Tuesday, April 05, 2005

More memework.

Darren said:
I'm curious when you quote skepticism as a meme. Skepticism often seems like a certain state of mind, or rather a filter on how one sees the world. Alternatively, you could see skepticism as a rhetorical framework of some sort.
From my observations, it seems to be a bit of both.

The reason I'm curious here is that I often wonder why it is that skepticism seems to be so appealing to many of my peers at WPI.
At the very least, I'm sure that other viewpoints and the emotional backgrounds of my peers has something to do with it.
Does memetrics ever consider such perspectives? Is that what is sometimes meant by people being "more susceptible to the meme" or however you say that?

Because I'm so incredibly knowledgeable on the subject, I'll inform you! And I'll use small words, because I think the longest one I know is 'knowledgeable'.

Memetics is at about the same stage as game design theory - that is, nobody can even really agree on what a meme is. To me, skepticism is a meme - it is a pattern which propagates from mind to mind. After all, my dad's a skeptic, I'm a skeptic, and I'll be damn sure to make my children skeptics. It's also the only clear example I can think of that gets stronger by destroying other memes.

The terms 'rhetorical framework', 'state of mind', and even 'filter on how one sees the world' all mean just about the same thing in meme-land. They all state, "there is a meme controlling what other memes you consider". Perhaps it would be easiest to call those three terms you used synonyms of a phrase I'll coin this very instant: "gatekeeper meme".

Skepticism, being a meme, is spread through normal memetic vectors. Shit. I used too many big words. Essentially, our friend skepti spreads by making itself appealing to the environment it wants into - our minds. However, skepticism's appeal is rather more limited than some other memes, such as Darth Vader in a tutu, because it is a dramatic overhaul to your mental framework. It's a gatekeeper meme, and it competes with other gatekeeper memes - it's competing with the thing that controls what memes get to compete. Rather a disadvantage.

Therefore, I don't know very many (if any) people who 'pick up' skepticism late in life. Usually, by the time they hit their teens, their gatekeeper memes are firmly in place (and, believe me, gatekeeper memes know how to defend themselves). So skepticism seems to spread in very early life, either through indoctrin... indoc... indoctrinnalination... being told about it or through synthesizing it to avoid the unhelpful ideas it protects against.

Memetics, as I mentioned, is very young. Although what I just spouted is Largely Based on Published Works, it is also very much my own creation, and may very well cover parts of memetics that have only been lightly touched upon in the past.

BTW - "memetics" seems to stand for "the study of memes", whereas "memetrics" would stand for "measurement of memes" which, as cool as it would be, we haven't really figured out how to do yet.

No comments: