RE: Why memeoids?

From: Lawrence DeBivort (
Date: Mon Jan 21 2002 - 14:00:14 GMT

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    Subject: RE: Why memeoids?
    Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2002 09:00:14 -0500
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    Hi Keith
    I'm catching up on emails...

    > >Lawrence DeBivort wrote:
    > >I must confess that I am grateful that the US government -- or ANY
    > >government for that matter -- knows much about memetics.
    > Keith: They don't of course. Not for a lack of trying on my part I should

    My concern is that memetics can give rise to such a powerful technology that
    those with the resources and access to the media (e.g. well-attended press
    conferences) will be able to overwhelm the societal processes of
    belief-formation. I think that in contacts with government agencies it is
    better to speak in conventional terms of 'brainwashing.' Not that the US
    government hasn't dabbled in this, alas. A search for 'Sid Gottlieb' and
    Washington Post Magazine back in December 2001 on the web will explain this

    > >I believe we can build the requisite models, and do believe that there is
    > >much we can do -- even now -- to improve significantly US relations with
    > >other peoples.
    > Maybe.

    Wish me luck!


    > >It may be that we now need an equivalent of citizen diplomacy, in which
    > >Americans and others of good will, reach out to those who have become
    > >convinced by our government's actions that they are targeted by it.
    > One thing that is true but hard to convince is that *nobody* is in charge
    > of the spread of western culture. What are your citizens going to be
    > doing? Saying to people that 1) were nice guys, and 2) would the
    > children
    > like to try this Game Boy? (A Japanese product.)

    I agree, I see much less of the centralized control in these matters that
    some believe exist. My view tends more to everyone is doing the best they
    can (no matter how silly or dysfunctional, or 'evil' it may seem to me), and
    that these myriad actions and views intermix in semi-chaotic patterns. Out
    of this mix emerge those views expounded by a relatively small number of
    people who have made it into true decision-making positions....


    > >And a model that explained the 'why's of anti-American sentiment
    > >might be an important tool in helping our government policy-makers
    > >understand some of the impacts of what they consider.
    > I suspect really understanding the problem will just leave them feeling
    > helpless.

    These policy-makers are for the most part bright and well-meaning. (Not that
    they always have the necessary background to understand the matters they are
    having to deal with -- the short-term political appointees who head
    policy-making agaencies are particularly bad in this respect.) So when
    analysis and recopmmendations are put before them that make sense to them,
    it is not unusual that they do find it helpful and use the input in their

    > If you really wanted to be paranoid, maybe this *has* been modeled by
    > secret government agencies.

    I don't see any trace of this.


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