Re: Words and memes: criteria for acceptance of new belief or

Date: Wed Feb 13 2002 - 10:53:23 GMT

  • Next message: Vincent Campbell: "An odd addition to the axis of evil"

    Received: by id LAA18020 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Wed, 13 Feb 2002 11:04:02 GMT
    From: <>
    X-Mailer: talk21 v1.24 -
    X-Talk21Ref: none
    Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002 10:53:23 GMT
    Subject: Re: Words and memes: criteria for acceptance of new belief or
    Message-Id: <>
    Precedence: bulk


    Memes that can persuade the host to adopt will outdo the ones who are
    less adept in that.

    This is the biased transmission effect of Takahasi (1998, 1999), also referred to as 'cultural selection' by Cavalli-sforza and Feldman (1981). The problem is that it is often just a post hoc explanation. You can model biased transmission and get epidemic-like effects, ceteris paribus. However, showing biased transmission empirically is tricky.
    (there are a handful of reasonble examples)
    If the memes were generally too bad
    in the sense of killing off a large part of the human population for a long
    enough period the people with high skeptical barriers would flourish.

    Not necessarily. My own simulations indicate that even when a population of agents is maximally susceptible, the presence of a pool of cultural information to which they can refer, puts the brakes on any epidemic of disadvantageous memes. Contagion only really works well for advantageous memes.

    This has
    not happened yet, so people have low enough skeptical barriers for (evil)
    memes to overcome

    they probably do, but my own simulations indicate that any epidemic effects will be short lived and local. A lot of people have previously concluded that 'incomplete information' is an important factor in social contagion effects (see JoM reviews by Marsden and Frank, or Caginalp's work in J Psych Finan Markts). This effect is 'emergent' (hey-hey!) when simple contagious agents are allowed to play with each other in a virtual environment in which they either have cultural information or rely wholly on agent-to-agent transmission. I have a JoM paper under review on this, and all the above refs will be in it. (If it doesn't get accepted, I'll post the refs in a separate message).

    talk21 your FREE portable and private address on the net at

    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed Feb 13 2002 - 11:13:25 GMT