Re: Words and memes

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Thu Feb 07 2002 - 16:25:58 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Words and memes
    Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2002 07:25:58 -0900
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    > >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
    > for reasons unrelated to using them to put dinner on the fire. The hand
    > 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.

    Indeed such memes obviously do not have actual real value but they do
    to do so. They give the meme hosts delusions of grandeur (scientology) and
    eternal afterlife (conventional religions). Such memes advertise fitness
    when in actual fact of course they can't live up to that claim.

    > >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
    > >language.

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

    Why not? It's just that some memes carry more meaning or are more successful
    than others. Memes are the building blocks of culture. If you omit some
    you are ignorant of the full evolution of culture.
    If you can't call everything memes where do you draw the line between meme
    and non-meme.


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