Re: Absolutist memes

From: Keo Ormsby (
Date: Thu 04 Nov 2004 - 20:18:14 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "Re: Absolutist memes"

    ----- Original Message -----

    From: "Keith Henson" <>

    To: <>

    Sent: Saturday, October 30, 2004 8:50 PM

    Subject: Re: Absolutist memes


    > That's not at all my position.


    > My point is that the increasing circulation of
    xenophobic memes (in this

    > particular example called "absolutist") during times
    of "looming privation"

    > or related ecologically based psychological stress on
    a population is a

    > mechanism to *induce* attacks, not one for survival
    against attack.


    I agree that xenophobic memes could pose a signifficant effect over the the ability of a tribe (and its genes) to thrive, but "absolutist" sounds a little far fetched to have this effect.


    > >The point I want to make, is that this
    interpretation does not say anything

    > >about whether a population with absolutist memes
    will have a better survival

    > >rate than another with rationalistic memes, or vice


    > According to modern evolutionary theory, it is the
    *genes* rather than a

    > population that get selected.


    Yes, definetively. But it is thru the selective pressures on the phenotype of the population carrying the genes that they can thrive or not (with few exceptions). If a population with a certain gene thrives, then that gene thrives. If a gene doesn't affect in any way the ability to reproduce of an organism or its offspring, then there will be no natural selection on it.

    ----- Original Message -----

    From: "Dace" <>

    To: <>

    Sent: Sunday, October 31, 2004 3:34 PM

    Subject: Re: Absolutist memes


    > Well, this is a very interesting point, but I can't
    quite wrap my brain

    > around the idea of fear memes. A meme is a kind of
    idea. It can be a

    > conceptual idea, mathematical idea, musical idea,
    fashion idea, behavioral

    > idea-- what have you, but it must be some form of
    idea. Fear is far too

    > primal to be a meme. So, while you might notice that
    everyone is wearing

    > safari jackets, and you'd like to wear one too, it
    just doesn't work that

    > way with fear. If you hear a gunshot and notice that
    everyone around you is

    > in a panic, you don't stop and think, "Gee, maybe I
    should join the crowd

    > and be in a panic as well-- otherwise no one will
    like me or pay attention

    > to me." Instead the panic takes hold regardless of
    your thought processes.


    > But memes can certainly exploit fear, as they can
    exploit narcissism.

    I stand corrected, I should have said "fear-inducing memes". This raises the interesting question of how memes are associated with certain emotions or feelings
    (hate, fear, pleasure or even hunger, sickness). Are there certain words or concepts that innately invoke certain responses (such as talking about snakes produces fear)? How do complex or abstract memes come to evoke such biologically primal responses? I guess this is the point where Psychology and Memetics would intersect.


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