Re: Diffusion + Memetics

Aaron Lynch (
Thu, 14 May 1998 13:10:56 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Thu, 14 May 1998 13:10:56 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: Diffusion + Memetics
In-Reply-To: <>

>If that ain't the damndest thing...a revelation even.

A veritable revelation "contagion," I would say... ;-)

> I just finished
>cranking out 40 pages or so for Everett Rogers. I finally finished his
>diffusion class this afternoon. Anyway, the whole point of my paper was
>to connect memetics, evolutionary psychology and diffusion studies all
>together in one big "consiliated" glob. The fit is definitely there and
>the data? ooooboyz I'm tellin ya. There are great big stinking slabs of
>data just waiting to be recontorted by some ambitious memeticist.
>His theory, though data laden, could really use some support. What I
>sense is that memetics would stand to gain some empirical strength and
>Rogers' diffusion theory would gain theoretical depth. That's my quick
>and dirty impression.

Sounds like you might be able to develop this topic into a paper for
JOM-EMIT. My recent Units, Events, and Dynamics paper goes into
quantitative and empirical topics, and has a considerable theoretical depth
that remains consistent with diffusion work. One of the main things that
memetics adds beyond diffusion theory is consideration of what we might
call actively diffusing or "self-diffusing" memes. These include memes that
influence people to have & raise more children, to put effort into winning
converts, prevent dropouts, etc. If you read my paper, you will see that
transmissivity, receptivity, and longevity are involved in the propagation
parameters used in population memetic equations. Diffusion research has
been particularly strong in the analysis of receptivity parameters, while
memetics has called attention to a distinct class of transmissivity and
longevity phenomena.

Copied from my earlier post:
My work has focused mainly on the sorts of analysis that memetics offers
beyond the existing diffusion theory (to avoid duplication of efforts), but
the short section "Memetics and Communication Science" in _Thought
Contagion_ focuses mainly on how memetics relates to Rogers's work. I view
Rogersian diffusion phenomena as a large subclass of memetics, but not as
the totality of memetics. I also mention Rogers's work in my recent paper.

--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.

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