Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id OAA24430 (8.6.9/5.3[ref email@example.com] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from firstname.lastname@example.org); Fri, 14 Sep 2001 14:00:42 +0100 From: Philip Jonkers <P.A.E.Jonkers@phys.rug.nl> X-Authentication-Warning: rugth1.phys.rug.nl: www-data set sender to jonkers@localhost using -f To: email@example.com Subject: Cultural fitness and the US tragedy Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Fri, 14 Sep 2001 14:56:14 +0200 (CEST) References: <2D1C159B783DD211808A006008062D3102A6CFBF@inchna.stir.ac.uk> <20010912151821.B633@ii01.org> <000901c13bcf$30530220$c49cbed4@default> <002801c13bcf$239c4f00$2fe3adcb@orb> In-Reply-To: <002801c13bcf$239c4f00$2fe3adcb@orb> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1 Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit User-Agent: IMP/PHP IMAP webmail program 2.2.5 X-Originating-IP: 184.108.40.206 Sender: email@example.com Precedence: bulk Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
Quoting BRENT SILBY <email@example.com>:
> 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?
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
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.
This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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