Re: Directions RE: HUMOUR: Memetics out of control

Aaron Lynch (
Fri, 12 Mar 1999 11:37:05 -0600

Message-Id: <>
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 11:37:05 -0600
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: Directions RE: HUMOUR: Memetics out of control
In-Reply-To: <000401be6b08$3f474ba0$>

At 05:11 PM 3/10/99 +0200, Dave Hall wrote:
>Hi Aaron,
>>Yes, I have also read of the important contributions made by
>>manic-depressives. I have not given much thought to the connection to
>>memetics, however. So I'm not sure where to point you on this one. I do,
>>however, think that people with different mental attributes have different
>>receptivities to specific memes, and that they also exhibit different
>>transmission rates for specific memes.
>Thanks for your insights. I'd change "manic-depressives" in the above
>paragraph to virtually all so-called "mental illnesses". You have indeed
>pointed in a direction. It's given me the tip that my own focus is actually
>on the *source* of memes/ideas, which gives me the "niche" I've been looking
>for. In addition I'm interested in what makes an idea acceptable to the
>receiver .. usually the reputation of the "transmitter", and on that front
>papers by Alexander Chislenko ( have
>been influential.


One study you might want to track down in regards to mental illness is one
concerning a self-centered bias and depression. I read about it in the New
York Times back in the early to mid 1980's, and this is my best
recollection: The researchers first had subjects complete a questionnaire
that measured levels of depression. Then the researchers had groups of
subjects engage in a conversation while being observed by a team of
onlookers behind 2-way mirrors. After the discussion ended, the observers
ranked the subjects in terms of how central the subjects were to the
discussion, and their rankings were pooled into aggregate rankings for each
subject. Then the subjects themselves were asked to rank their own levels
of centrality to the discussion. On average, subjects considered themselves
significantly more central to the discussion than the ratings they were
given by the team of observers. The only group of subjects who did not
over-rate their own centrality were those who scored high on levels of
depression. They were the ones with the mose accurate self-ratings. What is
considered "normal" in terms of mental health vis-a-vis depression thus
seems to be associated with delusion more so than the "abnormal" state
called depression. (I am not, however, suggesting that anyone throw out
their Prozac!)

--Aaron Lynch

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