The power to resist memes: reality or delusion?

Mick Ashby (
Tue, 07 Oct 1997 19:05:38 -0400

Date: Tue, 07 Oct 1997 19:05:38 -0400
From: Mick Ashby <>
Subject: The power to resist memes: reality or delusion?

It strikes me that many memeticians are carriers of the belief that
having an understanding of memes makes them better equipped to exert
conscious control over which memes they decide to believe in, and which
they will reject. I would like to question this widely-held belief.
[Note: here I use the term 'belief' rather than 'meme' because it is
consciously held - that can be an important distinction]

Most people are good at avoiding joining cults - that's *easy* and it
certainly doesn't require any intellectual understanding of memetics.
None of us think we're foolish enough to get taken in by a cult - right?
I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm *certainly* not that stupid!

So exactly what types of memes are memeticians *better* equipped (than
the general public) to rationally adopt or reject? Opinions please...

Personally, I do not like advertisments and TV commercials telling me to
give them *my* money. Knowning that they will use (almost) any
psychological techniques to manipulate me, makes me want to resist their
attempts all the more.

Now, I have no problems resisting many well-advertized products, but
when I look at the groceries and products that I buy, I have to admit
that despite rationally knowing that (for example) Coca-Cola and Levis
only seem better than other good-quality no-name products if you are
already infected by the Coca-Cola and Levis memes, but I still buy them.

It seems that some multi-million Dollar memes are able to successfully
by-pass my conscious resistance. I assume it is because they have
targeted my emotional associations and thereby by-passed my conscious
reasoning. I'd sort of prefer not to buy them, but those purchases are
controlled by some kind of emotional reasoning/motivation.

I'd be very interested to hear from any cola-drinking memeticians who
have successfully resisted joining the Coke or Pepsi cults (or indeed
the experiences of other current or ex Cola-cult members).

I believe that contemplating the contents of our grocery bags can give
memeticians some insight into consumer-cult memes. Try it! You might be

Foolish enough to join a shamelessly money-grabbing cult after all!

Mick Ashby, IBM Boeblingen, Germany.

!All opinions are my own, and definitely NOT those of my employer!

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