The BIG MEME Experiment

Paul Marsden (
Fri, 8 Jan 1999 15:19:14 -0000

From: "Paul Marsden" <>
To: "memetics" <>
Subject: The BIG MEME Experiment
Date: Fri, 8 Jan 1999 15:19:14 -0000

The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation in the UK) as part of a science
awareness campaign, are interested in memetics. A programme researcher has
just contacted me asking if memeticists could design an experiment to test a
memetic hypothesis as part of their Mega Lab experiment. Basically the deal
is this, the country can be split into two, and exposed or presented with
different information/stimuli, through both national radio and press, and a
hypothesis is tested. Respondents can telephone in to a free phone number
with any feed back, or perhaps participate in an automated experiment.

The results of the experiment have to be interesting and relevant to
viewers/readers, (it all comes down to ratings...) and show how a memetic
stance can be useful framework for understanding/explaining/predicting human
behaviour, as well as presenting memetics in an interesting and accessible
manner. It also has to be relatively simple to set up. I have to put the
proposal in by next Tuesday. This is a fantastic opportunity for
memeticists - any ideas?

>Your chance to help create Tomorrow's World
>In March 1999 Tomorrow's World, together with the Daily Telegraph will be
>turning Britain into a huge laboratory for the world's largest
>mass-participation experiments, to be broadcast in an hour-long live
>Megalab '99 on BBC1 on Wednesday 17th March.
>But we need your ideas to make it work.
>It's a unique opportunity to test out your theories and carry out
>experiments with a massive sample of tens of thousands of people.
>The experiments can be psychological, environmental, astronomical - any
>field of science. The important thing is that the whole nation can phone in
>and take part. (If it helps your experiment we can even split the nation in
>two and show them two different things without them knowing.)
>If appropriate we can also use the Daily Telegraph and/or BBC Radio to
>experiments in advance of the day.

Experiments that ran last year during Megalab '98 included:
THE TURING TEST: Computer or human - can you tell them apart?
FACIAL FEEDBACK: When you smile, do you feel better?
THE MUZAK EXPERIMENT: Does the music in the supermarket change the way you
THE BOOMERANG CHALLENGE: Can you build a world record beating boomerang?

Paul Marsden
Graduate Research Centre in the Social Sciences
University of Sussex
tel/fax (44) (0) 117 974 1279

Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission:

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