RE: virus: Re: Memes and Jello

Gifford, Nate F (
Tue, 20 May 1997 14:41:02 -0400

Mark Hornberger wrote
... But I think computers *are* just a tool - what is
significant is what we do with them, how we project our creativity or
ability onto the new medium of the internet and whatnot.

Computers are just a tool in the same sense that the gasoline tractor was
just a tool ...
America still hasn't recovered from the tractor <i.e. save the family farm
And we are another animal, *just* or otherwise.

We are sentient and self-aware, but tend to take ourselves a bit too
seriously, IMHO.

Perhaps you'd care to substantiate this. I would argue that we don't take
ourselves and the effects of our decisions seriously enough. I question
how sentient of self-aware we <the species> really are ... on the other
hand, someone pointed out to me that the last episode of Roseanne EVER is
going to be on this week, so perhaps we are learning.

But again, I meant no disrespect by what I typed. It is an interesting

I wasn't indicting the list as a whole - if I'm right, I did say
'sometimes,' meaning only a few specific posts made me think of this. Was
I saying Memetics are irrelevant or superfluous? No.

I agree that Memetics are one of the most interesting fields in the social
sciences. I'm not sure that Memetics are really differentiated from
anthropology, sociology, or psychology. I think Memetics are just a
different way of analyzing the data.

Let me share an example from Dayton politics. Recently the mayor had a
well-known fundamentalist preacher from the Promise Keepers group at an
annual prayer breakfast. There was lots of discussion in the local press
since many people felt the choice of speaker was inappropriate for an
interdenominational breakfast. Let me include two paragraphs of a letter
that defends the mayor:

Far from being an affront to me, the mayor's bearing throughout this prayer
breakfast business, as far as I understand from press reports, is to be
commended. As we now live in a mainly post-Christian country where
sanctimonious political correctness and "other gospels" are considered to
have replaced straight-ahead Biblical teaching for all practical purposes,
even amongst some professing Christians, it is refreshing to find somebody,
especially a public figure, standing up for Christ.

It may come as a surprise ... that Jesus Christ did not present himself
2,000 years ago to birth some all-embracing, multi-doctrinal love-in. We
were not given the go-ahead to erect some worldwide chummy club where
everybody else's heresy is acceptable to us as long as ours is as well; and
where none dare quote the word of God. Jesus came to same mankind; God's
way ... If people are going to get hot under the collar about what they
perceive as the mayor's exclusiveness then they should take up the matter
with God. After all, He made the rules. You are either for Christ or you
are against Him (Matthew 12:30).

Before I discovered the meme paradigm I would probably have analyzed the
above paragraphs logically. Accused the writer of begging the question and
got on with the paper. Although I am certainly not the one to do it ... I
would think that a psychologist might diagnose this poor soul as having a
severe religious infection, and perhaps bring him some peace by showing him
ways to reconcile his infection in society by modifying the symptoms of the
infection <intolerance> to be more in bounds with civilized behavior. Note
that this man's stridency is self-defeating in the long run, since he will
keep alienating people who don't follow the commands of HIS MIGHTY

My point is that memetics gives voice to the consequences of accepting an
axiom...Accept Jaysaus into your life so you can be a blithering idiot. To
return to my original point, that while computers are just machines ...
they're machines that change our potential: Rantings like those above are
fairly common in mainstream Dayton. In the Glass Teat Harlan Ellison wrote
about the dissonance he felt as a cultural Icon visiting Dayton in the
early 70s. He called Dayton's inhabitants mudwumps. Since the 70s Dayton
has become MUCH less what brought on this change?