RE: Astrology

Lawrence H. de Bivort (
Tue, 6 Jul 1999 20:19:11 -0400 (EDT)

Date: Tue, 6 Jul 1999 20:19:11 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Lawrence H. de Bivort" <>
Subject: RE: Astrology
In-Reply-To: <000b01bec80b$4a3d9d60$0bcafea9@agassi>

On Tue, 6 Jul 1999, Aaron Agassi wrote:

>> From: []On Behalf
>> Of Thomas McMahan
>> No, I still don't buy the contagion analogy, at least not quite that
>> literally. When you try to take that analogy lock, stock, and barrel
>> from a biological premise and place it into a cultural one it ends up
>> sounding silly; memes "hiding" and so forth like they're conscious
>> entities or, like viruses, have evolved specific techniques to ward off
>> specific invaders.
>Do you deny that infection tends towards the most suitable vectors first?

In our view, memes are essentially linguistic, communicative constructs
that have self-disseminating and self-protective architectures. Memes will
spread best via people or other communicative channels that adopt them and
repeat them, especially if the meme has been able to destroy any
countervailing beliefs/linguistic constructs. Thus a meme that is
'targeted' must have properties that enable it to proceed along the right
channels to reach its target.

A meme, in its linguistic physical form can lie dormant if it fails to be
disseminated. For example, it can be embedded in a book, or a letter, or
an email, ready to be 'activated' when conditions are ready for it. It can
also lie latent in someone's brain, a phrase, say, that all of a sudden,
perhaps years after it was heard, that now 'makes sense' to the person who
has been carrying it (remembering it) but had not yet integrated it into
the rest of their thinking or believing.

>Do you deny that a personality can be defined by which sorts of memes will
>find the consciousness permeable? And, indeed, does this not carry with it
>evolutionary factors with ramifications to success and survival?

It would have to be a pretty powerful meme to be considered defining (or
more appropriately re-defining of a personality). It does happen --
religious conversions might be an example -- but most memes operate below
that level, I would think, and introduce changes into a person or a
culture's thinking that modifies existing belief structures, rather than
redefining them from scratch.

Lawrence de Bivort
The Memetics Group

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