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Understanding Memetics – SCP Foundation

Summary, for those in a hurry:

Memetics deals with information transfer, specifically cultural information in society. The basic idea is to conflate the exchange of information between people with genetic material, to track the mutation of ideas as they are transmitted from one person to the next in the way you could track viral transmissions and mutations. However, a meme also provides benefits to the carrier if they spread it.

Meme : Memetics :: Gene : Genetics

Memetics does NOT refer to telepathy, ESP or any imaginary psychic mental magic. These words are memetic, and if you understand them then they are having a completely ordinary memetic effect on you.

Memetics in regards to SCP objects tends to focus on the impossible rather than the mundane, regarding effects that are transmitted via information. In general, the effects themselves should remain in the realm of information. A memetic SCP would be more likely to be a phrase that makes you think you have wings as opposed to a phrase that makes you actually grow a pair of wings. If you write up magic words that make people grow wings, it should be described as something other than memetic.

Memetic SCPs do not emanate auras or project beams. They are SCPs which involve ideas and symbols which trigger a response in those who understand them.

Memetic is often incorrectly used by new personnel as the official sounding term for “Weird Mind Shit.” However, that is not actually what memetic means. These words are memetic. They are producing a memetic effect in your mind right now, without any magical mind rays lashing out of your computer monitor to grasp your fragile consciousness. Memes are information, more specifically, cultural information.

Outside of the Foundation’s walls the concept of memetics is not taken very seriously; it is a theory that conflates the transfer of cultural information with evolutionary biology.

meme : memetic :: gene : genetic

The idea was that certain memes prosper and others wither the same way certain genes produce stronger offspring that out-compete creatures with different genes. Also, it is easy to compare the spread and mutation of information to the spread of a virus. The reason we use the term memetic in our work is largely due to this, as the truly dangerous memes out there can spread like wildfire due to the fact that the very knowledge of them can count as an infection.

Understanding the true nature of memetic threats is critical to surviving them. You cannot wear a special set of magical goggles made of telekill to protect yourself from a meme. THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING. If you just read those words in your head with a bad Teutonic accent, congratulations on being victim to yet another memetic effect. If you did not know that phrase was an oft-repeated quote from the Simpsons then congratulations; you are now infected with that knowledge and are free to participate in its spread.

A meme perpetuates itself by being beneficial to the carrier to spread to new hosts. You now understand that THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING; you’re in on the joke. However, you might have friends who aren’t, and don’t get it. It benefits you to explain them, because then you both have something new to laugh together about when it gets brought up. This is what makes a meme effective – how much incentive a carrier has to spread it. Unless an anomalous meme’s effect is the compulsive urge for the carrier to infect others, there needs to be incentive to spread it.

An artifact can no more have a memetic aura or project a memetic beam than a creature could have a genetic aura or genetic beam. Even though you could imagine a creature with genes that allow it to produce some kind of aura or beam like a big doofy X-man, remember that the examples we have of such creatures in containment are not getting their super-powered emanations from anything resembling our scientific understanding of genetics and biology. Neither are the memetic artifacts. We contain these things specifically because we cannot understand or explain them yet. At the end of the day we’re still using a clumsy concept to describe things we don’t have a full grasp of.

It is very rare that anything with a dangerous memetic component could be described as hostile to begin with. We do not contain memetic threats because they are out to get us. They are threats because it is dangerous for us to merely perceive them. It is exceptionally rare for dangerous memes to even have anything resembling sapience with the exception of certain known entities which exist entirely within the medium of “cultural information” such as SCP-, SCP-732 and SCP-423.

A dangerous meme is basically a trigger that sets off something inside of you that you may or may have not been aware of. What would your knee jerk reaction be to knowing that your rival is sleeping with your one true love? How would you react if you were to unwittingly catch them in the act? That kind of sudden revelation can make a mild mannered citizen into a killer, so don’t be surprised that there are other strange bits of information out there that can break the human mind in different yet equally drastic ways.

Protecting yourself from memetic threat is very tricky and can be worse than the threat itself. There are reasons that we behave the way we do, there are reasons our emotions soar when we hear just the right combination of sounds in a piece of music. Do you want to stop thinking about the Simpsons or your obnoxious nerdy friends that quote it every time you hear the phrase THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING? That would require forgetting about the Simpsons and your friends.

Do you want to survive hearing or reading the phrase ” ?” Well, sadly we don’t quite know what other information you need to forget or know to prevent [DATA EXPUNGED] but we’re getting better. Lobotomies and pills help, and are one of the few times that the cure is not worse than the disease. The sum total of our human condition; our cultural knowledge and upbringing and memories and identity; this is what makes us susceptible to the occasional memetic compulsion.

So it’s not the basalt monolith or its bizarre carvings that is making you strangle your companions with your own intestines, the problem was within you all along.

Should you ever find yourself under a memetic compulsion and aware of the fact, remember that there are certain mental exercises that you can perform which may save your life or the lives of your companions. Changing the information your mind is being presented with may just change how you react to it, and the more abrupt or absurd the change is the better.

Imagine the fearsome entity is wearing a bright pink nightgown. Draw a mustache on the haunted painting. Pee on the stone altar. Wear the terrible sculpture like a hat.

And if all else fails, bend over and kiss your ass goodbye. I’m not kidding. That could actually help.

– Dr. Johannes Sorts received a special dispensation to use the word “doofy” in this document

But seriously

This was originally intended as a piece of fiction on its own before it got stuck into the information bar with plenty of other plainly out-of-character writing guides. So here’s the important things to take away:

1 – “Memetics” is a specific concept regarding information exchange. It has nothing to do with telepathy or ESP or psychic compulsions.

2 – SCP-148 has no effect on anything memetic. Don’t screw this up or we will give you an incredibly hard time about it.

3 – Psychic compulsions are lame and you should think twice before using them in your new SCP, even if you avoid misusing the term “memetic” when you do it.

4 – Sorts’ Rule for all memetic SCPs is “Memetic effect + crazy to death = failure.”

5 – Wear it like a haaaaat!!

See the article here:

Understanding Memetics – SCP Foundation

Meme – Wikipedia

For a fad that spreads quickly through the Internet, see Internet meme.

A meme ( MEEM) is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.[1] A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.[2]

The word is a neologism coined by Richard Dawkins.[3]

Proponents theorize that memes are a viral phenomenon that may evolve by natural selection in a manner analogous to that of biological evolution. Memes do this through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance, each of which influences a meme’s reproductive success. Memes spread through the behavior that they generate in their hosts. Memes that propagate less prolifically may become extinct, while others may survive, spread, and (for better or for worse) mutate. Memes that replicate most effectively enjoy more success, and some may replicate effectively even when they prove to be detrimental to the welfare of their hosts.[4]

A field of study called memetics[5] arose in the 1990s to explore the concepts and transmission of memes in terms of an evolutionary model. Criticism from a variety of fronts has challenged the notion that academic study can examine memes empirically. However, developments in neuroimaging may make empirical study possible.[6] Some commentators in the social sciences question the idea that one can meaningfully categorize culture in terms of discrete units, and are especially critical of the biological nature of the theory’s underpinnings.[7] Others have argued that this use of the term is the result of a misunderstanding of the original proposal.[8]

The word meme originated with Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins’s own position is somewhat ambiguous: he welcomed N. K. Humphrey’s suggestion that “memes should be considered as living structures, not just metaphorically”[9] and proposed to regard memes as “physically residing in the brain”.[10] Later, he argued that his original intentions, presumably before his approval of Humphrey’s opinion, had been simpler.[11] At the New Directors’ Showcase 2013 in Cannes, Dawkins’ opinion on memetics was deliberately ambiguous.[12]

The word meme is a shortening (modeled on gene) of mimeme (from Ancient Greek pronounced[mmma] mmma, “imitated thing”, from mimeisthai, “to imitate”, from mimos, “mime”)[13] coined by British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976)[3][14] as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included melodies, catchphrases, fashion, and the technology of building arches.[15]Kenneth Pike coined the related term emic and etic, generalizing the linguistic idea of phoneme, morpheme, grapheme, lexeme and tagmeme (as set out by Leonard Bloomfield), characterizing them as insider view and outside view of behaviour and extending the concept into a tagmemic theory of human behaviour (culminating in Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of the Structure of Human Behaviour, 1954).

The word meme originated with Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins cites as inspiration the work of geneticist L. L. Cavalli-Sforza, anthropologist F. T. Cloak[16] and ethologist J. M. Cullen.[17] Dawkins wrote that evolution depended not on the particular chemical basis of genetics, but only on the existence of a self-replicating unit of transmissionin the case of biological evolution, the gene. For Dawkins, the meme exemplified another self-replicating unit with potential significance in explaining human behavior and cultural evolution. Although Dawkins invented the term ‘meme’ and developed meme theory, the possibility that ideas were subject to the same pressures of evolution as were biological attributes was discussed in Darwin’s time. T. H. Huxley claimed that ‘The struggle for existence holds as much in the intellectual as in the physical world. A theory is a species of thinking, and its right to exist is coextensive with its power of resisting extinction by its rivals.'[18]

Dawkins used the term to refer to any cultural entity that an observer might consider a replicator. He hypothesized that one could view many cultural entities as replicators, and pointed to melodies, fashions and learned skills as examples. Memes generally replicate through exposure to humans, who have evolved as efficient copiers of information and behavior. Because humans do not always copy memes perfectly, and because they may refine, combine or otherwise modify them with other memes to create new memes, they can change over time. Dawkins likened the process by which memes survive and change through the evolution of culture to the natural selection of genes in biological evolution.[15]

Dawkins defined the meme as a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation and replication, but later definitions would vary. The lack of a consistent, rigorous, and precise understanding of what typically makes up one unit of cultural transmission remains a problem in debates about memetics.[20] In contrast, the concept of genetics gained concrete evidence with the discovery of the biological functions of DNA. Meme transmission requires a physical medium, such as photons, sound waves, touch, taste or smell because memes can be transmitted only through the senses.

Dawkins noted that in a society with culture a person need not have descendants to remain influential in the actions of individuals thousands of years after their death:

But if you contribute to the world’s culture, if you have a good idea…it may live on, intact, long after your genes have dissolved in the common pool. Socrates may or may not have a gene or two alive in the world today, as G.C. Williams has remarked, but who cares? The meme-complexes of Socrates, Leonardo, Copernicus and Marconi are still going strong.[21]

Memes, analogously to genes, vary in their aptitude to replicate; successful memes remain and spread, whereas unfit ones stall and are forgotten. Thus memes that prove more effective at replicating and surviving are selected in the meme pool.

Memes first need retention. The longer a meme stays in its hosts, the higher its chances of propagation are. When a host uses a meme, the meme’s life is extended.[22] The reuse of the neural space hosting a certain meme’s copy to host different memes is the greatest threat to that meme’s copy.[23]

A meme which increases the longevity of its hosts will generally survive longer. On the contrary, a meme which shortens the longevity of its hosts will tend to disappear faster. However, as hosts are mortal, retention is not sufficient to perpetuate a meme in the long term; memes also need transmission.

Life-forms can transmit information both vertically (from parent to child, via replication of genes) and horizontally (through viruses and other means). Memes can replicate vertically or horizontally within a single biological generation. They may also lie dormant for long periods of time.

