Fatness and Fertility

Aaron Lynch (aaron@mcs.net)
Wed, 10 Jun 1998 12:38:15 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 12:38:15 -0500
To: memetics@mmu.ac.uk
From: Aaron Lynch <aaron@mcs.net>
Subject: Fatness and Fertility

In his current article, Nick Rose (1998) raises a question about the
possible involvement of memes in body weight preferences raised in _Thought
Contagion_ (Lynch 1996). Although Thought Contagion is not an academic
title with references and notes in the text, I can recommend _Fatness and
Fertility_ (Frisch 1988) as a relevant source. The article presents
evidence of past preferences for higher female body fat in European and
other cultures. The relative recency of such preferences argues for some
involvement of memes rather than a purely genetic explanation. Admittedly,
preferences such as this do not seem at all voluntary by the time we reach
puberty. (It is hard for me to imagine changing my own preferences, for
instance.) Therefore, a mechanism such as early imprinting seems much more
plausible than, say, deliberate instruction by parents. I cannot completely
rule out a fully genetic theory, but the challenge to such a theory is in
explaining rapid shifts in preference since the time of Renoir, for instance.

Frisch, R. (1988). Fatness and Fertility. Scientific American 258, 3; p.

Lynch, A. (1996). Thought Contagion: How Belief Spreads Through Society.
New York: Basic Books.

Rose, N., 1998; Controversies in Meme Theory. Journal of Memetics -
Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission, 2.

--Aaron Lynch


This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
see: http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit