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I would like to take a different tack here.
People are not stupid (oh, okay, not totally so). They have the automatic
capability to assess what is going on around them, including the flow of
language and symbols, and to judge what makes sense or doesn't, and what is
'useful' to them or not.
We all have hierarchies of values that come into play when we make these
judgments. If an idea floating out there seems to enhance the ability of the
individual to manifest these values (and especially the more highly held
ones) he or she will adopt it. (I am simplfying here a bit, and leaving out
other cognitive elements that also influence the adoption of ideas but serve
mainly as filtering mechanisms that reduce the number of ideas that are
going to be judged. Within these filtering mechanisms we also have the
ability to reshape the idea we are considering, to discard some of its
elements and keep others, or to add to it other elements from other ideas we
have, thus the mutation of memes within and by the individual.) Ideas will
only be taken up if the individual, rightly or wrongly, concluded that it is
useful to do so. Note that this allows for the adoption of ideas under
conditions of group pressure: for those who do it under these conditions,
conforming to group standards and all that flows from that is the immediate
Memes cannot destroy or bypass this judgement-making mechanism: to be
adopted they must meet its criteria for adoption. This helps explain why
some memes are taken up by some people and not by others: our heirarchies of
values differ person to person, as do the levels of certainty that we
require within our judgment-making processes.
Does this model help?
> > > At the other end of this spectrum, you have memes that spread by
> > > people to go out and do glassy eyed recruiting. Memes like Heaven's
> > > or Moonies spread by directly inducing behavior of no value
> to the host
> > > rather than indirectly by being darned useful to the host.
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