Re: Giving a presentation on memetics

From: Chris Taylor (
Date: Mon 28 Nov 2005 - 15:11:57 GMT

  • Next message: Kate Distin: "Re: Giving a presentation on memetics"

    And then there's the cushion effect (i.e. bearing the impression of the last thing to sit on it) of the latest focus of the excitable media (a pun-tastic phrase).

    Necrotising fasciitis anyone?

    You're absolutely right though both about the degree of control being correlated with fear (I almost never get worried when I'm driving), and also the perceived risk thing (where that = estimated risk x effect on me [or my kids etc.]).

    Not sure how relevant this is, but a little while ago I bought 20 cigarettes and a lottery ticket in the same purchase. A bit of a moment for me as I compared the 1 in 3 (at least) risk I was discounting with the 1 in gazillions risk I was up for... In that case I was discounting the risk of death rather than accentuating it -- different than bird flu paranoia in an interesting way -- is this the control thing again (if I die from smoking then I was in that sense 'driving')?

    Total tangent now: I suck nicotine lozenges now and almost never relapse (cf. the kids); the interesting bit was observing that removing nicotine from the equation uncovered _loads_ of behavioural stuff (~memes, I suppose) keyed into the ritual of smoking -- much harder to crack than the chemical addiction imho
    (worse luck). Now I need pills that deal with my craving for pastries :(

    Cheers, Chris.

    Kate Distin wrote:
    > Is this to do with our perception of how much we are in control of these
    > things? So we get in a car and even pick up a 'phone while we're
    > driving but we feel fairly in control so don't panic; whereas a flu
    > epidemic is something out of our hands.
    > Also of course there's the thing where we pay particular attention to
    > situations which have especially horrific consequences,no matter how
    > unlikely. So we panic more about letting our children out of our sight
    > for two minutes in a store than about letting them drive twenty miles
    > with a friend's parent of whose driving skills we are completely
    > ignorant. We imagine an avian flu epidemic potentially wiping out
    > thousands . . . which outweighs in our minds its unlikelihood . . . so
    > the meme successfully grabs and holds our attention.
    > Kate
    >> Whets interesting about memes like these is that we give them more
    >> headspace, despite low probability of occurrence, than memes dealing with
    >> far more dangerous things like cars etc.
    >> -----Original Message-----
    >> From: []On Behalf
    >> Of Chris Taylor
    >> Sent: 28 November 2005 11:27
    >> To:
    >> Subject: Re: Giving a presentation on memetics
    >> The bad thing with the bird flu issue is the number of people
    >> that have gone for _seasonal_ flu jabs thinking that affords
    >> some protection against bird flu (which it does not).
    >> Flu is flu is flu (apparently). The dominance of one meme over
    >> another; the flu meme has accrued to itself some of the
    >> properties of the bird flu meme by some kind of
    >> subsumption/recombination; reminds me of the John Carpenter
    >> version of 'The Thing'.
    >> And again (just like all the antibiotics prescribed for common
    >> cold etc.) GPs are finding it simpler to just prescribe rather
    >> than discuss (given limited time, and the independent benefits
    >> of the flu jab). This would be fine if the seasonal flu jabs
    >> were unlimited but now many at risk types won't get one and
    >> it'll be plain old dull flu that kills them in what is shaping
    >> up to be a cold winter.
    >> Cheers, Chris.
    >> Scott Chase wrote:
    >>>> From: "Alan Patrick" <>
    >>>> Reply-To:
    >>>> To: <>
    >>>> Subject: RE: Giving a presentation on memetics
    >>>> Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2005 08:03:03 -0000
    >>>> Memes as similar to epidemics...quite timely....the Asian flu meme has
    >>>> spread faster than the flu itself...
    >>> Yeah. I was pretty yyoung when the swine flu craze took hold in the
    >>> 70's. Wonder what simlarties there are with that one (the cultural
    >>> epidemic that is). It wasn't too long ago we were worried about the
    >>> prospects of ebola and hanta spreading widely. That _Outbreak_ movie
    >>> didn't help much.
    >>> Epidemics and pandemics are a real concern, even with bird flu, but
    >>> there are other things to worry about hurricanes. The
    >>> Atlantic tropical system naming has reached Delta this season so far.
    >>> When we reach the greek alphabet you gotta wonder what the heck is going
    >>> on with this stuff. One of those 2005 storms hit the Iberian peninsula
    >>> so you Europeans aren't safe either.
    > ===============================================================
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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    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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