Packages, Buttons, and Content (was RE: Memes are Interactors)

Aaron Lynch (
Wed, 13 May 1998 12:46:05 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 13 May 1998 12:46:05 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Packages, Buttons, and Content (was RE: Memes are Interactors)
In-Reply-To: <>

At 01:07 PM 4/27/98, Josip Pajk <> wrote:
>At 09:42 23.04.98 -0700, Richard Brodie wrote:
>>If there's one myth that memetics should explode, it's that GOOD ideas
>>survive better than others simply by virtue of their own virtue. You
>>actually can do much more than your modest claim: you can package your ideas
>>effectively, like Lady Godiva packaged her message by pressing all the human
>>buttons that draw people's attention.
>I wrote in one of my previous comments that GOOD or BAD are (receiver)
host-related categories. That is, what is good for me have not to be as
good for you or for anyone else. But, there are two types of quality that
must be identified here:
>-The CONTENT quality of the message
>-The quality of the message PACKAGE
>Some of the buttons you meant probably are something like sex and wealth.
Such kind of "slick packages" are a good mean for short-term "fooling" of
people responding on a "low" basic instincts level. But such packages are,
as Aaron noticed, not productive on a long-term basis because by opening of
them and seeing their "stinking" content they develop "immune reactions" to
all packages of such kind. So it could be possible that you put a high
quality content in such a "cracked" package. This is the reason I will not
try to pack my ideas in a Lady Godiva manner (not to mention the poor
quality of my "package material" compared with that on her disposal).
>The CONTENT quality is the only long-term issue on which memes can rely
on. Packages are not only influenced by current fashion trends, cultural or
educational differences among potential receiving hosts, but also by the
expression (production, packaging) capabilities of the sender host. I agree
with the fact that the package is important in attracting attention to its
content, but if the content of such packages usually "stinks" all similar
packages (and their no-matter-how-good content) will however be rejected.

Good points about the importance of content, Josip.

I believe that Richard Brodie may have been trying to follow his own advice
on emulating Lady Godiva when he decided to discuss sex taboo memes in his
book. However, it is not just the packaging that generates immune
reactions, but indeed the severely scientifically flawed content.

Consider, for instance, his idea that sex taboos spread as a mechanism for
a person's genes to thwart reproduction of other people's genes. This
requires first of all an exception to the principle of kin selection,
because such taboos are often spread within families--or indeed to people
who would happen to carry the same genes. The hypothesis also runs contrary
to data about large family sizes in sexually repressive sects such as
traditional Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Protestant Fundamentalists,
Hassidic Jews, etc. Finally, the hypothesis does not take into account the
fact that sex acts with the least potential for reproduction are often the
most severely taboo.

--Aaron Lynch

How Belief Spreads Through Society--The New Science of Memes
Basic Books. Online Brochure:
Most recent paper: Units, Events, and Dynamics in Memetic Evolution.

This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)