Re: Fitness increment hypothesis (non-fit memes)

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Sat Oct 20 2001 - 01:56:38 BST

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    Subject: Re: Fitness increment hypothesis (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.

    That remains to be seen Ray. I agree, memes spreading and promoting drug-use
    and other addictive behaviors generally have a decreasing effect on
    biological fitness. However, not automatically so for cultural fitness.
    When not abused, drugs have a firm social function. Engaging in drug-use
    helps to promote social bonding of the drug-using group, or at least
    that's often how drug-use is interpreted by potential users. For example,
    sentences like `Come-on dude take a hit of this stuff....' are freely
    uttered at social gatherings of adolescents. Therefore, memes spreading
    drug-use are actually perceived of having a fitness increasing quality,
    of a social kind this time.

    Also prior to the fifties or so, it wasn't really known that smoking tobacco
    was actually unhealthy. All-the-more then smoking had a truly social function,
    you might think you were not part of `it' if you didn't smoke. Smoking was
    cool, and if you didn't smoke, you weren't. I guess this made a lot of people
    starting to smoke. People did so because they believed that it actually
    increased their social fitness.
    > 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

    The reward of pedophilia is pleasure, albeit a sick one. Therefore memes
    spreading pedophilia have a culturally fitness increasing function. I am
    wondering though, to what extent the phenomenon of pedophilia is memetic;
    might there not also be a genetic component present?
    > (from parent to child)

    I thought that was `vertical'...

    > 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.

    Genes and memes are coupled together, forming the gene-meme co-evolution.
    Ultimately, couch potatoes may get genetically selected...
    > 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.



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