Re: What/Who selects memes?

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Thu Oct 04 2001 - 16:44:20 BST

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    Subject: Re: What/Who selects memes?
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    > If memes are considered to work evolution-like there has to be some
    > selection and obviously there is. So how does this selection work?
    > What selects a meme in a brain, how does the brain decide to store a
    > meme or even to let it spread further? And why is this
    > selection different among people?

    Hi Salice,

    Interesting question, thanks!

    It might already be said, but what the heck.
    Unlike Derek, I do believe that memes are stored and
    processed in the brain. Where could they else be?
    In the soul? Yeah right!
    Anyway, memes applying for adoption have to
    persuade the potential host to do just that.
    The meme running up for adoption may do that (figuratively speaking)
    by offering genuine improvement of the host's status.
    I like to call that an increment in cultural fitness.
    As a scientist I can relate to plausible
    scientific memes as having precisely that virtue. On the other
    hand, memes may display a false cloak of cultural
    fitness improvement. That is, memes that look beneficial
    (on first sight) but when adopted they turn out to be
    malignant. Most of the religious memes, or most of
    any other metaphysical memes, reveal such properties.
    Very actual: suicide memes!

    Also, the treshold of persuasion varies from person to person.
    People might be easily lured into adopting certain memes than
    others. Also, this treshold depends on the kind or class of memes
    aiming at adoption. Some people tend to prefer religious memes
    over evolutionary ones. And some people are more skeptical (less
    persuasive) than others. The treshold of persuasion depends
    on the make-up of the brain and the memetic history of the brain
    (the collection of already adopted memes) and is thus unique
    for each person.

    To answer your question in general, the key thing to note is
    that the hopt must be convinced, possibly unconscious,
    that adoption of the meme at hand does the host good.
    That is, it must have a cultural fitness increasing
    appearance, whether this is genuine or sham.

    It is the brain that selects (conscious or unconscious),
    but the brain is a product of
    existing memes already running around in head and the genetic
    make-up of the brain (some people never will be scientists
    or become meme-fountains no matter how hard they try).
    It therefore valid to some extent that memes select memes.


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