Re: Critical thinking in memetics

Robert G. Grimes (
Mon, 25 May 1998 14:51:14 -0400

Date: Mon, 25 May 1998 14:51:14 -0400
From: "Robert G. Grimes" <>
To:, Bruce Howlett <>
Subject: Re: Critical thinking in memetics


Thanks for bringing the misspelling of "Opioid" to my attention by asking
what "opiod" was....

I must remember to correct my personal dictionary as I probably added it
when spell checking the note. Opioid refers to neuro transmitters or other
chemicals, etc., having the effects of opiates (opium, etc.) as they are
soporifics, soothe, etc. Endorphins, for example, are peptide enzymes that
bind to opiate sites or receptors and reduce the sensation of pain and make
one "feel good." I would call that an "Opioid." The word "endorphin" is
formed by the combination of endogenous + morphine.

All of the items I listed and more, both singly and in combination, are
what I believe to be the "rush" of the meme. It is hard to deny the
emotional response to memes, where there is an attraction, or even if there
is a revulsion, as all of these emotional states are rewarding in some

The mere support given by "explanatory coherence" (reinforces or completes
other support, etc., helps explain, etc.) would engender acceptance,
repetition, and, to me at least, a wave of pleasure at the logic and
soundness of a theory, etc.

Your own example listed previously or a relationship to fundamental
phonemes would support such things, in fact, what comes to mind is the jeer
that followed Grover Cleveland about rumors of an illegitimate child, i.e.
"Ma, Ma, where's my pa? Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha," etc. This is
probably composed of proto language constructs that are universal, "Ma, Pa,
Ha," etc., and the rhyming tonal aspects are very similar to universal
children's jeers heard the world over related again to the monogenesis of
language and the natural physics of music and the tonic scales...

So, we have to give credit to Chomsky, Skinner, et al, for such reasoning
about memes. Also, I believe that Keith Henson has said or implied similar
things and I have a request to him asking for any research support he may
have after others have asked the same question that you did. When I did a
search my own name came up more often than I realized for the past several
years. Yet, one only has to search on neuro transmitter, endorphins,
serotonin, meme, etc., to produce enough related stuff to lend credence to
such an hypothesis as there is no doubt that they are all interconnected.
But "proving" that the stimulus behind the meme is such and such is a much
more difficult job.... It is certainly, in my opinion, a thoroughly
logical assumption that I would accept until something better comes along,
which I doubt it will...

Again, thanks for asking and I apologize for the misspelling and note that
I had to bring attention to where I originally said "evolutionary" rather
than "explanatory" with regard to coherence. Certainly things which "fit
in" with other theories that have established support will tend to be
accepted and repeated, etc.That's about it in brief... I believe it is a
"reward" which I strongly suspect involves the things I mentioned and is
most certainly a very logical theory. A behaviorist (which I suppose I
qualify for from past beliefs) would most certainly suspect such
chemical/psychological rewards and I suspect that one or more of the folks
on this list will write a paper supporting such a thing sometime in the
future. We have an expression, "adient drive," which also applies and in a
similar manner, i.e., the urge to "stick ones tongue in ones sore tooth,"
although it is painful, is considered the result of an adient drive. The
slight pain resulting from the probing is, on some level, rewarding and
folks subsequently puzzle about why they do things like that which, on the
surface, appear to be painful.

Motivation to "dwell" on certain things, to "say or repeat" certain things,
to "hear" certain things are almost always the result of adiency, whether
for pleasure, pain, satisfaction, whatever. Thus, it explains the energy
behind meme replication sans endowing the meme with anthropomorphic powers,
etc. All of our emotions are bound up with such stimuli in so many ways
that attempting to assign a single reason is usually improper as it is so

Why would one have "Death Before Dishonor" or "Semper Fidelis," etc.
tattooed on ones body during a painful procedure leaving an indelible mark
or design on the body? Why would one pierce their ears, tongues, navels,
and probably many other things were not the whole thing involved with a
meme of sorts?

Immediately, one can see that it is complex. It brings some social
distinction, is macho, is hip, "feels good," etc. Can one ask for any more
reasons to propagate a meme? Yes, and they are infinite other than the
generalization that it is in some manner, "satisfying, stimulating," etc.



Bruce Howlett wrote:

> Bob,
> Thank you for your detailed post which has given me much to ponder and
> research.
> A question about < other "opiod" neuro transmitters >. I am not
> familiar with the term "opiod", I assume it is congruent with "operon"
> or operator gene. However, what you are saying is that the interactive
> process between the mind state and hormone state (or emotions) are the
> major hook for meme transfer or infection?

Bob Grimes Jacksonville, Florida

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore....."

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