RE: playing at suicide

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Thu Jan 17 2002 - 20:49:59 GMT

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    Subject: RE: playing at suicide
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    At 02:20 PM 17/01/02 +0000, Vincent Campbell <>
    >But that's a generic cop-out. Why, at any one particular time, does one
    >thing become fad, and not others?

    <grin> If you could answer that, you would be rich on the pet rock
    model. Such work as has been done on songs indicates that novelty, but not
    too much! is one way of describing memes that become fads.

    >Memetics surely argues beyond the simple
    >utility function by suggesting that some things (here I'm being deliberately
    >vague to incorporate both memes in minds and artefactual memes) replicate
    >regardless of their utility. Besides which there are behaviours that have
    >been discussed on the list at length previously that overtly conflict with
    >utility (in terms of natural selection) such as celibacy and suicide.

    I have discussed this aspect in considerable depth in an article I expect
    to submit to JOM shortly.

    The key is that memes can take advantage of human psychological mechanisms,
    particularly the attention reward pathway. We all are aware that addictive
    drugs--which also take advantage of that pathway--can have natural
    selection effects as devastating to a person's genes as celibacy and
    suicide. So it should not be too much of a jump to consider a meme using
    the same pathway.

    Keith Henson

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