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What Can Change?

In case anyone objects to my black-and-white characterization of memes as changeable and mind as unchangeable, I'll admit that it's not quite as clear as that. Maybe the correct statement is something like “fight each component of your mind in proportion to the amount that it can be changed”. On the other hand, although it may not be black-and-white, I do think it's a fairly sharp distinction.

The analogy to physical limitations is useful here. Just because one can increase one's strength by exercise doesn't mean there's no physical limitation … it may be possible to train to lift small cars, but it's not going to be possible to lift the Empire State Building. Similarly, it may be possible to improve short-term memory by practice, but it's not going to be possible to obtain a photographic memory. In other words, any change will be small and qualitative, not quantitative.

It's interesting, though, that some people really do have photographic memories; it's as if there were a few rare people who were able to lift entire buildings. Maybe I've overstated my analogy, but I think there's still a grain of truth there—I think there's much more quantitative variation in mental capabilities than in physical ones. For another example, how about those folks who can do huge mathematical calculations in their head?


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@ June (2000)