Re: Adventure Memes/Duration Memes

Aaron Lynch (
Sat, 23 May 1998 11:52:55 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Sat, 23 May 1998 11:52:55 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: Adventure Memes/Duration Memes
In-Reply-To: <>

>I have been wondering if a differentiation can be made between adventure
>and duration memes. There are some "thoughts" that try to spread out as wide
>as possible and evolve, that is allow for change in its structure as a basis
>for a wider replication while there are others that look for creating
>stability in which the "thought" remains as intact as possible so the meme
>cluster will survive as long as possible. A meme set can include both of
>these elements but some show more of one over the other.
>An example of a duration meme are traditions. This emphasizes that the older
>ways are better and in so doing keeps the memetic clusters associated intact.
>When they spread out you are expected to take the whole package. This can
>them spread out more slowly but last longer.
>Adventure memes tend to be curious. They are looking for the other, something
>different to attach to and change. They are mixers in that they mix with
>other memes spreading out faster but also evolving so their lifetime in a
>present state is very short. Problem solving and imaginary thinking have this

Interesting points, Karthik.

A related point is that there is an evolutionary connection between
replication rate and preservation fidelity of memes. This is analogous to
viruses, where a highly contagious virus does not need to keep a hold on
its host for very long. Hence, the common cold is so contagious that it
needn't evolve elaborate mechanisms to achieve life-long infection. Herpes
simplex, on the other hand, often must wait for a host to change sex
partners in order to retransmit. Hence, it must evolve mechanisms to evade
the immune system for a long time. With memes, rumors exemplify the highly
contagious infections that need not evolve long-term self-preservation
mechanisms. A religion, on the other hand, has a long mean interval between
retransmissions. So it must evolve mechanisms to preserve itself for
decades in the average host. There is more about this in my article
"Thought Contagion and Mass Belief" at

--Aaron Lynch

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