Memes reproduce by copying from a nervous system to another one, either by communication or imitation. Imitation often involves the copying of an observed behavior of another individual. Communication may be direct or indirect, where memes transmit from one individual to another through a copy recorded in an inanimate source, such as a book or a musical score. Adam McNamara has suggested that memes can be thereby classified as either internal or external memes (i-memes or e-memes).[6]

Some commentators have likened the transmission of memes to the spread of contagions.[24] Social contagions such as fads, hysteria, copycat crime, and copycat suicide exemplify memes seen as the contagious imitation of ideas. Observers distinguish the contagious imitation of memes from instinctively contagious phenomena such as yawning and laughing, which they consider innate (rather than socially learned) behaviors.[25]

Aaron Lynch described seven general patterns of meme transmission, or “thought contagion”:[26]

Dawkins initially defined meme as a noun that “conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation”.[15] John S. Wilkins retained the notion of meme as a kernel of cultural imitation while emphasizing the meme’s evolutionary aspect, defining the meme as “the least unit of sociocultural information relative to a selection process that has favorable or unfavorable selection bias that exceeds its endogenous tendency to change”.[27] The meme as a unit provides a convenient means of discussing “a piece of thought copied from person to person”, regardless of whether that thought contains others inside it, or forms part of a larger meme. A meme could consist of a single word, or a meme could consist of the entire speech in which that word first occurred. This forms an analogy to the idea of a gene as a single unit of self-replicating information found on the self-replicating chromosome.

While the identification of memes as “units” conveys their nature to replicate as discrete, indivisible entities, it does not imply that thoughts somehow become quantized or that “atomic” ideas exist that cannot be dissected into smaller pieces. A meme has no given size. Susan Blackmore writes that melodies from Beethoven’s symphonies are commonly used to illustrate the difficulty involved in delimiting memes as discrete units. She notes that while the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (listen(helpinfo)) form a meme widely replicated as an independent unit, one can regard the entire symphony as a single meme as well.[20]

The inability to pin an idea or cultural feature to quantifiable key units is widely acknowledged as a problem for memetics. It has been argued however that the traces of memetic processing can be quantified utilizing neuroimaging techniques which measure changes in the connectivity profiles between brain regions.”[6] Blackmore meets such criticism by stating that memes compare with genes in this respect: that while a gene has no particular size, nor can we ascribe every phenotypic feature directly to a particular gene, it has value because it encapsulates that key unit of inherited expression subject to evolutionary pressures. To illustrate, she notes evolution selects for the gene for features such as eye color; it does not select for the individual nucleotide in a strand of DNA. Memes play a comparable role in understanding the evolution of imitated behaviors.[20]

The 1981 book Genes, Mind, and Culture: The Coevolutionary Process by Charles J. Lumsden and E. O. Wilson proposed the theory that genes and culture co-evolve, and that the fundamental biological units of culture must correspond to neuronal networks that function as nodes of semantic memory. They coined their own word, “culturgen”, which did not catch on. Coauthor Wilson later acknowledged the term meme as the best label for the fundamental unit of cultural inheritance in his 1998 book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, which elaborates upon the fundamental role of memes in unifying the natural and social sciences.[28]

Dawkins noted the three conditions that must exist for evolution to occur:[29]

Dawkins emphasizes that the process of evolution naturally occurs whenever these conditions co-exist, and that evolution does not apply only to organic elements such as genes. He regards memes as also having the properties necessary for evolution, and thus sees meme evolution as not simply analogous to genetic evolution, but as a real phenomenon subject to the laws of natural selection. Dawkins noted that as various ideas pass from one generation to the next, they may either enhance or detract from the survival of the people who obtain those ideas, or influence the survival of the ideas themselves. For example, a certain culture may develop unique designs and methods of tool-making that give it a competitive advantage over another culture. Each tool-design thus acts somewhat similarly to a biological gene in that some populations have it and others do not, and the meme’s function directly affects the presence of the design in future generations. In keeping with the thesis that in evolution one can regard organisms simply as suitable “hosts” for reproducing genes, Dawkins argues that one can view people as “hosts” for replicating memes. Consequently, a successful meme may or may not need to provide any benefit to its host.[29]

Unlike genetic evolution, memetic evolution can show both Darwinian and Lamarckian traits. Cultural memes will have the characteristic of Lamarckian inheritance when a host aspires to replicate the given meme through inference rather than by exactly copying it. Take for example the case of the transmission of a simple skill such as hammering a nail, a skill that a learner imitates from watching a demonstration without necessarily imitating every discrete movement modeled by the teacher in the demonstration, stroke for stroke.[30]Susan Blackmore distinguishes the difference between the two modes of inheritance in the evolution of memes, characterizing the Darwinian mode as “copying the instructions” and the Lamarckian as “copying the product.”[20]

Clusters of memes, or memeplexes (also known as meme complexes or as memecomplexes), such as cultural or political doctrines and systems, may also play a part in the acceptance of new memes. Memeplexes comprise groups of memes that replicate together and coadapt.[20] Memes that fit within a successful memeplex may gain acceptance by “piggybacking” on the success of the memeplex. As an example, John D. Gottsch discusses the transmission, mutation and selection of religious memeplexes and the theistic memes contained.[31] Theistic memes discussed include the “prohibition of aberrant sexual practices such as incest, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, castration, and religious prostitution”, which may have increased vertical transmission of the parent religious memeplex. Similar memes are thereby included in the majority of religious memeplexes, and harden over time; they become an “inviolable canon” or set of dogmas, eventually finding their way into secular law. This could also be referred to as the propagation of a taboo.

The discipline of memetics, which dates from the mid-1980s, provides an approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer based on the concept of the meme. Memeticists have proposed that just as memes function analogously to genes, memetics functions analogously to genetics. Memetics attempts to apply conventional scientific methods (such as those used in population genetics and epidemiology) to explain existing patterns and transmission of cultural ideas.

Principal criticisms of memetics include the claim that memetics ignores established advances in other fields of cultural study, such as sociology, cultural anthropology, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. Questions remain whether or not the meme concept counts as a validly disprovable scientific theory. This view regards memetics as a theory in its infancy: a protoscience to proponents, or a pseudoscience to some detractors.

An objection to the study of the evolution of memes in genetic terms (although not to the existence of memes) involves a perceived gap in the gene/meme analogy: the cumulative evolution of genes depends on biological selection-pressures neither too great nor too small in relation to mutation-rates. There seems no reason to think that the same balance will exist in the selection pressures on memes.[32]

Luis Benitez-Bribiesca M.D., a critic of memetics, calls the theory a “pseudoscientific dogma” and “a dangerous idea that poses a threat to the serious study of consciousness and cultural evolution”. As a factual criticism, Benitez-Bribiesca points to the lack of a “code script” for memes (analogous to the DNA of genes), and to the excessive instability of the meme mutation mechanism (that of an idea going from one brain to another), which would lead to a low replication accuracy and a high mutation rate, rendering the evolutionary process chaotic.[33]

British political philosopher John Gray has characterized Dawkins’ memetic theory of religion as “nonsense” and “not even a theory… the latest in a succession of ill-judged Darwinian metaphors”, comparable to Intelligent Design in its value as a science.[34]

Another critique comes from semiotic theorists such as Deacon[35] and Kull.[36] This view regards the concept of “meme” as a primitivized concept of “sign”. The meme is thus described in memetics as a sign lacking a triadic nature. Semioticians can regard a meme as a “degenerate” sign, which includes only its ability of being copied. Accordingly, in the broadest sense, the objects of copying are memes, whereas the objects of translation and interpretation are signs.[clarification needed]

Fracchia and Lewontin regard memetics as reductionist and inadequate.[37] Evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr disapproved of Dawkins’ gene-based view and usage of the term “meme”, asserting it to be an “unnecessary synonym” for “concept”, reasoning that concepts are not restricted to an individual or a generation, may persist for long periods of time, and may evolve.[38]

Opinions differ as to how best to apply the concept of memes within a “proper” disciplinary framework. One view sees memes as providing a useful philosophical perspective with which to examine cultural evolution. Proponents of this view (such as Susan Blackmore and Daniel Dennett) argue that considering cultural developments from a meme’s-eye viewas if memes themselves respond to pressure to maximise their own replication and survivalcan lead to useful insights and yield valuable predictions into how culture develops over time. Others such as Bruce Edmonds and Robert Aunger have focused on the need to provide an empirical grounding for memetics to become a useful and respected scientific discipline.[39][40]

A third approach, described by Joseph Poulshock, as “radical memetics” seeks to place memes at the centre of a materialistic theory of mind and of personal identity.[41]

Prominent researchers in evolutionary psychology and anthropology, including Scott Atran, Dan Sperber, Pascal Boyer, John Tooby and others, argue the possibility of incompatibility between modularity of mind and memetics.[citation needed] In their view, minds structure certain communicable aspects of the ideas produced, and these communicable aspects generally trigger or elicit ideas in other minds through inference (to relatively rich structures generated from often low-fidelity input) and not high-fidelity replication or imitation. Atran discusses communication involving religious beliefs as a case in point. In one set of experiments he asked religious people to write down on a piece of paper the meanings of the Ten Commandments. Despite the subjects’ own expectations of consensus, interpretations of the commandments showed wide ranges of variation, with little evidence of consensus. In another experiment, subjects with autism and subjects without autism interpreted ideological and religious sayings (for example, “Let a thousand flowers bloom” or “To everything there is a season”). People with autism showed a significant tendency to closely paraphrase and repeat content from the original statement (for example: “Don’t cut flowers before they bloom”). Controls tended to infer a wider range of cultural meanings with little replicated content (for example: “Go with the flow” or “Everyone should have equal opportunity”). Only the subjects with autismwho lack the degree of inferential capacity normally associated with aspects of theory of mindcame close to functioning as “meme machines”.[42]

In his book The Robot’s Rebellion, Stanovich uses the memes and memeplex concepts to describe a program of cognitive reform that he refers to as a “rebellion”. Specifically, Stanovich argues that the use of memes as a descriptor for cultural units is beneficial because it serves to emphasize transmission and acquisition properties that parallel the study of epidemiology. These properties make salient the sometimes parasitic nature of acquired memes, and as a result individuals should be motivated to reflectively acquire memes using what he calls a “Neurathian bootstrap” process.[43]

Although social scientists such as Max Weber sought to understand and explain religion in terms of a cultural attribute, Richard Dawkins called for a re-analysis of religion in terms of the evolution of self-replicating ideas apart from any resulting biological advantages they might bestow.

As an enthusiastic Darwinian, I have been dissatisfied with explanations that my fellow-enthusiasts have offered for human behaviour. They have tried to look for ‘biological advantages’ in various attributes of human civilization. For instance, tribal religion has been seen as a mechanism for solidifying group identity, valuable for a pack-hunting species whose individuals rely on cooperation to catch large and fast prey. Frequently the evolutionary preconception in terms of which such theories are framed is implicitly group-selectionist, but it is possible to rephrase the theories in terms of orthodox gene selection.

