From: Keith Henson (email@example.com)
Date: Thu 21 Jul 2005 - 23:59:59 GMT
At 05:32 PM 21/07/05 +0100, you wrote:
>Chris Taylor wrote:
>>Sorry -- EP still won't wash, and I've been partially party to
>>most of the recapitulations of the arguments supporting it.
>I don't think Keith's explanation was wholly dependent on its EP element.
Actually it is. I can't blame people like Chris for rejecting EP out of
hand. It is a profoundly depressing subject.
>What I liked was two things: first the "memeoid" idea;
Having a word for a human behavior such as suicide bombers does not imply
that you understand it. I coined the word 20 years ago and it was only in
the mid to late 90s that I had enough EP background to even start to
understand it. The reason I was motivated is a saga in itself--kind of
like people who get cancer sometimes become experts on their particular
variety of cancer. I had a cult after me which isn't much better than cancer.
>and secondly the distinction between this level of obsession, and tbe
>psychological reasons why some people might become so obsessed.
>The psychological side of the distinction doesn't need to be limited to EP
>for that distinction to hold up, I shouldn't have thought - although
>actually yes I would be interested in Keith's longer version of it.
>I guess to a certain extent we're all capable of putting ideas/ideals
>before genetic self-interest; or at least capable of putting ourselves
>through short-term pain for long-term gain (think of gruelling sports
>training regimes, tedious revision for exams, the pain of childbirth,
>etc.). The question is why some people go to such extremes. What I
>thought useful in Keith's post was the distinction he made between a study
>of the extreme obsession itself, and a study of the reasons why some
>people might be susceptible to it: pulling apart the memes and the minds
>that act upon them.
I would put it the other way around. Memes more often act on minds than
minds act on them.
Evolutionary biology makes the bold statement that every characteristic of
every living thing came about as a result of evolution, that is random
variation and non-random selection. That includes traits for behaviors in
humans, ones as simple as drawing a hand back from a hot stove to as
complex as our esthetic judgment of landscapes. Underlying behavior is
neurological hardware and that hardware was and is still being shaped by
"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." http://www.psych.ucsb.edu/research/cep/primer.html
The reason for the focus on the stone age is that all of our ancestors
lived as hunter gatherers in little tribes up to the beginning of
agriculture. There is good reason to expect there has been heavy selection
pressure especially on northern farmers since then, but the stone age was
500 times as long and evolution is a *slow* process. Thus for the most
part our psychological traits are those that made it more likely the genes
of our ancestors would get into the next generation in a stone age tribe.
Psychological traits include motivation.
And if you write about what motivates people, self included (and are
unlucky enough) you too could be condemned by a high court judge--who
himself it is a first class example of human motivations that were selected
in the stone age.
Ask yourself what motivations are most likely to get your genes into the
next generation in a stone age tribe?
>>>Keith Henson wrote:
>>>>"Keith Henson has coined the name `memeoids' for `victims that have
>>>>been taken over by a meme to the extent that their own survival becomes
>>>>inconsequential ... You see lots of these people on the evening news
>>>>from such places as Belfast or Beirut'. "
>>>>End notes Second Ed. Selfish Gene.
>>>>"Memeoid" is descriptive, but memetics is small a frame to get to the
>>>>root of *why* people are susceptible to lethal memes, particularly ones
>>>>that lead to behavior such as becoming a suicide bomber.
>>>>Understanding *why* takes evolutionary psychology to explain or at
>>>>least try to explain where humans got these really strange
>>>>I have been ranting about EP, conditional behavioral switches and why
>>>>humans are susceptible to certain classes of memes at some times and
>>>>not others for years on this list.
>>>>It's not a comfortable subject.
>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)
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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