Meme therapy

From: Dace (
Date: Mon Jan 21 2002 - 03:58:22 GMT

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    Subject: Meme therapy
    Date: Sun, 20 Jan 2002 19:58:22 -0800
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    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Francesca S. Alcorn

    > Hi Ted
    > >We might divide memes into two types. Logical memes exploit our capacity
    > >for rational thought. Pathological memes exploit our unconscious need
    > >to believe certain things and not others. We don't really get infected
    > >logical memes. They simply follow from our perception of reality. But
    > >infection by pathological memes causes us to project a false "reality"
    > >rather than accepting the genuine article.
    > I *like* this. Perhaps "pathological" is overdoing it a bit.
    > Pathological implies that adoption of these memes can lead to
    > destructive behaviors, which is not necessarily true. Some behaviors
    > resulting from "pathological" memes is quite adaptive.

    Oh, yes, such as the guy who bullies people, starting with his wife and
    kids, to make everyone do what he wants. These are often the most
    successful people on earth. The capitalist system of exchange seems
    designed with their prosperity in mind. Recorded history is essentially the
    story of how evil generates power.

    But the meme itself is pathological. What was beneficial for Hitler was
    disastrous for Germany. And if Germany had won, it would have been
    disastrous for Western civilization.

    > There should be another category too though: memes arising from
    > logical errors. As in the woman who, after breaking up with her
    > boyfriend, declares that "All men are assholes." Overgeneralization
    > is a common logical error.

    Memes are influenced by many factors, such as aesthetics, fear, narcissism,
    emotional needs, etc. If a woman wants to believe that all men are assholes
    (and I once, for about a month when I was 23, held a grudge against the
    entire female half of the human race) it's because she's unconsciously
    converting sorrow into anger, which at least carries a certain pleasure with
    it. We all do it. It's not a simple error in logic but an emotional need
    that causes the pathological meme to replicate.

    > Cognitive therapy says that people are prone
    > to many different but common errors of logic, especially during
    > childhood, when our brains are less developed. Therapy involves
    > revisiting childhood learning experiences and "relearning" things
    > (correcting errors of logic) (modifying memes?). There are lists
    > out there of the common logical errors to which humans are prone.

    Meme therapy has the same function in culture that philosophy has in
    science. Both, in turn, are derivative of the biological principle of
    regeneration. Even if only part of a limb is lost, the organism sloughs off
    what is left and starts over from scratch. It's the only way ahead.


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