RE: Words and memes

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Mon Feb 25 2002 - 14:02:45 GMT

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: Words and memes
    Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 14:02:45 -0000
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    Some of these have come up before, but rest in that problematic area between
    those events that can, arguably, already be explained by existing concepts
    (mass hysteria for example), the debate about beliefs as memes or not, and
    the debate about the intentional nature or otherwise of memes. Jonestown's
    suicide wasn't memetic, it was social conformity with people mostly doing
    what they were told to do- instruction, not imitation. And of course, we
    know what went on because some didn't kill themselves and their children,
    and the chilling audio recordings attest to the horror of that event. It
    was no mexican wave.


    > ----------
    > From: Keith Henson
    > Reply To:
    > Sent: Saturday, February 23, 2002 0:42 AM
    > To:
    > Subject: Re: Words and memes
    > At 10:59 PM 21/02/02 -0500, frankie wrote:
    > >Keith said:
    > snip
    > >>Is the 1850s cattle killing still alive for people in that part of the
    > world?
    > >>
    > >>Keith
    > >
    > >What cattle killing? Do you mean the range wars in the American West?
    > >
    > >Cattle were *the* measure of wealth there - and were "hoarded".
    > >Overgrazing and desertification were major issues facing the country.
    > >Before AIDS came along, that is.
    > I am surprised that this group did not recognize one of the most
    > spectacular obviously meme driven events in recent history.
    > I mentioned it in my 1987 Analog article:
    > "For a vivid example we can hark back a few years ago to Rev. Jim
    > Jones and the People's Temple incident, where 912 people, including
    > Jones, died of complications--poison and gunshot wounds--induced by an
    > information disease.
    > "The Children's Crusades of the middle ages were larger and more
    > lethal; only 2 of 20,000 returned from one. The mass suicide in the
    > first century by the Jews at Masada is a clear example of information
    > patterns in people's minds having more influence over their behavior
    > than the fear of death.
    > "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.
    > df
    > Definitely worth reading!
    > Keith
    > ===============================================================
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    > For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    > see:

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    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

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