Re: memes defined operationally (from article)

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Thu 16 Jan 2003 - 00:31:22 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "RE: memes defined operationally (from article)"

    At 08:21 AM 15/01/03 -0800, Grant Callaghan wrote:
    >On the subject of memes that lie dormant not being memes, what about the
    >millions of ideas we receive through the media and observation of what's
    >going on around us but never pass on to others? By definition, they were
    >memes when they were passed to us but they get no farther as far as what
    >we, as individuals, do with them. In addition, they become part of that
    >great mass of data and information we call culture. Although they don't
    >leave our minds to "infect" others, they do have an effect on what new
    >memes will be acceptable to us as candidates to be included in what we see
    >as our culture. So although we don't retransmit them, they do play a role
    >in our lives and help shape our behavior and decision making.

    I only suggest that an idea be passed *once* to also be a meme.

    >Example: I heard that a company president sold a large portion of the
    >shares in his company. I don't tell anyone else, but I rush to sell that
    >stock myself. Or I hear that Venezuela is having a strike that has shut
    >down gas production. I see people marching through the streets and
    >carrying signs calling for the president to step down. I don't grab a
    >sign and start marching in response, but I do rush down to the gas station
    >and fill up my tank before the price of gas goes up. Thus I have absorbed
    >information that I have not passed on nor copied but it has affected my
    >behavior. I see that information as a meme although it does little more
    >than lie dormant within my mind and is not transmitted by me.
    >Does your view of memes and their definition account for this?

    No. Because you happen to be a dead end for a meme does not keep it from being a meme. After all, it was passed to you. My argument is that an idea that does not get passed at all falls short of being a meme. It darn sure does not become part of the culture pool. Of course, *all* ideas are potential memes at least until the single mind containing the meme dies. (And just because an idea is a meme does not keep it from still being an idea.)

    Keith Henson

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