferer, too - see discussion at Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Faith-sufferer. Snalwibma 11:18, 23 December 2006 (UTC)
One thing I wanted to do was produce a summary of the "symptoms" that Dawkins lists. I see it's already been done at Faith-sufferer, and looks pretty good at first glance. I think we should definitely make use of that material, at least. Metamagician3000 12:06, 23 December 2006 (UTC)
I've now made a first attempt to massage in that material. I'm not wedded to any precise wording as long as it is done smoothly. Metamagician3000 12:17, 23 December 2006 (UTC)

Speciation is analogous to religious schism[edit]

Speciation and Schism (religion) show interesting similarities; compare a phylogenetic tree to a Christian-lineage tree. Dawkins' essay focuses primarily on the impact of (presumably static) religion on the host, much as a medical doctor treats diseases on a time scale shorter than that usually required for new diseases to evolve. However, one of the great similarities between viruses and religions is the furious rate at which new ones evolve (fast enough in the case of religions to have given rise to an almost incomprehensible religious diversity just within historic time). Similar diversification occurs with languages, music, fashion, politics, and technology — things we can describe as social constructs without being accused of blasphemy. The presence of intentional modification by no means amounts to any sort of overarching intelligent (i.e., non-Darwinian) design, thanks to the Law of unintended consequences. That is, even if we assume innovators are consciously and intentionally coming up with their innovative ideas, they almost never know the full impact of their incremental innovations within a complex system; and those who adopt the innovations may have their own reasons which differ from the innovators'. From an overall perspective (which historical hindsight can sometimes approximate), human innovators may be almost as unaware of what they are ultimately creating as mutating genes are. Can anyone seriously argue that, say, the English language in its current state was "planned"? Or was it the intent of the founder of any major religion to eventually inspire a number of mutually-warring schisms?

Anyway, I do have a question here. Is it possible to mention the striking similarity between speciation and schism as evidence supporting the analogy between viruses and religions without violating WP:NOR? Also, at the risk of introducing too many ideas not fully explored in the original essay, some number of innovations in social constructs are the result of replication error, as when a particular misspelling of a word (or a misinterpretation of a religious text or doctrine) eventually achieves orthodox status through sufficient repetition. This replication with error is essentially universal (everyone speaks his own idiolect, for example), and helps produce the variation which is the raw material for selection. Just as no two people speak exactly the same language, one could assert that no two people believe exactly the same religion, disagreeing with everyone else on at least some points of doctrine, or the degree of emphasis to place on them. Teratornis 07:20, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

I'm afraid WP:NOR will probably trip this line of reasoning up (i.e. comparing speciation and schism with reference to virii, unless you can identify someone else notable who has reported this) but when I read what you wrote I immediately thought of emergent behaviors and started to dig around in Wikipedia and sure enough I noticed in Emergent_behaviour#Fads_and_beliefs that "virus of the mind" is mentioned in passing under the section headed "Emergent concept". That section is uncited too - pity. The nature of religion appears to be human nature with a variety of gods being used as trump cards to create an aura of verisimilitude and claim of absolutism. The emperor may have no clothes but he dresses very well; would a creator that is as powerful enough to create this universe care for such refinery or is this simply what has developed to appeal to human nature ? The same question applies to the record of religious schism, the most topical now being Sunni verses Shi'a. Ttiotsw 10:53, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

Debate with McGrath.....[edit]

When McGrath raised his question on effect of the religion, perhaps he did not think it from other side of coins. Effect can be positive and also be negative depending on the situation into which the religion falls. To me, any healing method derived from religion is a kind of medicinal drug which has the remedy effect, but also has the side effect. Don't people agree??? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 218.82.224.61 (talk)

Reactions[edit]

Why is there only negative reception featured in this section? It seems awfully biased to me.--121.219.116.46 10:02, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Please go ahead and find positive comments, and add them to the article! Snalwibma 10:38, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. Positive reactions should be there. Wouldn't mind putting some of it there later. SDas 22:38, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

False Reasoning??[edit]

To quote:

McGrath also cites a metareview of 100 studies and argues that "If religion is reported as having a positive effect on human well-being by 79% of recent studies in the field, how can it conceivably be regarded as analogous to a virus?" End Quote.

A "mind Virus" would have to appear "beneficial" to an individual infected with it, as if they knew they were "sick" they would not try to actively pass on the infection, but would actively seek medical help instead. It is no different from the fact that many people with mental-illnesses/alcohol/drug addiction do not seek the care they need because the illness they suffer from prevents them from realising they are sick and need help in the first place.

So to claim that "most people (79%) suffering from the illness known as religion think the are not sick" is probably as true as "most alcoholics do not think they have an alcohol problem." It proves nothing. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Bat Flattery (talkcontribs) 18:31, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Viruses aren't necessarily "bad", at least not hypothetically. The virus responsible for creating Pak Protectors is a fictional example of a beneficial (symbiotic) virus. FiredanceThroughTheNight (talk) 22:47, 27 February 2014 (UTC)