How to Build Narrative Power and Co-Create a Just Future – Resilience

This article is based on content fromSeeds, Stories, Strategies: A Climate Justice Web Series, which took place in July 2020 as part of a collaboration between the Center for Cultural Power, Center for Story-Based Strategy, Movement Generation, Movement Strategy Center, and Race Forward.

Before we can set to work tearing down old systems and building up better ones, we first have to imagine where we want to go. Material liberation requires a mental liberation, and imagination is a powerful tool to free ourselves from repressive cultural narratives and social power structures.

Heres an exercise you can try for yourself: Imagine youre in the year 2030 looking back on 2020 and remembering societys response to the twin crises of the pandemic and systemic racism. Then describe what happened by starting with, Remember when and follow it with a sentence about a challenging moment from 2020. For the next step, imagine how these issues were overcome, again using the Remember when framing. Some examples include: how people demanded change, communities organized and protested, politicians enacted policy solutions to climate crises, and companies incorporated social and environmental impact into their bottom lines.

Once youve started imagining, you can begin building a narrative strategy. The framing of a narrative is an intentional and strategic choice, determining who is in and who is out of the stories we tell and the approaches we propose. It is important for social movements to introduce their own framing because if we dont tell our own stories, others will create them for us.

For a pertinent example of the importance of framing, we can look at media coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, when articles labeled individuals as looters or survivors depending on race. In this way, framing provides a casting of characters and impacts how audiences name movements and their actions. A more concrete organizational case is the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, which made an explicit choice to move away from a narrow anti-pipeline focus toward the more general environmental justice and water is life narrative.

ByPax Ahimsa Gethenvia Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Leveraging the importance of framing enables us to reach beyond using magic words in a vacuum, and focus instead on so-called points of intervention. This, in turn, gives us a framework for understanding where to take action in a system we are trying to change, and is necessary in recognizing the structure of our problem rather than just analyzing a single issue. Points of intervention help us determine how to be strategic in deploying our stories. They provide insight about how and where we can challenge the dominant narratives that shape social mythologies, such as the bootstrap myth of capitalist ethics. More practically, they are points of vulnerabilities where dominant narratives are already weak.

At points of intervention, its useful to show stories rather than tell them, and to use storytelling to disrupt and reframe existing narratives. Dominant narratives can be further broken down in terms of their points of production, points of decision, points of destruction, points of consumption, and points of assumption and we can use our analysis to shape strategies for optimal effect.

Humans are narrative driven, and the currency of narrative is meaning, not facts. Take the Big Dipper, a stellar constellation that is not actually shaped like a pan but nonetheless assigned meaning by humans, making it useful for navigation and cultural memetics. Activists often focus on facts, but ultimately it is our human connection with meaning that moves people.

Narrative power is the power to dictate norms and values in society. This includes the ability to shape whats possible and determine whats politically realistic, and even to stretch beyond the possible and establish what is inevitable.

If a story is an individual star, a narrative is a constellation an aggregate of stories that show us a pattern. To continue the analogy, culture is like a galaxy, featuring a wide range of complexity and movement and also the context that allows us to make sense of our stories. The purpose of narrative and cultural strategy for justice is to build power for impacted communities. While social movements generate narratives, the work of cultural strategists is to make these narratives sustainable for long-term cultural change.

The Big Dipper byjpstanleyvia Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Narratives and culture are epistemic in that they frame how we know things. The real praxis of narrative and cultural strategy work therefore involves teaming up with cultural producers in order to re-shape perceptions of reality. This brings us back full circle to the power of radical imagination: narrative and culture are essential to shifting material conditions.

To do so, we have to strategize at each level of story, narrative, and culture. A good example is the #MeToo movement, which can be thought of as an aggregate of narratives coupled with a social proliferation mechanism (the internet) that enables pressure from social action over multiple spheres of society including politics, law, media, and entertainment.

The true power of storytelling lies in our ability to bring our audience into a shared vision of change. As Antoine de Saint Exupry wrote: If you want to build a ship, dont drum up people to collect wood and dont assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

Crafting powerful stories requires a solid understanding of the common elements of story-telling: conflict, characters, imagery, foreshadowing, and underlying assumptions. These elements can be used to show how power is upheld or how countervailing power can be built up.

These fundamental elements can be aligned to construct a narrative pyramid composed of a message, a story, a narrative, and a deep narrative. While messages are ephemeral, humans connect and remember stories and narrative thanks to the basic elements of story-building. Stories make sense through the context of a narrative which ultimately proposes responsibility and action, bringing our audience into a shared vision sustaining a deeper narrative to change underlying assumptions.

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How to Build Narrative Power and Co-Create a Just Future - Resilience

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!!

Visit link:

Understanding Memetics - SCP Foundation

Memetics – Dr Susan Blackmore

Should Blackmores theory turn out to be true, theres little doubt she will be remembered as one of the great thinkers of the 20th century. Barry Lyons reviewing The Meme Machine

Je suis Charlie and why


My discussionwith Jordan Peterson on Premier Christian Radio, part of The Big Conversation video series from Unbelievable? Do we need God to make sense of life?. 8 June 2018

Interview with Mel van Dusen at his home in California, onGenes, memes and tremes, 08 August 2017

Dan Dennett has just sent me a link to his latest lecture at the Santa Fe Institute and theres lots about memes. June 2017.

Susan Blackmore talks to a student group at CogNovos summer school ColLaboratoire (University of Plymouth), on Consciousness in treme machines.Inspired by the students question Could the Internet be conscious? 19.08.2016 watch on Vimeo

Panel discussion, Richard Dawkins: The Rational Revolutionary, from Intelligence Squared, London 14 July 2016Podcast

AI is already evolving beyond our control the implications of a third replicator in CommentisFree September 2015

Are we here for a reason? Genes, Memes and Tremes on TV in Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, May 2015 (The whole programme is 43 minutes long, my interview is from20:21 to 26:00)

Twitterbrain how analyses of viral memes is helping track information spreading in the brain.

and a must-watch video This video will make you angry is a brilliant rant about thought germs. What a shame it mentions the word meme only once.

The Eye of the Tremes Watch our New Video. This is based on the idea that the phones, computers and servers we are building are becoming interconnected like neurons in a brain. But this treme machine has no eyes. Or does it? With the advent of drones we may have found the eye of the tremes.

Tremes v temes

I have had such trouble with the term temes that I am trying tremes instead. I am sorry if this is confusing but I hope it might help.

100 walked out of my lecture on memes. On the RDF website with hundreds of comments. Aug 2014

Practical Memetics: A huge new website by Martin Farncombe devoted to understanding memes in business and organisations, includes extracts from my work.

Paper on memes in science Kuhn et al 2014 Inheritance patterns in citation networks reveal scientific memes

A fun article on Internet memes in the Virgin Australia Inflight Mag -refers to the burgeoning field of memetics!

The third replicator

To find out more about temes, watch my TED talknow podcast in English and with a choice of subtitles in 21 other languages! or short lecture at the Hay Festival 2011 Genes, Memes and Temes read a book chaptera blog from Hassners on my lecture or read the Feature article in New Scientist .

Podcast interview with Sue on US Public Radio To the best of our knowledge about memes and temes. 29 July 2012

Jonnie Hughes article in The Independent 14 July 2012 on his new book On the Origin of Tepees.

Alan Winfields 5 minute lecture on dancing robots, from hisArtificial Culture Project at UWE Bristol. Interview on dancing robots in BBC News Technology June 2012

Q&A with Sue for Know Your Meme, April 2012

Art experiments with copying and Chinese Whispers byRachel Cohen

Richard Dawkins on memetically engineering the word bright in Atheist the Dirty Word YouTube

Edge Question 2009 What will change everything?Read my response Artificial, self replicating meme machines.

How to get rid of religion a memetic viewby Floris van den Berg

Imitation makes us human Extract.

The Loo Roll meme !

More criticisms from Mary Midgley

Memetics UK

This site began with the Bristol based memelab. I hope to provide a simple, but useful, resource for finding out what is happening in the world of memes and memetics.

About memes

Links to other memes



Sues publications on memes.

To watch or listen

Interview on memes with Karol Jalochowski, with subtitles in Polish, Jan 2012

Internet memes on The Pod Delusion 2010

C-Realm podcast Sue talks to KMO about memes, drugs and Zen. 28 Jan 2009

Genes, memes and temes. Lecture at TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Monterey, CA, 28 Feb 2008

Is God a dangerous delusion? A debate with Alister McGrath at Bristol University, 13.11.2007

Darwin Day Lecture Darwins Meme: On the origin of culture by means of natural selection , , University of Central Lancashire, 12.02.07 Abstract

The Sci Phi Show Outcast #8, Interview on Memes, 21 August 2006

The Future of Memetics audio of a lecture given at Pop!Tech 2005

To read .

my blog at CiF is about Internet memes April 2011

The Edge Question 2010. How is the Internet changing the way you think? See my response on Self and the Third Replicator as well as previous answers.

Articles in New Humanist Natural selection applies to everything, in Aesthetica Memes, Creativity and Consciousness, and follow up to Massimo Pigliuccis objections to memetics in Skeptical Inquirer 2008.

Art and memes article

Interview for NextModernity Library.

Review of Richerson and Boyds new book Not by Genes Alone.

Interview for GEO magazine (German), December 2003Die Tyrannei der Meme.

Interview with Pascal Jouxtel for the la Socit Francophone de Mmtique, inboth French and English

Memes in Japan

and Old (1997)! Interview with Andrew Brown for Salon Magazine

Read more:

Memetics - Dr Susan Blackmore

Meme – Wikipedia

Not to be confused with Mime.This article is about the term "meme" in general. For the usage of the term on the internet (or a trend that spreads quickly), see Internet meme. For other uses, see Meme (disambiguation).

