Date: Mon Jan 07 2002 - 15:08:57 GMT

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    Date: Mon, 7 Jan 2002 10:08:57 EST
    Subject: Re: CRASH CONTAGION
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    In a message dated 1/7/2002 5:52:22 AM Central Standard Time, Vincent
    Campbell <> writes:

    Hi Vincent, and happy new year to all.

    My previous message was not meant to suggest that copy-cat was the only thing
    happening, or that it only operates through centralized media without word of
    mouth. There are many ideological contagion factors working for and (mostly)
    against the deliberate flying of planes into buildings. That is why I discuss
    the spread of certain religious ideas along with ideas of suicidal aviation
    violence. While Paul has taken a special interest in the copy-cat aspects, I
    doubt that he regards that as the sole factor either. And as you say, there
    are many circumstantial factors, child psychology factors, etc that also come
    into play in any one case. One can discuss contagion without asserting that
    contagion is the only causal factor in play. We will probably hear more about
    the boy's particular emotional or circumstantial troubles -- factors that
    explain why a contagion of ideas favoring a deliberate plane into building
    crash spread to him but not to most other US citizens. And opportunity is
    also of course a factor in translating the ideas into actual deeds.

    --Aaron Lynch

    > Hi Everyone,
    > I wondered how long it would take Paul and others to make this comment. A
    > few problems with it though. First is the assumption of a causal
    > relationship between widespread dissemination of Sep 11 attacks and this
    > boy's actions- is there any evidence yet to confirm that this boy heard
    > about bin laden through the media, as opposed to friends and family etc
    > (teenagers are notoriously low consumers of news- including in the US), and
    > thus open to interpersonal influence. Saturation coverage is no answer to
    > this, because the second problem then emerges- such a view ignores why many
    > others haven't done this. In other words if it is merely the dissemination
    > of such actions that cause them to be imitated by others why haven't we
    > more attacks, especially given the level of coverage globally?
    > With Phillips-like research, in which such views are rooted, the 100%
    > increase in people flying a plane into a building deliberately would be
    > proof of cause and effect, but I see no evidence of this. Paul predicted
    > such copy-cat attempts pretty soon after the original attack, but several
    > months on there has been this one case. How long does media coverage
    > resonate with audiences with contagious effect? In other words what is the
    > period in which such contagions remain powerful? Is it only on immediate
    > exposure, does it seep into people to reemerge weeks, months, years later
    > what? There's no coherence to this kind of contagion idea to my mind.
    > This poor young lad obviously had particular problems that led to this. He
    > also had access to flying lessons, and some ability to fly a plane. One of
    > the problems with contagion theories is the problem of context- from social
    > ones (e.g. why most people don't go on killing sprees after watching
    > Born Killers- we know it's wrong, or at least that we'd probably get
    > caught), to logistical ones (in this case getting a plane, and having a
    > skyscraper to hit).
    > On a mor polemical note, again the risk of this kind of argument- even
    > its clear relevance to memetic debates- is not seen by its proponents.
    > solution is there, IF such things are being caused by information
    > dissemination? There is only one, something both US networks and the US
    > public (if the Pew Center surveys are anything to go by) agree with,
    > censorship. Yet censorship of al-jazeera didn't stop this lad.
    > Oh and a belated happy new year everyone!
    > Vincent

    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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