Re: malicious gossip

Lawrence H. de Bivort (
Wed, 7 Jul 1999 00:05:26 -0400 (EDT)

Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 00:05:26 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Lawrence H. de Bivort" <>
Subject: Re: malicious gossip
In-Reply-To: <[]>

On Tue, 6 Jul 1999, Wade T.Smith wrote:

>>I'll offer a provocation: no one is beyond the reach of _any_ meme, if it
>>is designed well enough.
>Or, rather, no-one is without their price....
>Certainly the conditions and the situation the person is in, culturally
>and financially and emotionally and intellectually (personality 'types'
>;-> ?)- the 'mise-en-scene' of their life, is where the memes can find
>their soil, their nutrients.

Yes, these are some of the variables that affect the design of the meme
(or if un-designed, its success).

>What I seem to not see is how one can design a meme in the absence of an
>intrinsic culture. (I would as well claim that a meme cannot be designed,
>but I could be completely mistaken about that.)

Yes, memes can and have been designed. Of course, one can also view many
educational efforts, propaganda, argumentation, etc. as de facto attempts
at memes. But here I'm using the term meme -- or designed meme -- to mean
something more precisely constructed to include memetic properties.

Anyway, do you mean that memes would be designed by people who are from a
cuylture, and that therefore the meme would embody some of the culture's
attributes, and thus be incompatible with people living in another
culture? Part of the art of designing memes must be to understand enough
of the culture and cognitive processes and preferences of the target
poipulation, so that such incompatibility is minimized. (This touches on
as well the point made earlier about the inevitable gap between the intent
of the communicator and the experience of the person when exposed to the

>No-one is within reach of the totally alien, regardless of design. I, for
>instance, cannot be touched by a meme designed totally within an
>aboriginal culture- I would not, for instance, be cured of any sickness
>by a spirit dance, or the knowledge of how many days the shaman went
>without food or sex to cure me, or how many animals died, or blood was
>drunk... but someone within that culture, who had this designed for them,
>would be.

But you might well be cured by a 'blue pill', or the certificates hanging
on the wall of your doctor's examining room (leaving aside the question of
the relationship between memes and cures).

Also, while alien constructs might not be accepted, they might nonetheless
be used to create a desired response, e.g. a planned polarity response.
Hmmmm....interesting thought.


Lawrence de Bivort
The Memetics Group

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