Re: Dichotomisations (e.g. vertical/horizontal, Astrology et

Aaron Lynch (aaron@mcs.net)
Tue, 18 May 1999 23:04:32 -0500

Message-Id: <3.0.1.32.19990518230432.00adc814@popmail.mcs.net>
Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 23:04:32 -0500
To: memetics@mmu.ac.uk
From: Aaron Lynch <aaron@mcs.net>
Subject: Re: Dichotomisations (e.g. vertical/horizontal, Astrology et
In-Reply-To: <372AB1C8.9F1802DF@rug.ac.be>

At 09:48 AM 5/1/99 +0200, Mario Vaneechoutte wrote:
>
>
>Chris Lofting wrote:
>
>> Aaron's website has the following entry:
>>
>> "Brief Example: Consider the belief that you need to find a romantic
partner
>> of a "compatible" astrological sign. This notion causes singles who have it
>> to raise the subject of astrological sign compatibility with each new
>> potential partner, in order to determine compatibility. So the idea
exploits
>> human mating drives to get itself retransmitted. It is a "sexually
>> transmitted belief," implicitly telling some hosts to send, in effect, 4 or
>> 12 copies of this idea to potential partners before accepting anyone for
>> further dating. That includes people who are manipulated to retransmit even
>> if spreading the word is not their specific motive for doing so. Resembling
>> a paperless chain letter in some ways, the thought contagion also
behaves in
>> humans much as a computer virus behaves in computers. Though it does not
>> erase its hosts memory, it can make it harder to find a partner deemed
>> "compatible" by arbitrarily narrowing the field. So like a sexually
>> transmitted microorganism, astrology ideas parasitize human mating for
their
>> own reproduction. This is not all that the new theory has to say about
>> astrology, and astrology is not a special case. Similar analyses shed fresh
>> light on a vast range of ancient religions and recent ideologies."
>
>Last week there were over 100 females wanting to mate with me (quite
incredible,
>isn't it?).

Not so incredible if you finally read those Meme Updates and ordered a
deluxe set of "Speed Seduction" tapes! ;-)

>They all asked my astrological sign. Unfortunately only 12
>matched.Still a lot of mating last week even to my standards, but no meme
>transmission, since I don't believe in the importance of astrological
signs in
>general and for mating and thus I would never ask for it (given that my wife
>would allow me to address other females to ...). Also all the interesting
>females which consider astrology (for mating) as nonsense as well would
give up
>potential interest because of my question (given that my wife ...).
>
>Do you understand the flaws in the reasoning I am trying to point to?

Still, I'm not quite sure what flaw you are seeing. The point I was making
is that the astrological daters keep raising the subject of astrological
mating with potential partners, while non-astrological daters do not bring
up their views on the subject with each prospective date. Nevertheless, the
mathematics of proselytic transmission are such that the smaller a minority
you are in, the more frequently you encounter people to whom you could
possibly transmit your ideas (unless there is segregation). If you are in a
100 to 1 minority, then astrological daters only get the chance to convert
someone 1% of the time, while you get the chance to convert someone 99% of
the time. With rising prevalence, diminished non-host availability reduces
the meme's propagation, as do various other factors. It is nevertheless a
widespread meme for an age when science has progressed so far. I would say
that the meme owes much of its prevalence to its ability to harness mating
drives for its own transmission, although empirical research is needed to
verify this.

If the meme's prevalence went to a sufficiently high level, then it may go
from a quantity parental disadvantage to a parental advantage. For example,
if it goes above 92% prevalence, then you will find more women of the
matching astrological sign than you will find non-astrological daters. If
you assume that non-astrological daters cannot date any astrological daters
even with "compatible signs," then astrological dating may also achieve a
mating advantage at high prevalence. Perhaps this is the effect you are
trying to point out.

Your question does raise the issue of sexually motivated receptivity as
well. After the first few of those females give up on you for not telling
them your astrological sign, you might very well decide to either convert
or to pretend to convert. Note that even if you just pretend to convert,
you will no longer be spreading your skeptical views to the women you meet.
(Likewise for skeptical females who have males give up on them for not
telling their astrological signs.)

--Aaron Lynch

http://www.mcs.net/~aaron/thoughtcontagion.html

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