RE: Why memeoids?

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Sat Jan 19 2002 - 18:20:32 GMT

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    At 10:21 AM 19/01/02 -0500, "Lawrence DeBivort" <>
    >Some thoughts to add to the Turkey pile:
    > > They have a reservoir of discontented Islamic fundamentalists. I
    > > have not
    > > looked at the situation in detail, but I think it is clear that most
    > > Islamic countries have some. The question is what does it take for
    > > memes/groups to become a problem?
    >I don't think that two of the classic reasons given for insurrection are
    >accurate: poverty and over-population. I know that it is almost a given that
    >these are causal, but in the many years I spent travelling and studying, I
    >have not been able to find the correlation.

    Verifying a correlation would take analyzing numbers that might be hard to
    get. But certainly population is required. There have been few
    insurrections in places with no people. :-) Over-population is not exactly
    a new problem for humans. Humans have had no serious predators for a
    *long* time due to our technology of stand off (projectile) weapons. In
    the pre modern era humans populations always expanded to the carrying
    limits of their environment. War, in the form of extermination of adjacent
    groups of males, likely goes back to before the human/chimpanzee split.

    "Over-population" is highly dependant on the available technology and
    invested capital. I am reminded of studies of Tucson, Arizona. The valley
    it was in was fully populated by a band of a few hundred natives. Close to
    a million people live there now, because technology has moved the
    population capacity of the area out faster than the population grew. (Most
    of it from immigration.)

    >Poor people can be content
    >(especially if they belief that everyone else is in the same boat) and
    >overpopulation has many non-insurrectional escapes. The factors that I have
    >found pront to insurrection are a sense of injustice, whether it has to do
    >with the perception of inequality of income, or corruption or among the
    >elite, or imposition of an alien culture or belief-sytem (often from the

    Inequality of income and corruption should be measurable and could be
    included in the model to see if they are serious contributors. I think it
    possible that the invasion of alien culture may not even require imposition.

    > > It would be most interesting to study the indicators in the population
    > > leading up to a coup. As candidates, I would put forth wealth per capita
    > > and maybe more important rate of change of wealth. Other
    > > candidate factors
    > > would be culture being displaced, percentage of later born children,
    > > percentage of young men in bonded (or any) sexual relations. Subject to
    > > real measurement, my expectation is that falling wealth per capita, more
    > > later born children, and high percentage of males without sex partners
    > > would all contribute to instability. Another possible factor
    > > might be the
    > > extent to which wealth is stratified. There may be other factors as
    > > important or even more so.
    > >
    > > Turkey may have escaped some of the factors contributing to
    > > instability by
    > > exporting a substantial fraction of its population of young
    > > people to Germany.
    >Yes, and add to this that when these workers come home, as most do, they
    >carry with them the memes of secular materialism.

    Among these memes are those for small families/high investment per
    child. I bet the numbers are somewhere on the net as to the family size of
    the Turks in Germany. As a guess, it would be larger than native Germans
    but smaller than in Turkey.

    The demographic transition is one of the more interesting behavior changes
    from human history. The ease with which people can switch to a small
    family model is to me unexplained. It is almost as if we have evolved
    psychological mechanisms for it.

    > > That is certainly true. Turkey has a unique history in that one of its
    > > most forceful leaders, Atatürk, yanked Turkey into the modern age between
    > > about 1925 and 1935.
    >Yanked is the operative word here. I spent some time in Turkey a couple of
    >years ago studying Ataturk's legacy in Turkey today. I came away concluding
    >that while he had forcibly imposed Western behaviors on Turkey, that he had
    >done so in such a way that failed to persuade many, especially those in
    >rural areas, and that they harbored both resentment and resistence to it,
    >that even today serves to diminish the impact of many of Ataturk's efforts.
    >The issue is far from solved: massive Ataturk banners (a la Stalin and Mao)
    >hang from some public buildings, and in quiet corners of the mosques and
    >cafes, people speak with bitterness of the cultural high-handedness of the
    >educated elites of Roberts University, now University of the Bosphorus.

    Interesting. So in Turkey your choices for seeking social status are to
    work for entry into this group or alternately to get involved in a counter
    revolution against Westernism or as you put it "the memes of secular
    materialism." Although rationalism is overrated, people are able to judge
    the relative merits of such choices, perhaps by their perception of how
    much support each branch has. The local environment in which they grew up
    plus other inputs shaping their world view might be the deciding factors.

    At the root of the reason people (males particularly) work for social
    status is the relative reproductive success brought by high social status
    over at least the last million years.

    Keith Henson

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