From: Reed Konsler (email@example.com)
Date: Thu 29 May 2003 - 12:57:40 GMT
1) Memes benefit the species. The proliferation of memes seems mutualist
with the spread of the genes held in common by all members of the human
species. After all, humans are host to both. The more humans, the more
2) Hypocrisy is successful. From the perspective of an individual,
spreading a meme can be mutualist with the individuals genes. The same meme
can be parasitic if obeyed. For example, monogamy is, from a genetic
perspective, best to preach and ignore.
3) Memes don't act in a vacuum. Monogamy can be a successful strategy
for a male in an environment dominated by females using reliable birth
control. In such a case the risks of becoming a known adulterer may exceed
the potential rewards.
4) Few individuals are able or willing to recognize the (dis)connection
between genetic imperatives and their memetic symbiots. Even fewer know
what to do, as individuals or as a society, with this knowledge. When you
realize that the cut-throat competition for power you have been part of is
motivated by a genetic desire to reproduce, what next? Do you seek a better
quality of life, or deeper introspective wisdom...or are those also genetic
dead ends? If you step outside the genetic matrix...is cut-throat
competition a poorer lifestyle than the others?
Desire for education does seem to be a meme that is, from a genetic
perspective, best approached hypocritically. By spreading the meme "get
educated" one hopefully produces a caste of highly effective cuckolded
workers. This allows the rest of the species to become genetic free riders;
taking advantage of the products of the educated to proliferate their own
This is true even under circumstances where wealth and power are unevenly
distributed favoring the educated, even exceptionally so. In fact, wealth
and power might be seen as the booby prize offered as an illusionary
deception. A host of memes that dramatically restrict the ability of an
individual to use wealth and power to forward their own genetic interest
render these prizes, well, impotent.
Why does everyone want their children to be educated, then? If you poll
parents asking them what they wish for their children, by far the most
common response is "I want them to be happy". In a modern society,
education is certainly one path towards this kind of general fulfillment.
My position would be that wealth, power, and education are not memes that
act in opposition to their hosts genetic imperatives *except* in the case
where the host seeks them as an end in themselves and not a means to genetic
Of course, this all assumes that it is the purpose of an individual human to
proliferate their genes. I don't think that is necessarily the case. That
certainly isn't my primary purpose.
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Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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