draft abstract Sex, Drugs and Cults

From: Keith Henson (hkhenson@cogeco.ca)
Date: Fri Feb 15 2002 - 18:43:35 GMT

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    Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 13:43:35 -0500
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    From: Keith Henson <hkhenson@cogeco.ca>
    Subject: draft abstract Sex, Drugs and Cults
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    ---An Evolutionary Psychology Perspective On Why and How Cult Memes Get A
    Drug-Like Hold On People--and what might be done about it.

    H. Keith Henson


    In the aggregate, memes constitute human culture. A whole class of memes
    (cults, religions) have no obvious replication drivers. Why are some
    humans highly susceptible? To answer this question I digress into
    evolutionary psychology. There are two major evolved psychological
    mechanisms emerging from the past to make us susceptible to
    cults. Capture-bonding exemplified by Patty Hearst and the Stockholm
    Syndrome is one. Attention reward is the other. Attention is the way
    social primates measure status. Increasing status is highly
    rewarding--causes the release of chemicals (dopamine and
    endorphins). Actions leads to Attention that releases Rewarding brain
    chemicals. Drugs shortcut Action-Attention-Reward (AAR) brain system and
    lead to the repeated behavior we refer to as addiction. Gambling and
    addictive drugs cause misfiring of the AAR pathway. Memes that manifest as
    cults hijack this brain reward system by modifying behavior between cult
    members to high levels of attention. People may become irresponsible on
    either cults or drugs resulting in severe damage to reproductive potential.

    Evolutionary psychology answers the question of why human are susceptible
    to memes that do them and/or their potential for reproductive success
    damage. Psychological traits of capture-bonding and attention rewards that
    make us vulnerable evolved for other functions. Cults and drugs both take
    advantage of the same vital motivational reward pathway. Cults sometimes
    use capture-bonding. Proposals for modeling are presented.

    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)
    see: http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit

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