Re: Words and memes

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Sat Feb 02 2002 - 01:50:09 GMT

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    Date: Fri, 01 Feb 2002 20:50:09 -0500
    From: Keith Henson <>
    Subject: Re: Words and memes
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    At 01:02 PM 01/02/02 -0800, "Dace" <>


    >To be replicated is necessary but insufficient to qualify as
    >memetic. Memes are not passively replicated but actively
    >self-replicate. The mere repetition of words doesn't mean memetic
    >propagation is occurring. Memes exploit our conscious interaction in
    >order to replicate themselves from one mind to another.

    I think I agree with you here. There are obviously various levels memes
    exploit minds. For example, the meme of how to chip out the hand axes of
    the old stone age was passed down for a million and a half years (how to
    use them too). You don't have a "hand ax chipping cult" that piles them up
    for reasons unrelated to using them to put dinner on the fire. The hand ax
    memes propagated for obvious reasons.

    At the other end of this spectrum, you have memes that spread by inducing
    people to go out and do glassy eyed recruiting. Memes like Heaven's Gate
    or Moonies spread by directly inducing behavior of no value to the host
    rather than indirectly by being darned useful to the host.

    >In order for this to occur, the words must involve some kind of
    >interpretation ("bacon is evil") and not a mere statement of fact ("bacon
    >is in the fridge"). If it's merely factual, the repetition of the
    >statement can be accounted for according to normal, intentional use of

    Good way to put it. You can't call everything a meme or it becomes a
    useless word.

    Keith Henson

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