RE: HEA report on religion and mental health

Gatherer, D. (
Fri, 29 Oct 1999 17:25:31 +0200

From: "Gatherer, D. (Derek)" <>
To: "''" <>
Subject: RE: HEA report on religion and mental health
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1999 17:25:31 +0200

But what would be even more selected for (genetically) than benefit to the
individual would be propensity to propagate the meme.

Yes, but only if
a) the meme was beneficial to the individual, and
b) propagation was primarily vertical

b) because then the genetic benefit would accrue to one's offspring. A
propensity to propagate the meme horizontally would result in no particular
benefit to progeny, and thus no genetic selection on that propensity.

a) because if the meme was disadvantageous, and its propagation was
primarily vertical, there would be selection in favour of mutants who tended
not to transmit vertically - those mutants would have healthier progeny.

Of course, if both a) and b) are false, ie. a disadvantageous meme
transmitted horizontally, it would just flare and die in true epidemic

Since established religions have not just died, the
disadvantageous-horizontal combination is unlikely in their case.
Advantageous-vertical is the most likely scenario, which, as you say, would
place strong selection on propensity to propagate.

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