virus: "Investment principle", selfish memes and sacrifices

Alexander 'Sasha' Chislenko (
Fri, 27 Jun 1997 14:23:37 -0400

There is a concept of an "investment principle", that
people tend to stick with an idea they already spent a
lot of time or effort supporting, be it a religion,
a social formation, a habit, or a thought.

Given this psychological tendency of humans to justify their
investments, it seems beneficial for any meme complex to
require such investments from the "target host" human.
The required investments may be direct sacrifices of
people's valuables to "gods", costly rituals, excessive
efforts or costs (hand-made goods, Harley-Davidsons, golf,
fashions, etc.)
"Respect to traditions" (even in presence of apparently superior
alternatives) looks like a symbyotic "companion meme" here.

I think the tendency to "respect the investments" was beneficial
for early humans and helped maintain the balance between personal
conclusions and advice received from others. Since then though, the
communications dramatically improved, the balance got skewed, and
this "natural" tendency to respect one's own investments is often
harmful, and prone to memetic infections.

If the evolutionary mechanism could adapt the genes to new
conditions faster, maybe many stupid conservative things
wouldn't exist? We can wait a little and see if Alife
creatures start making sacrifices and forming fraternities...

Alexander Chislenko <>
World Future Society <>