Cultural fitness and the US tragedy

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Fri Sep 14 2001 - 13:56:14 BST

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    Subject: Cultural fitness and the US tragedy
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    Quoting BRENT SILBY <>:

    > Now that this has happened, I think U.S officials should be
    > watching for copycat crimes taking place. Many minds have now
    > been exposed to some of the memetic structures involved in the
    > perpetration of yesterday's attack, and a mind that has
    > insufficient memetic filters might find
    > itself planning something similar.
    > Memes spread and unfortunately the memes that spread fastest
    > are these type of memes--the ones that have a negative
    > impact on humanity.

    If this were so, wouldn't you think we would have pushed
    humanity into extinction then?

    Hi Brent,

    Let's dwell on that for a moment.
    I cannot see why there should be an asymmetry in the favoring
    of memes that have a negative impact on humanity and ones that
    have a postive one. For a meme to be adopted by a potential
    host it has to `persuade' its host to do so. That is, the meme
    has to offer something valuable which makes it worthwhile for
    the host to initiate adoption. I like to call this valuable
    something, whatever it is, an increment in personal
    cultural fitness. Boosts of cultural fitness include,
    buying cell phones, try to solve Rubik's cube (since anyone else
    did it) or taking Tae Bo classes. All of these memes have
    the, perhaps unconscious, purpose to either increase personal
    cultural fitness or pretend to do so. As far as the individual
    is concerned there is always a personal *positive* interest in
    adopting memes. Even the memes that turned people into suicide
    commando's are perceived as valuable and positive personal
    assets. Potential kamikaze pilots and shi-ite terrorists
    are persuaded to sacrifice themselves by promises of eternal

    Furthermore, whether the character of an adopted meme is positive
    or negative is perspective dependent. What's negative for you
    can be positive for me. Becoming infected by the lottery-meme
    is positive only for the winners and negative for the losers.
    Also, suppose guy A invents a fishing device that allows him
    to double his number of caught fish in some pond for some period.
    For obvious reasons of secrecy, guy B does not have access to
    the invention of guy A. But they both happen to have both
    large families and their mouths have to be kept fed.
    Guy A is better able to take after his family than
    guy B by appropriating more resources (fishes). The allocation of
    resources per time unit therefore flows from guy B to
    guy A because of the latter one's invention. Does this make guy A
    a bad guy? Does his invention has a negative impact on humanity?
    I don't think so, guy B should assume a more competive attitude
    and try to come up with a better invention than guy A to improve
    his competitive position. In short, this is how the living
    nature works...

    In regards to the recent US tragedy I resent to have to second
    to Ted's and Vincent's opinions. The US violently interferes
    with so much political agenda's that it was only to expected
    to receive the other end of "what's goes around...".
    Assuming the perspective of the terrorists, by orchestrating
    such horrific terrorists atrocities these people are
    convinced of fighting for a good cause. They are
    received by their people as freedom-fighters, heroes and now
    probably martyrs. In their eyes they adopted positive memes.
    Memes that ought to rid their hosts of the oppressive terror
    they themselves are subjected to by the Western world in general,
    and the US in particular.

    Assuming the US reference frame radically inverts the sign of
    the memes at hand. Through having to deal with the severe
    devastation, humiliation and above all loss of lives, the US
    considers these terrorist memes to be inherently negative.
    All in all, I contend: An adopted meme by person A is always
    interpreted to have a perceived cultural fitness increasing
    value, whether real or imaginary. In this subjective (person A)
    sense, memes are inherently positive. However,
    in changing frame of reference by going to person B, it is
    dependent on the memetic history and biolgical nature of
    person B whether or not the meme adopted by person A is
    interpreted positively or negatively by person B. The US tragedy
    sets an good example with person A as the terrorist community
    responsible (with jihad memes) and person B as the US.


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