From: Keith Henson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sun 09 Mar 2003 - 15:21:45 GMT
At 09:53 PM 09/03/03 +1100, Bruce Howlett wrote:
(Thoughtful posting, hope you don't mind my commenting on it.)
>While I tend to agree with Joe on the humanitarian aspect of the Iraq
>situation, there are other issues implicit in the wording of Bryan's post
>which cause concern. The least not being the concept of "memetic
>engineering", which I think is an oxymoron.
So far, perhaps. But in analogy to the other two similar classes, computer
viruses and genetics, I think we will get memetic engineering just like we
have genetic engineering and "designer" computer viruses. Both depend on
understanding the environment of the replicators involved.
>Even the opposing forces within the memetics definition debate agree that
>a meme is a cultural unit.
Heh, I wish.
>Is not culture the conglomerate of inherited ideas, beliefs, values and
I have said similar things in my articles on the subject. Values I might
quibble about. It is true that we learn values to some extent, but I think
some are wired in and not learned.
>Have not all attempts to overtly "engineer" culture failed?
While I certainly agree that a lot of such attempts have failed or even
backfired, your statement could be falsified by one example. As a counter
example of overt cultural engineering, consider compulsory primary
education. As a measure of it failing, list the places where it is
required and where it is not, then compare the literacy rates for those places.
Another example might be the legal enforcement of racial discrimination in
the US and the opposite post WW II.
>I think what Bryan is contemplating is more correctly termed a cult - a
>quasi-religious organisation using psychological techniques to gain and
Might be, though I don't completely follow your thinking. Could you expand
on this point?
>While memetics is seductive by its ability to provide insight into the
>illogical and normally inexplicable aspects of human behaviour, it is not
>a manipulative tool.
Not exactly, though *any* model may be used to effectively manipulate. As
an example, take the models people used to figure how far an artillery
shell would go. These models had no effect on the shell after it left the
barrel, but they provided knowledge used to point the gun which *did*
effect where the shell landed.
If you had good memetic models, you could feed memes into them and reject
memes that don't accomplish what is desired. Ghod knows governments could
use such models.
>Even the advertising spin doctors can only hope that their carefully
>crafted images and words may produce a memetic event.
I see advertising and PR as analogous to animal and plant breeding before
we had knowledge of what was really going on. Memetic related theory just
hasn't been applied to advertising and PR yet.
>The most useful tool for understanding current world situation is systems
>theory relating to competition and cooperation. So who gains and who
>loses? Why are the French and German leaders so opposed to the Americans
>intervening? What about Korea? Do you really think that this is just
>about "weapons-of-mass-destruction"? As usual it is about economics, but
>that does not mean there are any simple answers.
Good thinking tools to be sure, but I think you are missing human nature,
i.e., that we are social primates with millions of years of evolution
pointed to successful reproduction in small tribes. Among the things that
drive people is far more than they appreciate is social status. And while
status can be a non-zero sum game, it is more often treated as zero
sum. If there is an area of study that will help understand human
motivations it is evolutionary psychology.
"The goal of research in evolutionary psychology is to discover and
understand the design of the human mind. Evolutionary psychology is an
approach to psychology, in which knowledge and principles from evolutionary
biology are put to use in research on the structure of the human mind. It
is not an area of study, like vision, reasoning, or social behavior. It is
a way of thinking about psychology that can be applied to any topic within it.
"In this view, the mind is a set of information-processing machines that
were designed by natural selection to solve adaptive problems faced by our
hunter-gatherer ancestors. This way of thinking about the brain, mind, and
behavior is changing how scientists approach old topics, and opening up new
ones. This chapter is a primer on the concepts and arguments that animate it."
>"Peace" is a convenient concept for those of us on the inside of a
>comfortable western lifestyle that gives us a reasonable amount of free
>choice, but even that depends on how wealthy you are.
True. And standing up for various human rights is not a way to a peaceful
life. (Put my name in Google to see why I can say this.)
>Bryan, I think you deal mainly in the realm of paranoia. The give-away is
>the tag line in your signature block, "Government secrets/biological
>weapons/human subjects". I don't think you will get much support from the
>users of this list.
>Living Proof - Berkley paperback - March 2003
>Government secrets/biological weapons/human subjects
I don't understand Bryan's relation to Peter (if any) but this is an ad for
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)
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