RE: Words and memes: Memes and religion/cults

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Sat Feb 09 2002 - 18:41:51 GMT

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    Date: Sat, 09 Feb 2002 13:41:51 -0500
    From: Keith Henson <>
    Subject: RE: Words and memes: Memes and religion/cults
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    At 08:55 AM 09/02/02 -0500, you wrote:
    >My sense is that memes are value neutral. Memetics may help explain HOW
    >systems of beliefs, e.g. religions, spread, but it does not favor such
    >spread any more than it favors the spread of anti- or non-relgious beliefs.

    I would put it that memetics (study of memes) tends to be value neutral,
    but I see nothing at all wrong with putting highly negative values on memes
    that damage people and positive values on memes that support the things we
    generally consider to be good.

    >I _can_ see how figures in authority over systems that are largely
    >belief-based would worry about the field of memetics, as it rather
    >undermines the notion that beliefs are purely linked to truth and reality or
    >some non-human authority, such as gods or religious tomes.

    The concept of replicating cultural element has been around at least 35
    years and the word meme used for over 25. " memetics OR meme" limited to
    English in Google returns 144,000 hits. This area of knowledge may not
    excite a lot of opposition. At least the history so far suggest that.

    >Memes, as instruments of transmission of beliefs, are neutral in the same
    >way that a hammer is: they can be used for purposes or effects that we might
    >consider good, or bad but it has more to do with the designer and wielders
    >of the contents of the meme than its intrinsic existence as the medium of

    So far as I know memetics has not been used to create a meme or resulting
    social movement for either good or evil.

    Keith Henson

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