Re: Little Dutch Boy

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Sun 29 Jan 2006 - 03:53:32 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "Environment for memes"

    At 08:16 PM 1/28/2006 -0500, you wrote:
    >>>This, and the Grayfrier's Bobby seem to be vehicles to convey memes?
    >>Apparently so - I found this while I was googling earlier:
    >So, myths certainly carry memes; as do teaching stories. Now. I wonder if
    >there is a difference between myths and recently created stories in the
    >memes they convey.

    You are looking at this from the wrong end. Memes and teaching stories
    *are* memes. Intercommunicating human minds are the environment for memes.

    That environment changes and so do the memes that thrive or die out in it. For example, a meme about a boy plugging a hole in a dike could not exist before there *were* dikes. (I make the case that xenophobic memes do well in stressed populations during the run-up to wars.)

    But the basic meme-theme of inclusive fitness oriented actions is one that drives the propagation of this class of memes. I make the case that such stories activate our own emotional drivers that would be activated if we were in the (usually awful) spot of the protagonist(s).

    Pascal Boyer says similar things about religious memes. In _Religion Explained_ he provides list of "beliefs" that we can sort into those that make plausible religious beliefs and those that do not. He does not explain exactly *how* people can make such decisions, but we obviously can.

    He also makes the point that the kind of meme that becomes a dominate religious belief depends on the level of the society. State level societies have religions that are different in kind from the ones of more primitive people.

    I should reread his book with a deeper understanding of evolutionary psychology.

    Incidentally, Robert Wright, author of _Moral Animal_, an early popular book on EP, says that popular authors have a better gut feel for EP than any psychologist prior to the mid 1990s. That's because they are turning on deep seated EP rooted emotions. Consider The Fellowship of the Ring as an example.

    Keith Henson

    =============================================================== 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) see:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sun 29 Jan 2006 - 04:12:36 GMT