virus: Re: meme pairs (formerly compassion and justice) (formerly

KMO prime (
Thu, 24 Oct 1996 02:49:48 EDT

On Wed, 23 Oct 1996 14:48:44 -0400 Santo Domingo <>

>my original hypothesis : the "justice" meme is giving way to the =
>"criminal" meme because of the very nature of the justice system,
>which =
>is to assume innocence until proven guilty. Unfortunately this noble =
>approach is vulnerable to the criminal meme, which by its very nature,
>takes advantage of the weaknesses of the "justice" meme. <snip>
>I'm all for freedom etc. but what I want you to appreciate is my
>purely =
>hypothesis : the "justice" meme can pave the way for the "criminal"
>meme =
>in certain=20
>circumstances when the former is applied blindly and the latter adapts
>to the=20
>loopholes of the former.

It seems as though you are describing a process in which a justice system
which over-extends itself in an attempt to protect individual libetry
allows too many criminals to go free and continue their criminal
behavior. This in turn results in an increase in criminality in the
society at large. If I've got you right, it doesn't seem appropriate to
say that 'the justice meme' is paving the way for 'the criminality meme'.
To me, it seems more appropriate to say that the structure of the
justice system has allowed a reiterative process to take shape and
snowball to a state of increased criminality in society. In this case, I
don't think the language of memetics adds anything to our understanding.
The increasing level of crime in society (provided that it's real and not
imagined) is not a meme. It is a series of events. Memes are units of
information sustained in human brains. If the process you describe is an
actual one, criminal acts, not 'the criminality meme', are what is on the

Most of the things we call memes on this list are really meme-complexes.
Individual memes are not likely to represent complex concepts like
'justice', 'god', or 'protect the children.' These things are all
complex and come in many varieties. The fact that there are multiple
versions of 'the god meme' is indicative of its complex structure. Memes
are sub-conceptual thought constituents. You have to put a lot of them
together before you get something which corresponds to a concept like
'salvation' or 'transgression'.

As useful as I think the memetic perspective is, it isn't universally
applicable. I read somewhere that logic is like a microscope. It allows
you to make distinctions you could never make without it, and it gives
you access to whole realms that you would otherwise never see, but you
don't want a microscope to your face when you cross the street. The same
is true of memetics.

Take care. -KMO