astrology-talk behaviour

Gatherer, D. (
Thu, 20 May 1999 10:06:21 +0200

Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 10:06:21 +0200
From: "Gatherer, D. (Derek)" <>
Subject: astrology-talk behaviour
To: "''" <>

So what would the mechanism for the spread of astrology-inquiring be?

The simplest reductio ad absurdum scenario would be:

Stimulus: 'What is your star sign?'
Response: 'Yes, I will be your sexual partner'

It is easy to see how this strategy would spread horizontally by cultural
selection (in the Cavallian sense). Clearly though, things are not so
simple. Variant 2:

Stimulus 1: 'What is your star sign?'
Response 1: 'X'
Stimulus 2: 'Mine is Y, these are compatible'
Response 2: 'Yes, I will be your sexual partner'

This would also spread rapidly by cultural selection, although it is easy to
see how it could be subverted by cheats. For instance, Stimulus 2 might be:

Stimulus 2: 'Mine is Z, these are uncompatible'
Response 2: 'Goodbye'

As Maynard Smith and the game theorists have pointed out, almost all game
theoretical situations are open to cheaters. Perhaps the following might

Stimulus: 'What is your star sign?'
Response: 'Goodbye'

This response strategy rests on the assumption that any one offering the
stimulus is likely to be a cheat, since the scenario above shows how such a
game would so easily tend to cheating (and who wants to mate with a cheat? -
unless cheating is a good resource-accumulation strategy in which case
natural selection begins to intrude on cultural territory).

This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)