Re: The necessity of mental memes

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Mon Jan 21 2002 - 21:37:40 GMT

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    Subject: Re: The necessity of mental memes
    Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2002 16:37:40 -0500
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    >From: "Grant Callaghan" <>
    >Subject: Re: The necessity of mental memes
    >Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2002 07:40:31 -0800
    >>Anyway, since I already have been using the various terms "idea,"
    >>"behavior," "artifact," "thought contagion," "doctrine," "opinion,"
    >>system," and "urban legend," I find no communication difficulty arising
    >>not using the word "meme" alongside them. My book chapter "Evolutionary
    >>Contagion in Mental Software"
    >What I dislike in the choice of the word "contagion" to describe the
    >of information is the implication that the receiver has no choice but to be
    >"infected" by the idea. It also has connotations of sickness and a process
    >that leads to death. Most of the bacteria and a lot of the viruses that
    >invade our body do so harmlessly. Some are killers. But we have little
    >choice about catching the flu or HIV. I don't believe this is the case
    >memes. Although some memes, if taken up by a large enough number of
    >can lead to sickness within a society and the death of many of its members,
    >the overall effect of memes is to make the society stronger and allow us to
    >adapt to a changing environment that is changing too quickly for genetic
    >evolution to keep up with. It seems to me the terms "virus" and
    >were chosen to create fear and controversey. They are loaded with
    >baggage from historical attempts to survive plagues and their aftermath.
    >Emotion laden terminology should be kept out of the study of culture and
    >mind if we are to reach objective conclusions about them.
    "Contagion" may be apt for uses in certain cases though not a term to focus
    upon to the exclusion of other possibilities. I'm an agnostic on memes so
    I'm open to other terms and other views.

    There's a plethora of terms (erroneous or not) out there which refer to
    stuff influencing human individual and social behavior. It might be neat to
    construct a taxonomy of these terms, though I'm only aware of a limited
    number such as meme, mind virus, contagion, culturgen, engram, mnemon, neme,
    complex, idee' fixe, collective representation, archetype and so on.

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