Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id DAA22537 (8.6.9/5.3[ref email@example.com] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from firstname.lastname@example.org); Sat, 23 Feb 2002 03:11:11 GMT X-Sender: email@example.com Message-Id: <firstname.lastname@example.org> In-Reply-To: <email@example.com> References: <firstname.lastname@example.org> <84E1E92A-26F4-11D6-980D-003065B9A95A@harvard.edu> <84E1E92A-26F4-11D6-980D-003065B9A95A@harvard.edu> <email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2002 22:06:03 -0500 To: email@example.com From: "Francesca S. Alcorn" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: Words and memes Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" ; format="flowed" Sender: email@example.com Precedence: bulk Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> "A more seductive example of a social movement set off by a
>lethal meme comes from South Africa. In the 1850s, a meme (originally
>derived from a dream) led to a great sacrifice by the Xhoas people
>during which they killed their cattle, burned their grain, and
>refrained from planting in the belief that doing so would cause their
>ancestors to come back from the dead and expel the whites. At least
>20,000 and perhaps as many as 60,000 starved when the predicted
>millennia of plenty failed to arrive. Known as the Cattle Killing, it
>was not a unique response for a primitive society being displaced by a
>more technically advanced one. The "Ghost Dancers" phenomenon among
>American Indians was a similar response.
>Since I did the research for that article a 1989 book came out, J.
>B. Peires, "The Central Beliefs of the Xhosa Cattle-killing." Some
>of it is on the net here.
>Definitely worth reading!
How tragic. It reminds me of something I read a few years ago that
said that people who blamed themselves for their misfortunes
recovered more quickly from traumatic events because it allowed them
to preserve a sense that they had some control over what happened.
At least they had the illusion that they had some control over their
demise. I think the comparison to the Ghost Dance is apt.
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Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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