Thought or idea that can be shared, in analogy to a gene

A meme ( MEEM[1][2][3]) is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads by means of imitation from person to person within a culture and often carries symbolic meaning representing a particular phenomenon or theme.[4] 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.[5]

Proponents theorize that memes are a viral phenomenon that may evolve by natural selection in a manner analogous to that of biological evolution.[citation needed][who?] 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.[6]

A field of study called memetics[7] 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.[8] 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.[9] Others have argued that this use of the term is the result of a misunderstanding of the original proposal.[10]

The word meme is a neologism coined by Richard Dawkins.[11] It originated from Dawkins's 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"[12] and proposed to regard memes as "physically residing in the brain".[13] Later, he argued that his original intentions, presumably before his approval of Humphrey's opinion, had been simpler.[14]

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")[15] coined by British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976)[11][16] 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.[17] Kenneth Pike had in 1954 coined the related terms emic and etic, generalizing the linguistic units of phoneme, morpheme, grapheme, lexeme, and tagmeme (as set out by Leonard Bloomfield), distinguishing insider and outside views of communicative behavior.[18]

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[19] and ethologist J. M. Cullen.[20] 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.'[21]

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.[17]

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.[23] 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 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.[24]

Although Dawkins invented the term meme, he has not claimed that the idea was entirely novel,[25] and there have been other expressions for similar ideas in the past.[26] In 1904, Richard Semon published Die Mneme (which appeared in English in 1924 as The Mneme). The term mneme was also used in Maurice Maeterlinck's The Life of the White Ant (1926), with some parallels to Dawkins's concept.[26]

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.[27] 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.[28]

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).[8]

Some commentators have likened the transmission of memes to the spread of contagions.[29] 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.[30]

Aaron Lynch described seven general patterns of meme transmission, or "thought contagion":[31]

Dawkins initially defined meme as a noun that "conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation".[17] 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".[32] 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.[23]

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."[8] 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.[23]

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.[33]

Dawkins noted the three conditions that must exist for evolution to occur:[34]

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.[34]

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.[35] 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."[23]

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.[23] 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.[36] 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.[37]

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.[38]

British political philosopher John Gray has characterized Dawkins's 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.[39]

Another critique comes from semiotic theorists such as Deacon[40] and Kull.[41] 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.[42] Evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr disapproved of Dawkins's 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.[43]

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.[44][45]

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.[46]

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".[47]

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.[48]

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.[17]

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.[23]

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.[31]

Although religious memes have proliferated in human cultures, the modern scientific community has been relatively resistant to religious belief. Robertson (2007) [49] reasoned that if evolution is accelerated in conditions of propagative difficulty,[50] 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.[51]

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".[52] 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".[53]

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."[54] 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 designas solutions that are false but are re-utilized nonetheless.[55]

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 or thread sites like Reddit, and video hosting services like YouTube and Twitch.[56]

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".[57]

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Memetics is an approach to evolutionary models of information transfer based on the concept of the meme.

The term comes from a transliteration of a Greek word and was used in 1904 by the German evolutionary biologist Richard Semon in his work Die Mnemische Empfindungen in ihren Beziehungen zu den Originalenempfindungen, translated into English in 1921 as The Mneme.

In his book The Selfish Gene (1976), the ethologist Richard Dawkins coined the slightly different term "meme" to describe a unit of human cultural evolution analogous to the gene, arguing that replication also happens in culture, albeit in a different sense. In his book, Dawkins contended that the meme is a unit of information residing in the brain and is the mutating replicator in human cultural evolution. It is a pattern that can influence its surroundings and can propagate. This created great debate among sociologists, biologists, and scientists of other disciplines, because Dawkins himself did not provide a sufficient explanation of how the replication of units of information in the brain controls human behavior and ultimately culture, since the principal topic of the book was genetics. Dawkins apparently did not intend to present a comprehensive theory of memetics in The Selfish Gene, but rather coined the term meme in a speculative spirit. Accordingly, the term "unit of information" came to be defined in different ways by many scientists.

The modern memetics movement dates from the mid 1980s (a January 1983 Metamagical Themas column by Douglas Hofstadter in Scientific American was influential). The study differs from mainstream cultural evolutionary theory in that its practitioners frequently come from outside of the fields of anthropology and sociology, and are often not academics. The massive popular impact of Dawkins' The Selfish Gene has undoubtedly been an important factor in drawing in people of disparate intellectual backgrounds. Another crucial stimulus was the publication in 1992 of Consciousness Explained by Tufts University philosopher Daniel Dennett, which incorporated the meme concept into an influential theory of the mind. In his 1993 essay Viruses of the Mind, Richard Dawkins used memetics to explain the phenomenon of religious belief and the various characteristics of organised religions.

However, the foundation of memetics in full modern incarnation originates in the publication in 1996, of two books by authors outside of the academic mainstream: Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme by former Microsoft executive turned motivational speaker and professional poker player, Richard Brodie, and Thought Contagion: How Belief Spreads Through Society by Aaron Lynch, a mathematician and philosopher who worked for many years as an engineer at Fermilab. Lynch conceived his theory totally independently of any contact with academics in the cultural evolutionary sphere, and apparently was not even aware of Dawkins' The Selfish Gene until his book was very close to publication.

Around the same time as the publication of the books by Lynch and Brodie, a new e-journal appeared on the web, hosted by the Centre for Policy Modelling at Manchester Metropolitan University Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission. (There had been a short-lived paper memetics publication starting in 1990, the Journal of Ideas edited by Elan Moritz. [1]) The e-journal soon became the central point for publication and debate within the nascent memetics community. In 1999, Susan Blackmore, a psychologist at the University of the West of England, published The Meme Machine, which more fully worked out the ideas of Dennett, Lynch and Brodie and attempted to compare and contrast them with various approaches from the cultural evolutionary mainstream, as well as providing novel, and controversial, memetic-based theories for the evolution of language and the human sense of individual selfhood.

The memetics movement split almost immediately into those who wanted to stick to Dawkins' definition of a meme as "a unit of information in the brain", and those who wanted to redefine it as observable cultural artefacts and behaviours. These two schools became known as the "internalists" and the "externalists". Prominent internalists included both Lynch and Brodie; the most vocal externalists included Derek Gatherer, a geneticist from Liverpool John Moores University and William Benzon, a writer on cultural evolution and music. The main rationale for externalism was that internal brain entities are not observable, and memetics cannot advance as a science, especially a quantitative science, unless it moves its emphasis onto the directly quantifiable aspects of culture. Internalists countered with various arguments: that brain states will eventually be directly observable with advanced technology, that most cultural anthropologists agree that culture is about beliefs and not artefacts, or that artefacts cannot be replicators in the same sense as mental entities (or DNA) are replicators. The debate became so heated that a 1998 Symposium on Memetics, organised as part of the 15th International Conference on Cybernetics, passed a motion calling for an end to definitional debates.

The most advanced statement of the internalist school came in 2002 with the publication of The Electric Meme, by Robert Aunger, an anthropologist from the University of Cambridge. Aunger also organised a conference in Cambridge in 1999, at which prominent sociologists and anthropologists were able to give their assessment of the progress made in memetics to that date. This resulted in the publication of Darwinizing Culture: The Status of Memetics as a Science, edited by Aunger and with a foreward by Dennett, in 2000.

In 2005, Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission ceased publication and published a set of 'obituaries' for memetics. This was not intended to suggest that there can be no further work on memetics, but that the exciting childhood of memetics, which began in 1996, is finally drawing to a close, and that memetics will have to survive or become extinct in terms of the results it can generate for the field of cultural evolution. Memetics as a social, Internet-fueled popular scientific movement is now probably over. Many of the original proponents have moved away from it. Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett have both expressed some reservations as to its applicability, Susan Blackmore has left the University of the West of England to become a freelance science writer and now concentrates more on the field of consciousness and cognitive science. Derek Gatherer found the academic world of the north of England to be unsympathetic to his ideas, and gave up to work as a computer programmer in the pharmaceutical industry, although he still publishes the odd memetics article from time to time. Richard Brodie is now climbing the world professional poker rankings. Aaron Lynch disowned the memetics community and the words "meme" and "memetics" (without disowning the ideas in his book).

Susan Blackmore (2002) re-stated the meme definition as whatever is copied from one person to another person, whether habits, skills, songs, stories, or any other kind of information. Further she said that memes, like genes, are replicators. That is, they are information that is copied with variation and selection. Because only some of the variants survive, memes (and hence human cultures) evolve. Memes are copied by imitation, teaching and other methods, and they compete for space in our memories and for the chance to be copied again. Large groups of memes that are copied and passed on together are called co-adapted meme complexes, or memeplexes. In her definition, thus, the way that a meme replicates is through imitation. This requires brain capacity to generally imitate a model or selectively imitate the model. Since the process of social learning varies from one person to another, the imitation process cannot be said to be completely imitated. The sameness of an idea may be expressed with different memes supporting it. This is to say that the mutation rate in memetic evolution is extremely high, and mutations are even possible within each and every interaction of the imitation process. It becomes very interesting when we see that a social system composed of a complex network of microinteractions exists, but at the macro level an order emerges to create culture.

Dawkins responds in A Devil's Chaplain that there are actually two different types of memetic processes. The first is a type of cultural idea, action, or expression, which does have high variance; for instance, a student of his who had inherited some of the mannerisms of Wittgenstein. However, he also describes a self-correcting meme, highly resistant to mutation. As an example of this, he gives origami patterns in elementary schoolsexcept in rare cases, the meme is either passed on in the exact sequence of instructions, or (in the case of a forgetful child) terminates. This type of meme tends not to evolve, and to experience profound mutations in the rare event that it does. Some memeticists, however, see this as more of a continuum of meme strength, rather than two types of memes.

Another definition, given by Hokky Situngkir, tried to offer a more rigorous formalism for the meme, memeplexes, and the deme, seeing the meme as a cultural unit in a cultural complex system. It is based on the Darwinian genetic algorithm with some modifications to account for the different patterns of evolution seen in genes and memes. In the method of memetics as the way to see culture as a complex adaptive system, he describes a way to see memetics as an alternative methodology of cultural evolution. However, there are as many possible definitions that are credited to the word "meme". For example, in the sense of computer simulation the term memetic programming is used to define a particular computational viewpoint.

Memetics can be simply understood as a method for scientific analysis of cultural evolution. However, proponents of memetics as described in the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission believe that 'memetics' has the potential to be an important and promising analysis of culture using the framework of evolutionary concepts. Keith Henson who wrote Memetics and the Modular-Mind (Analog Aug. 1987) [2] makes the case that memetics needs to incorporate Evolutionary psychology to understand the psychological traits of a meme's host. [3] This is especially true of time varying host traits, such as those leading to wars.

The application of memetics to a difficult complex social system problem, environmental sustainability, has recently been attempted at Using meme types and memetic infection in several stock and flow simulation models, Jack Harich has demonstrated several interesting phenomenon that are best, and perhaps only, explained by memes. One model, The Dueling Loops of the Political Powerplace, argues that the fundamental reason corruption is the norm in politics is due to an inherent structural advantage of one feedback loop pitted against another. Another model, The Memetic Evolution of Solutions to Difficult Problems, uses memes, the evolutionary algorithm, and the scientific method to show how complex solutions evolve over time and how that process can be improved. The insights gained from these models are being used to engineer memetic solution elements to the sustainability problem.

In Selfish Sounds and Linguistic Evolution (2004, Cambridge University Press), Austrian linguist Nikolaus Ritt has attempted to operationalise memetic concepts and use them for the explanation of long term sound changes and change conspiracies in early English. It is argued that a generalised Darwinian framework for handling cultural change can provide explanations where established, speaker centered approaches fail to do so. The book makes comparatively concrete suggestions about the possible material structure of memes, and provides two empirically rather rich case studies.

