From: Kate Distin (email@example.com)
Date: Sun 31 Jul 2005 - 11:04:04 GMT
Robin Faichney wrote:
> Saturday, July 30, 2005, 2:30:09 PM, Kenneth wrote:
>>----- Original Message -----
>>From: Robin Faichney <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>>The idea of getting 72 virgins is useful because it reinforces the desired
>>behavior of those send out to kill innocent bystanders.
> And there is no memetics in that statement.
>>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 !)
> Of course suicide bombing can be viewed as altruistic, but no memetics
> is required there.
>>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
> Substitute "ideas" for "memes" in that paragraph and you lose nothing.
>>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.
> Here again, that could be reworded to leave out memetics and lose no
> significant meaning.
>>" 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
>>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)
> Where's the memetics in that?
I'd just like to applaud Robin's consistent use of the question "If you
leave out all references to memes in this explanation, what do you
lose?" I think this is a huge problem for memetics at a practical
level, perhaps the biggest challenge it faces. And I write that as one
who is perhaps more of a realist about memes than some others on this list.
It is just so easy to produce ad hoc explanations of a whole range of
cultural phenomena, using memetic language, but the ultimate test of
those explanations is Robin's question - and unfortunately the answer
all to often is "nothing much". (For me this is the biggest weakness in
Aaron Lynch's "Thought Contagion".)
Of course this is also a problem for evolutionary theory in biology, and
especially for EP, which is an interesting parallel to ponder . . . But
at least biological evolution is an accepted scientific theory which
stands firm on the available evidence - memetics is too new and untested
to withstand the impact of too many non-explanations: the cumulative
effect will be a feeling that memetics has no explanatory worth.
I remain fairly hopeful that it does have explanatory worth, but I don't
think we're there yet!
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