necessity of mental memes

From: Steve Drew (
Date: Tue Jan 22 2002 - 20:47:41 GMT

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    Subject: necessity of mental memes
    Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2002 20:47:41 +0000
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    Grant wrote:

    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
    "infected" by the idea.  It also has connotations of sickness and a
    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
    the overall effect of memes is to make the society stronger and allow us
    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.


    I was under the impression that the level of choice in accepting or
    rejecting memes is one of the things that is still very much undeceided.
    Although i agree that contagion and virus are emotionally charged, i am hard
    pressed to think of something that could replace them. For me memes and
    acceptance/ rejection run through a range from choice to no choice, and the
    ability of various people to accept/reject varies th same. For the no choice
    my idea is that the meme in question may fit with your own collection of
    memes very closely that you accept them without the necessary scrutiny
    that something that conflicted with them would command.
    if i understand Susan Blackmore's book correctly, then she believes we have
    no choice whatsoever.


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