RE: Words and memes

From: Lawrence DeBivort (
Date: Sat Feb 09 2002 - 13:44:52 GMT

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    Subject: RE: Words and memes
    Date: Sat, 9 Feb 2002 08:44:52 -0500
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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
    value achieved.

    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?


    > Keith?:
    > > > 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.

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