Re: Words and memes

From: Wade Smith (
Date: Tue Feb 12 2002 - 17:14:15 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Words and memes
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    On Tuesday, February 12, 2002, at 09:30 , Lawrence DeBivort wrote:

    > IIRC, Hari Seldon was most concerned with the possibility that the
    > predictions of psychohistory might actually influence what
    > people did, and
    > so defeat the prediction.

    Nope. He _wanted_ to defeat the prediction- tens of thousands of
    years of darkness and recovery- by _engineering_, behind the
    scenes, a more rapid recovery, under a thousand years- using his
    Foundation to "influence human decisions and behaviors". (And
    they all came up against the Mule, a mutation, who bollocks it
    all up....)

    The Foundation was concerned about discovery, being a covert
    operation. Like I said, I can see where Scientologists might get
    a thrill about such power and obscurity.

    > I have tried to accomplish this by embedding the meme within a
    > meta-meme that address the time and place matters of
    > dissemination of the
    > meme, and it seemed to work pretty well, but it had nowhere near the
    > specificity and effectiveness of control that Hari's approach did --
    > time-controlled releases of the meme.

    I don't think I'm alone in wanting you to relate _any_ of the
    specifics about this. Right now, like that unicorn in my garden,
    it's a nice tale.

    Anyway, what you are telling us you do is very much indeed like
    Seldon's psychohistory and what his Foundation did to manage the
    cultural development of populations.

    Keith's most interesing paper, which has -

    > But in projecting a science of social prediction, SF writers
    > have been far ahead of the scientists. Isaac Asimov based the
    > entire Foundation series on "Psychohistory." Robert Heinlein
    > developed the theme of predicting social movement in his Future
    > History stories

    - relates psychohistory to memetics directly, as indeed it is
    directly related to memetic engineering, as least as far as I
    know you and others use the phrase. (Heinlein did no prediction
    of scientific models, but rather, made his own predictions,
    especially about fundamental xianism gaining political power on
    a wide scale in the US.)

    Memetics owes, I think, a great debt to Asimov. Perhaps more so
    than any debt to Darwin.

    - Wade

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