Re: Memetic parasitism and "progress": a letter

Aaron Lynch (
Thu, 06 Nov 1997 16:16:19 -0600

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Date: Thu, 06 Nov 1997 16:16:19 -0600
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: Memetic parasitism and "progress": a letter
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Thank you for this letter, Dave.

Many interesting insights. I can't say for sure whether people are happier
now than last century, but as you point out, it is far from obvious. There
is, however, a tendency for parents and grand-parents people to pass down
only the happier memories of their youth to offspring, and this can color
our perceptions of the "bygone days." I might add that parents and
grandparents also tend not to tell their offspring about whatever breaches
of conventional morality they may have made long ago, potentially giving a
false impression that the past was more conservative than it really was.

Still, isolation and depression seem to have become greater in modern
society. Some of this does owe to such inventions as the car, which is used
perhaps more as a device for separating people into suburbs and ghettos
than for bringing friends and family together.

A wide variety of other memes have contributed to peculiarly modern
troubles. Hopefully the awareness of memetics will change peoples
susceptibility in a favorable way, but of course this could just be an
optimistic myth too.

One specific comment:
> Ideas that serve us, which is to say "memes that when posessed and
>transmitted tend to increase the reproductive success of the host organism,"
>have an edge.

It strikes me as important to recognize that if a meme manipulates you to
carry a heavy burden of child-raising, it is not necessarily serving you or
humanity--even as it's replication mechanism involves causing gene

Interesting to hear that you have also kept memetics notebooks!


--Aaron Lynch

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