Re: Adaptationism

Aaron Lynch (
Wed, 16 Sep 1998 11:37:46 -0500

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Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 11:37:46 -0500
To:, Discussion list memetics <>
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: Adaptationism
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At 08:50 AM 9/16/98 +0200, Mario Vaneechoutte wrote:
>Hi folks,
>Did you realize that adaptationism is a kind of religion in its own
>right today?

Thanks, Mario.

I have previously written on the memetic transmission of specific genetic
adaptationist beliefs about mate preferences. Some of my comments, I am
told, were published last year in the ASCAP newsletter (Across Species
Comparisons and Psychopathology).

Certain kinds of adaptationist story telling actually do exhibit selection
advantages from the *memetic* (not genetic) point of view. For instance,
men of higher than average income or social status may have a special
receptivity to the idea that female partner wealth preferences are innate.
The rich 50 year old man with a 25 year old wife, for instance, will feel
better thinking that his wife's attraction to him is every bit as
biological as his attraction to her. He may also have amorous motives for
retransmitting this meme to his wife and his acquaintances, hoping again
that everyone will see the relationship as "true love." Many acquaintances
will then have similar retransmission motives, setting up a recursive
process. Wealthier males get more attention and imitation, providing a
propagation boost to whatever ideas spread openly among them. Wealthy
single men may have amorous motives for telling women that the desire for a
wealthy man is innately universal, too. (I have argued in Thought Contagion
that partner wealth preferences spread by memetic, rather than genetic


--Aaron Lynch

THOUGHT CONTAGION: How Belief Spreads Through Society The New Science of Memes Basic Books. Info and free sample:

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