Memeoid is a neologism for people who have been taken over by a meme to the extent that that their own survival becomes inconsequential. Examples include kamikazes, suicide bombers and cult members who commit mass suicide. Compare with Zombie

The term was apparently coined by H. Keith Henson in "Memes, L5 and the Religion of the Space Colonies," L5 News, 1985 pp 5-8, [4] and referenced in Richard Dawkins' book The Selfish Gene, 2nd ed., page 330. ISBN 0-19-286092-5.

Memotype is the actual information-content of a meme.

A meme-complex (sometimes abbreviated memeplex, sometimes miss-pronounced/spelled Memoplex) is a collection or grouping of memes that have evolved into a mutually supportive or symbiotic relationship. Simply put, a meme-complex is a set of ideas that reinforce each other. Meme-complexes are roughly analogous to the symbiotic collection of individual genes that make up the genetic codes of biological organisms. An example of a Memeplex would be a religion.


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Working at AM LLC: Employee Reviews |

Grateful and Excited - Small Business Going Big!

I have worked with AM LLC for the past 6 years as part of the executive management team. This company is founded on and operates based on the values of Integrity, Excellence, Service, Professionalism, Appreciation & Acknowledgement, Generosity, Responsibility, Teamwork, Hard Work, Growth & Development, and Fun. Ideas, goals, questions, comments, and concerns of employees, suppliers, and clients are listened to, discussed, considered and acted upon with a win/win/win attitude. Applied Memetics is committed to providing Quality service to its customers and quality care to its employees. Applied Memetics works on a number of projects with its teaming partners and continues to grow and expand its contribution to its clients, thus providing new opportunities for perspective employees. The executive team maintains an open door policy and is readily available to address any matter brought up by its employees. Performance is rewarded and trust is earned. Honesty, complete and direct communication, forward risked-based thinking, organization, commitment, and perseverance are major contributing factors to this company's success. The virtual nature of the company is not like working in a traditional office setting where employees see each other everyday. It takes some getting used to. But, the virtual atmosphere provides a lot of flexibility and other benefits. Continue to focus on growth and development of employees' skills (technical and leadership) and partnership and work opportunities.

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Army Of Contact-Tracing Workers Being Recruited To Help Combat Coronavirus Pandemic – CBS San Francisco

by Maria Medina and Abigail Sterling

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) Experts say contact tracing is going to play a critical role in fighting the coronavirus. Its been practiced for decades, used to fight SARS, Ebola and AIDS, but never on as big a scale.

Technology is sure to play an ever-growing role in contact tracing. But for COVID-19, its starting off the old fashioned way, person to person and boots on the ground.

When the pandemic made Robin Fletchers sales job grind to a halt, she jumped at an opportunity to use her people skills for something more meaningful.

We really need to think about on a deeper level what I am capable to do, its going to call us to adapt, said Fletcher. A friend mentioned contact tracing, I had never heard of it, even though its been around for a bit.

Contact tracing starts with basic detective work. The average person who has the coronavirus transmits it to two or three other people, who each then potentially could transmit it to three others.

So one contact leads to another, and everyone along the way has to be notified, isolated, and treated, if necessary, to try to contain the viruss spread.

Fletchers first step: a free, five-hour online course offered through Johns Hopkins University where she learned the types of questions to ask, skills for effective communication, and how to balance public good with privacy.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates at least 100,000 contact tracers will be needed to combat the coronavirus. But they are just one piece of a complex process.

Our team is very multi-disciplinary, said Dr. Darpun Sachdev, lead physician for contact tracing at the San Francisco Department of Public Health. We have case investigators who are the first line of calling people after they get a new diagnosis with COVID. We also then are working very closely with clinical leads and with a team of social workers to help us to identify resources for people who need to isolate and quarantine.

San Francisco is working with the University of California, San Francisco on the project, using a customized data-gathering program. Thats just a way of really making sure that once weve interviewed someone, that all the different touchpoints can be notified at the same time, said Satchdev. So our goal is really to ensure that people get tested on that day that were notifying them or the next day.

In San Francisco for now, contact tracing involves just health department staff, with some new help from furloughed employees in other city departments.

But outsourcing will soon become necessary. Third-party companies are already poised to provide the service, like Applied Memetics, an IT sourcing company for businesses that are now targeting the contact tracing market.

Most health authorities are already doing some form of contact tracing. Theyre using their existing staff to pull lab results for infected patients. But theyve all reached capacity, said Erin Thames of Applied Memetics. What theyre looking for is not only those contact tracer roles but coordinator, investigator and navigator roles, so they can manage those tracer teams, really just taking that burden away from the already overloaded public health system.

Thames says her company is already getting requests for help from health departments across the country.

Fletcher has already applied. She hopes her sales experience will help her get a job. Youve got to have some courage, to put it politely, to pick up the phone and call someone and establish immediate rapport and do it well, said Fletcher. There is an aspect of educating, there is an aspect of social work, theres an aspect of just being a good listener. There are a lot of skills that people I think can really bring to this.

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Italy under the coronavirus attack: the return of the Plague Spreaders – Resilience

This post is about how Italy is reacting to the diffusion of the COVID-19 epidemics that arrived during the past few days in the Northern regions of the country. Among other effects, it generated a wave of hate on social media comparable to what had happened in Italy at the time of the bubonic plague, in Milano during the 16th century. That epidemics was widely attributed to evil plague-spreaders (untori), so much that a column of infamy shown above was erected to commemorate the execution of two of them.

Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873) was one of the greatest Italian writers in history, known also outside Italy for his novel The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi). Manzoni lived well before the existence of social media and, in his times, even newspapers were something new. But he was a fine observer of society and I would go as far as to say that he could be seen as one of the early creators of the science we call today memetics, the science of the diffusion of ideas (memes).

In The Bethroted and the later historical essay A History of the Column of Infamy, Manzoni told the story of the bubonic plague that struck Milano in 1629-1631. Hitting a society already weakened by a previous famine and by the disaster of the 30 years war, the plague took a toll of nearly 50% of the population. Those who experienced it fell prey to a delusion that led them to think that the plague was caused by the actions of evil people termed the untori, a well-known word in Italian but hard to translate into English. Literally, it means greasers and it refers to people who would spread poisonous substances over people and things in order to spread the infection the term could also be translated as plague-spreaders. The greasers were supposed to perform their evil deeds because they were possessed by the devil, maybe for political or economic gains, or simply because they were evil.

The novel and the essay by Manzoni provide an amazing account of how the untori meme spread among the citizens of Milano to the point that several innocent people were lynched in the street. Others were accused, tortured, and forced to confess their pretended crimes. Then they underwent trials that were nothing more than witch-hunts (in this case, greaser-hunts). Several were executed and, in one case, a column (The Column of Infamy) was erected to commemorate the execution of two of them.

In this story, we can immediately recognize our world: the existence of the evil greasers is a classic example of fake news. The aggressive reaction of the public is something we see every day on our social media where, fortunately, people are not lynched for real (so far). An especially interesting touch by Manzoni is the fictional character of Don Ferrante, a mediocre Milanese intellectual who finds a moment of popularity when he starts declaring that the plague doesnt exist or that, in any case, it is not contagious rather, it is the result of a weird astral conjunction. We recognize in this character some of our modern climate-deniers who maintain more or less the same thing about climate change. Eventually, Don Ferrante catches the plague, too, but up to the last moment he keeps denying that it exists. He dies cursing the stars!

Certain things are timeless and dont depend on the existence of the Internet or even of the printed media. But, today, for sure the Web can spread hate and fake news at an unbelievably fast speed. In Italy, the COVID-19 epidemics arrived just a couple of days ago and the social media are already exploding in a wave of hate against the current untori, in this case supposed to be the Greens, the Government, the Communists, Immigrants, Africans, and in general the do-gooders (in Italian, buonisti), supposed to have done nothing to avoid the spreading of the pandemics when it was still possible to stop it.

Overall, the coronavirus is a threat that cant be even remotely compared to the bubonic plague, but the reaction of many people is about the same: they want blood. They are stating that clearly in their comments (just one example I read yesterday: I am a mother, if my children catch the coronavirus, you Communists will die first!). Curiously, these are often the same people who accuse climate scientists of being alarmists.

At the beginning, the Italian Right seemed to be willing to ride the issue and use it as a tool to make the current left-center government fall. But it seems that the leaders are now backtracking and trying to control their overexcited followers. So, cool heads may still prevail and we wont see people lynched in the street accused of being untori (but we did see physical attacks on people looking Chinese fortunately without victims, so far). The situation is rapidly evolving and well see what happens in the coming days.

One thing thats already clear, anyway, is that the current political system, polarized as it is, makes it impossible to face emergencies without exaggerating the threat or, conversely, denying it. In every case, one of the two sides is tempted to ride the issue to gain traction in the political game. Thats a disaster that leads nowhere. We are seeing it well for climate change and not just in Italy: with this decisional system, we cant control anything. We can only hope for the best (a concept expressed in Italian as trusting lo stellone the great star of Italy).

Image: Colonna Infame (Column of Infamy) via Ugo Bardi

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Looking forward to being with my great friends in India: US President Donald Trump – Deccan Herald

President Donald Trump has said that he was looking forward to being with his "great friends" in India as he retweeted a video in which his face was superimposed on the hit movie-character Bahubali, showing him as a great saviour.

Trump will arrive in India on Monday on a two-day visit at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He will be accompanied by a high-level delegation including First Lady Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner and a galaxy of top American officials.

"Look so forward to being with my great friends in INDIA!" Trump tweeted on Saturday.

Along with the tweet, Trump shared an 81-second video by a Twitter account identified as "Sol" with the handle Solmemes1.

"To celebrate Trump's visit to India I wanted to make a video to show how in my warped mind it will go... USA and India united!" the handle Solmemes1 tweeted in the original post with the video.

Trump appears as a great saviour, in the short animated clip, riding on a chariot with First Lady Melania. A few stills later, Trump is seen riding a horse carrying on his soldiers his son Donald Junior and daughter Ivanka.

Later, he is welcomed by Prime Minister Modi in a village setting. Hundreds and thousands of people are seen welcoming Trump in the video.

"This week Trump will visit India and in celebration, I have created a new meme for the occasion... You few, who are my patrons, get to see it first!" Sol told viewers on subscription content service Patreon on Saturday.

A few hours later, Trump retweeted the video.

In the Twitter description, Sol describes herself as "award-winning master memetics, professor of memology at University of GFY, my views are my own and not associated with real life."