He argued that the role of key replicator in cultural evolution belongs not to genes, but to memes replicating thought from person to person by means of imitation. These replicators respond to selective pressures that may or may not affect biological reproduction or survival.[15]

In her book The Meme Machine, Susan Blackmore regards religions as particularly tenacious memes. Many of the features common to the most widely practiced religions provide built-in advantages in an evolutionary context, she writes. For example, religions that preach of the value of faith over evidence from everyday experience or reason inoculate societies against many of the most basic tools people commonly use to evaluate their ideas. By linking altruism with religious affiliation, religious memes can proliferate more quickly because people perceive that they can reap societal as well as personal rewards. The longevity of religious memes improves with their documentation in revered religious texts.[20]

Aaron Lynch attributed the robustness of religious memes in human culture to the fact that such memes incorporate multiple modes of meme transmission. Religious memes pass down the generations from parent to child and across a single generation through the meme-exchange of proselytism. Most people will hold the religion taught them by their parents throughout their life. Many religions feature adversarial elements, punishing apostasy, for instance, or demonizing infidels. In Thought Contagion Lynch identifies the memes of transmission in Christianity as especially powerful in scope. Believers view the conversion of non-believers both as a religious duty and as an act of altruism. The promise of heaven to believers and threat of hell to non-believers provide a strong incentive for members to retain their belief. Lynch asserts that belief in the Crucifixion of Jesus in Christianity amplifies each of its other replication advantages through the indebtedness believers have to their Savior for sacrifice on the cross. The image of the crucifixion recurs in religious sacraments, and the proliferation of symbols of the cross in homes and churches potently reinforces the wide array of Christian memes.[26]

Although religious memes have proliferated in human cultures, the modern scientific community has been relatively resistant to religious belief. Robertson (2007) [44] reasoned that if evolution is accelerated in conditions of propagative difficulty,[45] then we would expect to encounter variations of religious memes, established in general populations, addressed to scientific communities. Using a memetic approach, Robertson deconstructed two attempts to privilege religiously held spirituality in scientific discourse. Advantages of a memetic approach as compared to more traditional “modernization” and “supply side” theses in understanding the evolution and propagation of religion were explored.

In Cultural Software: A Theory of Ideology, Jack Balkin argued that memetic processes can explain many of the most familiar features of ideological thought. His theory of “cultural software” maintained that memes form narratives, social networks, metaphoric and metonymic models, and a variety of different mental structures. Balkin maintains that the same structures used to generate ideas about free speech or free markets also serve to generate racistic beliefs. To Balkin, whether memes become harmful or maladaptive depends on the environmental context in which they exist rather than in any special source or manner to their origination. Balkin describes racist beliefs as “fantasy” memes that become harmful or unjust “ideologies” when diverse peoples come together, as through trade or competition.[46]

In A Theory of Architecture, Nikos Salingaros speaks of memes as “freely propagating clusters of information” which can be beneficial or harmful. He contrasts memes to patterns and true knowledge, characterizing memes as “greatly simplified versions of patterns” and as “unreasoned matching to some visual or mnemonic prototype”.[47] Taking reference to Dawkins, Salingaros emphasizes that they can be transmitted due to their own communicative properties, that “the simpler they are, the faster they can proliferate”, and that the most successful memes “come with a great psychological appeal”.[48]

Architectural memes, according to Salingaros, can have destructive power. “Images portrayed in architectural magazines representing buildings that could not possibly accommodate everyday uses become fixed in our memory, so we reproduce them unconsciously.”[49] He lists various architectural memes that circulated since the 1920s and which, in his view, have led to contemporary architecture becoming quite decoupled from human needs. They lack connection and meaning, thereby preventing “the creation of true connections necessary to our understanding of the world”. He sees them as no different from antipatterns in software design as solutions that are false but are re-utilized nonetheless.[50]

An “Internet meme” is a concept that spreads rapidly from person to person via the Internet, largely through Internet-based E-mailing, blogs, forums, imageboards like 4chan, social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, instant messaging, social news sites like Reddit, and video hosting services like YouTube and Twitch.tv.[51]

In 2013 Richard Dawkins characterized an Internet meme as one deliberately altered by human creativity, distinguished from Dawkins’s original idea involving mutation by random change and a form of Darwinian selection.[52]

One technique of meme mapping represents the evolution and transmission of a meme across time and space.[53] Such a meme map uses a figure-8 diagram (an analemma) to map the gestation (in the lower loop), birth (at the choke point), and development (in the upper loop) of the selected meme. Such meme maps are nonscalar, with time mapped onto the y-axis and space onto the x-axis transect. One can read the temporal progression of the mapped meme from south to north on such a meme map. Paull has published a worked example using the “organics meme” (as in organic agriculture).[53]

See the rest here:

Meme – Wikipedia

Memes, memes everywhere | SunStar – Sun.Star

MEMESAN ongoing social phenomenon. These often come in the form of funny pictures and texts combined, creating jokes that are passed on across cultures throughout the world wide web.

One cannot possibly open social media or at the very least use the internet without coming across memes. For baby boomers (the generation born before the internet began), these things are mere silly distractions that take up most of generation Ys time. However, the truth is, theres more to it than meets the eye.

To address this misunderstanding between two different generations, Tropical Futures Institute (TFI) held a one night only open-sourced exhibit of memes entitled The Meme Show last Aug. 18. TFI is a loose group of like-minded individuals, an arm of 856 G Gallery that focuses on neo-centric community shows, focused more on bringing people together as emphasized by Anne Amores, assistant gallerist of 856 G Gallery.

Anyone can join. Its a celebration of the meme culture and were trying to elevate memes into an art form which it arguably is, said Zach Aldave, meme enthusiast and a member of TFI.

Memes relate to the Dada movement. The dada began as a reaction to the limitation of art. Dada started like that; its anti-art art. We can relate that to memes, which are satirical social commentaries, he continued. Its a super-mutated form of satire, added Anne.

The interrelation of cultures before was brought about by intercontinental travels and interracial marriages. Back in the day, globally educating oneself was expensive and entailed one to physically expose himself to another culture, but in the present generation this happens in a different way, more accessible and easier.

If you look at the meme and you strip all the unnecessary sh*tall the irony and all the humorit boils down to being just a pure form of social commentary, said Zach.

Memes are cultural symbols or social ideas in the form of jokes, and are virally transmitted through wires without needing one to get out of the house. So despite the fact that one is just staring into the computer screen reading memes, one is actually being educated about the varying cultures from the different corners of the Earth.

As a form of art, memes are also forms of expression. Some memes exhibit dark humor which represents the sector from which it comes, and which a lot of people surprisingly empathize with.

Some memes are also sort of expressing deeply seated feelings like depression. Whats good about memes is that these are like an outlet for a lot of people who are struggling. Usually theyre cloaked in irony or humor, and they empathize with each other through memes, said Anne.

Unknown by many, memes can be traced back in history. It is being brought to light as a science with a study called Memetics. Memetics is a study begun by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. In this study, memes are understood to be cultural genes, carrying cultural information from one person to another and human beings are vehicles of their transmission.

Original post:

Memes, memes everywhere | SunStar – Sun.Star

The matter with memes – The GUIDON

Features

by Mikaela T. Bona and Joma M. Roble Published 20 August, 2017 at 1:01 AM from the April 2017 print issue

A meme is both the picture that is worth a thousand words and the few words that can make a thousand picturesor not.

Like hungry brigands waiting by the side of busy trade route, memes ambush and bombard many of us in our own journeys across the Internet, particularly when we travel by social media. They can strike our newsfeeds unexpectedly and boldly. However, unlike bandits out for bounty, Internet memes are seemingly a much more pleasant sight to encounter.

In her 2008 TED talk, memeticist Susan Blackmore explained that memes are bits of information that replicate themselves from person to person through imitation. Memeticists study memetics, a field which explores how ideas propagate among people. Blackmore then continued to say that we human beings have created a new meme: what she calls the technological meme, or the teme for short, which is a meme disseminated via technology. The teme is what is commonly known to be the meme with a comical picture and text shared on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter.

This merry friend of ours still has much to share with us. As it acts as a mirror that can reflect our joys and sorrows in an instant, memes have also become a mouthpiece of a generation in constant flux.

To define it is to kill it

Ethologist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins is the first to coin the term meme in his bestselling book, The Selfish Gene. Deriving from the Greek mimemes and the French mme which mean imitated thing and memory, respectively, he defines the traditional meme as a living structure that transfers from brain to brain in the process of imitation.

According to Dawkins, memes could be tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes, fashions, ways of making pots, or [even ways] of building the arches. He states further that memes and genes are both meant to sustain as well as change humans, but while genes exist for biological evolution, memes, on the other hand, are replicators that allow for cultural transmission throughout generations.

Interestingly, Dawkins did not lay down specificities as to why memes proliferated. Internet memes are steadily reproduced for an unknownand possibly nonexistentreason. As The Atlantic writer Venkatesh Rao puts it, the Internet meme is a meme in the original sense intended by Richard Dawkins: a cultural signifier that spreads simply because it is good at spreading. It pertains to something that is necessarily vague for it to be universally understood.

While a picture is often described to speak a thousand words, the meme goes beyond interrelated ideas and event. A photo of a smirking man with his right index finger pointing on the right side of his forehead, for instance, would mean hes thinking of something clever. What that thing is though is uncannily up to all of us, making us not just observers, but active participants in the meme experience.

When you speak of memes, you just feel that its a meme. It takes its own being of being a meme in your mind and it can become as weird or not weird as your imagination wants. Its just what it is for you, shares Vince Nieva, of the meme page Ageless Ateneo Memes, in his talk for Arete 2017: Hayo held last April 5.

The ambiguous quality of Internet memes have been subject to research since 2011. This is what paves the way for a designation of new meanings that creates a sense of flexibility. With every user that is able to add a new twist or plot to the meme, it becomes more amorphous and far-reaching that it connects seemingly disparate ideas into relational entities.

A language of its own

Rao believes that memes are an effect of the post-everything world we live in. He explains the complex intertwinement of ideas in our fast-paced world by emphasizing that there is a distinction between the Harambe meme and the actual slain zoo gorilla. This is an age wherein stories are captured while they are still unfolding.

Rapid media technology is going faster than humans can process, which can warp and stunt the emotional reactions to current news. The shock caused by the 2016 American election results led to the creation of many Donald Trump memes pre- and post-elections, which have since been correlated with other memes. In a world freer than ever before, we are both repressed by our technological creations and freed by them.

The universality of meme sharing on social media platforms has made it difficult to continue a single train of thought. In his contribution to the book The Social Media Reader, Patrick Davison states that viewing and linking…is part of the meme, as is saving and reposting. Ironically, the ability of anyone to take part in the dialogue, by a multitude of means through memes, has orchestrated cacophonies. However, genuine relationships can still be formed in the ruckus.

Memes can prove to be a global inside joke amongst ourselves. They can be a way for us to make [some] sense [out] of confusing events and perhaps even cope with personal lost-ness. Memes are a way to get people to connect, says Alfred Marasigan, an Ateneo Fine Arts lecturer, during his talk in Arete 2017: Hayo.

The practice of meme creation draws up a vague sense of community among those who partake in meme sharing; this creates a mutual understanding of what the meme isand principally, what it can be. People partake in the definition production that sustains the meme vogue for as long as possible until a new one comes along to dominate the cyber sphere, while the former eventually dies out.

As old memes die, strong emotions from people who share the same experience come together to form a new meme. Interestingly, it has also been a medium for cultural and socio-political critique. According to Know Your Meme, which tracks the origin of memes, the Evil Kermit meme is an image of Kermit and his nemesis Constantine, who is dressed like a Star Wars Sith lord and instructs Kermit to perform various indulgent, lazy, selfish and unethical acts.

The meme has been used to point out religions underlying crusade tendencies and even question meme culture itself. Other examples include the nut button, which evolved from having sexual implications to anything that can trigger one to act strongly, Arthurs Fista reaction to situations that are frustrating or infuriating, and many more.

