RE: The Status of Memetics as a Science

From: TJ Olney (
Date: Mon Apr 23 2001 - 19:56:26 BST

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    From: TJ Olney <>
    Subject: RE: The Status of Memetics as a Science
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    On Sun, 22 Apr 2001, Scott Chase wrote:
    > Is marketing, sales, promotion, propaganda, advertizing or whatver suddenly
    > going to become even more virulent due to the presence of the concept of
    > memetics? People have been doing those sorts of things for years sans
    > "memetic engineering". I fail to see any ethical crisis. Used car
    > salespeople will still be used car salespeople (annoying local run
    > commercials and all). Could knowledge of "memetic engineering" technology
    > make televangelism any worse than it has been already?

    I suggest that we have a classic case of two names for the same thing
    here. There in no practical difference between the design of communication
    for promotion of products, services, or ideas and "mimetic engineering."

    What memetics provides is a meta-framework for looking at these as special
    cases of a more general transmission of information patterns from mind to
    mind. As part of this, it provides a new way to look at what happens to
    these intentional (see Fog) messages once they have begun distribution. An
    interesting thing that happens sometimes in the advertising world is that the
    "creatives" come up with extremely potent copy, they know it is potent, but
    they can't tell you why.

    > For politics, Niccolo Machiavelli scooped "memetic engineers" by several
    > years at least.
    An interesting aside on Machiavelli; there is a feminist analysis of "The
    Prince" interpreting it as a sarcastic piece written for a disliked patron
    with the intent of telling him what to do that would be sure to make him
    unpopular and create more enemies for himself.

    One policy prescription from memetics might involve creating a non-cynical
    book of advice, "The Statesman" that could serve as a foundation for a
    politics of "stewardship and responsibility" rather than power and rule. Of
    course, the tome would have to be written with potent memes to compete with
    "The Prince." Any takers?


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