Re: virus: Memetic sex

Martz (
Sun, 23 Feb 1997 17:26:21 +0000

On Sat, 22 Feb 1997, Eva-Lise Carlstrom <> wrote:

>Speaking of which, if transfer and interaction of memes is the memetic
>equivalent of sex (in the biological sense, providing a source of change
>via remixing the materials), are there forms of conversation or other
>apparent communication that are infertile? Obviously, with each host,
>there are approaches which are more or less likely to engender adjustments
>in the host's memetic makeup. We even seem to believe that there are
>approaches which in general work better than others for stimulating such
>adjustments. One odd thing about memetic 'sex' as contrasted with the
>standard genetic version is that rather than creating a new entity with a
>new combination of the old materials, it changes the existing ones. Hmm.
>Maybe it's more like the way bacteria trade genetic material, than like
>sexual reproduction. Unless, of course, you're raising a kid.

On a related note, I've recently observed an interesting phenomena.
There are these three women with whom I'm acquainted. They spend a lot
of time together, indulging in what I can only describe as memetic
incest. On a number of occasions I've seen a piece of information enter
this environment. I'll concern myself here only with those items which
were 'gossipy' and which were actually witnessed by one of these three
girls. This tidbit enters the melting pot and will emerge some days
later, when they've had a chance to meet a few times (an image of
Macbeth has just popped into my head and I can't shake it) completely
transformed. It has mutated to an unbelievable degree and more
importantly (to carry the incest analogy) it has evolved into a non-
viable life-form i.e. it can no longer transmit itself successfully
because it sounds so ridiculous in its new form. Two questions; does
this equate to a sort of memetic abnormality caused by 'in-breeding'?,
and; how can this sort of wildfire mutation take place when one of the
participants *knows* what really happened? I've tried to observe from up
close but it doesn't seem to happen unless they've got their cosy little
insular social group. Or maybe I've just been unlucky and was there at
the wrong time.


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