The video, which ends with "USA and India United", went viral after Trump retweeted it. In a few hours, it was seen by more than ten lakh people.

Sol in one of her previous posts, dated January 23, writes she was inspired by a video of Bahubali sent to her by a friend, which is the story of 'good defeating evil.'

This inspired Sol to create her first Bahubali-theme meme. The video is titled "Jiyo Re Baahu Trump", in which the First Lady is seen wearing a saree. "Jiyo Re Bahubali," is the theme song of the video.

Sol's posts show she is an admirer of the President and the First Lady.

Her January 23 video was released at the peak of Trump's impeachment proceedings. In the video, Trump is seen being greeted by an elephant, who bears the logo of the Republican Party.

Towards the end of the video, Trump is seen riding the elephant and putting on fire the effigy of "Raavan" marked as "D" in a big circle representing the opposition Democratic Party.

An arrow is given by warrior Modi to the First Lady, who then passes it on to Trump before he lights the effigy.

Trump's visit to India provides an opportunity for the two countries to improve their bilateral relationship and strengthen strategic interests, say senior officials.

After Barack Obama, Trump is the only other US President to visit India in his first term.

Issues expected to be discussed during the visit include an open Indo-Pacific, reduced trade barriers, boost to counter-terror cooperation and mitigating Indian concerns over H-1B visas.

"President Trump has been the best friend of India amongst all US Presidents. He loves Indians and Indian-Americans. Indian Americans nationwide love him as much," Al Mason, advisor to Global Real Estate Investments, Education Institutions and Hospitals, told PTI.

"How else do you explain 60,000 Indian-Americans attending his 'Howdy, Modi!' rally with Prime Minister Modi in Houston, not to overlook the fact that billion-plus Indians in India love President Trump too," he said, referring to Trump and Modi sharing the stage in September in Houston at a massive rally of Indian-Americans called "Howdy, Modi!".

Modi and Trump are set to share the stage on Monday for "Namaste Trump," event which roughly translates as Hello Trump" in Ahmedabad.

The president, who arrived at the White House following four days of hectic political campaigning in the western parts of the country, had no public engagements on Saturday.

Trump did not go for a round of golf, which is normally the case for him on a bright sunny weekend day in Washington.

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Looking forward to being with my great friends in India: US President Donald Trump - Deccan Herald

Snow Crash TV Series Adaptation is Coming to HBO Max – Epicstream

Neal Stephenson's classic cyberpunk novel Snow Crash is getting a TV series adaptation for HBO Max. Stephenson's 1992 novel covers a wide variety of topics includinghistory, linguistics, anthropology, archaeology, religion, computer science, politics, cryptography, memetics, and philosophy.

The news comes from Deadline, who stated that Michael Becall (21 Jump Street) will write the adaptation and serve as co-showrunner with Angela Robinson, while Joe Cornish (The Kid Who Would Be King) is set to direct. Frank Marshall will serve as producer for the series.

Last year, it was announced that a Snow Crash TV series was heading to Amazon, but that's no longer happening.

With a talented team of writers and directors, and a great source material, Snow Crash is definitely one of the most exciting sci-fi shows to look forward to.

Here's the book synopsis for Snow Crash:

Only once in a great while does a writer come along who defies comparisona writer so original he redefines the way we look at the world. Neal Stephenson is such a writer andSnow Crashis such a novel, weaving virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility to bring us the gigathriller of the information age.

In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzos CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse hes a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus thats striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse.

Snow Crash is considered to be one of the best science fiction books ever, and if you love cyberpunk and haven't read this novel yet, then you should read it before the show premieres. Stephenson's novelwas nominated for both the British Science Fiction Award in 1993, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1994.

Are you excited for a Snow Crash TV series? Who should play Hiro and Y.T.?

Related: Cyberpunk 2077 Will Have Fully Motion-Captured Sex Scenes

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Snow Crash TV Series Adaptation is Coming to HBO Max - Epicstream

‘Snow Crash’ TV Series in the Works at HBO Max – /FILM

Neal Stephensons sci-fi classicSnow Crash is getting the TV treatment for HBO Max. Writer Michael Bacall (21 Jump Street)and director Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) are tackling the adaptation. Stephensons novel covers a wide range of topics, including history, linguistics, anthropology, archaeology, religion, computer science, politics, cryptography, memetics, and philosophy.

Deadline has the scoop on theSnow CrashTV series, stating that Michael Bacall will write the adaptation and serve as co-showrunner with Angela Robinson, while Joe Cornish directs. Frank Marshall will serve as producer. Heres the books synopsis:

Only once in a great while does a writer come along who defies comparisona writer so original he redefines the way we look at the world. Neal Stephenson is such a writer andSnow Crashis such a novel, weaving virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility to bring us the gigathriller of the information age.In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzos CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse hes a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus thats striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse.

I havent readSnow Crash, but this sounds similar toReady Player One, which doesnt get me very excited. However, Snow Crash pre-dates Ready Player One by years and is considered one of the most important science fiction novels of the past few decades. So of course lesser work has ripped it off. Also,, Joe Cornish should have a much bigger career by now, so Im always happy to see him with a new project.

A potentialSnow Crash adaptation has been a dream for many for years, but the novels sprawling nature has complicated things. Cornish actually wrote a script for a feature film adaptation, and Stephenson loved it, calling Cornishs take on the material amazing. But it looks like everyone involved have now decided to use TV to bringSnow Crash to life rather than try to cram everything into a feature film. Last year, it was announced that a TV adaptation was headed to Amazon, but thats no longer the case, and the series is destined for HBO Max.

More here:

'Snow Crash' TV Series in the Works at HBO Max - /FILM

Book That Inspired Facebooks Chief VR Researcher And Coined Metaverse To Get HBO Series – UploadVR

A HBO series based on Snow Crash, the 1992 science fiction novel which coined the term metaverse, is currently in production.

Snow Crash is a 1992 science fiction novel written byNeal Stephenson. The book has a deeply complex plot touching on archaeolinguistics, religion, simulation theory, philosophy, computer science, and memetics. It was nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the most prestigious science fiction award.

The series will reportedly be directed by Joe Cornish, who recently directed The Kid Who Would Be King. The writer is apparently Michael Bacall, who also wrote 21 Jump Streetand Project X.

Stephenson will be a producer of the series, alongside Cornish, Bacall, Angela Robinson, Frank Marshall, and Robert Zotnowski.

Last we heard, Stephenson works at AR startup Magic Leap. His official title is Chief Futurist. He manages a team called the Self-Contained Existence Unit (SCEU). SCEU focuses on content R&D, pushing the boundaries on what can be developed in AR, figuring out best practices, and providing examples to developers.

Despite being released before evenWolfenstein 3D and three years before the Virtual Boy, much of Snow Crash takes place in a massively multiplayer VR world called the Metaverse a term Stephenson coined. Essentially, the metaverse is the spatial version of the internet. The term Metaverse is popular in VR today.

Meta means after or beyond, and verse is taken from universe. Thus a metaverse is a new universe beyond and after the real one.

When the book was written almost 30 years ago, VR headsets were rare. The few which existed cost in excess of $50,000 and had resolutions of just a few hundred pixels on each axis.

The book also popularized the term avatar the virtual character which represents a user in a virtual world. The descriptions of avatars in Snow Crash still apply to proto-metaverses like VRChattoday.

Michael Abrash is Chief Scientist at Facebook Reality Labs. Thats the division of Facebook which researches future VR & AR tech. He also reportedlyco-leads Facebooks new AR glasses team.

In 1994, Abrash was working at Microsoft. He had helped develop the core graphics architecture of Windows. After reading Snow Crash, he quit Microsoft and joined John Carmack at Id. Together they developed Quake one of the first widely popular online multiplayer FPS games. He then worked at companies like Microsoft (again) and Intel until 2011 when he joined Valve to work on AR and VR.

After joining Valve, Abrash wrote a blog postexplaining his history. The first sentence: It all started with Snow Crash.


Book That Inspired Facebooks Chief VR Researcher And Coined Metaverse To Get HBO Series - UploadVR

The Hi-Tech Traditionalist: From Samizdat To Memetics What Is Similar And What Is Different Between Soviet And American Dissidents – Tsarizm

Americans are late to come to terms with their loss of freedom and its consequences. Most choose to remain inside the Matrix.

Amazingly, I remember them still. Their fragile pages of carbon copy paper fraying at the edges from use by many hundreds if not thousands, use that should have shredded them to pieces a long time ago. The bindings, if you can call it that, pieces of black or green poster board sewn to the pages with simple needle and thread as if they were socks that needed darning. Inside, faint blue letters, copies of copies of copies, with the words of Alexander Solzhenitsyn or Natan Sharansky or a few lines of Hebrew text with Russian transliterations.

They made furtive appearances in our small Kiev apartment, these fleeting guests, much admired, revered almost, hidden from view, only appearing on our living room coffee table at night when special guests like the lonely Jewish jazz musician who practiced his base playing late at night in his upstairs apartment came to visit. They were read out loud, if one can call loud barely audible whispering and each passage was endlessly pored over, discussed, passionately argued.

The existence of places out there in which any book could be printed, sold, bought, and read in the open was postulated, but never really fully believed. That these same places had blue jeans and winter coats made out of synthetic materials rather than cotton wool and canvas and could be closed using (GASP) zippers, was way too much to give any credence to.

You see, my friends, in the 1970s USSR many books and other writings were forbidden to print, disseminate, and even possess. Among them were writings by those who exposed the brutality of the Soviet system and its utter incompetence in allowing the Germans to attack Russia in June of 1941 and in prosecuting the ensuing war for the first to years. There were pamphlets by prominent regime critics like Sakharov and Jewish community leaders who wished to leave the USSR and repatriate to Israel, like Sharansky and Edelshtein. For those who, like my parents, dreamed that such an impossible dream may one day become a reality and wished to be prepared, there were Hebrew language textbooks, also forbidden in the communist Russia.

The hunger for these illicit words was so large, the market demand as we might call it in the West, so strong, that an underground publishing network was born. This anti-regime, anti-communist network got a very communist name, a portmanteau, a word mashup: Samizdat. Made up from the words sam (myself) and izdatyelstvo (publishing house), Samizdat was a loose network of brave souls who had access to carbon copy machines at their place of work and who, at much personal risk to their freedom and livelihoods spent nights copying copies of forbidden books that someone had dropped off for them. The copies would then be passed from user to user, never permanently given away let alone sold, lent for a short time before they had to move on.

