Re: Emotional memes?

Robert G. Grimes (
Wed, 26 Aug 1998 18:30:55 -0400

Date: Wed, 26 Aug 1998 18:30:55 -0400
From: "Robert G. Grimes" <>
Subject: Re: Emotional memes?

We have discussed previously the possibilities of why different memes have
different rates of diffusion (diffusion of innovation) or replication in the
organisms. It is unlikely that this rate is caused by the same things for
different memes just as it is unlikely that the recipient will get the same
memetic message as the next recipient from the same meme. Although there is
a likelihood that there will be some similarity with certain specific
memes. Since the most of us have concluded that the meme in transmission is
not the same as the meme within the organism, considering the combined
effects of the filtering and the cognitive milieu (which I frequently refer
to as the "associative network," implying all of the associative "hooks or
vectors" within our cognitive millieu), it would also follow that each
organism would get "different strokes from different folks," meaning the meme
would be unique within our system because of those associative
considerations, biochemistry, and our previous conditioning (same thing?).
Thus, it would be very disappointing if the memetic presence didn't have some
emotional impact in any of a multitude of ways, probably multifaceted, and
since each recipient's cognitive millieu is unique, other factors such as
explanatory coherence, would differ greatly with the recipient also.

We would probably agree that the most powerful memes would provoke greater
emotional rewards within a greater size group, almost by definition. Now the
emotion, again, would not have to be limited to one or another but more than
likely would be a complex of responses and would more than likely even be
juxtoposed or conflicting in different recipients. The competitive nature of
memes and neurotransmitters on different levels would also enter into these
resultants, with one meme satisfying an entirely differently distributed
constellation of resultants within one organism and another. The combination
of subsequent interactions might mean that a meme would make one recipient
feel sexy, angry, etc., and another soothed and powerful, but if the effects
were greater on a greater number of folks, stimulating replication, then the
relative potency of the individual meme would be greater, regardless of the
span of results.

It doesn't take much to understand that a cheerful nature, remark, facies,
etc., coupled with a meme that may be rewarding emotionally (in many ways)
would "spread the faith." In fact, that used to be a meme that I used for a
long time, "keep the faith," which had nothing to do (with me) with religion
but when delivered with a smile, reassuring non verbal attitudes, and a
cheerful, friendly voice, begat good feelings in return. In fact, sometimes
the general nature of the meme, i.e., a structure capable of a multitude of
meanings, might even make it all the more effective. Religious folks, of
different faiths, would each respond positively as there was no specific
identification and the obvious "good wishes" non verbal accompaniment would
encourage them to respond to the next person more favorably, statistically
speaking. Whereas, when there was no religious message "identification" or
association with any "specific faith," I might only offend some militant
atheist, etc. Being an atheist myself there was little risk in the latter

As to the analogy with yeast, there may be little fermentation sans the yeast
and, certainly, never the rate or degree of fermentation without the yeast,
but one doesn't attempt to make alcohol with just the yeast. Again, most of
us have come to the general conclusion that the meme does not exist out side
of the mind for obvious reasons that have been discussed previously. It
takes the meme "in situ" to make the resultant, where ever and whatever that
may be...

So, I personally see nothing wrong with the concept of memes stimulating
emotions (in fact I would be startled if they didn't) with a great range and
impact. Remember my recent posting about the experiment testing the
testosterone output of fans watching football matches? The male fans'
testosterone levels rose during the game with the cheers and activity, higher
in the fans of the winning teams, with a marked difference after the game
between the winners (elevated) and losers (down) which persisted through the
next few days of the experiment.

Couple all of these concepts with the myriad of responses capable of being
stimulated, depressed or not affected in an organism by a meme or meme
complex and one would really be disappointed if memes didn't produce
emotional changes in the recipients, even if it were soporific (counting
sheep)... Then add the interaction of memes and one gets a really
complicated but fascinating picture of complexity... You know, I may be
getting a little stimulated with this discussion, too!



Dale Fletter wrote:

> This post might be splitting hairs, but I am hoping this is the place to
> do it if it is to be done at all.
> I think it is improper to characterize a meme as emotional or spreading
> emotion. It sounds like calling yeast alcohol generators.

> Snip

Bob Grimes
Jacksonville, Florida

Man is not in control, but the man who knows he is not in control is more in

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

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