View Full Version : HIV/AIDS: The Fittest Meme

May 24th, 2009, 01:52 AM
This TED talk might help some of the angry dissidents to be more understanding and tolerant towards the medical professionals:

Dan Ariely asks, Are we in control of our own decisions? | Video on TED.com (http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/dan_ariely_asks_are_we_in_control_of_our_own_decis ions.html)

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely, the author of Predictably Irrational, uses classic visual illusions and his own counterintuitive (and sometimes shocking) research findings to show how we're not as rational as we think when we make decisions.

The relevance should become obvious at least after the 10th minute or so.

Why is there such a strong inclination to label a wide range of diseases under one label like "AIDS" and to try to treat it with magic pills as if it's a monocausal problem?

"...it's not because it's easy. It's not because it's trivial. It's not because we don't care. It's the opposite. It's because we care. It's difficult and it's complex. And it's so complex that we don't know what to do. And because we have no idea what to do we just pick whatever it was that was chosen for us... "

And the "HIV/AIDS" theory, the ultimate simplification of the relatively confusing observations around that time, arrived as the savior: An unstoppable curse caused by a tiny, evil, omnipotent particle. There's nothing anyone can do about it anyway, so it's much more convenient to just accept it all, and go along with it.

Especially when this "HIV/AIDS" belief is the default choice, as it is since the US Government -the authority- jumped forward to rid the scientific community from their scientific responsibilities with a press conference in 1984.

For those who have seen "The Other Side of AIDS" (http://www.theothersideofaids.com/home.html) (or for those who experienced all that themselves) it should also be clear that this irrationality problem applies to the "AIDS patients" too:

-Do you ever question what you're being told about your diagnosis?
-Umm... ... ... ... No.

-It was easier on the other side... It was easier knowing I was gonna die. ... Coz it was really euphoric. It was like touching the face of God or something like that, becoming one with the earth and knowing that everything's going to pass and change. And that's a really euphoric feeling.

-When you test HIV positive, when you are touched, when you get that positive diagnosis you're supported by everything and everyone around you to be ill and die. The government gives you wellfare... and free medical care and you easily get disability and other programs to help you pay your rent and all that sort of thing. Everyone around you and everything conspires to you being ill and dying, and that this is the path for you. And it's almost a sad noble path that everyone is very willing to help you walk along as long as you stay on that path and play the role of that victim. ...

There's something attractive... about giving up. And I see people ready to do it and doing it all the time.

Such is the power of a convenient default choice. Rethinkers should come up with fitter memes than this "HIV" thing, or rethinkers should modify the cultural environment in order to enable more beneficial memes to survive.

P.S. This other talk by Ariely is also useful: Dan Ariely on our buggy moral code | Video on TED.com (http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/dan_ariely_on_our_buggy_moral_code.html)

That one becomes more relevant to things like HIV/AIDS theory at the very end I guess; about the virtue of people being able to doubt and test their own beliefs, no matter how strong they may feel. Does anyone know about a theory (or a long chain of assumptions) that is soo "obvious" and soo "proven" that there is no need to attempt to test it? It would be just a waste of time and precious resources of course. "Scientists" have better things to do than waste their time doubting the "obvious"... I'm joking, of course. But just like in the second video, maybe we should also consider how hard it would be for them to take the longer path and be more rigorous. This subjective difficulty can't be a valid excuse when it comes to science though.

May 24th, 2009, 07:33 PM
In the 1980s, I studied with a Professor who emphasized the major role fantasy plays in thoughts and decisions, but I guess all you need to do these days is to watch FoxNews and you'll get a year's worth of fantasy in one day !

Brian Carter
May 25th, 2009, 07:13 AM
Great essay / great post Sadun!

Now if all those confused and mislead followers of the grand HIV/AIDS faith (delusion) would just stop their internal chatter long enough to listen, we might get somewhere.

Maybe we should pick a day and time to all go over the thebody.com or poz.com and tell them. All of us, all at once on their message board.

May 25th, 2009, 07:29 AM
let me know when - ill be there ;)

May 27th, 2009, 01:20 AM
Great stuff! Thanks.

June 1st, 2009, 11:26 PM
Laziness is no excuse for murder. Considering the small voices, so numerous for so long, one of all the qualified must have wondered 'let ME prove them wrong' and accidentally found us right! Its hard to believe but clearly this is what has occurred. How much longer can this tangled mass sustain itself, surely they will begin to fall out one by one? Soon. My consultant for one is still very happy with the laziness that pays his bills. As if he would be too much worse off if AIDS died, he would still work for the state etc...