Positive and Negative Memetics

by phil on Wednesday Sep 24, 2003 6:40 PM

When analyzing memes it's important to eliminate bias when describing their spreading mechanisms. Take religion for example.

One interpretation of the spread of religion is that it captures its hosts' attention and encourages them to spread. It does so by scaring them about the answer to a question that's on everybody's mind: "what happens after death?" Because understanding the existence of heaven and hell clears up their confusion and is of tremendous use for them, they want to share the same information with others. Another way it could spread is that telling others to be moral is in your best interests, and hence you are likely to support religious institutions.

This could be called a "negative" memetic interpretation. I use "negative" in that it assumes that man is dumb in his choice of memes, and is more of a null substance through which the meme spreads.

A "positive" interpretation could be as follows: religion makes you happy and because you want to share the secrets of happiness to your loved ones, you willingly spend the effort to educate others about it. That religion persists is a testamant to the value and truth of the religion.

You should be objective in either case... therefore synthesizing both the negative and positive ways that memes spread.

The reason why I emphasize this, though, is that I get the feeling memetics is being widely misused as a way of discrediting the validity of certain values and institutions, such as religion.

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