Re: "Abstract" Memes?

From: Douglas Brooker (
Date: Wed 30 Nov 2005 - 09:24:50 GMT

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    Keith Henson wrote:

    > At 05:56 PM 11/27/2005 -0500, you wrote:
    >> Most examples of memes seem to be from popular culture.
    > I have more often used chipping rock or making shoes as examples.
    > Sometimes used baseball as an example.
    >> Are
    >> relatively enduring concepts/terms/ideologies
    >> like "equality" or "liberty" also memetic,
    > Ask yourself, are they information? Do they replicate? Do they
    > influence human behavior?

    The examples that are used seem to follow from the cultural millieu of the memeticist. Sports seem to be big amongst this group of people, so examples from sports are often used. The selection of examples could be a legitimate object of study.

    >> and if so, in
    >> what sense might they function as memes?
    > Most memes are mundane, like rock chipping or shoe making or frivolous
    > such as songs and jokes. But there are memes that induce people to
    > die for them of which "equality," "liberty" and whatever drives the
    > suicide bombers in Iraq are examples.
    > "The songs of whales and birds and a number of primate skills such as
    > cracking nuts or fishing for termites fit the definition of memes, so
    > they are not unique to humans. But the *influence* of memes on humans
    > is unique. People often *die* due to the influence of memes."

    some species of animals - tigers, bears, rhinos - have body parts that humans believe have beneficial properties. The animals are killed for their body parts to feed the demand based on the belief. It would seem to follow, to the extent the human belief is memetic, it has dire consequences for the animals in question similar to the beliefs of suicide bombers.


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