Show and tell

In the technologically-forward society we live in, the way culture is transferred from person to person is changing. Internet memes have revolutionized communication by their nature of transmuting meaning as it spreads. As expressions of our alienation from what our traditional memes can normally keep up with, it is vital to note that we are satirizing something that we cannot fully understand. The world is perpetually moving and memes are constantly angled towards a multitude of narratives.

Memes are like junk food, says Andrew Ty, a lecturer at the Ateneo Department of Communication. Their gratification is immediate and not long-lasting and you end up waiting for the next one very quickly. In the end, [memes] are just one part of this overall tendency nowadays towards viral communication.

A study conducted at the University of Bonn in Germany provided mathematical models to explain the temporality of memes. Internet memes are just fads, but they are ones that persist by coming back with the same vague appeal and rhetoricalbeit in different forms. Their vogue is infectious to the generation as of now. Soon, however, theyll be images of the past.

It may seem hard to see memes as something akin to Edo Japans The Floating World of Ukiyo-e, or even Victorian era post-mortem photographs, but they might just be one of our eras most distinguishing and awestriking depictions. After all, the meme is representative of a world moving faster than we can understand. As its uncanniness pulls us in, it is likely for memes to one day be an iconic portrayal of our generation.

Read the rest here:

The matter with memes – The GUIDON

Memes, memes everywhere | SunStar – Sun.Star

MEMESAN ongoing social phenomenon. These often come in the form of funny pictures and texts combined, creating jokes that are passed on across cultures throughout the world wide web.

One cannot possibly open social media or at the very least use the internet without coming across memes. For baby boomers (the generation born before the internet began), these things are mere silly distractions that take up most of generation Ys time. However, the truth is, theres more to it than meets the eye.

To address this misunderstanding between two different generations, Tropical Futures Institute (TFI) held a one night only open-sourced exhibit of memes entitled The Meme Show last Aug. 18. TFI is a loose group of like-minded individuals, an arm of 856 G Gallery that focuses on neo-centric community shows, focused more on bringing people together as emphasized by Anne Amores, assistant gallerist of 856 G Gallery.

Anyone can join. Its a celebration of the meme culture and were trying to elevate memes into an art form which it arguably is, said Zach Aldave, meme enthusiast and a member of TFI.

Memes relate to the Dada movement. The dada began as a reaction to the limitation of art. Dada started like that; its anti-art art. We can relate that to memes, which are satirical social commentaries, he continued. Its a super-mutated form of satire, added Anne.

The interrelation of cultures before was brought about by intercontinental travels and interracial marriages. Back in the day, globally educating oneself was expensive and entailed one to physically expose himself to another culture, but in the present generation this happens in a different way, more accessible and easier.

If you look at the meme and you strip all the unnecessary sh*tall the irony and all the humorit boils down to being just a pure form of social commentary, said Zach.

Memes are cultural symbols or social ideas in the form of jokes, and are virally transmitted through wires without needing one to get out of the house. So despite the fact that one is just staring into the computer screen reading memes, one is actually being educated about the varying cultures from the different corners of the Earth.

As a form of art, memes are also forms of expression. Some memes exhibit dark humor which represents the sector from which it comes, and which a lot of people surprisingly empathize with.

Some memes are also sort of expressing deeply seated feelings like depression. Whats good about memes is that these are like an outlet for a lot of people who are struggling. Usually theyre cloaked in irony or humor, and they empathize with each other through memes, said Anne.

Unknown by many, memes can be traced back in history. It is being brought to light as a science with a study called Memetics. Memetics is a study begun by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. In this study, memes are understood to be cultural genes, carrying cultural information from one person to another and human beings are vehicles of their transmission.

Read the original:

Memes, memes everywhere | SunStar – Sun.Star

The matter with memes – The GUIDON

Features

by Mikaela T. Bona and Joma M. Roble Published 20 August, 2017 at 1:01 AM from the April 2017 print issue

A meme is both the picture that is worth a thousand words and the few words that can make a thousand picturesor not.

Like hungry brigands waiting by the side of busy trade route, memes ambush and bombard many of us in our own journeys across the Internet, particularly when we travel by social media. They can strike our newsfeeds unexpectedly and boldly. However, unlike bandits out for bounty, Internet memes are seemingly a much more pleasant sight to encounter.

In her 2008 TED talk, memeticist Susan Blackmore explained that memes are bits of information that replicate themselves from person to person through imitation. Memeticists study memetics, a field which explores how ideas propagate among people. Blackmore then continued to say that we human beings have created a new meme: what she calls the technological meme, or the teme for short, which is a meme disseminated via technology. The teme is what is commonly known to be the meme with a comical picture and text shared on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter.

This merry friend of ours still has much to share with us. As it acts as a mirror that can reflect our joys and sorrows in an instant, memes have also become a mouthpiece of a generation in constant flux.

To define it is to kill it

Ethologist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins is the first to coin the term meme in his bestselling book, The Selfish Gene. Deriving from the Greek mimemes and the French mme which mean imitated thing and memory, respectively, he defines the traditional meme as a living structure that transfers from brain to brain in the process of imitation.

According to Dawkins, memes could be tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes, fashions, ways of making pots, or [even ways] of building the arches. He states further that memes and genes are both meant to sustain as well as change humans, but while genes exist for biological evolution, memes, on the other hand, are replicators that allow for cultural transmission throughout generations.

Interestingly, Dawkins did not lay down specificities as to why memes proliferated. Internet memes are steadily reproduced for an unknownand possibly nonexistentreason. As The Atlantic writer Venkatesh Rao puts it, the Internet meme is a meme in the original sense intended by Richard Dawkins: a cultural signifier that spreads simply because it is good at spreading. It pertains to something that is necessarily vague for it to be universally understood.

While a picture is often described to speak a thousand words, the meme goes beyond interrelated ideas and event. A photo of a smirking man with his right index finger pointing on the right side of his forehead, for instance, would mean hes thinking of something clever. What that thing is though is uncannily up to all of us, making us not just observers, but active participants in the meme experience.

When you speak of memes, you just feel that its a meme. It takes its own being of being a meme in your mind and it can become as weird or not weird as your imagination wants. Its just what it is for you, shares Vince Nieva, of the meme page Ageless Ateneo Memes, in his talk for Arete 2017: Hayo held last April 5.

The ambiguous quality of Internet memes have been subject to research since 2011. This is what paves the way for a designation of new meanings that creates a sense of flexibility. With every user that is able to add a new twist or plot to the meme, it becomes more amorphous and far-reaching that it connects seemingly disparate ideas into relational entities.

A language of its own

Rao believes that memes are an effect of the post-everything world we live in. He explains the complex intertwinement of ideas in our fast-paced world by emphasizing that there is a distinction between the Harambe meme and the actual slain zoo gorilla. This is an age wherein stories are captured while they are still unfolding.

Rapid media technology is going faster than humans can process, which can warp and stunt the emotional reactions to current news. The shock caused by the 2016 American election results led to the creation of many Donald Trump memes pre- and post-elections, which have since been correlated with other memes. In a world freer than ever before, we are both repressed by our technological creations and freed by them.

The universality of meme sharing on social media platforms has made it difficult to continue a single train of thought. In his contribution to the book The Social Media Reader, Patrick Davison states that viewing and linking…is part of the meme, as is saving and reposting. Ironically, the ability of anyone to take part in the dialogue, by a multitude of means through memes, has orchestrated cacophonies. However, genuine relationships can still be formed in the ruckus.

Memes can prove to be a global inside joke amongst ourselves. They can be a way for us to make [some] sense [out] of confusing events and perhaps even cope with personal lost-ness. Memes are a way to get people to connect, says Alfred Marasigan, an Ateneo Fine Arts lecturer, during his talk in Arete 2017: Hayo.

The practice of meme creation draws up a vague sense of community among those who partake in meme sharing; this creates a mutual understanding of what the meme isand principally, what it can be. People partake in the definition production that sustains the meme vogue for as long as possible until a new one comes along to dominate the cyber sphere, while the former eventually dies out.

As old memes die, strong emotions from people who share the same experience come together to form a new meme. Interestingly, it has also been a medium for cultural and socio-political critique. According to Know Your Meme, which tracks the origin of memes, the Evil Kermit meme is an image of Kermit and his nemesis Constantine, who is dressed like a Star Wars Sith lord and instructs Kermit to perform various indulgent, lazy, selfish and unethical acts.

The meme has been used to point out religions underlying crusade tendencies and even question meme culture itself. Other examples include the nut button, which evolved from having sexual implications to anything that can trigger one to act strongly, Arthurs Fista reaction to situations that are frustrating or infuriating, and many more.

Show and tell

In the technologically-forward society we live in, the way culture is transferred from person to person is changing. Internet memes have revolutionized communication by their nature of transmuting meaning as it spreads. As expressions of our alienation from what our traditional memes can normally keep up with, it is vital to note that we are satirizing something that we cannot fully understand. The world is perpetually moving and memes are constantly angled towards a multitude of narratives.

Memes are like junk food, says Andrew Ty, a lecturer at the Ateneo Department of Communication. Their gratification is immediate and not long-lasting and you end up waiting for the next one very quickly. In the end, [memes] are just one part of this overall tendency nowadays towards viral communication.

A study conducted at the University of Bonn in Germany provided mathematical models to explain the temporality of memes. Internet memes are just fads, but they are ones that persist by coming back with the same vague appeal and rhetoricalbeit in different forms. Their vogue is infectious to the generation as of now. Soon, however, theyll be images of the past.

It may seem hard to see memes as something akin to Edo Japans The Floating World of Ukiyo-e, or even Victorian era post-mortem photographs, but they might just be one of our eras most distinguishing and awestriking depictions. After all, the meme is representative of a world moving faster than we can understand. As its uncanniness pulls us in, it is likely for memes to one day be an iconic portrayal of our generation.

More:

The matter with memes – The GUIDON

The matter with memes – The GUIDON

Features

by Mikaela T. Bona and Joma M. Roble Published 20 August, 2017 at 1:01 AM from the April 2017 print issue

A meme is both the picture that is worth a thousand words and the few words that can make a thousand picturesor not.

Like hungry brigands waiting by the side of busy trade route, memes ambush and bombard many of us in our own journeys across the Internet, particularly when we travel by social media. They can strike our newsfeeds unexpectedly and boldly. However, unlike bandits out for bounty, Internet memes are seemingly a much more pleasant sight to encounter.

In her 2008 TED talk, memeticist Susan Blackmore explained that memes are bits of information that replicate themselves from person to person through imitation. Memeticists study memetics, a field which explores how ideas propagate among people. Blackmore then continued to say that we human beings have created a new meme: what she calls the technological meme, or the teme for short, which is a meme disseminated via technology. The teme is what is commonly known to be the meme with a comical picture and text shared on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter.

This merry friend of ours still has much to share with us. As it acts as a mirror that can reflect our joys and sorrows in an instant, memes have also become a mouthpiece of a generation in constant flux.

To define it is to kill it

Ethologist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins is the first to coin the term meme in his bestselling book, The Selfish Gene. Deriving from the Greek mimemes and the French mme which mean imitated thing and memory, respectively, he defines the traditional meme as a living structure that transfers from brain to brain in the process of imitation.

According to Dawkins, memes could be tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes, fashions, ways of making pots, or [even ways] of building the arches. He states further that memes and genes are both meant to sustain as well as change humans, but while genes exist for biological evolution, memes, on the other hand, are replicators that allow for cultural transmission throughout generations.

