Re: malicious gossip

Lawrence H. de Bivort (
Tue, 6 Jul 1999 21:15:58 -0400 (EDT)

Date: Tue, 6 Jul 1999 21:15:58 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Lawrence H. de Bivort" <>
Subject: Re: malicious gossip
In-Reply-To: <000c01bec810$902aab60$0bcafea9@agassi>

On Tue, 6 Jul 1999, Aaron Agassi wrote:

>repulsive to others. Further more, the meme also endows the host with some
>sense of who will respond with the strongest reinforcement, and who not.
>Thus the meme encodes the host for the most efficient vectorization of
>memetic transmission.

Yes, I think that a well-constructed meme would be likely to carry with it
some instruction for its further dissemination. Perhaps one of the key
differences between an undesigned meme and a designed one is the
specificity of its further dissemination instructions.

We've wrestled with the design required for a meme to _only_ disseminate
itself to a target population and no further.

>> It would have to be a pretty powerful meme to be considered defining (or
>> more appropriately re-defining of a personality). It does happen --

>I did not speak of such a powerful meme. I spoke of the preexisting
>personality. Would you agree that any person can be a better host or vector
>for some memes than others?

This poses two questions, I think. First, is there a type of personality
that is more vulnerable to memes? I think there must be, but I am so
sceptical of personality 'typing' models that I shy away from trying to
specify what it might be. I do believe that no one is impervious to memes.
To the extent that there is a personality type that is more impervious,
then the meme would simply have to be better designed. War, between the
'aggressive' meme and the 'defenses' of the individual or culture explosed
to the meme.

The second question is whether, everything else being equal, a person
might more resistent to one meme than to another. Yes, I think this is
clearly the case: the readiness of a person to accept a meme will depend
in part on how they generally 'take in' new information, and then in how
well the meme fits in with their existing beliefs. (This does not refer as
much to the content of the meme as its architecture and its phraseology or
symbology.) Again, the better the design of the meme, the better it will
be 'noticed' by the person (or culture) and accepted.

I'll offer a provocation: no one is beyond the reach of _any_ meme, if it
is designed well enough.

Lawrence de Bivort
The Memetics Group

| ESI |
| Evolutionary Services Institute |
| "Crafting opportunities for a better world" |
| 5504 Scioto Road, Bethesda, MD 20816, USA |
| (301) 320-3941 |

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)