non fit memes

From: Ray Recchia (
Date: Sat Oct 20 2001 - 00:28:59 BST

  • Next message: Philip Jonkers: "Re: Fitness increment hypothesis (non-fit memes)"

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    Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 19:28:59 -0400
    From: Ray Recchia <>
    Subject: non fit memes
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    Smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, masochism, pedo and related philias
    an abstinent priesthood, homosexuality, gluttony.....

    I think for memes like these ones it can be more complicated than that. I
    think Some of the memes use parasitic transmission which I define as
    transmission from others who don't follow those memes themselves but who
    benefit from their transmission to others. ie. smoking by tobacco
    companies. Some though like pedophilia are are transmitted horizontally
    (from parent to child) and may not enhance genetic fitness but don't impede
    reproduction sufficiently to prevent further transmission. Others are
    transmitted laterally (in between non-related individuals).

    Hypothetically, given sufficient time, genetics will catch up and create
    genetic impediments to the transmission of the memes. So for example after
    a few thousand years perhaps humans will develop some genetic controls over
    their sense of hunger that will prevent them becoming overweight. That
    becomes less likely though for things like smoking where the most of the
    negative affects don't appear until child rearing years are over.

    There is a lot more to say here about how different rates of evolution will
    likely always mean that parasitic memes can evolve but I've given you
    enough to chew on already.

    Ray Recchia

    At 08:34 PM 10/19/2001 +0200, you wrote:
    >Hi everyone,
    >I got me cooked-up another one:
    >Fitness increment hypothesis:
    >Before treating memes let's consider genes for a moment. Biological evolution
    >is possible by having the three requirements of: variation, inheritance
    >and selection. Genes construct vehicles to safeguard the their existence.
    >Since the niches of nature are limited and are insufficient in numbers to
    >accomodate every vehicle around, a selective pressure is built up to
    >favor the strongest and fittest vehicles. The genes that give its vehicles
    >the highest degree of fitness will get naturally selected and will thus
    >dominate over the genes that yielded inferior vehicles. Since individuals
    >perish and genes persist, it is the genes corresponding to the highest
    >degree of fitness that get selected.
    >The same analogy applies to` memes. In the early days of cultural history
    >memes exclusively served to increase the biological fitness of its host.
    >That's how they got a steady grip at human life in the first place; if they
    >turned out to be completely useless they would have died a silent death.
    >The archetypical memes aiming to usefully increase biological levels
    >of fitness include: agricultural memes, tool-memes, functional clothing
    >food-processing memes, memes for contructing houses etc...
    >However, over the course of time humans began to become more efficient in
    >establishing their well-being and the humans began to have time left to spend
    >on non-survival activities.
    >The coming of leisure-time opened up memetic
    >niches towards increasing cultural rather than biological fitness.
    >Examples of memes that enhance cultural fitness include: art, making
    >ornaments and juwelry, rituals, fashion, news, fads etc..
    >Usually, however, a meme increases both biological fitness and cultural
    >fitness. For example, a necessary precondition for hominids
    >to keep together as a group demanded some sort of communication between its
    >members. Bands and tribes arose because they had survival benefits over
    >the individual. The emergence of language meant to increase the level of
    >communication between group members and thus induced higher levels of
    >coherence among its members. Through language survival was even more
    >secured. Since languages not only transfer memes, they are even composed
    >exclusively of memes. Therefore adoption of language memes turned out to be
    >very useful to its host as it not only increased his cultural
    >(i.e. social) but also his biological fitness.
    >I will now make a list of meme-categories and try to identify there principal
    >fitness increasing components.
    >Sport memes: biological as well as cultural. Improve physical fitness and
    >social fitness (bonding, contacts) especially so with team sports.
    >Charity memes: cultural. Increases niceness factor of the philanthropist
    >as perceived by the community (social fitness). The same goes for human
    >interspecific altruism. Side-note: both actually decrease rather than
    >increase the biological fitness of the bearers of such memes.
    >Religious memes: cultural. Increases spiritual fitness. Although being
    >an imaginary fitness this does not matter to its hosts who consider it
    >genuine. For example: regarding the terrorist-bombings of 11-september,
    >memes were deployed by religious authorities to cause great boosts of
    >spiritual fitness on adoption by the would-be suicide bombers. Hence
    >significant numbers of potential bombers lign up to lay down their lives
    >upon infection by such memes (mind virii).
    >Technology/science memes: biological and cultural. Technology and science
    >serve to improve standards of living. For instance: medical science works
    >biologically fitness enhancing primarily whereas mathematics works cultural
    >fitness enhancing mostly as it stimulates logical thinking which is useful
    >in society.
    >Fads/fashion memes: cultural. Not giving response to such memes may
    >you with a - often only perceived - lower than average social status.
    >Sometimes, however, it is quite vital to give hearing to a fad-meme in order
    >to stave off a social death. For example: being a kid in Denmark means you
    >are socially seriously impaired if you are not in the possession of a
    >cellular phone. 90 % of all appointments between Danish kids are arranged
    >by cellular phone. Not having one means few if not no appointments and
    thus a
    >low social fitness ensues.
    >Political/law memes: cultural. Aim to establish and maintain social
    >By not having them, society would crumble and anarchy would prevail. Since
    >high levels of society generally go hand in hand with high levels of
    >biological fitness, memes of this sort also aim to warrant or increase
    >biological fitness.
    >Art: biological and cultural. Though predominantly cultural, the act of
    >performing art works good both for `body and soul' and thus serves to
    >biological fitness too (consider martial arts for example).
    >Mythology/occult/mysticism: cultural. Prior to the advent of science and
    >a universal rational enlightenment, memes of this category were
    >regarded to have true explanatory powers on how the world worked. They
    >were considered to be social and spiritual fitness increasing.
    >Today, however, most of the ideas are hopelessly outdated and, where
    >necessary, superseded by more rational alternatives. Nonetheless, they still
    >serve to increase cultural fitness as they make good story-telling and
    >Job memes: primarily biological as they are a means to make a living. If
    any of
    >the previous meme categories are exploited on a professional level the
    >biological fitness increasing feature is even more emphasized.
    >Does anyone know of any other categories that I have missed? Any other
    >comments are welcome too, of course.

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