Interestingly, Dawkins did not lay down specificities as to why memes proliferated. Internet memes are steadily reproduced for an unknownand possibly nonexistentreason. As The Atlantic writer Venkatesh Rao puts it, the Internet meme is a meme in the original sense intended by Richard Dawkins: a cultural signifier that spreads simply because it is good at spreading. It pertains to something that is necessarily vague for it to be universally understood.

While a picture is often described to speak a thousand words, the meme goes beyond interrelated ideas and event. A photo of a smirking man with his right index finger pointing on the right side of his forehead, for instance, would mean hes thinking of something clever. What that thing is though is uncannily up to all of us, making us not just observers, but active participants in the meme experience.

When you speak of memes, you just feel that its a meme. It takes its own being of being a meme in your mind and it can become as weird or not weird as your imagination wants. Its just what it is for you, shares Vince Nieva, of the meme page Ageless Ateneo Memes, in his talk for Arete 2017: Hayo held last April 5.

The ambiguous quality of Internet memes have been subject to research since 2011. This is what paves the way for a designation of new meanings that creates a sense of flexibility. With every user that is able to add a new twist or plot to the meme, it becomes more amorphous and far-reaching that it connects seemingly disparate ideas into relational entities.

A language of its own

Rao believes that memes are an effect of the post-everything world we live in. He explains the complex intertwinement of ideas in our fast-paced world by emphasizing that there is a distinction between the Harambe meme and the actual slain zoo gorilla. This is an age wherein stories are captured while they are still unfolding.

Rapid media technology is going faster than humans can process, which can warp and stunt the emotional reactions to current news. The shock caused by the 2016 American election results led to the creation of many Donald Trump memes pre- and post-elections, which have since been correlated with other memes. In a world freer than ever before, we are both repressed by our technological creations and freed by them.

The universality of meme sharing on social media platforms has made it difficult to continue a single train of thought. In his contribution to the book The Social Media Reader, Patrick Davison states that viewing and linking…is part of the meme, as is saving and reposting. Ironically, the ability of anyone to take part in the dialogue, by a multitude of means through memes, has orchestrated cacophonies. However, genuine relationships can still be formed in the ruckus.

Memes can prove to be a global inside joke amongst ourselves. They can be a way for us to make [some] sense [out] of confusing events and perhaps even cope with personal lost-ness. Memes are a way to get people to connect, says Alfred Marasigan, an Ateneo Fine Arts lecturer, during his talk in Arete 2017: Hayo.

The practice of meme creation draws up a vague sense of community among those who partake in meme sharing; this creates a mutual understanding of what the meme isand principally, what it can be. People partake in the definition production that sustains the meme vogue for as long as possible until a new one comes along to dominate the cyber sphere, while the former eventually dies out.

As old memes die, strong emotions from people who share the same experience come together to form a new meme. Interestingly, it has also been a medium for cultural and socio-political critique. According to Know Your Meme, which tracks the origin of memes, the Evil Kermit meme is an image of Kermit and his nemesis Constantine, who is dressed like a Star Wars Sith lord and instructs Kermit to perform various indulgent, lazy, selfish and unethical acts.

The meme has been used to point out religions underlying crusade tendencies and even question meme culture itself. Other examples include the nut button, which evolved from having sexual implications to anything that can trigger one to act strongly, Arthurs Fista reaction to situations that are frustrating or infuriating, and many more.

Show and tell

In the technologically-forward society we live in, the way culture is transferred from person to person is changing. Internet memes have revolutionized communication by their nature of transmuting meaning as it spreads. As expressions of our alienation from what our traditional memes can normally keep up with, it is vital to note that we are satirizing something that we cannot fully understand. The world is perpetually moving and memes are constantly angled towards a multitude of narratives.

Memes are like junk food, says Andrew Ty, a lecturer at the Ateneo Department of Communication. Their gratification is immediate and not long-lasting and you end up waiting for the next one very quickly. In the end, [memes] are just one part of this overall tendency nowadays towards viral communication.

A study conducted at the University of Bonn in Germany provided mathematical models to explain the temporality of memes. Internet memes are just fads, but they are ones that persist by coming back with the same vague appeal and rhetoricalbeit in different forms. Their vogue is infectious to the generation as of now. Soon, however, theyll be images of the past.

It may seem hard to see memes as something akin to Edo Japans The Floating World of Ukiyo-e, or even Victorian era post-mortem photographs, but they might just be one of our eras most distinguishing and awestriking depictions. After all, the meme is representative of a world moving faster than we can understand. As its uncanniness pulls us in, it is likely for memes to one day be an iconic portrayal of our generation.

The rest is here:

The matter with memes – The GUIDON

Memes, memes everywhere | SunStar – Sun.Star

MEMESAN ongoing social phenomenon. These often come in the form of funny pictures and texts combined, creating jokes that are passed on across cultures throughout the world wide web.

One cannot possibly open social media or at the very least use the internet without coming across memes. For baby boomers (the generation born before the internet began), these things are mere silly distractions that take up most of generation Ys time. However, the truth is, theres more to it than meets the eye.

To address this misunderstanding between two different generations, Tropical Futures Institute (TFI) held a one night only open-sourced exhibit of memes entitled The Meme Show last Aug. 18. TFI is a loose group of like-minded individuals, an arm of 856 G Gallery that focuses on neo-centric community shows, focused more on bringing people together as emphasized by Anne Amores, assistant gallerist of 856 G Gallery.

Anyone can join. Its a celebration of the meme culture and were trying to elevate memes into an art form which it arguably is, said Zach Aldave, meme enthusiast and a member of TFI.

Memes relate to the Dada movement. The dada began as a reaction to the limitation of art. Dada started like that; its anti-art art. We can relate that to memes, which are satirical social commentaries, he continued. Its a super-mutated form of satire, added Anne.

The interrelation of cultures before was brought about by intercontinental travels and interracial marriages. Back in the day, globally educating oneself was expensive and entailed one to physically expose himself to another culture, but in the present generation this happens in a different way, more accessible and easier.

If you look at the meme and you strip all the unnecessary sh*tall the irony and all the humorit boils down to being just a pure form of social commentary, said Zach.

Memes are cultural symbols or social ideas in the form of jokes, and are virally transmitted through wires without needing one to get out of the house. So despite the fact that one is just staring into the computer screen reading memes, one is actually being educated about the varying cultures from the different corners of the Earth.

As a form of art, memes are also forms of expression. Some memes exhibit dark humor which represents the sector from which it comes, and which a lot of people surprisingly empathize with.

Some memes are also sort of expressing deeply seated feelings like depression. Whats good about memes is that these are like an outlet for a lot of people who are struggling. Usually theyre cloaked in irony or humor, and they empathize with each other through memes, said Anne.

Unknown by many, memes can be traced back in history. It is being brought to light as a science with a study called Memetics. Memetics is a study begun by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. In this study, memes are understood to be cultural genes, carrying cultural information from one person to another and human beings are vehicles of their transmission.

Read more:

Memes, memes everywhere | SunStar – Sun.Star

Memes, memes everywhere | SunStar – Sun.Star

MEMESAN ongoing social phenomenon. These often come in the form of funny pictures and texts combined, creating jokes that are passed on across cultures throughout the world wide web.

One cannot possibly open social media or at the very least use the internet without coming across memes. For baby boomers (the generation born before the internet began), these things are mere silly distractions that take up most of generation Ys time. However, the truth is, theres more to it than meets the eye.

To address this misunderstanding between two different generations, Tropical Futures Institute (TFI) held a one night only open-sourced exhibit of memes entitled The Meme Show last Aug. 18. TFI is a loose group of like-minded individuals, an arm of 856 G Gallery that focuses on neo-centric community shows, focused more on bringing people together as emphasized by Anne Amores, assistant gallerist of 856 G Gallery.

Anyone can join. Its a celebration of the meme culture and were trying to elevate memes into an art form which it arguably is, said Zach Aldave, meme enthusiast and a member of TFI.

Memes relate to the Dada movement. The dada began as a reaction to the limitation of art. Dada started like that; its anti-art art. We can relate that to memes, which are satirical social commentaries, he continued. Its a super-mutated form of satire, added Anne.

The interrelation of cultures before was brought about by intercontinental travels and interracial marriages. Back in the day, globally educating oneself was expensive and entailed one to physically expose himself to another culture, but in the present generation this happens in a different way, more accessible and easier.

If you look at the meme and you strip all the unnecessary sh*tall the irony and all the humorit boils down to being just a pure form of social commentary, said Zach.

Memes are cultural symbols or social ideas in the form of jokes, and are virally transmitted through wires without needing one to get out of the house. So despite the fact that one is just staring into the computer screen reading memes, one is actually being educated about the varying cultures from the different corners of the Earth.

As a form of art, memes are also forms of expression. Some memes exhibit dark humor which represents the sector from which it comes, and which a lot of people surprisingly empathize with.

Some memes are also sort of expressing deeply seated feelings like depression. Whats good about memes is that these are like an outlet for a lot of people who are struggling. Usually theyre cloaked in irony or humor, and they empathize with each other through memes, said Anne.

Unknown by many, memes can be traced back in history. It is being brought to light as a science with a study called Memetics. Memetics is a study begun by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. In this study, memes are understood to be cultural genes, carrying cultural information from one person to another and human beings are vehicles of their transmission.

See the article here:

Memes, memes everywhere | SunStar – Sun.Star

The matter with memes – The GUIDON

Features

by Mikaela T. Bona and Joma M. Roble Published 20 August, 2017 at 1:01 AM from the April 2017 print issue

A meme is both the picture that is worth a thousand words and the few words that can make a thousand picturesor not.

Like hungry brigands waiting by the side of busy trade route, memes ambush and bombard many of us in our own journeys across the Internet, particularly when we travel by social media. They can strike our newsfeeds unexpectedly and boldly. However, unlike bandits out for bounty, Internet memes are seemingly a much more pleasant sight to encounter.

In her 2008 TED talk, memeticist Susan Blackmore explained that memes are bits of information that replicate themselves from person to person through imitation. Memeticists study memetics, a field which explores how ideas propagate among people. Blackmore then continued to say that we human beings have created a new meme: what she calls the technological meme, or the teme for short, which is a meme disseminated via technology. The teme is what is commonly known to be the meme with a comical picture and text shared on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter.

This merry friend of ours still has much to share with us. As it acts as a mirror that can reflect our joys and sorrows in an instant, memes have also become a mouthpiece of a generation in constant flux.

To define it is to kill it

Ethologist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins is the first to coin the term meme in his bestselling book, The Selfish Gene. Deriving from the Greek mimemes and the French mme which mean imitated thing and memory, respectively, he defines the traditional meme as a living structure that transfers from brain to brain in the process of imitation.

According to Dawkins, memes could be tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes, fashions, ways of making pots, or [even ways] of building the arches. He states further that memes and genes are both meant to sustain as well as change humans, but while genes exist for biological evolution, memes, on the other hand, are replicators that allow for cultural transmission throughout generations.

Interestingly, Dawkins did not lay down specificities as to why memes proliferated. Internet memes are steadily reproduced for an unknownand possibly nonexistentreason. As The Atlantic writer Venkatesh Rao puts it, the Internet meme is a meme in the original sense intended by Richard Dawkins: a cultural signifier that spreads simply because it is good at spreading. It pertains to something that is necessarily vague for it to be universally understood.

