RE: Major Technologies--Memetics

Billy Brown (
Wed, 27 Jan 1999 08:55:15 -0600

Anders Sandberg wrote:
> Is it? Last time I looked, there were plenty of empirical studies. The
> problem seems to be how to create useful theories and frameworks, this
> is where more work is likely needed.

Hmm. Depends on whether you think the 'empirical' studies are actually worth anything. There is so much noise in this kind of experiment that it is very difficult to collect solid data. I'm not really familiar enough with recent work in the field to venture an opinion on its quality.

> Perhaps something like cognitive therapy, you instruct one group of
> subjects in a certain mental technique or a schemata, another just
> gets a spiel about critical thinking and a third nothing, and then you
> expose them to a meme or other form of persuasion and study how many
> are convinced.

I see two big obstacles to be overcome. One is the long-term testing problem - one would expect the most effective methods of spreading a meme to rely on repeated exposure of some sort. The second is the ethical problem - any non-trivial meme is going to have a real effect on the people who 'catch' it, after all.

Billy Brown, MCSE+I