Samizdat was riddled with KGB infiltrators and many of its producers and users were discovered. The producers, those nocturnal copiers and binders, got prison terms. The users, like my parents, would more typically get expelled from their universities, fired from their jobs, get notes in their ever-present permanent records that would make it impossible for them to find other employment or other places to study. Quite often, their privileges of living in large cities like Kiev or Moscow or Leningrad were revoked and they had to eke out a marginal existence in the periphery, in Central Asia or in Siberia.

This happened often; Samizdat people hardly well-trained operatives. They were just secretaries and lab assistants, and grad students, but the network grew until it won the war with the regime and earned its own redundancy. Alas, things did not turn out, in the most part, as the Samizdat people had thought they would. Many of the Jewish or pretend-Jewish folks left the USSR, some in the 1970s when it was dangerous, others in the 1990s when it was safe, some to settle in Israel, others in Brighton Beach. Non-Jews stayed on through the terrible deprivations of the 1990s and on to Putins klepto-oligarchy of today.

But what about that magical place at the other end of the rainbow, the place of blue jeans and rock n roll, of freedom to print and read anything we want?

It did seem for a while that such a place had indeed existed, didnt it? I well remember my fathers great sigh of relief when on a grey chilly morning in November of 1973 our train crossed the miles upon miles of razor wire that was the East German Austrian border. This was the West! We were finally free.

Nearly half a century had passed since those giddy days and it was not kind to the original inhabitants of the Land of Freedom. They took for granted the freedom that so many in the USSR were willing to give their very lives for and they squandered it. They sold it for cheap drugs, cheap porn, cheap government handouts. They treated it like a crack whore, this precious gift of liberty that was handed down to them by the blood of generations upon generations of their ancestors. They flooded their countries with countless foreigners to whom the concept of freedom was as foreign as gay marriage would have been to the Founding Fathers.

Liberty is not a bird that long lives where it is not wanted, so it has long since departed the lands of the West, perhaps all the lands of Men and returned, Tolkien-like, to its abode somewhere far beyond the setting sun. The America of today, that erstwhile bastion of freedom, that shimmering mirage that glimmered over the western skies of my childhood and did battle with the Soviet jammers on short wave radio when I was a kid is no longer any more free than the USSR used to be, though it is still far more prosperous. Just like in the early days of the Bolshevik revolution, the American Bolsheviks are engaging in a frenzy of statue destruction and book banning. Just like in the old Soviet bloc or in todays China, faceless apparatchiks are lording it over us every second of every day from their sinecures at the Deep State and its metastatic arms, the corporate HR departments.

Just like there, in the East, we in the West are forced to believe and publicly profess things that are obviously false, though here they are, perversely, of predominantly sexual nature. Things that were and should be abhorrent to every human throughout history like sodomy and the sexual exploitation of children are celebrated in the public square, any opposition to them earning you the Soviet treatment of losing your job, your university admissions, your livelihood, your career, your electronic platform.

Signs of resistance are appearing. American dissidents like Laura Loomer, brave souls who are willing to risk much are standing up to be counted. An American Samizdat of sorts, adjusted for the 21st century is being born in the shape of memetics, images and short video clips that cut through the chase with scathing humor and deadly accuracy. Because the creation of these communiques requires a free and even rebellious spirit, our grey masters suck at this medium. No one they can hire can do it well simply because the condition of hire is unquestioning allegiance to Loshanqua from HR and daily recital of diversity is our strength and men can menstruate. People like that cannot meme and will never be able to.

Pepe the Frog is a great symbol of freedom from the rule of the world elites, but let yourself not be fooled, he is more of a sanctioned safety valve variety than a true revolutionary. All totalitarian regimes have safety valves, means for the enslaved masses to express their discontent, to grumble, to have an illusion of agency, a mirage of freedom. It is simply cheaper to maintain these safety valves than to engage in Stalinist full-scale nonstop repression. A population that is, Matrix-like, manipulated to think that it is (or may one day be) free is a more peaceful, compliant, and productive population than one that has no hopes for a better life and has only experienced beatings. Plus, repeated beatings have a problem with diminished returns as populations subject to them develop an ever-higher threshold for pain.

Samizdat was to a large degree a safety valve. The KGB could have shut it down in a minute. The communist party simply didnt want them to. They were ordered to play a cat and mouse game which convinced the Samizdat people that they were doing something exceptionally brave and that things were getting better because of them, but was never intended to shut them down.

The much more sophisticated totalitarian rulers of America have developed a system of two complimentary safety valves. First and foremost they have a stable of bought and paid for mainstream resistance leaders who go on Fox and some other media channels and utter strong words from behind fat contracts and daily briefings that set out in excruciating detail just how stunningly brave they are allowed to be. These are the Laura Ingrahams, the Sean Hannitys, the Tucker Carlsons and the Ben Shapiros of the world. They could be called controlled opposition, if they were any kind of opposition rather than simply the loyal employees of the ruling technocracy. This safety valve is now operating at near 100% efficiency and its efficacy is unmatched.

Yet the highly advanced American ruling elites, having built themselves up on the shoulders of high technology, are not satisfied with this valve alone. To supplement it, they have allowed, on the margins, a Samizdat-like grassroots resistance movement that produces memes and wacko conspiracy theories and constantly pats itself on the shoulder for being so amazingly, so stunningly brave. Just like Samizdat, the folks in this movement, the likes of Jack Posobiec and many others do not work for the elites, but they might as well be because they provide Americans with an illusion of freedom, a simulacrum of it, and most regrettably with an excuse not to see the truth and start developing real strategies for coping with it.

Just like the KGB could shut Samizdat down at will, so can the the American techno-oligarchy shut down Pepe and his disciples within moments from being ordered to do so. Not a single 1 or 0, neither a solitary electron, nor a lonesome photon goes from one place to the next in America without express permission of the elites. Of that we can be certain. So the truth, my friends, is much worse than it appears to be. But wait! There is more! Not content with creating the best let-the-steam-out social safety valves that have ever existed, the American ruling classes have created historys most powerful social control instrument: fiat money.

You see, money does not exist anymore. What exists are 1s and 0s that our rulers have made us believe to be money. And since they control everything about these 1s and 0s, they control everything about money. Dont believe me? Ask yourself what would happen to your mortgage payments if interest rates go up by a couple of percent.

So here is the bottom line, folks. That glimmering, shimmering mirage that was the West, with its freedom and liberty and blue jeans did exist for a while, but it didnt put up much of a fight and sold itself out for a few fake dollars. Now what remains to us is what the real dissidents in the USSR had: the freedom of the mind. Consuming, uncritically, the 1s and 0s that come at us from any source including this one does not make you free or brave. Think for yourself. Become an intellectual. Read old books before they are banned and destroyed. Watch old movies and try to get into the minds of Americans from decades past, Americans who really were free. Understand what has been lost. Mourn it. When repeating the mantras that our rulers demand of us, keep a strong mental reservation. Acknowledge to yourself that they are false, ridiculous even, but repeat them nonetheless. After all, you still have a mortgage to pay and kids to put through college.

Speaking of kids, have them. Have many kids and teach them that once there was freedom and maybe, if they are lucky they may yet experience it for themselves one day though that day may be far, far away.

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The Hi-Tech Traditionalist: From Samizdat To Memetics What Is Similar And What Is Different Between Soviet And American Dissidents - Tsarizm

Just Following Orders? Why Extremism is a Choice – Clarion Project

(Illustrative photo: Flickr/Manuel)

Radicalization is something that has come to be viewed as an excuse for joining extremist groups and following orders to committing all sorts of horrific acts. But except in the case of children, extremism is always a choice. Read why.

Terrorists use sophisticated tactics to lure recruits into their movement. They prey on psychological weaknesses, making the target feel special, powerful and marked out for a glorious destiny. The mind-control techniques they use are highly advanced and will work on many people.

None of that takes away from the moral culpability that anyone who becomes a terrorist holds for their actions.

Heres why:

There is a long standing principle in hypnosis that all hypnosis is really self-hypnosis. That is, you cant hypnotize someone to do something that isnt somewhere in their subconscious or something they want to do on some level.

All you can do is bring people into a relaxed state of mind where they are more susceptible to suggestion.

You cant, for example, use mind control techniques to make gay people straight, despite the millions of dollars invested by Christian organizations to try and develop an effective method of doing so.

Extremists convince people to act in what the tell people are their best interests. They offer incentives so that doing what the movement wants gives the recruit some kind of payoff.

This becomes much easier when the extremist group can provide benefits to the target, for example, social camaraderie, a clear structure for how to live and a well defined mission to devote yourself to are all benefits of joining an extremist movement.

But the brainwashing cant do more than heavily influence a person.

When a person gives in to mind control in a cult, they make a decision to abdicate responsibility for making choices and turn it over to the cult leader or organizers.

When a person stops thinking for himself or herself and takes on the attitudes of the cult, even under pressure, he or she is making a choice.

True, that choice may be heavily influenced. Humans are highly adaptable creatures who long to fit in and be successful within the context of a group.

Extremists use many tactics to induce a sense of identification with the group and a shift in core beliefs. This may include extremely coercive tactics like isolation, sleep deprivation, pushing drugs on the recruit or even encouraging them to commit crimes to bind themselves to the new group.

Sleep deprivation and strict dietary control, in particular, can sap a persons energy and make it extremely difficult for them to think clearly about what is going on.

But unless the person is being physically held against their will, they still have a choice to resist brainwashing techniques and remove themselves from the situation.

This is what makes education so critical. If people are taught to recognize the techniques and tactics which groups use in brainwashing, they can learn to walk away from those sorts of situations.

Steve Hassans Bite Model is a good resource for the main methods cults use to indoctrinate people.

Ive come to view what happened to me is a viral, memetic infection, ex-Moonie Diane Benscoter said in a TED Talk. For those of you who arent familiar with memetics, a meme has been defined as an idea that replicates in the human brain and moves from brain to brain like a virus, much like a virus. The way a virus works is it can infect and do the most damage to someone who has a compromised immune system.

In other words, an extremist group can take over your mind when your resistance is low.

However, if a person commits crimes while a member of an extremist group, it is important to note that courts do not accept claims of mind control as a defense.

In a classic case, in 1976 Patty Hearst, heiress to the Hearst media fortune, shocked America by joining the Symbionese Liberation Army after they kidnapped, tortured and brainwashed her. She participated in the groups activities including bank robbing. Such was her commitment at the time that she did not run away from the group despite later having the opportunity to escape.

When she was finally caught, her lawyer attempted to argue she had been the victim of brainwashing. The jury did not accept it, and she was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment, later reduced to seven.

President Carter later commuted her sentence to two years.

More recently Smallville Actress Allison Mack pleaded guilty to helping NXIM cult leader Keith Raniere induct women into his sex cult. Among the allegations are that women were trafficked and branded.

Despite the brainwashing these women were subjected to, their crimes were still considered crimes and were treated as such by the courts.

