Re: Words and memes

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Fri Feb 08 2002 - 07:20:13 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Words and memes
    Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2002 22:20:13 -0900
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    > As long as the knowledge propagates according to conscious intention, it's
    > not a meme. One person retells the story because it's bizarre enough to
    > people's attention. Another doesn't tell it because he's afraid he'll
    > to clean up the mess. It's all intentional. The knowledge is being
    > passively replicated (or withheld) through conscious descisions, rather
    > actively self-replicating. With no motive-power of its own, it stops
    > circulating once everyone gets tired of it.
    > That memes spread without rational intent doesn't mean they can't still be
    > perfectly rational. Memes don't care whether they make sense or not--
    > just propagate. The meme for peeing in toilets is rational, but because
    > accept it reflexively, it propagates without our conscious examination of
    > its merit. You don't have to stop and think, "Does this really make
    > every time you go to the bathroom to pee. A meme is an idea that thinks
    > itself, so we don't have to bother.

    This is a little too metaphysical for the likes of me. Memes think as much
    beef steaks or turkey sandwiches. It's the spellbound effect some memes seem
    to cast over hosts that raises the notion that memes are in control. Memes
    are blind, have no will and are non-living entities. In a seemingly
    intractable and
    superficially random fashion memes of all kinds are created by humans in due
    course of cultural evolution. Some memes have a very high infection rate
    (e.g. religion, science) and some die a quick death (e.g. failed fads).
    Those who have a high infection rate owe this to succeeding in convincing
    the hosts of a high increase of fitness upon adoption. Some of this fitness
    increase is genuine (technology, ways to improve survival that kind of
    stuff) and some of them are phoney as they come (religion, cults, scams
    None however are ghostly entities swarming around us waiting for an
    to seize control.


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