Re: Cultural traits and vulnerability to memes

From: Steve Drew (
Date: Sun Mar 24 2002 - 20:35:32 GMT

  • Next message: Steve Drew: "Fwd: Nurture 2, Nature 0"

    Received: by id UAA04033 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Sun, 24 Mar 2002 20:44:03 GMT
    X-Originating-IP: []
    User-Agent: Microsoft-Outlook-Express-Macintosh-Edition/5.0.3
    Date: Sun, 24 Mar 2002 20:35:32 +0000
    Subject: Re: Cultural traits and vulnerability to memes
    From: Steve Drew <>
    To: <>
    Message-ID: <>
    In-Reply-To: <>
    Content-type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII"
    Content-transfer-encoding: 7bit
    X-OriginalArrivalTime: 24 Mar 2002 20:37:52.0329 (UTC) FILETIME=[C5060390:01C1D373]
    Precedence: bulk

    Hi Kenneth

    > Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2002 21:08:49 +0100
    > From: "Kenneth Van Oost" <>
    > Subject: Re: Cultural traits and vulnerability to memes
    > - ----- Original Message -----
    > From: Steve Drew <>
    >> My understanding of what stereotypes are is that it is the ability to
    >> construct them which is Darwinian in origin, not the stereotypes that are
    >> selected and used. There is, however, a degree of environmental
    >> reinforcement of what constitutes the actual stereotype and a persons
    >> reaction to it, so yes i agree up to a point.
    > Hi Steve,
    > Hm, ' construction ' is Lamarckian. We ' create ' the unbased
    > characteristics
    > by which the stereotype is known.
    > Like saying all Marokkians are thiefs due to the fact that most armed
    > robberies are execute by people of that origin...( just an example, though).
    > If of course, you refer to the fact that we, with our brain possess lineages
    > to ' construct ' patterns by which some stereotypical forms are the result,
    > I agree, but that can be said of all our behavioral processing, though !
    > Indeed, partial information, ignorance and blind stupidity gave rise,not
    > only to stereotypical behavior, gestures, habits and traits, but also to
    > stereotypical ways of thinking.

    Not quite the same thing in my book. What i meant by Lamarckism is the
    simple premise that memes can be passed from son to father, brother to
    sister etc which cannot be done in the same fashion genetically. It is an
    adaptation to Lamark's original idea of the giraffes long neck etc, in that
    what we learn can be transmitted down, sideways and upwards within a genetic
    group. However, IMO, these memes are still subject to Darwinian selection in
    the receptors mind etc.
    > OTOH, there is still no way of telling if or if not a Lamarckian charac-
    > teristic lies at the bias of some stereotype_ it can boil down to the fact
    > that people just don 't use ( the notion of disuse in Lamarckism) the
    > inbedded Darwinian aspects of there being. They can be just unfriendly
    > to strangers despite the fact that their genes say it otherwise.
    > An introverted community can show such characteristics_ Darwinian in
    > origin, yes ( genetics) but those can be Lamarckian expressed ( meme-
    > tically). For example, there would be no hotels where strangers could
    > spent the night, no restaurants where they could eat, no cars or houses
    > to rent... just ignoring their presence.
    > Racism may just be the " no- using " of inbedded Darwinian lineages of
    > being nice to you neighbour...

    Being nice to a neighbour doesn't, IMO, necessarily translate into being
    nice to a stranger as the neighbour is familiar whereas the stranger is not,
    so the reactions are different. New unfamiliar situations are always
    hazardous socially (and in earlier times, physically dangerous?). I wasn't
    aware that there was a genetic basis for being nice to strangers, though
    I've heard of the idea that the basis for such things as racism relates to
    resources as well as ideas. I suspect the truth is 'open minded with a bit
    of caution' is nearer the truth when it comes to encounters with strangers.
    >> For myself i am reasonably convinced of the applicability of Lamark to
    >> memetics and i agree that the Darwinism (and biological allusion's as well
    > )
    >> can be taken too far. But behaviours and ideas can be subject to Darwinian
    >> pressure's, particularly if the idea is a stupid and dangerous one :-)
    > This interests me, how do you see the application of Lamarckism in meme-
    > tics !? Please eloborate !?

    Hope i have.

    BTW, i'm very interested in stereotypes, as they are way of coping with a
    vast amount of data. I think the problem is that as society became more and
    more complex, so the stereotypes become more inaccurate and subject to
    social situations that they were not really evolved to cope with.

    Stereotypes are not limited to racial groups, but to situations i.e., i
    think they evolved as we did. A neat mental trick when you are hunting or
    digging for lunch would be to have a 'situation template' in your noggin. If
    it is too detailed you would starve as no two locations are the same and you
    would not find a match. If the pattern were too general you would end up
    poisoned through eating the wrong thing etc.

    So some theories suggest that we are hard wired to stereotype people and
    situations, as it is (in early human history) too good a trick not to. But
    in the modern world the system doesn't seem to work as well due to the
    amount of info and situations we encounter.

    So i reckon we are hard wired to stereotype, but who and what have lots of
    social input.
    > Many regards,
    > Sorry for the delay, a lot to do,
    > Kenneth

    Don't we all!



    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)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sun Mar 24 2002 - 20:54:55 GMT