Re: virus: Re : AIDS Meme-Complex (formerly meme pairs)

Kevin M O'Connor (
Tue, 29 Oct 1996 17:53:24 EST

On Mon, 28 Oct 1996 05:16:06 +0000 "Hakeeb A. Nandalal"
<> writes:
>KMO wrote :-

>> .....
>> .....
>> As useful as I think the memetic perspective is, it isn't
>> applicable.
>I beg to differ, if the cause/effect structure is plausible, then
>such meme-complexes may add to someone's knowledge base. The more
>precisely the
>relationship is described, the more it adds to our understanding.

I don't seem to have communicated my point very effectively. Let me try
again. Memetics is very useful for describing a wide variety of
phenomena, but it is not useful for describibing all phenomena. If I
were to ask someone to explain to me why some metals rust or why some
stars go super nova while others collapse into black holes, an
explanation using the vocabulary of memetics would be far less useful
than one using the vocabulary of chemestry or physics.

Even in the realm of social phenonmena, events do not always reflect the
mental representations people sustain. It seems to be an increasingly
popular opinion that the Americans pay too much of their salaries to the
government in the form of taxes. The tax rate has not increased in
direct proportion to the perception that it is too high. The success of
the "taxes are too high" meme-complex is largely independent of changes
in the actual tax rates. I believe Vicki tried to make a similiar point
about crime some time back. Our cultural perception of violent crime is
increasing, but there is sufficient evidence to make a case for the
proposition that the crime rate is actually down. Criminal activity and
the societal perception of crimianl activity, i.e. the "criminality meme"
are two different things. You can use memetics to talk about both
topics, but the memetic framework will illuminate the societal perception
question better than it will the criminal activity question.

When I say that memetics is not unversally applicable, I'm merely
reiterating the claim the memetics is but one useful cognitive tool
amoung many.

Take care. -KMO