Re: virus: The One or the Many? (was: META)

Sodom (
Thu, 16 Oct 1997 15:32:21 -0400

Tim Rhodes wrote:

> On Tue, 14 Oct 1997, Tadeusz Niwinski wrote:
> > Reed asked a very important question if we were going anywhere in
> > particular. There is no clear agenda, I think. Should there be?
> I have a question along those lines which I hope we can discuss a
> little
> before the BIG QUESTIONS sneak back in and thwart us. It is this:
> If we wanted to make memetics into a science [1], one that could prove
> itself through the predictive powers of its theories, which is a
> better
> approach: studying the effects of memes on the individual or on large
> groups.
> I had thought that understanding the effects on individuals would lead
> to
> understanding larger groups, but now I wonder. As someone said (Robin
> maybe?), "Each person leaving a theater is a free agent, but the
> movements
> of the crowd are statisticly predictable." So now I don't know.
> Which
> approach do you think would yield the greatest results?
> -Prof. Tim
> [1] an assumption for the sake of argument.

Perhaps they are different but necessary. For instance, in College i
studied what is called "groupthink" which dealt with how individuals
would sabatage the obvious in the interest of group harmony. A good
example is Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis. Individually each one
suspected what was happening, but when together, they would all asume
paranoia on the part of the other group members and this would paralyze
the group, til kennedy amde a decision. In this case, it worked out ok.
in Pearl harbeor, the same thing happened, but in that case, they
ignored the preponderance of evidence, which resulted in disaster. The
point is: People think differently in a group than as individuals. I
think understanding people at an individual level is foremost, Groups
come second, I think.