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<But the problem with most social science experiments, and most
> psychological studies, is the _lack_ of cultural isolation in the subject
> population- which leads to uncounted and unaccountable variables to the
> data and the significant factors.>
In this context, I kinda meant physiologically, e.g. these aren't
women who go through child-birth so you can't factor that into illnesses in
later life and so on.
<This sort of group is more ideal for memetic and other social data
> acquisition precisely because of its cohesiveness and narrow range of
In this context, perhaps.
<Who would you _love_ to have as a subject in a media study- some
> the MTV generation, or some kid born in a monastic and isolated retreat?
> The more clean from external input the vessel, the better for experiment.
> Which is why there is such an ethical dilemma for memetic research at all
Actually, I think this has been done. There was a study of the
introduction of TV into Inuit communities in Canada, on cultural
attitudes/practices etc (I think the Inuit were gettting TV anyway so it
wasn't forced on them). I can't remember the refs, off hand, but can get
them if anyone's interested, I've copies in my office somewhere.
I'd actually prefer entirely typical subjects, though, whatever that
might mean, rather than aberrant ones. Too much media effects research, for
example, is conducted via studies of rapists or murderers, ignoring the
massive non-mudering, non-raping set of people, often equally (and sometimes
more exposed) to sex and violence in the media. Such studies often claim
porn=rapists, violence=violent crime, but don't address that other (rather
large) group at all.
If you're trying to measure the impact of a trend by initiating it
into a population, like genetic changes to fruit flies in a jar, then ethics
indeed arise. I don't necessarily see that as the only way to do memetic
research. I think it may have retrodictive potential that is not so
problematised by ethical considerations, for example examining in detail the
elements that led up to a particular chain of events (one of interest to me
is the Hindu, Ganesh milk-drinking statues, "miracle" that went round the
world about 5or 6 years ago- did that hit the US?).
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