A Dr. Phil episode featured a father who was a member of a cult who turned his 13-year old daughter over to the cult leader to rape as a bride within the church. Dr. Phil unpacks the situation and explains that there is no amount of brainwashing which could override his duty as father.

It is worth watching the clip:

The Surprising (and Successful) Use ofLoveby Extremists

WhyExtremismIsnt About Economics

How Generation Wealth Is a Boon for IslamistExtremists

Read the rest here:

Just Following Orders? Why Extremism is a Choice - Clarion Project

Internal Memes: Parasites and Predators of the Mind – Psychology Today

Goya - The sleep of reason produces monsters

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever had an all-consuming thought?Its strange to describe thoughts as consuming anything, but some really do seem carnivorous.In the jungle of the mind, some thoughts thrive by devouring our attention and wiping out their competitorsthe survival strategies of an alpha predator.

Other ideas lurk in the back of the mind, quietly but continuously feeding on our mental resourcespsychological parasites.But whether a negative thought acts like a T-Rex or a tapeworm, the result is the same: a disruption of our mental equilibrium, leading to distraction, anxiety, and suffering.

Inside the human mind, the success or failure of a particular thought can be understood through meme theory.Meme theory uses natural selection and Darwinian evolution to explain how ideas, symbols, and stories spread through human culture.

Memes are ideas that, just like living things, can flourish, mutate into new forms, or go extinct.In this way, memes also compete and evolve inside the individuals mindthese are our internal memes.(Further defined and explored in my columns, "Infohazard Warning: How Internal Memes Infect Your Brain" and "Why Did I Think That? Your Internal Memes.")

The thoughts that consume us, including those associated with OCD, depression, and trauma, often feel inescapable and unstoppable.But they only seem that waybecause they use specific, predictable strategies to exploit vulnerabilities in human psychology.These internal memes are very good at tricking you into repeating them, but they use the same tricks every time.

Try to examine your difficult thoughts scientifically, the way a zoologist might conduct an autopsy on a newly-discovered species.Which traits make the meme painful to think about?What strategies does it employ to lure you into repeating it?Youll likely identify some of the following tricks.

First of allthe ideas that repeat arent necessarily good ones.Susan Blackmore observes, somewhat wryly, that mental resources are best used practicing useful skills, or solving problems, or thinking through social exchanges so as to make better deals, or planning future activities. I have to say this does not seem to be plausible for the sorts of daft and pointless thoughts I tend to think about (The Meme Machine).

The brain neglects some very obvious selection criteria when evaluating memescriteria like utility, meaning, well-being, and truth.A meme only needs to fake positive qualities to be repeated, even if its actually useless, meaningless, unhealthy, or a straight-up lie.

Internal memes have plenty of other tricks to appear more acceptable than they deserve to be, as observed by Heylighen and Chielens in their paper Cultural Evolution and Memetics.Self-justificationmeans that the components of a memeplex mutually justify each other. This can occur, for instance, in depressive thinkingIm a bad person because I do bad things and I do bad things because Im a bad person create a self-justifying loop.

Self-reinforcement means that a meme stimulates its host to rehearse itself, e.g., by repeated study, meditation, prayer, etc.Intolerance means that a meme indoctrinates its hosta priori toreject any potentially competing memes.Blackmore, inThe Meme Machine,elaborates on this: Memes inside a memeplex survive better as part of the group they form a self-organizing, self-protecting structure that welcomes and protects other memes that are compatible with the group, and repels memes that are not.

Internal memes can fool us using double-headed statements (one half is bound to be true of you) and ambiguous ones (read in what you like) (The Meme Machine).They flatter our sense of individuality using the Barnum Effectmaking suggestions you might hear from a carnival barker or a tarot reader, statements that almost everyone will judge as true of themselves but not of others (The Meme Machine).Barnum statements can be positive ("You look like someone with a lot of common sense") or negative ("Everyone else is happier than I am").

One last trick is intermittent reinforcement, a well-known psychological trap that reinforces behaviors if theyrerandomly rewardedso you might compulsively repeat a miserable thought because, every so often, it feels productive or reassuring.

Storytelling is a powerful and persuasive way of reinforcing information.Memorizing three random spots on a map is tricky,but a simple storylikeWe left from there to come here but ended up elsewhereis much easier to understand, memorize, and recall.Stories organize information into a logical sequence of cause-and-effect; they create a historical context for events with backward-chaining; and they make future-oriented predictions and explore hypothetical situations.If meme takes the shape of a story, it seems that much more plausible and coherent.

Internal memes also draw power from our emotions.Negative emotional affects (fear, anger, sadness, and disgust) are more potent than positive ones, especially when they trigger partially-automatic emotional reactions.

A little anger leads to a lot of anger, and leaves a huge impression (Eckman, Emotions Revealed). If consumption of a particular food is accompanied by gastrointestinal distress, even as long as twelve hours after consumption, an aversion to that food is developed (Kelly, Yuck! The Nature and Moral Significance of Disgust).

Pain and noise are biologically set to be signals that attract attention, and depression involves a self-reinforcing cycle of miserable thoughts (Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow).Our social interactions can teach new emotional relations indirectly through our empathy with others.

Finally, internal memes can evolve from thoughts to behaviors, harnessing our motor systems and external environment (especially multi-sensory stimuli involving smell, taste, or touch).Problem-solving behaviors activate a variety of reinforcing functions, including cause-and-effect thinking and mechanical action, whether or not they actually solve our problems; ritual behaviors (including OCD) intermittently reward us with occasional, temporary reductions in negative affect.And every behavior gets easier with practice, as skill-building and experiential learning create new automatic behaviorswhich strengthen related memes.

Its ironic that the same evolutionary trait that allowed humans to become the dominant species on Earthour intelligencealso makes us uniquely vulnerable to mental predators and parasites.No other animal suffers so intensely from thinking alone.

But thankfully, human intelligence also possesses the necessary traits to liberate itself from restrictive, negative thinking: self-awareness, flexibility, and resolve.Just as our ancestors invented tools to overcome their natural predators, we can invent and refine new psychological tools to overcome our negativebut predictable, and therefore manageablethoughts.

See the rest here:

Internal Memes: Parasites and Predators of the Mind - Psychology Today

Dual inheritance theory – Wikipedia

Dual inheritance theory (DIT), also known as geneculture coevolution or biocultural evolution,[1] was developed in the 1960s through early 1980s to explain how human behavior is a product of two different and interacting evolutionary processes: genetic evolution and cultural evolution. Genes and culture continually interact in a feedback loop,[2] changes in genes can lead to changes in culture which can then influence genetic selection, and vice versa. One of the theory's central claims is that culture evolves partly through a Darwinian selection process, which dual inheritance theorists often describe by analogy to genetic evolution.[3]

'Culture', in this context is defined as 'socially learned behavior', and 'social learning' is defined as copying behaviors observed in others or acquiring behaviors through being taught by others. Most of the modelling done in the field relies on the first dynamic (copying) though it can be extended to teaching. Social learning at its simplest involves blind copying of behaviors from a model (someone observed behaving), though it is also understood to have many potential biases, including success bias (copying from those who are perceived to be better off), status bias (copying from those with higher status), homophily (copying from those most like ourselves), conformist bias (disproportionately picking up behaviors that more people are performing), etc.. Understanding social learning is a system of pattern replication, and understanding that there are different rates of survival for different socially learned cultural variants, this sets up, by definition, an evolutionary structure: cultural evolution.[4]

Because genetic evolution is relatively well understood, most of DIT examines cultural evolution and the interactions between cultural evolution and genetic evolution.

DIT holds that genetic and cultural evolution interacted in the evolution of Homo sapiens. DIT recognizes that the natural selection of genotypes is an important component of the evolution of human behavior and that cultural traits can be constrained by genetic imperatives. However, DIT also recognizes that genetic evolution has endowed the human species with a parallel evolutionary process of cultural evolution. DIT makes three main claims:[5]

The human capacity to store and transmit culture arose from genetically evolved psychological mechanisms. This implies that at some point during the evolution of the human species a type of social learning leading to cumulative cultural evolution was evolutionarily advantageous.

Social learning processes give rise to cultural evolution. Cultural traits are transmitted differently from genetic traits and, therefore, result in different population-level effects on behavioral variation.

Cultural traits alter the social and physical environments under which genetic selection operates. For example, the cultural adoptions of agriculture and dairying have, in humans, caused genetic selection for the traits to digest starch and lactose, respectively.[6][7][8][9][10][11] As another example, it is likely that once culture became adaptive, genetic selection caused a refinement of the cognitive architecture that stores and transmits cultural information. This refinement may have further influenced the way culture is stored and the biases that govern its transmission.

DIT also predicts that, under certain situations, cultural evolution may select for traits that are genetically maladaptive. An example of this is the demographic transition, which describes the fall of birth rates within industrialized societies. Dual inheritance theorists hypothesize that the demographic transition may be a result of a prestige bias, where individuals that forgo reproduction to gain more influence in industrial societies are more likely to be chosen as cultural models.[12][13]

People have defined the word "culture" to describe a large set of different phenomena.[14][15] A definition that sums up what is meant by "culture" in DIT is:

Culture is socially learned information stored in individuals' brains that is capable of affecting behavior.[16][17]

This view of culture emphasizes population thinking by focusing on the process by which culture is generated and maintained. It also views culture as a dynamic property of individuals, as opposed to a view of culture as a superorganic entity to which individuals must conform.[18] This view's main advantage is that it connects individual-level processes to population-level outcomes.[19]

Genes affect cultural evolution via psychological predispositions on cultural learning.[20] Genes encode much of the information needed to form the human brain. Genes constrain the brain's structure and, hence, the ability of the brain to acquire and store culture. Genes may also endow individuals with certain types of transmission bias (described below).

Culture can profoundly influence gene frequencies in a population.

