Re: Cartoon meme

From: Douglas Brooker (
Date: Thu 09 Feb 2006 - 20:09:12 GMT

  • Next message: Kenneth Van Oost: "Re: new review of memetics/sociobiology/EP"

    Keith Henson wrote:

    > At 03:02 PM 2/9/2006 +0000, Douglas Brooker wrote:
    > snip
    >> the problem I think, as some of the replies indicate, including the
    >> above, is that some have jumped right into the substantive issues,
    >> good-bad, right-wrong, rather than a memetic analysis.
    > Correct. For example, why did the cartoon meme take the time it did
    > and not more or less time to snowball?

    your earlier post on this point was not amongst the replies I was referring above.

    I'm a non-memeticist looking for suggested answers. In memetic terms, what kinds of answers are possible to explain the snowballing?

    My working theory is that an explanation by a western memeticist will betray how they feel about the underlying issue in the 'news'. That's to say, 'they'll spin it in their favour' and moreover won't recognise this is being done.

    >> Should not an adequate account of this start off with an account of
    >> the commentator's own memeplex of values which are to be used the
    >> subsequent analysis?
    > I am not sure "values" is the correct term to use in analyzing the
    > psychological "forces" behind the spread of the "cartoon meme".

    Are you saying that memes simply refer to psychological forces?

    The point about the commentator's memeplex of 'values' is that they are implicit, but unstated in the analysis and should be accounted for. They are problematic, as you seem to agree, for an adequate enquiry. all the relevant memes should be part of the enquiry, including the researcher's.

    A stronger phrase than 'values' would refer to the researcher's
    "cultural indoctrination", that dictates perceptions can occur only within the boundaries the native culture permits. Once a memetic analysis involves a non-native culture, the values - cultural indoctrination - become quite problematic - which was the point that prompted me to initially post. (my field is comparative law, and would suggest a need for something comparable, like comparative memetics)

    I would like to hear an Islamic memeticist explain the issues.

    > My preferred takeoff point for looking at this is evolutionary
    > psychology. In theory, and to a large extent by those who use it,
    > evolutionary psychology is "value free."
    > Deplorable as the situations are in regard to battered wife syndrome,
    > understanding the evolutionary context that gave rise to the
    > psychological trait of "capture-bonding" is or at least should be
    > value free.
    > I could mention another example, but fear to do so for starting a
    > flame war about the subject and not the underlying science.
    >> One reference, for example to "the protective strength to the
    >> religion given by the hypersensitivity to criticism aspects of the
    >> ideology." ought to be deconstructed for its own memetic qualities.
    >> so what is the 'hypersensitivity' meme? is it a purely subjective
    >> assessment residing in the minds of those who use the word? can
    >> some objective truth or insight about the meme in question result
    >> from the application of "hypersentitivity" as a measure?
    > Evolutionary psychology models give you reason to expect that
    > sensitivity to memes that lead to wars and other forms of social
    > disruption is dependant on measurable factors, particularly the per
    > capita economic history and future prospects.

    I'm speaking to the cultural bias of the term, 'hypersensitivity to criticism'. This could be unobjectionable if paired in the same sentence or paragraph with the point of view of the participants in the demonstrations - that they are only doing their duty as Muslims in protesting. And the term 'hypersensitivity" marks an ignorance of the intensity of Islamic culture. Islamic music provides clues about this sense of "intensity". It's not ABBA.

    An the pair - hypsensitivity versus Islamic duty - constitutes - what?

    We might also have to add other actors who think they are doing their duty by publishing (standing up for 'free' speech, i.e. the right to insult other cultures) or (not to publish, i.e. to forestall reactions from those who find the expression of 'free' speech objectionable). This is a problematic field work issue - what paper published when, what was their circulation, other minute details, probably essential to a coherent scholarly account.

    Does anyone disagree that these are fields of the enquiry that *must* be addressed?

    >> might comparison between 'honour cultures' and 'no honour cultures'
    >> be useful?
    >> there is a lot buried here.
    >> first thing is to define the meme? yes? no?
    > No. Memes are elements of culture or replicating information
    > patterns. Very broad definition.

    you mean memes are ideas?

    >> is it the cartoon? if so what are the qualities of the cartoon? Or
    >> is the meme the reaction to the qualities of the cartoon. what
    >> exactly is spreading? what are memetic qualities of the reactions in
    >> the western media?
    > It isn't important how you sort out the technical definitions of what
    > is causing people to charge into gunfire. What is important if you
    > want to do anything with the knowledge is understanding why they are
    > doing it *now* and not ten or 20 or 50 years ago.
    <,,1705315,00.html>an academic discipline should have a stock of technical definitions in place that permit classification of material encountered in the field quickly. something like the diagnosis in medicine.

    are you suggesting a memetic response team? my interest is purely academic - trying to hear an explanation of the events and 'forces' at work in memetic terms. or even a methodology by which a thesis could be adequately researched and proven.

    =============================================================== 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 : Thu 09 Feb 2006 - 20:31:47 GMT