In the guardian's Why I no longer believe religion is a virus of the mind, Blackmore tosses away decades of scholarship. Her first reason for abandoning memetics is

"The reproductive advantage of religion". With graph after convincing graph he showed that all over the world and in many different ages, religious people have had far more children than nonreligious people.

This only proves that religions propagate by leading the infected to overproduce more. If a virus makes you more fecund, that doesn't make it nonviral. What about the negative correlation between reigion-inspired fecundity and women's equality. Quiverfull, anyone?

Then she says

All this suggests that religious memes are adaptive rather than viral from the point of view of human genes, but could they still be viral from our individual or societal point of view? Apparently not, given data suggesting that religious people are happier and possibly even healthier than secularists.

But that link has nothing to do with health, it's about claims that the religious are happier. I'd be willing to bet somebody could construct a questionnaire and study that proved cocaine addicts are happier too.

Religion can, I grant, provide a soothing cocoon of diversion and denial to bandaid-over the downs in life. I get that effect from turning on the telly. It doesn't mean watching TV is good for me.

She cited data that "religious people can be more generous, cheat less and co-operate more in games." What about actual crime? Compare the rate of sexual abuse of ministers and priests with that of secular humanist leaders, why don't you? I give them generosity. We aren't nearly as good at organized charity. We also don't shake down merchants for donations as effectively as Al-Qaeda and Mother Theresa.

Ok, I'm angry at Blackmore. I feel betrayed. As overpopulation threatens human survival, she embraces it. Just because it's part of evolution, perhaps. But evolution doesn't plan. Viruses don't plan. We're supposed to be able to look ahead and forsee the consequences of our actions and values. We're supposed to be able to step back with our intellect, instead of listening to our genes for moral guidance. *sigh*

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Indeed, although biological evolution especially via sexual reproduction, may have been the process of our origins (Alpha), intelligent design or conscious evolution, is most certainly the way of the future (Omega).


Seems like she made a hasty decision. The article is from 2010 - does she still believe that way? Only a few studies changed her mind? Those studies she discusses in the article sound flawed to me. I wonder if she considered that. Not all studies are done correctly or worthwhile.

Couldn't agree with you more about the problem of overpopulation. When prey animals get overpopulated, the predators also increase in number, so there are boom and bust cycles in the populations of both. However, humans are at the top of the food chain, and there are no controls over us, except starvation and disease. And we have done a lot to reduce mortality from disease. So all that remains is starvation, except that in doing so, we are taking down a lot of other species with us.

I am angry, too, at those who serenely say "God will provide", especially the rich ones, and the ones that don't see that open land is not the solution -- what good is land without water, for example (thinking of the Nevada desert where I live)? Unfortunately, god only provides for the rich. The poor can just happily starve and die. :-(

I think of overpopulation as humanity running toward a wall. We can either stop on our own before hitting the wall, or we can be forcefully stopped by the wall.

So she changed her mind entirely after watching some guy give a presentation with some good slides? Better keep her away from the 9/11 Truthers, or she will join right up with them too.


I didn't get any sleep last night, so maybe my brain isn't functioning very well right now, but I just don't get what the hell she's even talking about. (And it makes me ill to talk about all this "successful" overbreeding. And her points about it are just asinine.)

Being the overseer of our perceptions on the level of concepts does grant one more prerogatives than exclusively perceptual creatures such as my cats. Still, dogma, post hypnotic conditioning, media conditioning, dysfunctional family role scripting and even a nose for frequenting places packed with frenetic consumers will get one entangled up in all sorts of un-life-enhancing behaviors.
Re Ruth's "...Religion can, I grant, provide a soothing cocoon of diversion and denial to bandaid-over the downs in life...."

Methinks xianity's claim that humankind fell from a "higher" state brings downs into many lives. Its other claims--original sin and others too numerous to identify here--also bring downs into many lives.

In contrast, I see as an "up" in life the reality that my ancestors a few billion years ago were blue-green algae, or pond scum.

Not persuaded? Consider the myriad genetic changes that resulted in our having chocolate.


I wrote a couple of paragraphs about education and birth rates, and then tried to edit something, and it all vanished.  So I'll just write the last line, 'cause I don't know Jack about memetics.


"A Womb Is NOT a Clown Car!"

Yeppers! Even lemmings know when enough is enough!

  I once saw Whoopi Goldberg on The View shouting down someone for suggesting "population control" measures (by that they were meaning setting limits on numbers of children per household). Whoopi exploded in emotion-"Government doesn't have the right to control my uterus! This ain't Russia! Having kids is a human right...".

I couldn't believe she could not see that the discussion had veered over into the prospect of mass-starvation becoming a reality in parts of the world that had never before dreamed of going hungry.  Human right??  Yeah, I guess it's a human right to bring another starving mouth into such a world, but who are you helping by doing so? I wondered.

Somehow I do not see the usage of wise population control measures as inhuman or unjust.  And such measures place just as much responsibility on both parents, rather than focusing only on women as propagators.  The rest of the Earth cannot handle a human population of the current size for very long. I would think not being born at all would be advantageous to being born to die so soon after your first taste of life.

We could even have fertilized embryos frozen and have births "delayed" maybe even for generations.  Or, as science fictiony as it may sound-we could live in collective communes and parent other parents' children by communal surrogates-literally "Planned Parenthood" only with the emphasis on the parent part.  Yeah, I'm going a little off the deep end there but why not? I think man should not let nature select all of his options for him or ol' Mama Nature might just "select" extinction as a viable alternative. 

If I've taken this piece of conversation way too far out-just ignore it!




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