Lactase persistence

One of the best known examples is the prevalence of the genotype for adult lactose absorption in human populations, such as Northern Europeans and some African societies, with a long history of raising cattle for milk. Until around 7,500 years ago,[21] lactase production stopped shortly after weaning,[22] and in societies which did not develop dairying, such as East Asians and Amerindians, this is still true today.[23][24] In areas with lactase persistence, it is believed that by domesticating animals, a source of milk became available while an adult and thus strong selection for lactase persistence could occur,[21][25] in a Scandinavian population the estimated selection coefficient was 0.09-0.19.[25] This implies that the cultural practice of raising cattle first for meat and later for milk led to selection for genetic traits for lactose digestion.[26] Recently, analysis of natural selection on the human genome suggests that civilization has accelerated genetic change in humans over the past 10,000 years.[27]

Food processing

Culture has driven changes to the human digestive systems making many digestive organs, like our teeth or stomach, smaller than expected for primates of a similar size,[28] and has been attributed to one of the reasons why humans have such large brains compared to other great apes.[29][30] This is due to food processing. Early examples of food processing include pounding, marinating and most notably cooking. Pounding meat breaks down the muscle fibres, hence taking away some of the job from the mouth, teeth and jaw.[31][32] Marinating emulates the action of the stomach with high acid levels. Cooking partially breaks down food making it more easily digestible. Food enters the body effectively partly digested, and as such food processing reduces the work that the digestive system has to do. This means that there is selection for smaller digestive organs as the tissue is energetically expensive,[28] those with smaller digestive organs can process their food but at a lower energetic cost than those with larger organs.[33] Cooking is notable because the energy available from food increases when cooked and this also means less time is spent looking for food.[29][34][35]

Humans living on cooked diets spend only a fraction of their day chewing compared to other extant primates living on raw diets. American girls and boys spent on average 8 and 7 percent of their day chewing respectively, compared to chimpanzees who spend more than 6 hours a day chewing.[36] This frees up time which can be used for hunting. A raw diet means hunting is constrained since time spent hunting is time not spent eating and chewing plant material, but cooking reduces the time required to get the day's energy requirements, allowing for more subsistence activities.[37] Digestibility of cooked carbohydrates is approximately on average 30% higher than digestibility of non cooked carbohydrates.[34][38] This increased energy intake, more free time and savings made on tissue used in the digestive system allowed for the selection of genes for larger brain size.

Despite its benefits, brain tissue requires a large amount of calories, hence a main constraint in selection for larger brains is calorie intake. A greater calorie intake can support greater quantities of brain tissue. This is argued to explain why human brains can be much larger than other apes, since humans are the only ape to engage in food processing.[29] The cooking of food has influenced genes to the extent that, research suggests, humans cannot live without cooking.[39][29] A study on 513 individuals consuming long term raw diets found that as the percentage of their diet which was made up of raw food and/or the length they had been on a diet of raw food increased, their BMI decreased.[39] This is despite access to many non thermal processing, like grinding, pounding or heating to 48 deg. c. (118 deg. F).[39] With approximately 86 billion neurons in the human brain and 6070kg body mass, an exclusively raw diet close to that of what extant primates have would be not viable as, when modelled, it is argued that it would require an infeasible level of more than nine hours of feeding everyday.[29] However, this is contested, with alternative modelling showing enough calories could be obtained within 56 hours per day.[40] Some scientists and anthropologists point to evidence that brain size in the Homo lineage started to increase well before the advent of cooking due to increased consumption of meat[28][40][41] and that basic food processing (slicing) accounts for the size reduction in organs related to chewing.[42] Cornlio et al. argues that improving cooperative abilities and a varying of diet to more meat and seeds improved foraging and hunting efficiency. It is this that allowed for the brain expansion, independent of cooking which they argue came much later, a consequence from the complex cognition that developed.[40] Yet this is still an example of a cultural shift in diet and the resulting genetic evolution. Further criticism comes from the controversy of the archaeological evidence available. Some claim there is a lack of evidence of fire control when brain sizes first started expanding.[40][43] Wrangham argues that anatomical evidence around the time of the origin of Homo erectus (1.8 million years ago), indicates that the control of fire and hence cooking occurred.[34] At this time, the largest reductions in tooth size in the entirety of human evolution occurred, indicating that softer foods became prevalent in the diet. Also at this time was a narrowing of the pelvis indicating a smaller gut and also there is evidence that there was a loss of the ability to climb which Wrangham argues indicates the control of fire, since sleeping on the ground needs fire to ward off predators.[44] The proposed increases in brain size from food processing will have led to a greater mental capacity for further cultural innovation in food processing which will have increased digestive efficiency further providing more energy for further gains in brain size.[45] This positive feedback loop is argued to have led to the rapid brain size increases seen in the Homo lineage.[46][40]

In DIT, the evolution and maintenance of cultures is described by five major mechanisms: natural selection of cultural variants, random variation, cultural drift, guided variation and transmission bias.

Cultural differences among individuals can lead to differential survival of individuals. The patterns of this selective process depend on transmission biases and can result in behavior that is more adaptive to a given environment.

Random variation arises from errors in the learning, display or recall of cultural information, and is roughly analogous to the process of mutation in genetic evolution.

Cultural drift is a process roughly analogous to genetic drift in evolutionary biology.[47][48][49] In cultural drift, the frequency of cultural traits in a population may be subject to random fluctuations due to chance variations in which traits are observed and transmitted (sometimes called "sampling error").[50] These fluctuations might cause cultural variants to disappear from a population. This effect should be especially strong in small populations.[51] A model by Hahn and Bentley shows that cultural drift gives a reasonably good approximation to changes in the popularity of American baby names.[50] Drift processes have also been suggested to explain changes in archaeological pottery and technology patent applications.[49] Changes in the songs of song birds are also thought to arise from drift processes, where distinct dialects in different groups occur due to errors in songbird singing and acquisition by successive generations.[52] Cultural drift is also observed in an early computer model of cultural evolution.[53]

Cultural traits may be gained in a population through the process of individual learning. Once an individual learns a novel trait, it can be transmitted to other members of the population. The process of guided variation depends on an adaptive standard that determines what cultural variants are learned.

Understanding the different ways that culture traits can be transmitted between individuals has been an important part of DIT research since the 1970s.[54][55] Transmission biases occur when some cultural variants are favored over others during the process of cultural transmission.[56] Boyd and Richerson (1985)[56] defined and analytically modeled a number of possible transmission biases. The list of biases has been refined over the years, especially by Henrich and McElreath.[57]

Content biases result from situations where some aspect of a cultural variant's content makes them more likely to be adopted.[58] Content biases can result from genetic preferences, preferences determined by existing cultural traits, or a combination of the two. For example, food preferences can result from genetic preferences for sugary or fatty foods and socially-learned eating practices and taboos.[58] Content biases are sometimes called "direct biases."[56]

Context biases result from individuals using clues about the social structure of their population to determine what cultural variants to adopt. This determination is made without reference to the content of the variant. There are two major categories of context biases: model-based biases, and frequency-dependent biases.

Model-based biases result when an individual is biased to choose a particular "cultural model" to imitate. There are four major categories of model-based biases: prestige bias, skill bias, success bias, and similarity bias.[5][59] A "prestige bias" results when individuals are more likely to imitate cultural models that are seen as having more prestige. A measure of prestige could be the amount of deference shown to a potential cultural model by other individuals. A "skill bias" results when individuals can directly observe different cultural models performing a learned skill and are more likely to imitate cultural models that perform better at the specific skill. A "success bias" results from individuals preferentially imitating cultural models that they determine are most generally successful (as opposed to successful at a specific skill as in the skill bias.) A "similarity bias" results when individuals are more likely to imitate cultural models that are perceived as being similar to the individual based on specific traits.

Frequency-dependent biases result when an individual is biased to choose particular cultural variants based on their perceived frequency in the population. The most explored frequency-dependent bias is the "conformity bias." Conformity biases result when individuals attempt to copy the mean or the mode cultural variant in the population. Another possible frequency dependent bias is the "rarity bias." The rarity bias results when individuals preferentially choose cultural variants that are less common in the population. The rarity bias is also sometimes called a "nonconformist" or "anti-conformist" bias.

In DIT, the evolution of culture is dependent on the evolution of social learning. Analytic models show that social learning becomes evolutionarily beneficial when the environment changes with enough frequency that genetic inheritance can not track the changes, but not fast enough that individual learning is more efficient.[60] For environments that have very little variability, social learning is not needed since genes can adapt fast enough to the changes that occur, and innate behaviour is able to deal with the constant environment.[61] In fast changing environments cultural learning would not be useful because what the previous generation knew is now outdated and will provide no benefit in the changed environment, and hence individual learning is more beneficial. It is only in the moderately changing environment where cultural learning becomes useful since each generation shares a mostly similar environment but genes have insufficient time to change to changes in the environment.[62] While other species have social learning, and thus some level of culture, only humans, some birds and chimpanzees are known to have cumulative culture.[63] Boyd and Richerson argue that the evolution of cumulative culture depends on observational learning and is uncommon in other species because it is ineffective when it is rare in a population. They propose that the environmental changes occurring in the Pleistocene may have provided the right environmental conditions.[62] Michael Tomasello argues that cumulative cultural evolution results from a ratchet effect that began when humans developed the cognitive architecture to understand others as mental agents.[64] Furthermore, Tomasello proposed in the 80s that there are some disparities between the observational learning mechanisms found in humans and great apes - which go some way to explain the observable difference between great ape traditions and human types of culture (see Emulation (observational learning)).

Although group selection is commonly thought to be nonexistent or unimportant in genetic evolution,[65][66][67] DIT predicts that, due to the nature of cultural inheritance, it may be an important force in cultural evolution. Group selection occurs in cultural evolution because conformist biases make it difficult for novel cultural traits to spread through a population (see above section on transmission biases). Conformist bias also helps maintain variation between groups. These two properties, rare in genetic transmission, are necessary for group selection to operate.[68] Based on an earlier model by Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman,[69] Boyd and Richerson show that conformist biases are almost inevitable when traits spread through social learning,[70] implying that group selection is common in cultural evolution. Analysis of small groups in New Guinea imply that cultural group selection might be a good explanation for slowly changing aspects of social structure, but not for rapidly changing fads.[71] The ability of cultural evolution to maintain intergroup diversity is what allows for the study of cultural phylogenetics.[72]

The idea that human cultures undergo a similar evolutionary process as genetic evolution goes back at least to Darwin[73] In the 1960s, Donald T. Campbell published some of the first theoretical work that adapted principles of evolutionary theory to the evolution of cultures.[74] In 1976, two developments in cultural evolutionary theory set the stage for DIT. In that year Richard Dawkins's The Selfish Gene introduced ideas of cultural evolution to a popular audience. Although one of the best-selling science books of all time, because of its lack of mathematical rigor, it had little effect on the development of DIT. Also in 1976, geneticists Marcus Feldman and Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza published the first dynamic models of geneculture coevolution.[75] These models were to form the basis for subsequent work on DIT, heralded by the publication of three seminal books in the 1980s.

