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At 11:23 AM 15/02/02 -0800, you wrote:
><<A whole class of memes
>(cults, religions) have no obvious replication drivers.>>
>I'm glad to see you're nearing completion of your paper. Some feedback: I
>don't think a cult or a religion is usefully considered just one meme
>(Dawkins and Brodie called them mind viruses), but even waving hands over
>the definitional morass, isn't evangelism an "obvious replication driver"?
For the meme yes. But here is the context this was extracted from:
In the aggregate, memes constitute human culture. Most of them
are of the rock-chipping/shoemaking/vehicle-avoiding kind--they provide
clear benefits to those who host them, i.e., learn behaviors or
information. They are passed from generation to generation because of the
benefits (ultimately to the genes of their hosts) they provide.
But a whole class of memes have no obvious replication
drivers. Memes of this class, which includes religions, cults and social
movements such as nazism and communism, have induced humans to some of the
most spectacular events in history, including mass suicides, wars,
migrations, crusades, and other forms of large-scale social unrest. These
memes often induce humans to activities that seriously damage or destroy
their potential for reproductive success. The classic example is the
nearly extinct Shakers--whose meme set completely forbids sex. A more
recent example is the gonad-clipping Heaven's Gate cult. While inducing
such behavior makes sense from the meme's viewpoint (diverting host time
and energy toward propagating the meme and away from bearing and caring for
children) it makes no sense when considered from the gene's viewpoint for a
susceptibility to this class of sometimes-fatal memes to have evolved.
Why are (at least some) humans highly susceptible?
><<People may become irresponsible on
>either cults or drugs resulting in severe damage to reproductive
>Education has also been shown to be correlated with low reproductive rates.
That's true, and the correlation may be causal, but it could also be that
education is causally linked to wealth. Of course, the really interesting
thing is why people of high wealth don't spend it all on having a dozen
children. At one time they did, and in some cultures, particularly Islamic
they still do.
This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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