Re: Machiavellian Memes

Aaron Lynch (
Thu, 14 May 1998 11:21:17 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Thu, 14 May 1998 11:21:17 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: Machiavellian Memes
In-Reply-To: <001a01bd7f0c$4fecdc60$2870cacc@lil--elvis>

>Aaron Lynch writes:
> >As you say, the Church of Virus might not be oriented toward the same
>>of scholarship found in the Journal of Memetics. Nevertheless, you may
>>suggest that their web pages put in more links to sites that carry serious
>>material. In its related sites and alt.memetics archives pages, it mentions
>>only the memetics book for which Word 7's grammar checker rates the
>>introduction as high school sophomore reading level, not the one rated at
>>college freshman level (and the one that happens to mention Rogers). It
>>also avoids links to documents that contain population memetic equations
>>and event diagrams. Most importantly, it does not contain any links to
>>peer-reviewed journals in memetics. A lot of people visiting those sites
>>will form immune reactions to memetics if they do not see that there is
>>also more serious material available. The more successfully the site
>>attracts visitors, the more scientists will be immunized against memetics
>>by these problems. Bear in mind that the main limiting factor to most
>>biological viruses is immunity, a point worth remembering when attempting
>>to spread a scientifically-based philosophy.
>A useful analysis.
>But shouldn't your own work studing memes tell you that the most effective
>place to make share such an analysis (if you really want your memes to
>create positive change) is not here, but rather on the Church of Virus'
>mailing list? If you really want to help, tell /them/ your thoughts.

I can tell you that I have already thwarted a book reviewer who was
preparing to dismiss memetics as a religion. The title he was preparing to
use in his anti-memetics book review was "Meme Religion." If this reviewer
had found me participating on your listserver, the review would have gone
forward and its assertions replicated by other reviewers. The same reviewer
was also aware of Brodie's book, but did not consider it serious enough to
even bear mentioning in a review. So memeticists were spared a "Meme
Religion" review in the journal _Politics and Life Sciences_. There are
many practical reasons for scientists to emphasize scholarly outlets for
their scientific communications.

>On the other hand, if you're just peeved because they overlooked your book,
>but included Brodie's on their reading list, however... ;-)

I already declined to join the church, and subsequently, all mention of my
work was removed from the alt.memetics archive and the church's recommended
reading list. Was such a tactic applied to Dennett or Dawkins? I doubt it.
If such tactics were applied to them, do you think they would actually
capitulate and join the church? Like them, I am already listed in more
prestigious places anyway.

The fact is, if you really take memetics seriously, then you will have to
set personal and sectarian misgivings aside, even if it means sometimes
recognizing the memetics work of someone whose primary claim to fame is in
memetics itself. Whether you can bring yourselves to do this or not, you
should at least publish some mention of the Journal of Memetics. To do
otherwise will be to continue with the anti-memetics immunizations of web

--Aaron Lynch

Editor, Journal of Memetics:
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
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