MEMETICS: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

David Musick (
Wed, 22 Jan 97 05:31:15 UT

Michael Lorrey said "... a meme's "capsule" is not separate from the content,
they are homogenous."

Actually, this isn't true. The *content* of a meme is different than the
*effect* it has on its host. One cannot usually evaluate the "goodness" or
"badness" of a meme, based only on the meme itself. It must play itself out
in a memetic environment of some sort that can host it, and the *effect* it
has there will depend as much on the content of the meme itself as it does on
the properties of the memetic environment. Different minds will respond
differently to the same memes.

It is not easy to predict the effect a particular meme will have, the effect
is contained within the meme itself only partially. For example, the meme,
"It is good to try new things." is difficult to evaluate. Some hosts of this
meme may try new things often, and this may help them develop a more flexible,
adaptive and quick-learning mind. Other hosts may take it too far and not
develop strong skills in any particular areas. The knowledge that using the
meme would help one develop a better mind was not obvious from looking at the
meme itself. Before letting it play itself out, it is difficult to evaluate
the meme as "good" or "bad". And even then, the results can be far from
clear, since it will affect everyone differently.

- David Musick

-- When we think we have found the Truth, will we really have it, or will we
simply have convinced ourselves so thoroughly, that it will be impossible for
us to consider that we are wrong, even if we are? --