To Robin, Applied Memetics, was: Memetic Parasitism

From: Kenneth Van Oost (
Date: Sat 30 Jul 2005 - 13:30:09 GMT

  • Next message: Scott Chase: "Re: To Robin, Applied Memetics, was: Memetic Parasitism"

    ----- Original Message ----- From: Robin Faichney <>

    Kenneth wrote,
    > > I don 't think Chris got it wrong, like him I abhor these insane ideas
    > > and behaviors but nonetheless they can be explained with memetical
    > > terms.
    Robin wrote,
    > I don't agree.

    << Oh come on Robin ! We can talk about how religion/ cults/ idiologies infect people and we try to explain the ways by how they were hooked, memetically, why shouldn 't we then ( atleast) try to understand why/ how people get so far in blowin' up trains, busses, plains and themselves in the process as part of a cultural/ social evolution !? The things that force, were forced upon them were on one side simply ideas and on on the other hand manipulation_ that means, correct me if I am wrong_ ideas too ! Why can 't we explain to the general public, or atleast to some professionals in the field that memetical evolution exist and that memes purely and simply work in their own interest. And that to some extent some are succesful/ use- ful and others kill off their host !?

    Why shouldn 't we try to explain that a group of memes ( co- adapted alternative belief- system) hang around together for mutual support and thereby survive better than loose memes will ever do !? The idea of getting 72 virgins is useful because it reinforces the desired behavior of those send out to kill innocent bystanders. Keeping memetics in mind, we can predict that people will act in ways that benefit the spread of their/ the memes even at some cost to them- selves. Many aspects of persuasion or conversion to causes turn out to involve meme- driven aspects_ why can 't we see the suicide- bomber behavior as being a form of altruism !? Of course, giving yourself up would be expensive, but what the heck_ all for the good ( religious !) cause !!

    But maybe it is not so mush due to those planning the attacks than it is to the ones trying to describe these things. Maybe you aren 't convinced that suicidal memes exist outthere, spread and kill their hosts, all in the interest that some could be inspired, plan and are willing to die. A well publicised martyrdom can/ will inspire others to die for a deeply loved cause. And maybe memetics should describe and then only cultural (f)acts, but it is perhaps your conviction/ your idiosyncracy that sits in the way to see that memetics can contribute more to this kind of affairs.

    That memetics is applied within the fields of economics/ advertising/ etc isn 't doubted, so why not use the tricks/ hooks which ideas/ beliefs/ convictions take on to spread to atleast try to convince others that those who are willing to die do it because God himself presented them the idea in the first place. I really don 't see why you can 't acknowledge the fact that those things are cultural phenomena, moreover....... inter- cultural clashes and thus memetical !? Even psychological/ socio- biological contributions should be in debt to the kind of rationalisation that memetics can offer. The sort of meme that encourages us to be friendly and kind to our neighbours works and gives in the end a biological advantage. But we have learned over the years that those memes of being unfriendly and mean offer an alternative consideration:- that violence is needed and perhaps is the other side of the coin to get in the end an evolutionary stable course.

    " Decennia ago Hitler and Stalin murdered millions in the name of their political ideal. What a religious extremist sees as his unstoppable way to heaven, is for the political extremist his way to Utopia. The tragic of extremism is that it stands for a derailment of an ideal. Behind it all there is a reason which degenerates, a meaning which has become meaningless. Somebody's own impressed right becomes an unpenetratable rock and is spread over a millions of tongues ' If you are not with us, you are against us. Praise the lord and pass the ammunution. ' "
    ( B. Noteboom NRC Handelsblad 28/ 07/ 2005 DM 29/ 07/ 2005)

    The blind faith that you asserts_ that memetics can 't be applied to fight
    ' terrorism '_ atleast contribute something is denying that scientific ideas
    ( the meme idea is one) are themselves memes and thus implicit are bound to the meme- meme eye view and are pressured to get themselves across. Maybe your take supports the position that the belief in memetics is a matter of faith and not of scientific method, where I hold the view that the increasing number of academic disciplines in which memetics has become a vast paradigm is typical for any evolution and thus up to date/ useful.

    We need to get beyond the sterile debate_ memes could prove a useful methodological tool by which to analyse cultural change by defining a
    ' unit' ( terrorism !?) of culture and its relationship to belief and mutual understanding.



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