Re: memetic fitness and suicide

Nick Rose (
Thu, 22 Jul 1999 13:17:00 -0400 (EDT)

From: Nick Rose <>
To: JOM-EMIT Discussion List <>
Subject: Re: memetic fitness and suicide
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 13:17:00 -0400 (EDT)

Paul wrote;

> To translate this into a concrete memetic example - why
> does suicide qua acquired (social learned rather than
> inherited -which it may also be) behavioural strategy
> persist? Because, of course it is, evolutionarily
> fit. Please can we have a stab at unpacking this and
> provide a proto-memetic explanation for suicide.

I would say that there is a difference between the act of
suicide and the method used to commit suicide. I suspect
that it would be easier to unpack why (for instance)
paracetamol overdose was particularly 'fit' rather than
unpack the 'fitness' of suicide.

The qualitative 'method' of suicide might have particular
features which make it 'fit' in certain environments. It's
hard to see (beyond a kind of 'martyr' model) how suicide
itself could be a particularly 'fit' behaviour. Perhaps
suicide is hitch hiking along with fitter concepts - e.g.
making people appreciate you, or feel guilty about
something they've done.

Nick Rose
"University of the West of England"

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