From: Kate Distin (email@example.com)
Date: Fri 20 Jan 2006 - 14:51:31 GMT
To pick up where I left off:
Religion is almost as sticky as language. But I think lots of other
things are this sticky too. Some of the things that stick to children
are representational systems (RSs) like natural languages; others are
memes (i.e. the information that is represented by those RSs) like religion.
Here's a list of some of the most sticky memes. [When I say 'parental'
I mean 'mostly parental but, depending of the degree of exposure to
influence outside the family, possibly also social'.]
Parental attitudes: to whether smacking is acceptable; to the importance
of fashion; to racism; to sex; to money; to work; to education; to
marriage . . . the list is almost endless.
Parental beliefs in matters of: religion; politics; the role of Santa
and the tooth fairy in childhood; etc.
The first RS you learn as a means of representing information in:
natural language; mathematics; music; written language; horology; etc.
In all of these cases, adults *are* able to discard or add to what stuck
to them in childhood.
In every case the ability to do this will be enhanced by early exposure
to the alternatives: e.g. bilingual children pick up other languages
more easily than others whereas children isolated in a linguistic
community will never learn another language.
Conversely, isolation will decrease the ability to shake off early
influences: e.g. amongst novice pianists, a long-time violinist who's
only ever read music written in the treble clef, will struggle more to
pick up the bass clef than one who's never read any music before.
Of course what I'm saying here is purely anecdotal. It seems clear to
me, from observing the people I know and know of, that most people do
not discard these early influences, although a significant minority do.
It would need statistical investigation. But by widening the scope of the investigation I suspect very strongly that the unique status of religion and language, as candidates for the Most Sticky Meme award, would be undermined.
Also let's not forget the fact that a significant minority *do* learn
another language, convert to another religious viewpoint, discard racist
attitudes or bizarre Santa-related practices (she's off again). No
matter how sticky the meme, the human ability to metarepresent does
ensure that its adherence need not be permanent.
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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