Re: virus: Memetic sex
Mon, 24 Feb 1997 13:38:02 -0600 (CST)

On Sun, 23 Feb 1997, Martz wrote:

> 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.

Do *not* assume that #1 *knows* what really happened after she starts
discussing it with the other two! The evidence suggests that she
completely forgets what "really happened", and becomes just as clueless
as the other two.


In the U.S., at least, one job of the lawyer is to destroy the opposition
witnesses' memory. This is a major purpose of the "cross-examination":
it's not to find out what really happened, but destroy the witness'
memory of it.

I have considered removing "lawyer" from the Iskandran Badgers' Chomsky
grammar. Does this sound like a way to get mildly alien thought?

/ Towards the conversion of data into information....
/ Kenneth Boyd