Re[3]: Memetic Parasitism

From: Robin Faichney (
Date: Sun 24 Jul 2005 - 17:12:48 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "Re[3]: Memetic Parasitism"

    Sunday, July 24, 2005, 3:39:47 PM, Keith wrote:

    > At 10:36 AM 24/07/05 +0100, Robin Faichney wrote:
    >>Neuroticism is pandemic due to unhealthy attitudes, opinions and
    >>lifestyles, such as religious fundamentalism (but emphatically not
    >>only that). It first instills guilt and anxiety, telling you you're a
    >>sinner and will go to hell, and then provides a dramatic catharsis in
    >>the experience of being "born again": rather a successful strategy.

    > I won't argue with your analysis, heck, I wrote very similar things myself
    > many years ago, but it really needs to be grounded at a lower level. How
    > did "chronic anxiety," "guilt" and related become human psychological
    > traits? I.e., how did they (or something else that they are a side effect
    > too) convey a selective advantage during the millions of years we lived in
    > hunter-gatherer societies?

    The answer regarding chronic anxiety is very, very easy: it's the result of NOT behaving in the ways that evolution has determined suit us. Guilt is perhaps more difficult, as it might have an adaptive social function in hierarchical groups.


    > Pascal Boyer's book _Religion Explained_ doesn't provide a full explanation
    > either, but his observations and insights look like they are leading in the
    > right direction. I think they will have to be incorporated into an
    > evolutionary psychology explanation of religions.

    Religions are extremely complex and diverse phenomena, but I don't think a general theory of them is possible without consideration of their relationship with sub-clinical mental illness.

    Best regards,
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