Re: Bigfoot as Idea & Meme

From: Dace (
Date: Sun 11 May 2003 - 19:44:26 GMT

  • Next message: Wade T. Smith: "Re: memetics-digest V1 #1339"

    > From: "Van oost Kenneth" <>
    > - ----- Original Message -----
    > From: "Dace" <>
    > > Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Up until now I would have agreed
    > > you that Bigfoot represents two kinds of memes, one that spreads among
    > > pranksters and another that spreads among believers. Now I feel that
    > > former is not really a meme. Again, I turn to the latest issue of
    > Skeptic,
    > > this time to an article by Phil Mole on Ockham's Razor. Mole contends
    > that
    > > memeticists inappropriately invoke Ockham to support their view. While
    > it's
    > > true that reducing beliefs such as theism to memes simpifies matters
    > > considerably, according to Mole we must take into consideration other
    > > factors besides simplicity. One of these factors is conservatism. A
    > theory
    > > should not contradict established science. Here's Mole on page 44:
    > >
    > > "Memetics, for instance, distorts and sometimes completely contradicts
    > > complex model of cultural transmission of ideas presented by mainstream
    > > social sciences." (He refers to an aricle in a previous issue of
    > > Vol 6, No. 3, "Memes: What are They Good For?" by James Polichak.)
    > >
    > > If we claim that all ideas are memes, then we must show why
    > long-established
    > > social science models are wrong. But if we limit memes to ideas that
    > > propagate through exploitation of unconscious needs and desires, then we
    > > simply augment traditional social science models. Not only are there
    > ideas
    > > that travel through normal routes, such as the prankster's idea of
    > Bigfoot,
    > > but there's a special class of ideas that travel much like viruses,
    > > replicating from mind to mind, such as the believer's idea of Bigfoot.
    > > the first case, agency is assigned to consciousness. A prankster looks
    > > the possibility of generating "Bigfoot" excitement and simply finds it
    > > appealing. In the second case, agency is assigned to the idea itself.
    > > Believers are conned by an idea that has no basis in reality but
    > > their unconscious desires.
    > Hi Dace,
    > But if you take the Meme- Meme- Eye view, both classes of memes
    > do operate under the same conditions, just their ways by which they
    > propagate differ.
    > The former, the pranksters meme, will not propagate at the same rate
    > as the latter, the believers- meme, does but it will continue its journey.

    When an idea takes on its own agency, we can indeed see the world from its point of view. In trying to survive, it exploits whatever opportunities may arise. But if it's just a simple idea that propagates according to normal, cultural means, as described in *great detail* in the social sciences, then it has no point of view for us to take.

    > A pranksters act, if it went into the open, will get much attention in the
    > media and the meme will propagate_ people will come forward to
    > express their feelings, even show pictures and tell the world they saw
    > Bigfoot.

    Right. What begins as an ordinary idea in the mind of a prankster becomes a meme in the mind of a believer. But it's still just an ordinary idea-- traveling by ordinary means-- among pranksters.

    > It is not the meme of Bigfoot that is important, IMO but the meme of
    > such stories in general will be.
    > Showing Bigfoot, will get the Yeti/ Nessie and other rural stories out of
    > the
    > closet. The meme is a dormant one, still quiet lurking in the dark
    > waiting for one to walk by.
    > People, believers or not, are hard to convince.
    > Look what happens with those crop- circles, are they messages
    > of an alien nature or just results of strange winds, pranksters !?
    > Can be, a few years ago two man confessed they have made
    > almost 80 % of those circles, never proved they did by the way,
    > but noone believed them. On the contrary, Mel Gibson featured
    > in SiGnS which unfolds that indeed the circles are messages of
    > an alien nature. Markers for the invaders force.
    > My view what is a meme goes in the direction of what I have
    > written to Wade, memes do not convey implicit info, but attempts
    > to sway people in doing/ performing, pranking something for that
    > matter.
    > In Wades words, culture demands intention and the performer and
    > the performance are affected by the commands of culture_ prank-
    > sters and believers " obey " the attempts of culture to continue
    > performances of any / a certain form.
    > What the prankster or the believer does or does not is part of
    > the venue of culture and are both memes.

    Again, where's the volition? For the prankster, he is consciously in control. For the believer, the mutant idea (meme) has turned him into a puppet. But even for the believer, agency has been (unconsciously) handed over to the meme. A sound model of memetics must begin with human agency and demonstrate how this agency is sacrificed to the meme.


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