Re: Memetic parasitism and "progress": a letter

Arel Lucas (
Wed, 05 Nov 1997 20:39:49 -0800

Date: Wed, 05 Nov 1997 20:39:49 -0800
From: Arel Lucas <>
Subject: Re: Memetic parasitism and "progress": a letter

Hmmm. My first reading of this thread suggests to me a sort of doomsday
scenario, to which I tend to have a very negative reaction after being in
the midst of so many for the last 30 years. I haven't seen any
evolutionary psychology (all discussion of current thinking and
philosophy and no acknowledgment of how the mismatch between modern
conditions and very ancient ones affects behavior). My reaction is also
from a very feminine viewpoint. I had the experience of "going back to
the land" for many years, and as a female I can tell you that I wouldn't
trade places with any female alive before now. I spend my days
commuting, working, being an intern in an archives, doing homework as a
graduate student and caring for my family, but I'll take this life over
spending all my time subsisting, or the historical experience of most
females trying to make it in any sort of intellectual way. I invite
anyone who doesn't think human beings are actually progressing to a
discussion involving flush toilets, virus-detection programs and other
modern sanitation devices versus oh, say, religious dogma, wife-beating
and other ancient and formerly honorable evils.

I do agree of course that memes and schemes can be dangerous things, but
I think their danger arises out of their "ability" (unfortunate
athropomorphic term) to arouse limbic reactions from past evolutionary
experience--Nazism, for instance, to recruit people by the promises of
brotherhood, stable hierarchy, "lebensraum," and other hooks which soothe
the anxieties of wild and domesticated ape alike.

For how it is done, you might like to look at "The Wave," on videotape
available at many libraries throughout the US; but for a more optimistic
viewpoint of people who are attempting intelligently and with good will
to craft memes which can accentuate the positive and ee-liminate the
negative (band starts up here) in new technology, I recommend


Offered with tongue stuck not too far into cheek. Consider it not flame
but perhaps just a little hotter than it should be;)

Arel Lucas, student, Library & Info Sci, San Jose State U.
student assistant, Stanford Archives & Special Collections
intern, San Francisco State U. Archives
wife, mom, slave to my car, etc.

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