Re: memetics-digest V1 #1318

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Fri 21 Mar 2003 - 00:04:16 GMT

  • Next message: Van oost Kenneth: "Re: Social Norms and Memetics"

    At 08:18 AM 18/03/03 -0500, you wrote:
    >>"We don't need the memetics model to account for the recognition that ulcers
    >>are caused by bacteria...Since the idea turned out to be true, now lots of
    >>believe it. No need for "selfish" units of culture propagating themselves.
    >>But the prior belief-- that ulcers are caused by stress-- is not only false
    >>but harmful. The extreme difficulty of uprooting this belief can be
    >>ascribed to the autonomy and resilience of the belief itself. Of course, if
    >>bad ideas are memes, then every idea is potentially memetic. That the
    >>bacterial explanation of ulcers is a meme can only be demonstrated
    >That's a false dichotomy. Ulcers are a symptom. The presence of ulcers is
    >statistically correlated with the presence of certain bacteria.

    True. For certain kinds exceptionally correlated.

    >It's also correlated with ingestion of particularly acidic chemicals.

    That's a new one on me, though I expect drinking concentrated sulfuric acid would do it every time.

    >It seems to be correlated with stress, to the extent you can quantify that.
    >The proximate cause of ulcers is an increase in stomach acidity beyond the
    >ability of the mucous lining to protect against it.

    "It is important to remember that H. pylori goes no deeper than the stomach's viscous, pudding-like mucus layer. It never directly invades the epithelial cells that line the stomach. H. pylori damages the stomach's lining by releasing irritating chemicals that, in turn, stimulate a human immune response. Infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies are summoned from the bloodstream to the stomach lining, and it is this inflammatory reaction that creates the ulcer."

    >There isn't any single
    >ultimate cause, because (like most chronic medical problems) it's a result
    >of an upset equilibrium. Anything, or any collection of things together,
    >that upsets the equilibrium will cause the symptom.

    "Helicobacter pylori has received much attention as the cause of stomach ulcers, but new research by scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) at the University of Michigan shows that many other types of bacteria can cause the gastritis and ulcers that can ultimately lead to cancer.

    "The new research suggests that gastritis and ulcers are triggered by bacterial overgrowth, rather than by stomach acidity."
    "The findings were published in articles in the January 2002 issues of Gastroenterology and the American Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology by HHMI investigator Juanita L. Merchant and colleagues at the University of Michigan."

    [And the article supports your statement that upsets in equilibrium cause not only the symptom but the entire disease!]


    Keith Henson

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