While a picture is often described to speak a thousand words, the meme goes beyond interrelated ideas and event. A photo of a smirking man with his right index finger pointing on the right side of his forehead, for instance, would mean hes thinking of something clever. What that thing is though is uncannily up to all of us, making us not just observers, but active participants in the meme experience.

When you speak of memes, you just feel that its a meme. It takes its own being of being a meme in your mind and it can become as weird or not weird as your imagination wants. Its just what it is for you, shares Vince Nieva, of the meme page Ageless Ateneo Memes, in his talk for Arete 2017: Hayo held last April 5.

The ambiguous quality of Internet memes have been subject to research since 2011. This is what paves the way for a designation of new meanings that creates a sense of flexibility. With every user that is able to add a new twist or plot to the meme, it becomes more amorphous and far-reaching that it connects seemingly disparate ideas into relational entities.

A language of its own

Rao believes that memes are an effect of the post-everything world we live in. He explains the complex intertwinement of ideas in our fast-paced world by emphasizing that there is a distinction between the Harambe meme and the actual slain zoo gorilla. This is an age wherein stories are captured while they are still unfolding.

Rapid media technology is going faster than humans can process, which can warp and stunt the emotional reactions to current news. The shock caused by the 2016 American election results led to the creation of many Donald Trump memes pre- and post-elections, which have since been correlated with other memes. In a world freer than ever before, we are both repressed by our technological creations and freed by them.

The universality of meme sharing on social media platforms has made it difficult to continue a single train of thought. In his contribution to the book The Social Media Reader, Patrick Davison states that viewing and linking…is part of the meme, as is saving and reposting. Ironically, the ability of anyone to take part in the dialogue, by a multitude of means through memes, has orchestrated cacophonies. However, genuine relationships can still be formed in the ruckus.

Memes can prove to be a global inside joke amongst ourselves. They can be a way for us to make [some] sense [out] of confusing events and perhaps even cope with personal lost-ness. Memes are a way to get people to connect, says Alfred Marasigan, an Ateneo Fine Arts lecturer, during his talk in Arete 2017: Hayo.

The practice of meme creation draws up a vague sense of community among those who partake in meme sharing; this creates a mutual understanding of what the meme isand principally, what it can be. People partake in the definition production that sustains the meme vogue for as long as possible until a new one comes along to dominate the cyber sphere, while the former eventually dies out.

As old memes die, strong emotions from people who share the same experience come together to form a new meme. Interestingly, it has also been a medium for cultural and socio-political critique. According to Know Your Meme, which tracks the origin of memes, the Evil Kermit meme is an image of Kermit and his nemesis Constantine, who is dressed like a Star Wars Sith lord and instructs Kermit to perform various indulgent, lazy, selfish and unethical acts.

The meme has been used to point out religions underlying crusade tendencies and even question meme culture itself. Other examples include the nut button, which evolved from having sexual implications to anything that can trigger one to act strongly, Arthurs Fista reaction to situations that are frustrating or infuriating, and many more.

Show and tell

In the technologically-forward society we live in, the way culture is transferred from person to person is changing. Internet memes have revolutionized communication by their nature of transmuting meaning as it spreads. As expressions of our alienation from what our traditional memes can normally keep up with, it is vital to note that we are satirizing something that we cannot fully understand. The world is perpetually moving and memes are constantly angled towards a multitude of narratives.

Memes are like junk food, says Andrew Ty, a lecturer at the Ateneo Department of Communication. Their gratification is immediate and not long-lasting and you end up waiting for the next one very quickly. In the end, [memes] are just one part of this overall tendency nowadays towards viral communication.

A study conducted at the University of Bonn in Germany provided mathematical models to explain the temporality of memes. Internet memes are just fads, but they are ones that persist by coming back with the same vague appeal and rhetoricalbeit in different forms. Their vogue is infectious to the generation as of now. Soon, however, theyll be images of the past.

It may seem hard to see memes as something akin to Edo Japans The Floating World of Ukiyo-e, or even Victorian era post-mortem photographs, but they might just be one of our eras most distinguishing and awestriking depictions. After all, the meme is representative of a world moving faster than we can understand. As its uncanniness pulls us in, it is likely for memes to one day be an iconic portrayal of our generation.

See the article here:

The matter with memes – The GUIDON

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Features

by Mikaela T. Bona and Joma M. Roble Published 20 August, 2017 at 1:01 AM from the April 2017 print issue

A meme is both the picture that is worth a thousand words and the few words that can make a thousand picturesor not.

Like hungry brigands waiting by the side of busy trade route, memes ambush and bombard many of us in our own journeys across the Internet, particularly when we travel by social media. They can strike our newsfeeds unexpectedly and boldly. However, unlike bandits out for bounty, Internet memes are seemingly a much more pleasant sight to encounter.

In her 2008 TED talk, memeticist Susan Blackmore explained that memes are bits of information that replicate themselves from person to person through imitation. Memeticists study memetics, a field which explores how ideas propagate among people. Blackmore then continued to say that we human beings have created a new meme: what she calls the technological meme, or the teme for short, which is a meme disseminated via technology. The teme is what is commonly known to be the meme with a comical picture and text shared on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter.

This merry friend of ours still has much to share with us. As it acts as a mirror that can reflect our joys and sorrows in an instant, memes have also become a mouthpiece of a generation in constant flux.

To define it is to kill it

Ethologist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins is the first to coin the term meme in his bestselling book, The Selfish Gene. Deriving from the Greek mimemes and the French mme which mean imitated thing and memory, respectively, he defines the traditional meme as a living structure that transfers from brain to brain in the process of imitation.

According to Dawkins, memes could be tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes, fashions, ways of making pots, or [even ways] of building the arches. He states further that memes and genes are both meant to sustain as well as change humans, but while genes exist for biological evolution, memes, on the other hand, are replicators that allow for cultural transmission throughout generations.

Interestingly, Dawkins did not lay down specificities as to why memes proliferated. Internet memes are steadily reproduced for an unknownand possibly nonexistentreason. As The Atlantic writer Venkatesh Rao puts it, the Internet meme is a meme in the original sense intended by Richard Dawkins: a cultural signifier that spreads simply because it is good at spreading. It pertains to something that is necessarily vague for it to be universally understood.

While a picture is often described to speak a thousand words, the meme goes beyond interrelated ideas and event. A photo of a smirking man with his right index finger pointing on the right side of his forehead, for instance, would mean hes thinking of something clever. What that thing is though is uncannily up to all of us, making us not just observers, but active participants in the meme experience.

When you speak of memes, you just feel that its a meme. It takes its own being of being a meme in your mind and it can become as weird or not weird as your imagination wants. Its just what it is for you, shares Vince Nieva, of the meme page Ageless Ateneo Memes, in his talk for Arete 2017: Hayo held last April 5.

The ambiguous quality of Internet memes have been subject to research since 2011. This is what paves the way for a designation of new meanings that creates a sense of flexibility. With every user that is able to add a new twist or plot to the meme, it becomes more amorphous and far-reaching that it connects seemingly disparate ideas into relational entities.

A language of its own

Rao believes that memes are an effect of the post-everything world we live in. He explains the complex intertwinement of ideas in our fast-paced world by emphasizing that there is a distinction between the Harambe meme and the actual slain zoo gorilla. This is an age wherein stories are captured while they are still unfolding.

Rapid media technology is going faster than humans can process, which can warp and stunt the emotional reactions to current news. The shock caused by the 2016 American election results led to the creation of many Donald Trump memes pre- and post-elections, which have since been correlated with other memes. In a world freer than ever before, we are both repressed by our technological creations and freed by them.

The universality of meme sharing on social media platforms has made it difficult to continue a single train of thought. In his contribution to the book The Social Media Reader, Patrick Davison states that viewing and linking…is part of the meme, as is saving and reposting. Ironically, the ability of anyone to take part in the dialogue, by a multitude of means through memes, has orchestrated cacophonies. However, genuine relationships can still be formed in the ruckus.

Memes can prove to be a global inside joke amongst ourselves. They can be a way for us to make [some] sense [out] of confusing events and perhaps even cope with personal lost-ness. Memes are a way to get people to connect, says Alfred Marasigan, an Ateneo Fine Arts lecturer, during his talk in Arete 2017: Hayo.

The practice of meme creation draws up a vague sense of community among those who partake in meme sharing; this creates a mutual understanding of what the meme isand principally, what it can be. People partake in the definition production that sustains the meme vogue for as long as possible until a new one comes along to dominate the cyber sphere, while the former eventually dies out.

As old memes die, strong emotions from people who share the same experience come together to form a new meme. Interestingly, it has also been a medium for cultural and socio-political critique. According to Know Your Meme, which tracks the origin of memes, the Evil Kermit meme is an image of Kermit and his nemesis Constantine, who is dressed like a Star Wars Sith lord and instructs Kermit to perform various indulgent, lazy, selfish and unethical acts.

The meme has been used to point out religions underlying crusade tendencies and even question meme culture itself. Other examples include the nut button, which evolved from having sexual implications to anything that can trigger one to act strongly, Arthurs Fista reaction to situations that are frustrating or infuriating, and many more.

Show and tell

In the technologically-forward society we live in, the way culture is transferred from person to person is changing. Internet memes have revolutionized communication by their nature of transmuting meaning as it spreads. As expressions of our alienation from what our traditional memes can normally keep up with, it is vital to note that we are satirizing something that we cannot fully understand. The world is perpetually moving and memes are constantly angled towards a multitude of narratives.

Memes are like junk food, says Andrew Ty, a lecturer at the Ateneo Department of Communication. Their gratification is immediate and not long-lasting and you end up waiting for the next one very quickly. In the end, [memes] are just one part of this overall tendency nowadays towards viral communication.

A study conducted at the University of Bonn in Germany provided mathematical models to explain the temporality of memes. Internet memes are just fads, but they are ones that persist by coming back with the same vague appeal and rhetoricalbeit in different forms. Their vogue is infectious to the generation as of now. Soon, however, theyll be images of the past.

It may seem hard to see memes as something akin to Edo Japans The Floating World of Ukiyo-e, or even Victorian era post-mortem photographs, but they might just be one of our eras most distinguishing and awestriking depictions. After all, the meme is representative of a world moving faster than we can understand. As its uncanniness pulls us in, it is likely for memes to one day be an iconic portrayal of our generation.

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On Memetics

Mutations and recombination in cultural evolution Another claim in the recent Creanzaa, Kolodny and Feldman document (Cultural evolutionary theory: How culture evolves and why it matters) is my topic today. They say: Unlike in genetics, where mutations are the source of new traits, cultural innovations can occur via multiple processes and at multiple scales To start with, this is rather obviously not true: classically, mutations and recombination are the source of new traits in evolutionary theory. However, are the authors correct to claim that these processes need augmenting in cultural evolution? The answer, I think is: not if you conceive of them properly in the first place. Let me explain.

To start with, let’s look at what the authors claim are the new processes that go beyond mutation in the cultural domain. They give two examples. One is individual trial-and-error learning. They also say that:

What about trial-and-error learning, though? Surely there is no leaning in genetics. Trial-and-error learning is a composite process. It starts with trials, which are often mutations of previous trials. Then there is the “error” part, which does not involve generating new variation at all, but rather is based on discarding information based on its success. In other words, it is selection, not mutation or recombination. By breaking trial-and-error learning down into its component parts, it is found to be a composite product of mutation, recombination and selection – not some entirely new process demanding fundamental additions to evolutionary theory. Skinner realised this, by formulating his learning theory while using evolutionary terminology (such as “extinction”). Many others have followed in his footsteps, conceiving of learning in evolutionary terms.

