Re: Memetic Engineering, Risky Business?

Karthik Swaminathan (
Wed, 01 Apr 1998 19:24:23 -0500

Date: Wed, 01 Apr 1998 19:24:23 -0500
From: Karthik Swaminathan <>
Subject: Re: Memetic Engineering, Risky Business?

Ken McE wrote:

> It is not clear to me that we can (or should) casually remodel our
> memes. One point in the favor of our normal "wild" meme sets (wild in
> that they just growed, nobody planted them) is that they have withstood
> the test of time. I would expect that there are many more potential
> "bad" meme sets than there are good ones. I am using "bad" in the
> biological sense, meaning anything that hinders the health, growth, or
> reproduction of an organism.

It is natural for humans to produce and engineer 'memes' in our
environment. Politics, economics, philosophy, art and coca-cola are all
human inventions. We are constantly engineering our own 'meme' set via
repetition and pairing of imaginary stimuli, a unique and naturally evolved
talent of the human species. If the 'memes' connect possitivively with
biological drives and the environment than they are reinforced. ie, if you
are convinced more girls look at you admiringly in a new sports car, you
have now made a possitive connection to 'sports car.' We are constantly
bombarded by 'wild memes' and are also unawaringly constant bombarders of
these 'wild memes' ourselves. In this way most desires beyond survival and
reproduction can be considered manufactured.

In using your definition of a "bad" meme set, smoking is a considerable
unhealthy habit that persists. But for the person smoking it is
considered, at least momentarily, as a good meme as it supplants nicotine
receptors and puts one up a notch in the 'sexy' status all in one puff.

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