Re: Astrology

Aaron Lynch (aaron@mcs.net)
Tue, 06 Jul 1999 12:53:55 -0500

Message-Id: <3.0.1.32.19990706125355.01657594@popmail.mcs.net>
Date: Tue, 06 Jul 1999 12:53:55 -0500
To: memetics@mmu.ac.uk
From: Aaron Lynch <aaron@mcs.net>
Subject: Re: Astrology
In-Reply-To: <3.0.1.32.19990706114153.0167c380@popmail.mcs.net>

At 11:41 AM 7/6/99 -0500, Aaron Lynch wrote:
>At 12:10 PM 4/30/99 EDT, Jake <MemeLab@aol.com> wrote:
>>Quoting Aaron in regards to astrology:
>>
>>>>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 hostsí 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.<<
>>
><snip>
>
>At 07:23 PM 4/30/99 +1000, 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 hostsí 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."
>
><snip>
>
>Thanks, Jake and Chris. As this material has been quoted by both of you, I
>give the citation (including date) as follows:
>
>Lynch, A. 1997. "Thought Contagion Memetics."
>http://www.mcs.net/~aaron/thoughtcontagion.html.
>
>(The URL was in use as simply the web page for the book _Thought Contagion_
>before 1997, but in 1997 I broadened the site's content, gave it the title
>"Thought Contagion Memetics," and incorporated the "brief example" of
>astrological compatibility memes exploiting human mating drives to get
>themselves retransmitted.)
>

See also

Lynch, A. 1999. "Scientifically Conservative Memetics." Skeptic, 7 (2)
[forthcoming]. This is the rebuttal I sent in February to "Memes--What Are
They Good For?" (SKEPTIC, V. 6, #3) by James Polichak. It contains the
following section on astrology, again used as a (necessarily) brief example:

"...consider the belief that you need to find a romantic partner of a
"compatible" astrological sign. The idea causes singles who have it to
raise the subject of astrological sign compatibility with new potential
partners to determine "compatibility"--effectively exploiting human mating
drives to get itself copied into more minds. Like a paperless chain letter,
it implicitly tells some hosts to send 4 or 12 copies of this idea to
prospective mates before choosing one for further dating. Yet as a
"sexually transmitted belief," it may lower its adherents' reproduction by
limiting those mate choices, not unlike the reproductive harm of STD
spreading while harming the genitals. Understanding this can help one to
see how millions of believers _can_ all be wrong, even to their own
detriment. Therefore, adding some discussion of memetics to a skeptical
treatment of astrology can make for a more potent refutation."

--Aaron Lynch

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

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