Re: my symposium paper

Aaron Lynch (
Thu, 21 May 1998 11:36:32 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 11:36:32 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: my symposium paper
In-Reply-To: <>

>Dear all,
>I hope this post is not too long, but it contains my paper for the
>symposium. Not the final one, but nearly so. I am afraid the
>footnotes have dissappeared. When it is ready i will put a htrml
>version on

Thank you for posting your paper, Hans.

I believe that the discussion of replicators and interactors is a useful
clarification, and I agree with the basic thesis that memes can be
interactors. One point I wish to make, however, is that it is possible to
discuss interaction without actually using the word "interactor." Thus, in
TC, I give examples of competitor suppression as a form of interaction on
two levels. For interaction within people's heads, the meme "I am the Lord
thy God, thou shalt have no false gods before me" suppresses alternative
god-memes within its host's brain. With Nazism, the meme set suppresses the
willingness of anti-Nazis to voice their opinions openly, a host to
non-host interaction. (I don't explicitly call hosts interactors or
vehicles, but they are as well. My discussion aims to be widely accessible
across disciplines.) I also discuss synergistic (as distinct from
suppressive) interactions between memes, as in the case of apocalyptic
ideas intensifying the proselytic effects of hell memes. In other words,
interaction is there, even without using the word "interactor." Similarly,
my religion chapter discusses replication without a single use of the word
"replicator" in the whole chapter. Nevertheless, what I treat implicitly
does warrant discussion on the more explicit level that you are giving it.

As for how meme complexes incorporate new adaptations, I do discuss
differential recombination and formation of memes in chapter 1, but do not
go on to apply this to the origins of each specific meme. For many old meme
sets, the actual recombination and formation events in the very origins of
the meme set are lost in obscurity. I do, however, offer some plausible
formation scenarios, as in the case of Christian resurrectionism. As
memetic science grows, we will need to tap the work of more historians and
archeologists in order to get the fuller picture of how specific
adaptations actually arose--at least in cases where the information is not

As your paper is still a draft, it does of course have a few typos. You may
want to check the numerous hyphens, for instance. Also, you mistyped the
date for Thought Contagion--it is 1996--and should also be listed under

--Aaron Lynch

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