– Mark Fisher (lecture he is reviewing looks interesting and related to memetic hazards'Sacred Sociology: A French Approach to the Religious Dimension of Fascism’, Carlo Ginzburg, Leo Baeck Institute, London December 7 2004)
I'm kind of glad he said that. I'm dipping into Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind and something about it scares me, it is so clear, such a dissolving acid bath. There is something terrifying there. I can't ungrasp to the degree it asks me to. It might be a mind-destroying ideas and I kind of like my mind, I don't want to let it go.
Seems positively dangerous to me. A mind-destroying ideas as Minsky called them. Thought is based on distinctions and differences, and if you eliminate them you basically eliminate the possibility of cognition.
This is called the "but muh distinctions" response.
The answer I think is that it isn't about eliminating distinctions (that would itself be dualistic), but recognizing their true nature. As forms they are marked by emptiness. Not quite real and not quite unreal.
If you are doing it right, nondualism does not produce mindless catatonia, but rather a more playful and exuberant view on life, as you recognize its true nature.
The notion that some ideas are so powerful that they are capable of destorying the mind. Marvin Minsky used the label for certain religious/philosophical ideas like "All is One", because thinking requires making distinctions. Any or religion or ideology might appear as a memetic hazard to unbelievers.
I note that I am, for reasons that are best left to my therapist, engaged in trying to cram as many mind-destroying ideas into my brain as my MIT-nerd foundational self will allow. That's why I'm obsessed with Weird Studies frankly. It's my mind and I'll destroy it if I feel like it, thanks.
It's pretty clear that a lot of deployments of this concept are ideological – that is, ideas are labelled dangerous not because they literally destroy the mind, but they can radically alter it so that its goals are out of alignment with those of the mainstream culture. Every cult and religion seems like this from the outside. "All is one" might destroy your effectiveness as an AI researcher, but is perfectly fine for monks, mystics, artists, hippies, etc.
If there are any truly fatal ideas, we probably don't see them, because their discoverers don't survive long enough to spread them. Like with infectious biological agents, too much virulence interferes with contagion.
Roko's Basilisk is a particularly baroque example.
The Entertainment from Infinite Jest is a video that is so pleasurable that watching it once generates a fatal addiction.
In the future we hope to weave these heuristics into a more complete meme hazard policy for researchers and decision makers working at the cutting edge.
Seems clueless in a characteristic Rationalist sort of way, in that it assumes that it is easy to tell when a meme is harmful, like that is a clear-cut issue. Obviously the real danger is from ideas that are attractive but harmful, and the whole point is that they are good at getting past simple defenses.
What if destroying the mind is good actually?
Zen koans are mind destroying ideas, or at least, mind-subverting. That is sort of what they are for, they give the mind something impossible to grasp in order to shut it down, which is kind of the goal, insofar as there is one.