The Anatomy, Life Cycle and Effects of the Phenomenologically Distributed Human Parasite M0

M0 theory (AKA Emm-Zero, The Monster, or The Stupidity) is a paranoid memetic theory, rarely expressed in language conductive to understanding. The idea is that there are certain neurological predispositions in the human brain that can be triggered and reinforced by certain social expectations; the mental states in question tend to be those associated with creativity and ADHD and vs. pointless social interactions, rote learning, and strict social rules. In other words, normal, boring people are infected with a horrible (mental) disease, and those with ADHD are the bright future of the human race...

This theory bounces lightly along the edge of sanity, and often approaches amusing. Sadly, the whole thing is light on ideas and big on obscurification, and often comes across as whiny losers complaining about authority. It has sunk largely into obscurity, and is not due for a comeback anytime soon.

M0 is bogus! Here's why:
  1. The document in question: This describes "a self-replicating, homeostatic phenomenon called M0".
  2. The problem: M0 is supposedly caused by a "dopamine addiction." Dopamine is a fundamental neurotransmitter. One cannot be addicted to it, any more than one can be addicted to oxygen, or food.
  3. Dopamine does not do only one thing. All of the arguments in the article mention that dopamine makes one passive. It does do that, but it also does a number of other things - it's versatile stuff.
  4. The article appeals to the readers ego, strongly. Consider the following lengthy segment:

    Natural immunity to M0 exists. The immunes have a singular set of personality traits, but many names. Children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. Hackers (creative computer programmers, not the criminals). Mystics. In industry, people who "know Quality". In medicine, star diagnosticians. Creative artists of all kinds. Several of the present authors. Despite forceful (and often highly offensive) insistence to the contrary by M0 hosts, these people are not defective, or disordered, or stupid, or anything else. They have a range of normal human faculties not possessed by M0 hosts, because their cognition can exploit feedback. While M0 hosts simply deny that this is the case, natural immunes are quite happy that they can do what they do, and recognise and communicate with each other.

    It calls to the reader's baser instincts, saying "you too can become part of the natural elite!"
In short, the article is a hunk of pseudo-science.
(Instead of voting this down if you disagree, why not try writing up a node to refute it?)
Occam's Razor is a very, very powerful tool. In a way, it's the same teaching as Sherlock Holmes -- in the Razor, the rule is "Cut away complexity, for the simpler is the more likely." With Holmes, the rule is "Once you have eliminated the impossible, what is left, however improbable, must be the truth."

The reason why I bring this up is because there is a very important point made in the remainder of the M0 Hypothesis, which I will attempt to illuminate here:

  1. There exist people in the world who are content to do mind-numbingly boring and repetitive tasks (such as playing Solitaire, sweeping the floor, and other things that I cannot comprehend).
  2. These people do not like to be pulled out of their reveire, or forced to think at all. (Teachers, perhaps, like to think, but having to think as hard as their students, for an entire year, year after year, would probably wear anybody down.)
  3. There exist other people in the world who have a propensity to act in an apparently random fashion, foregoing repetitive behavior. These people usually are the type of people who like to think, and to learn at their own pace. (Note: This is from my own experience, not from any formal study.)
  4. When faced with a person of the type defined in item (3), the people of the type defined in item (1) tend to become unreasonably irritated -- the behavior that they witness from these other people does not match any known pattern, and they shy away from situations that they do not know how to deal with. These people are packers -- people who, when confronted with some situation that is outside of their prior knowledge and experience, do not know how to deal with it, and fly into primitive aggression.
The problem with this turn of events is that in this day and age, people are already inundated with information glut, and thus do not have the energy (even if they had the desire) to deal with the situation in front of them. So they throw a fit, lashing out at that which causes them so much grief. In the case of bosses, they fire or demote the worker who has wildly out-of-sync ideas. (So much for thinking outside the box.) In the case of parents, they take their children to a doctor and say that they can't handle their child, that their child is acting randomly and unseemly, and isn't there please something they can do about it?

What doctors normally do in this situation is prescribe Ritalin (or, as Dr. Alan Carpenter, the author of the M0 hypotheses, calls it: cheap speed).

Forcing a child to take a drug that is known to cause permanent harm in ADULTS is a very sociopathic and psychotic behavior -- do they not understand the consequences of their actions? Why would they do such a thing to their children, who they (at least profess to) love unto death?

Well, this is the only hypothesis I've heard, and it seems to be concrete, and reasonably air-tight... the parents/teachers/bosses/doctors/whatever are caught in a feedback loop, where their inactivity and/or repetitive behaviors increase the flow of dopamine to the brain, where it increases lethargy and a sense of well-being. (Not coincidentally, dopamine is also one of the neurotransmitters which has a level that goes up when one is on drugs.) When faced with this for a long period of time, how can one not enjoy the fuzzy glow of well-being?

Ah, the problem's not that simple. When their repetitive behavior is stopped, these people who are addicted to their own repetitive behavior no longer get the high levels of dopamine... similar to the way that a junkie no longer gets his high levels of dopamine... and reacts the same way that a junkie does when deprived of his fix: He (or she) perceives an attack (a drop in the feeling of well-being), and goes on the defensive... sometimes with drastic results.

The reason why this is so shocking to most people who hear about it is because of the bell curve -- what is perceived as being normal is really the condition of the 90% (5% on each side) who have the most common set of traits. Since very few people (historically) have had much capability to think (the rest have been drones, mindlessly doing what they're told to do, what to eat, what to buy, how to make money, and having essentially their entire lives planned out by some automaton authority in our culture), it is not perceived as something abnormal in the least.

To someone who attempts to change the status quo, the status quo is broken. To the status quo that this person is trying to change, this person is broken. And the status quo will try to keep the current situation for as long as possible. Even if it means harming its young.

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