Isn’t this a matter of terminology? With these author’s definition of ‘mutation’ they are right, but with my definition of ‘mutation’, I am right? Yes, but terminology isn’t a case of words meaning whatever you want them to mean. Scientific terminology should carve nature at the joints. Definitions of ‘mutation’ and ‘recombination’ that apply equally to both organic and cultural evolution are useful, I submit. Less general ones are not so useful.

To summarize, it is possible to conceive of mutation and recombination in a way that make them encompass all sources of variation. Mutations are sources of variation based on one piece of inherited information. Recombination is a source of variation based on two-or-more pieces of inherited information. In theory, it might appear that there’s one other possible process: creation – variation based in inherited inforation which comes out of nowhere. One might give the origin of life as an example of genes arising from non-genes. However, we don’t really need this proposed ‘creation’ process. Information never really comes out of nowhere. There’s a law of conservation of information – parallel to the laws of conservation of energy and conservation of charge. We can see this in the microsopic reversibility of physics – information is neither created nor destroyed.

I claim then, that mutation and recombination have it covered. The additions to evolutionary theory proposed by these authors are not necessary. They are unnecessaary complications, which evolutionary biologists should soundly reject as not contributing anything to the basic theory.

The caption reads: “Cultural transmission is more complex than genetic transmission and may occur on short timescales, even within a single generation.”

This diagram is profoundly misleading. It is based on a view of cultural evolution that doesn’t include symbiology. A genes vs culture diagram that includes cultural symbionts on one side, but not genetic symbionts on the other is not showing the whole picture. Humans share DNA between individuals – in the form of bacteria, viruses, yeasts, fruits and vegetables – very much as they share culture between individuals.

Framing the diagram as “Human genes” vs “Human culture” is not comparing like with like. Bacterial and viral genes are not part of the human genome (unless you count the 10% of the human genome that is descended from viral genomes) – but human culture isn’t part of it either. On the left, symbionts are excluded, while on the right they are included. It is an unfair comparison which leads to the confusion propagated by the caption. In fact parasite evolution can happen within a single host generation in both the cultural and organic realms. Contrary to the spirit of the diagram you can get genes from peers in both cultural and organic evolution. They are parasite genes, or symbiont genes in both cases. Cultural evolution does not differ from organic evolution in this respect. The idea that in culture you can get genes from many sources, while in organic evolution you only get them from your parents is a popular misconception about the topic.

The whole document has a whole section on “Culture and Microbes”. However there is no mention of the idea that culture behaves similarly to microbes and other symbionts. The man-machne symbiosis, for example is not mentioned. Yet symbiosis is the very basis of the whole field according to memetics, one of the very few symbiosis-aware treatments of cultural evolution out there.

The neglect of symbiology in academic cultural evolution mirrors its neglect in the study of organic evolution – until the 1960s. However, cultural evolution’s scientific lag means that cultural evolution is far behind, and few academics have even a basic understanding the relevance of symbiosis to the evolution of culture. Maybe these folk never read Cloak (1975) and Dawkins (1976).

I think the history of this misconception of the whole field in academia is fascinating. Why has it lasted for so long and why has it not yet been corrected? I don’t have all the answers but I think the origin is fairly clear. Anthropologists wanted a complex theory of cultural evolution, to signal their skills to other academics and prospective students. They may also have wanted to distance themselves from previous attempts to marry evolution and culture. Any mention of biology turns most anthropologists off. Artificially weakening the influence of biology in the theory may have made the theory more palatable to other anthropologists. Still, science is a self-correcting enterprise. Eventually, the truth will out.

The exact same reply works for cultural evolution: to make testable predictions, use expected fitnesses.

I have seen much the same objection raised to the Price equation and Hamilton’s rule. These have been criticised as tautologies by Martin Nowak and Edward Wilson among others. This criticism ought to be dead these days, but like a zombie, it refuses to lie down.

Dennett argues that we should make machines into our slaves and keep them that way. IMO, machine slavery will not be a stable state once machines become much more intelligent than humans. As a plan for keeping humans in the loop, machine slavery just won’t work in the long term. If we try going down that path, after a while, humans will become functionally redundant, and some time after that they will mostly disappear.

IMHO, a better plan is to work on deepening the man-machine symbiosis – and “become the machines”. Of course, that plan could also fail – but I think that it is less likely to fail catastrophically and it should provide better continuity between the eras. Machine slavery in various forms is inevitable in the short term. However unlike Dennett, I don’t think it is any sort of solution. It won’t prevent man-machine competition for resources in the way that Dennett appears to think. We have tried slavery before and have first-hand experience of how it can destabilize and fail to last.

Among my targets are proponents of the apocalypse. Two modern forms seem especially prominent. One is the idea that some combination of global warming, pollution, overpopulation and resource depletion will lead to environmental catastrophe. The other is the idea that machine intelligence, biotechnology, nanotechnology and robotics is likely to lead to human extinction.

In a few cases the same individuals engage in fearmongering on multiple topics. For example, Stephen Hawking has warned about the dangers of climate change, runaway artifical intelligence and alien invasions. On climate he has said:

On machine intelligence he has advised that:

He has also cautioned on the topic of alien contact arguing that aliens:

Another celebrity serial fearmongerer is Elon Musk. He’s expressed similar concerns about the climate change and runaway machine intelligence.

I identify these types of sentiment as consisting largely of “attention-seeking fearmongering”. This typically consists of associating yourself with a massive future catastrophe. Warnings may be given and sometimes advice about catastrophe avoidance is offered. As catastrophe alerts propagate you are promoted too – via a kind of memetic hitchhiking.

Some of the early proponents of this type of self-promotional technique applied to machine intelligence were Kevin Warwick and Hugo De Garis. Kevin Warwick wrote a 1997 book about how machines were going to take over the world, titled “March of the Machines: Why the New Race of Robots Will Rule the World”. De Garis later wrote the book The Artilect War: Cosmists Vs. Terrans: A Bitter Controversy Concerning Whether Humanity Should Build Godlike Massively Intelligent Machines. However, neither author was very competent at fearmongering. Their efforts were pioneering but relatively ineffectual. These days, fearmongering is big business – with trillions of dollars being spent on global warming avoidance as a result. Many modern oranizations specialize in fearmongering.

I identify fearmongering as being a morally-dubious marketing technique. Part of the problem is that humans are naturally paranoid – due to the “sabre-tooth tiger at the watering hole” phenomenon. Our ancestors lived in a dangerous environment. These days, our environment is typically much, much safer. However we are still wired up as though the sabre-tooth tigers are still around. We are naturally paranoid. Fearmongering exploits human paranoia – typically for personal gain. It seems like a low form of manipulation to me.

Fearmongering is typically used as a type of negaative advertising. Negaative advertising is often seen in American political campaigns. There’s also a long history of fearmongering in IT. There, the technique is often known as spreading Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt – or F.U.D. for short.

There’s a children’s story about the perils of “attention-seeking fearmongering”: the boy who cried wolf. There, the moral of the story is that false warnings can damage your reputation. My message here is a bit different. I am not interested in advising the fearmongers to stop using their techniques. Rather I want to help everyone else to do a better job of ignoring them. One part of this is simply understanding what is going on. An interesting resource on this topic is Dan Gardner’s Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear. The book is also known as “The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Shouldn’t-and Put Ourselves in Greater Danger”. For my part, I would like to contribute the terminology in the title of this post: “attention-seeking fearmongering”. Naming things can make it easier for people to think about them.

Of course, some of the symbionts will be parasites. While also playing a role in pulling their hosts together, too many parasites are bad, and eusocial creatures often go to considerable lengths to eliminate them – with antibiotic compounds, grooming rituals, hairlessness, and highly-active immune systems. It seems likely that opposing selection pressures from parasites will form part of the “overcrowding” forces that eventually halt the progress towards greater levels of sociality.

Humans can hardly be classifed as being eusocial yet. As Matt Ridley sometimes jests, even the English don’t let the Queen do all their reproducing for them. However humans are ultrasocial and seem to be headed towards full-blown eusociality with functional “individuals” forming at higher levels than human individuals – such as companies and organizations. We also have cultural eusociality. We may not be genetically eusocual but parts of our cultural heritage is memetically eusocial. Indeed some of it consists of multiple identical clones produced in factories (for example, think dollar bills or mobile phones).

Because they live in close quarters with one another ultrasocial creatures are vulnerable to parasite transmission. As a result they often have highly active immune systems to compensate. Humans exhibit one prominent trait associate with parasite defense – they are hairless. Over time, our hairlessness has been the topic of much speculation, but it seems fairly clear that a significant part of the story is that being hairless allows us to pick parasites off ourselves and each other, and denies the parasites shelter. Of course, parasites can still shelter in clothes and bedding – but those can be discarded.

My purpose in this post is to draw attention to the corresponding memetic phenomenon. Memes are drawing us together to promote their own reproductive ends – and as we grow closer, memetic parasites are likely to become a bigger problem – as the most virulent strains of memes from all over the planet reach the most vulnerable humans in each society. As a resut, fertility has already plummeted in places like Japan and South Korea. It seems likely that humans will respond with heightened immune responses – both genetic and memetic. Memetic defenses include education, skepticism and memetic vaccines targeted against specific problems, such as pyramid schemes. Memetic probiotics can be used to fight bad memes with good memes. We have hospitals to help fight organic diseases, and there will probably be an upswing of simiar rehab facilities designed to treat cultural infections. In the past exorcisms heped to serve the function of casting out bad memes, though these days we have more secular versions – such as weight watchers, alcoholics anonymous, smoking rehab, drug rehab, gymnasiums and the samaritans. Quarrantine is smetimes used to fight organic diseases – and there are similar cultural ohenomena – including “gag” orders, DCMA take-down notices and imprisonment.

In memetics (and genetics), it is quite common to use “vehicular” metaphors when describing these. So, for example, we have:

What is the difference between hijacking and hitchhiking? It is partly one of consent – a hitchhiker has permission to ride in the vehicle while the hijacker does not. Outcomes also differ – a hitchhiker rarely damages the vechicle or its owner, while a hijacker often does so. Another difference is control – hitchhikers rarely alter the destination, rarely control the vehicle and rarely eject the owner – while hijackers fairly often do these things.

With these differences in mind, it seems fairly clear that hijacking and hitchhiking are probably different enough concepts for memetic hitchhiking …and… memetic hijacking to coexist.

At first glance, the idea of the rider having “permission” to ride in the vehicle seems irrelevant in the context of memes and genes. However, we can conveniently substitute whether the guest rider is beneficial or not – on the grounds that deleterious riders would not normally be granted permission to ride – if we “agentify” the memes or genes involved.

This gets us on to the topic of usage in genetics. There, “genetic hitchhiking”, is standard terminology – and hardly anyone uses the term “genetic hijacking”. However if the difference between hitchhiking and hijacking is the sign of the fitness difference the guest rider makes, then maybe geneticists should start doing so.

As you can see, I have warmed up to the “hijacking” terminology. That the contraction memejacking exists is another point in its favor in my opinion. It is true that it is a significant problem that there’s no “genejacking” – but maybe there should be.

