Re: virus: MEME UPDATE: To Censor Or Not?

Dave Pape (
Wed, 11 Dec 1996 00:59:03 GMT

At 18:20 09/12/96 -0800, you wrote:



>...Those carefully engineered images
>presented on our TV screens tell our reptilian brains that Coke is the
>brand of the leader of the pack, who has all the power, the freedom, the
>But we are smarter than that, aren't we? We are intelligent enough to
>view a TV commercial and then decide for ourselves what to buy...aren't
>we? ... Can't responsible people think for
>themselves, and responsible parents guide their children, despite the
>nightly memetic irradiation?
>I would like to believe that we can think for ourselves. And yet, the
>statistics show us that as a group we are sheep. Although from my point
>of view I see myself taking in information, sorting through it, and
>making my own choices, when we have a thousand of us or a million or
>five billion, we behave predictably as a result of the advertisers'

Richard, I disagree with your claim that sometimes we human beings can
"think for ourselves" and that sometimes "we are sheep". In saying that you
yourself can appraise and reject memes connected with advertising or "moral
decadence" but that others can't, you take a narrow view of memes' influence
on your decisions.

I don't believe in free will. What I feel as "new ideas" and "decisions" are
memes/ideas associating and competing in my brain. All my thoughts, even
those I used to think were "original", can be explained by memetic/cognitive
interactions like:-

1 Neural associations (coding simple memes) hardwired in infancy.

2 Ideas generated by my sense organs' interactions with the outside world,
interacting with ideas already in my brain.

3 A meme transmitted from someone else interacting with ideas already in my

To say "I" was responsible for a "new" idea is, to me, wrong. In a sense,
what gave rise to "my" ideas was anything BUT me- it was memes from other
people and patterns in the outside world.

"I" am resource in which memes/ideas interact, like biological organisms in
an ecology. What I used to think was "a new idea" is an association between
existing memes and ideas. Like relationships develop between genetic
entities in the world of biology, giving rise to ecological systems.

I think what you call "Viruses of the Mind" are really memes that (in your
view) give rise to behaviours deleterious to individual and social health.
And I think you're led by memes just as much as a Branded Cola Addict:

When a Coke advert impinges on your brain, just try and stop the idea "these
marketers are trying to manipulate me!" from arising. You can't. And if you
convince a Colaholic to stop paying for brands, you haven't taught them to
think freely- it's just that your transmitted memes have wrested control of
your subject/protegee/victim's brain from memes which led them to pay for
the Coke.
If you believe in non-manipulation of thought, how do you justify marketing
your own ideas in your website and newsletter? Aren't you trying to make me
think like you? Aren't your memes trying to attack your readers'
belief-spaces, just like Coke's? I think the only stance for the true
memeticist is to be non-prescritive, to play down their emotional reaction
to particular memes, and to admit that s/he is nothing more than memes and
ideas, which will try and gain neural resource from other memes/ideas.

Sorry if I'm muscling in on the list and offending people; this is my
favourite world-view, so I feel fairly strongly and vocal about it, and I've
just found your pages, so I'm excited.

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose (The more things change, the more
it's a meme thing)

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