Re: Meme supremacy

Andrea Gallagher (
Fri, 01 Aug 1997 12:45:54 -0700

One of the most difficult decisions you have to make in public discussions
is how to deal with people possessed by dangerous memes. If you let the
meme go unanswered, it might propagate even though the logic behind it is
so weak. If you answer it, you might raise the stature of that meme in
other people's eyes, you certainly prolong the annoying thread, and you
waste your own time that you could use productively. By and large, I tend
to answer it.

Everyone else is free to skip this. If you want something to get the bad
taste out of your mouth, read anything by Thomas Sowell. He writes clearly
and interestingly about the long-term effects of culture and cultural
dislocation, and it will give you a good historical perspective on this

At 12:19 PM 8/31/97 +0200, den Otter wrote:
>All races distrust others, it's a gene thing, and
>*all races* look down on negroes. The Arab, the Asian, the Caucasian,
>the native American...just listen carefully on the bus, in the mall, on
>the street...or just ask someone you know to be *really honest* about

Surprise, surprise. People immigrate into a culture that has a
long-standing meme about the only large racial minority the society had
until then (imported, mind you, into a slave system that lasted 400 years
and deliberately destroyed the cultural structures that help people
succeed), and the new immigrants pick up the dominant culture's nice,
little, protective, scapegoat meme. Yes, all races distrust others, it's a
meme thing. That many of them pick on Blacks is not evidence of much.

>"Prejudice" as the media like to call it is often simple rational thinking.

Prejudice and stereotyping I can deal with. They are useful ways of making
quick decisions without using a lot of valuable mental energy. But if you
hold on to your stereotypes in the face of evidence and logical
counter-arguments, you're an idiot.

>The facts: the whole of central and southern Africa hasn't produced
>an even remotely technolological "modern civilization".

What does this have to do with genetic determination of intelligence and
potential? Are you saying that "civilization" is a result of intelligence?
I have read an interesting book that claimed agriculture was only
economically rational above a certain population density (Douglas North,
Structure and Change in Economic History), and this was even more true of
cities. Regardless, we know very little about ancient civilizations, and
even less about the archeological record of Africa, so I don't give much
weight to this assertion.

>Fact: they did not even invent the wheel or bow and arrow.

What is this supposed to imply? Caucasians probably didn't either, they
just learned them from someone else. If I come up with two other early
technologies Africans had, are we even? It's far easier for me to believe
that stable civilization is an accident of history, sustained by
geographical characteristics that allow for exposure to and trade with
other cultures. Sub-Saharan Africa, unfortunately, was geographically very

>Unlike for example native
>Americans they did not adapt when confronted by white (Boer) settlers
>and were crushed (while the American natives were primarily defeated
>by "alien" diseases like smallpox).

Native Americans, in both North and South America, may have "adapted", but
they were demonstrably less successful. Their culture was practically
wiped from the face of the two continents, replaced by an imported culture
that has controlled the area ever since. Africa, on the other hand, is
still largely African. Even in South Africa, the Boers and English didn't
manage to immigrate or reproduce enough to even match, much less
out-number, the native races. Could it be characteristics of the African
environment that make our western memes or genes less advantageous there?
As Africa slowly pulls itself out of the miserable quagmire of colonial
rule and cold-war supported dictators, I suspect your genetic theory will
loose what credibility it has.

>Black Africans have been favoured as
>slaves since ancient times, because they were often well built and
>none too bright. They *are* generally less in control of their
>emotions...the list goes on and on. It's really too bad for the blacks, but
>history and present day reality are rather harsh judges. There is no
>"justice" in nature, just in our heads.

Now, you presented the last set as facts, and I am willing to argue them on
interpretation. You have *no* evidence for these claims, so I won't bother.

>Now if you really want to help you have to acknowledge the problem
>first. And of course there are plenty of smart, kind and "civilized"
>blacks equal or even better than many whites, but...a) they are often
>of mixed race, so "genetically enhanced" and no longer real "blacks"

(I don't know if I can finish this. You're making me queasy.)

>b) they could fully develop themselves only because they grew up in a
>white "civilized" culture that is reasonably supportive (certainly when
>compared to a primitive tribe) of critical thinking, science etc.

Oh, so now you say that cultural context in necessary for individual
intellectual growth. So if I didn't happen to live within a technical
civilization, would that be evidence that I am genetically less intelligent?

>Believe me, these modern blacks don't feel much of a "bond" with
>their less advanced congeners. And why would they...mental
>properties are after all more important than looks...right?
>Now about the meme thing: do you honestly belief that "all memes
>are equal"? If so, why aren't you over at Christian chat or Commytalk?
>After's all the same thing.

I don't get this. I don't think that all memes are equal, and that's one
of the factors to which I ascribe the problems Blacks have today, both in
the US and in Africa. You, on the other hand, seem to be arguing that
meme's are racially, or genetically, determined. Which is it?