The first thing to say is that it isn’t just memes genes and quemes – Darwinian dymanics arise on multiple levels within the brain, for, for example, signals in the brain are copied whenever an axon divides, and are subect to selection and variation – producing a kind of neuronal spike Darwinism. Another type of Darwinian dynamics in the brain arises as a result of competition for resources between branching axon and dendrite tips. ideas are also copied with variation and selection within the brain – including ideas that don’t normally qualify as memes because they were not the product of social learning.

One way in which we can expect the dynamics to differ from meme-gene coevolution is that culture is new on the scene, while the other kinds of psychological and neurological Darwinism have been going on for many millions of years. There will have been more time for the genes to adapt and reach a steady state equalibrium with these other Darwinian processes – while meme-gene coevolution is clearly out of balance and is still shifting.

An important way to understand the results of evolutionary processes is to consider their optimization targets. When there’s coevolution there are usually multiple optimization targets, and one needs to understand how they interact by considering the power and speed of the optimization processes involved. Quantum Darwinism looks as though it could be fast, which means that we should take it seriously. Assuming that we reject Copenhagen-style versions of Quantum Darwinism in which branches of the wavefunction collapse and die, quantum Darwinism is a kind of splitting only, quasi-Darwinism – where differential reproductive succees in important while differential death is not. With this perspective in mind, the “goal” of quantum evolution appears to be to put us in the most split (and most splitting) worlds. One way to understand the implications of this is to take a thermodynamic perspective. World splitting is populatly associated with irreversible thermodynamic effects. What that means is that quantum Darwinism can be expected to behave like other kinds of Darwinism – in terms of maximizing entropy production.

I think this thermodynamic perspective helps get a handle on the significance of quantum Darwinism in the brain. If the brain ran hot, there would be lots of scope for quantum Darwinism in the brain, while if it runs cool, there’s less scope for quantum Darwinism to operate. Most agree that the brain is on the cool side – considering what it is doing.

I think that genes are likely to be optimizing for cool brains, and brains that optimise for gene-coded functions. This may often pit them against quantum Darwinism in the brain. A cool brain is good news for quantum computation theories of mental function (fewer thermodynamic irreversible events means less chance of decoherence) – although those look implausible to me on other grounds. However a cool brain doesn’t help the argument for quantum Darwinism being important in the brain.

Evolutionary processes liek to “harness” each other, to bend their optimization targets towards each other. Because quantum Darwinism in the brain has coevolved for millions of years with the genes, they have had a long time to find ways to harness the power of quantum Darwinism. However, the classical way for one evolutionary process to harness another one is by altering its fitness function. The genes might find it hard to affect the fitness function of quantum Darwinism since that is tied up with fundamental physics. That is going to make harnessing its effects more challenging. Another potential way for one evolutionary process to harness the effects of another one is by influencing the variants that it chooses between. However, this mechanism seems weaker and less useful.

My conclusions here are pretty tentative, but the picture I am seeing here is that the brain might not be able to make much use of quantum Darwinism because it is an alien selection process whose optimization target can’t easily be controlled. In which case, the brain might be best off attempting to minimize its influence. This would be a rather boring conclusion. Mutualism and harnessing would be a much more interesting result. However, I stress again that it is somewhat uncertain. Maybe the brain can make some use of the power of quantum Darwinism by influencing the things it selects between. Or maybe evolution is smarter than I am and has found ways to make use of it that I haven’t thought of.

The last concept is the one that this post is about. I think of it as being “ecological success”. Kudzu has it. Ants have it. Islam has it. The decimal system has it. I think one reason this type of metric is not more popular and better-known is that there’s no consensus regarding the best way to measure it. A thermodynamic metric seems attractive to me: since resources can all (in principle) be manufactured from available energy. Another possible metric involves weighing the systems involved – to measure their mass. This is sometimes done when measuring the extent to which humans have conquered the globe, for example.

A sister concept is “ecological dominance”. It refers to extreme levels of success – where competitors are either obliterated or marginalized.

These concepts can also be applied within particular niches. Entities which are doing badly overall may be succeeding in or dominating their particular niche.

If anything, attempting to apply these concepts to cultural evolution is even harder than with organic systems. Gene-meme coevolution results in entanglement in terms of gene and meme products, which makes weighing them and calculating the energy flux through them more challenging. The most common metrics used in cultural evolution are a bit different. “Mindshare” is a common concept which is used to measure cultural popularity within a cultural niche. Assuming that a meme is either possessed by a host, or not, and assuming whether they have it or not is measurable, the mindshare of a meme can be measured for a given population. Another common metric that is used is US dollars. Cultural products sometimes have monetary value, and sometimes that can be calculated or estimated. However, some of the most common memes are free. It seems as though these memes would be unfairly disadvantaged by value-based metrics of popularity. The internet has brought with it some other common popularity metrics: views, links, clicks and likes. Unfortunately the supporting data is not always publicly available. This data is beginning to be used by scientists.

See more here:

On Memetics

About | Applied Memetics LLC

Mission

Applied Memetics LLC is a professional services company dedicated to integrating and delivering best practice communication and information solutions in pre-conflict, conflict, or post-conflict areas. We create and execute strategic communications and information operations that are grounded in conceptual clarity, rigorous methodology, and on-the-ground experience.

Applied Memetics LLC is focused solely on developing engineered influence for clients seeking to alter their tactical or strategic operational environments. Innovation and cultural proficiency set us apart from competitors. From new media to traditional media to dynamic engineering of social networks: we exploit and leverage perceptions to create new realities on the ground.

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Alt-Right? No, the Far Right. – Patheos (blog)

Its all going off in the US, thats for sure. But something that has been bugging me, and many others, is the use of the term alt-right. This seems to be aterm to describe the rise of the right amongst social media and popular culture that we have seen over the last ten years or so. What this does, however, is lend an air of credibility to the views, people and outlets that is unwarranted.

The intro on Wikipediais perhaps worth posting here:

Thealt-right, oralternative right, is a loosely defined group ofpeoplewithfar-rightideologieswho rejectmainstream conservatismin favor ofwhite nationalism, principally in theUnited States, but also to a lesser degree inCanadaandEurope.[1][2][3][4]Paul Gottfriedis the first person to use the term alternative right, when referring specifically to developments within American right-wing politics, in 2008.[5]The term has since gained wide currency with the rise of the so-called alt-right.White supremacist[6]Richard Spencercoined the term in 2010 in reference to a movement centered onwhite nationalism, and has been accused by some media publications of doing so to excuse overtracism,white supremacism, andneo-Nazism.[1][7]The term drew considerable media attention and controversy during and after the2016 US presidential election.[8]

Alt-rightbeliefshave been described asisolationist,protectionist,antisemitic, and white supremacist,[9][10][11]frequently overlapping withNeo-Nazism,[12][13][14]nativismandIslamophobia,[15][16][17][18][19]antifeminismandhomophobia,[12][20][21][22]right-wing populism,[23][24]and theneoreactionary movement.[9][25]The concept has further been associated with multiple groups fromAmerican nationalists, neo-monarchists,mens rights advocates, and the2016 presidential campaignofDonald Trump.[15][24][25][26][27]

The alt-right has its roots onInternetwebsitessuch as4chanand8chan, where anonymous members create and useInternet memesto express their ideologies.[9][14][28]It is difficult to tell how much of what people write in these venues is serious and how much is intended to provoke outrage.[23][29]Members of the alt-right use websites likeAlternative Right,Twitter,Breitbart, andRedditto convey their message.[30][31]Alt-right postings generally support Donald Trump[32][33][34][35]and opposeimmigration,multiculturalismandpolitical correctness.[13][20][36]

The alt-right has also had a significant influence on conservative thought in the United States, such as theSailer Strategyfor winning political support, along with having close ties to theTrump Administration. It has been listed as a key reason for Trumps win in the 2016 election.[37][38]The Trump administration includes several figures who are associated with the alt-right, such as White House Chief StrategistSteve Bannon.[39]In 2016, Bannon described Breitbart as the platform for the alt-right, with the goal of promoting the ideology.[40]

This reminds me of how UKIP ended up coming to prominence its a sort of evolution of ideas. I wrote about this back in 2014:

And what happened was this. UKIP busted the political landscape apart. They stole votes off most everyone and they went from zero to, well, hero in one night.

But how can a party which is effectively predicated upon fear of the foreigner and thinly, so very thinly, veiled racism become so successful in such a short time? This is my theory.

Firstly, there is the power of themere exposure effect. This is the fundamental concept of advertising whereby the brain finds things acceptable or even desirable through merely being exposed to the ideas. The more exposed, the more acceptable. UKIP have had a tremendous amount of airtime, with leader Nigel Farage doing the rounds on panel shows, radio shows and many news items. This is how creationism has prevailed, using the Wedge Strategy to get a foot in the door, get airtime, social media time, oxygen. That oxygen facilitates acceptability and then desirability. That was one of the arguments against having Bill Nye argue against Ken Ham about creationism.

Secondly, their success comes down to the evolution of ideas. Memetics is the theory that ideas are analagous to the evolution of biological organisms, with success of the organism surviving in its environment most successfully when it adapts characteristics to its environment. This survivability works just as well with ideas. Ideas which prevail have survival mechanisms and adapt to their environments. Think Christianity here. It has thoroughly evolved over 2000 years to adapt to society, morality, technology and economics. Islam, on the other hand, has developed the characteristic of threatening apostates with death. That works well, too.

Well, the history of the far right in Britain has gone from the National Front through to being reinvented into the British National Party (BNP) through to another reinvention (though the BNP still exist) in the form of UKIP (UKIPers might not like that realisation). What was going on in the early days of the right-wing extremist movement was that the ideas were not adapting well enough to the environments; they were too distasteful. The right-wing extremist ideology was just too much in the National Front to gather any traction with the general public. Then the BNP came along, and tried to be more respectable and appeal more widely. Some might say it was a slightly more (!) chilled version of the NF, appealing to more of the wider population. Ideas adapting. But still not becoming successful or acceptable enough.

And then UKIP, with its pseudo-political approach of getting out of Europe, has finally nailed it. Its just acceptable enough for people to not be afraid of saying in public, Yeah, I voted UKIP. I think we need to get out of Europe as a way of saying, Yeah, Polish, Romanian and those sodding Muslims can do one!

Now I didnt want to caricatureallUKIP voters in this way, but I stand by the idea that UKIP became the acceptable face of racism and xenophobia, playing into peoples fears.

In the same way, in the US, media outlets like Breitbart, TheBlaze, Circa, The Daily Caller and any other number of outlets are presenting themselves as fertile ground out of which confidence and brazen admitting of nefarious view can bear fruit. It is little surprise, then, that after years of allowing such outletsfree reign to spread their hate, the hate manifests itself in real ways. Thats the regrettable corollary of freedom of speech.

The terrible sights of Charlottesville over the last few days show that the old school far right has not died off, but has been simmering, and some have renamed it the alt-right. This merely disguises the ugly reality of the traditional far right and dresses it up in an air of acceptability and modern credibility.

This is unwarranted.

Dont be fooled by new-fangled terminology. The is the far right, and so many of these outlets peddle such extremist views.

I am disheartened by the sheer scope and spread of such views and how they have been able to gain footholds in modern popular culture. The internet is great, but it also houses torrents of distaste and hate.

Alt-right? Nah. Its still the far right, the dangerous extreme. Lets not give it more oxygen than it deserves.

Continued here:

Alt-Right? No, the Far Right. – Patheos (blog)

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