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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.
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).
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