The first was Charles Lumsden and E.O. Wilson's Genes, Mind and Culture.[76] This book outlined a series of mathematical models of how genetic evolution might favor the selection of cultural traits and how cultural traits might, in turn, affect the speed of genetic evolution. While it was the first book published describing how genes and culture might coevolve, it had relatively little effect on the further development of DIT.[77] Some critics felt that their models depended too heavily on genetic mechanisms at the expense of cultural mechanisms.[78] Controversy surrounding Wilson's sociobiological theories may also have decreased the lasting effect of this book.[77]

The second 1981 book was Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman's Cultural Transmission and Evolution: A Quantitative Approach.[48] Borrowing heavily from population genetics and epidemiology, this book built a mathematical theory concerning the spread of cultural traits. It describes the evolutionary implications of vertical transmission, passing cultural traits from parents to offspring; oblique transmission, passing cultural traits from any member of an older generation to a younger generation; and horizontal transmission, passing traits between members of the same population.

The next significant DIT publication was Robert Boyd and Peter Richerson's 1985 Culture and the Evolutionary Process.[56] This book presents the now-standard mathematical models of the evolution of social learning under different environmental conditions, the population effects of social learning, various forces of selection on cultural learning rules, different forms of biased transmission and their population-level effects, and conflicts between cultural and genetic evolution. The book's conclusion also outlined areas for future research that are still relevant today.[79]

In their 1985 book, Boyd and Richerson outlined an agenda for future DIT research. This agenda, outlined below, called for the development of both theoretical models and empirical research. DIT has since built a rich tradition of theoretical models over the past two decades.[80] However, there has not been a comparable level of empirical work.

In a 2006 interview Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson expressed disappointment at the little attention afforded to DIT:

"...for some reason I haven't fully fathomed, this most promising frontier of scientific research has attracted very few people and very little effort."[81]

Kevin Laland and Gillian Ruth Brown attribute this lack of attention to DIT's heavy reliance on formal modeling.

"In many ways the most complex and potentially rewarding of all approaches, [DIT], with its multiple processes and cerebral onslaught of sigmas and deltas, may appear too abstract to all but the most enthusiastic reader. Until such a time as the theoretical hieroglyphics can be translated into a respectable empirical science most observers will remain immune to its message."[82]

Economist Herbert Gintis disagrees with this critique, citing empirical work as well as more recent work using techniques from behavioral economics.[83] These behavioral economic techniques have been adapted to test predictions of cultural evolutionary models in laboratory settings[84][85][86] as well as studying differences in cooperation in fifteen small-scale societies in the field.[87]

Since one of the goals of DIT is to explain the distribution of human cultural traits, ethnographic and ethnologic techniques may also be useful for testing hypothesis stemming from DIT. Although findings from traditional ethnologic studies have been used to buttress DIT arguments,[88][89] thus far there have been little ethnographic fieldwork designed to explicitly test these hypotheses.[71][87][90]

Herb Gintis has named DIT one of the two major conceptual theories with potential for unifying the behavioral sciences, including economics, biology, anthropology, sociology, psychology and political science. Because it addresses both the genetic and cultural components of human inheritance, Gintis sees DIT models as providing the best explanations for the ultimate cause of human behavior and the best paradigm for integrating those disciplines with evolutionary theory.[91] In a review of competing evolutionary perspectives on human behavior, Laland and Brown see DIT as the best candidate for uniting the other evolutionary perspectives under one theoretical umbrella.[92]

Two major topics of study in both sociology and cultural anthropology are human cultures and cultural variation.However, Dual Inheritance theorists charge that both disciplines too often treat culture as a static superorganic entity that dictates human behavior.[93][94] Cultures are defined by a suite of common traits shared by a large group of people. DIT theorists argue that this doesn't sufficiently explain variation in cultural traits at the individual level. By contrast, DIT models human culture at the individual level and views culture as the result of a dynamic evolutionary process at the population level.[93][95]

Evolutionary psychologists study the evolved architecture of the human mind. They see it as composed of many different programs that process information, each with assumptions and procedures that were specialized by natural selection to solve a different adaptive problem faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors (e.g., choosing mates, hunting, avoiding predators, cooperating, using aggression).[96] These evolved programs contain content-rich assumptions about how the world and other people work. As ideas are passed from mind to mind, they are changed by these evolved inference systems (much like messages get changed in a game of telephone). But the changes are not random. Evolved programs add and subtract information, reshaping the ideas in ways that make them more "intuitive", more memorable, and more attention-grabbing. In other words, "memes" (ideas) are not like genes. Genes are copied faithfully as they are replicated, but ideas are not. Its not just that ideas mutate every once in awhile, like genes do. Ideas are transformed every time they are passed from mind to mind, because the sender's message is being interpreted by evolved inference systems in the receiver.[97][98] There is no necessary contradiction between evolutionary psychology and DIT, but evolutionary psychologists argue that the psychology implicit in many DIT models is too simple; evolved programs have a rich inferential structure not captured by the idea of a "content bias". They also argue that some of the phenomena DIT models attribute to cultural evolution are cases of "evoked culture"situations in which different evolved programs are activated in different places, in response to cues in the environment.[99]

Human sociobiologists try to understand how maximizing genetic fitness, in either the modern era or past environments, can explain human behavior. When faced with a trait that seems maladaptive, some sociobiologists try to determine how the trait actually increases genetic fitness (maybe through kin selection or by speculating about early evolutionary environments). Dual inheritance theorists, in contrast, will consider a variety of genetic and cultural processes in addition to natural selection on genes.

Human behavioral ecology (HBE) and DIT have a similar relationship to what ecology and evolutionary biology have in the biological sciences. HBE is more concerned about ecological process and DIT more focused on historical process.[100] One difference is that human behavioral ecologists often assume that culture is a system that produces the most adaptive outcome in a given environment. This implies that similar behavioral traditions should be found in similar environments. However, this is not always the case. A study of African cultures showed that cultural history was a better predictor of cultural traits than local ecological conditions.[101]

Memetics, which comes from the meme idea described in Dawkins's The Selfish Gene, is similar to DIT in that it treats culture as an evolutionary process that is distinct from genetic transmission. However, there are some philosophical differences between memetics and DIT.[102] One difference is that memetics' focus is on the selection potential of discrete replicators (memes), where DIT allows for transmission of both non-replicators and non-discrete cultural variants. DIT does not assume that replicators are necessary for cumulative adaptive evolution. DIT also more strongly emphasizes the role of genetic inheritance in shaping the capacity for cultural evolution. But perhaps the biggest difference is a difference in academic lineage. Memetics as a label is more influential in popular culture than in academia. Critics of memetics argue that it is lacking in empirical support or is conceptually ill-founded, and question whether there is hope for the memetic research program succeeding. Proponents point out that many cultural traits are discrete, and that many existing models of cultural inheritance assume discrete cultural units, and hence involve memes.[103]

Serious criticisms have been levelled against DIT.[104][105][106] Use of the term dual inheritance to refer to not just traits that are transmitted by way of a self-assembly code (as in genetic evolution) but also traits that are not transmitted by way of a self-assembly code (as in cultural evolution) is misleading, because this second use does not capture the algorithmic structure that makes an inheritance system require a particular kind of mathematical framework.[107] The population genetics framework was designed to solve the problem of how does evolution occur--i.e., how are fit traits preserved in a lineage--in a system wherein acquired change is discarded at the end of each generation. Darwin noticed that there are two kinds of traits: acquired traits (e.g., a tattoo, or knowledge of the layout of a particular city) which are discarded, while inherited traits (e.g., blood type) are preserved. His ingenious solution was to develop a population level explanation, and show that evolution was due to differential replication of heritable variation in response to selection. We now know that the reason for the distinction between these two kinds of traits is that some traits (inherited traits) are encoded in genes which collectively constitute self-assembly code and are transmitted to offspring, while all other traits (acquired traits) are shed at the end of a generation with the deaths of those who bore them.Thus, the reason that horizontal transmission of ideas is algorithmically dissimilar to vertical transmission (reproduction) in genetic evolution is that it does not provide a means of preserving fit traits in a system wherein those traits would otherwise be lost from the lineage. Proponents of DIT argue that 1) even genetic evolution uses non-vertical transmission through the environmental alteration of the genome during life by acquired circumstance: epigenetics, and 2) genetic evolution is also affected by direct horizontal transmission between separate species of plants and strains of bacteria: horizontal gene transfer. However, these arguments are irrelevant to the issue of whether a Darwinian (or selectionist, or population genetics) mathematical framework is appropriate to the description of cultural evolution, since these aspects of biological evolution are themselves not accommodated by such a framework. The point is that although it is not essential that inherited traits be transmitted by way of genes (necessarily) for a population genetics framework to be applicable, but they need to be transmitted by way of a self-assembly code, or some other such mechanism that may exist out there in the universe that does the same thing: preserving traits that would otherwise be lost from a lineage due to the death of individuals.

The above criticism of DIT arises due to the choice of Darwinian selection as an explanatory framework for culture. Cultural evolution does not possess the algorithmic structure of a process that can be modeled in a Darwinian framework as characterized by John von Neumann[108] and used by John Holland to design the genetic algorithm.[109] Forcing culture into a Darwinian framework gives a distorted picture of the process for several reasons. First, Darwinian selection only works as an explanatory framework when variation is randomly generated.[citation needed] To the extent that transmission biases are operative in culture, they mitigate the effect of Darwinian change, i.e. change in the distribution of variants over generations of exposure to selective pressures.[citation needed] Second, since acquired change can accumulate orders of magnitude faster than inherited change, if it is not getting regularly discarded each generation, it quickly overwhelms the population-level mechanism of change identified by Darwin; it swamps the phylogenetic signal.[citation needed]DIT proponents reply that their theory includes a very important role for decision-making forces.[110] As a point of history, Darwin had a rather sophisticated theory of human cultural evolution that depended on natural selection "to a subordinate degree" compared to "laws, customs, and traditions" supported by public opinion.[111] Critics do not see the relevance of this reply to the point they are making. When critics claim that DIT is too "Darwinian" they are claiming that culture does not have the algorithmic structure of the kind of process that the formalisms of population genetics were developed to capture.

A related problem stems from the reconstructive manner in which ideas are encoded and retrieved from memory, and the fact that ideas are interpreted in terms of existing conceptual structure and creatively adapted to their bearer's needs, views, and tastes prior to cultural transmission. This means that what biologists call 'acquired change' is ubiquitous in culture, and the population genetics framework was specifically developed to describe the evolution of inherited change in a system where acquired change is regularly discarded from the lineage. Proponents argue "But if this criticism was valid then it would be comparatively much easier to argue an unpopular or incorrect concepts than it actually is." Critics do not know what they mean by this. Proponents also claim, "In addition, nothing about DIT runs counter to the idea that an internally selective process (some would call creativity) also determines the fitness of ideas received and sent. In fact this decision making is a large part of the territory embraced by DIT proponents but is poorly understood due to limitations in neurobiology (for more information see Neural Darwinism)." Critics, however, do not view creativity as an "internally selective process", and their criticism has nothing to do with whether creativity "determines the fitness of ideas received and sent." (They also point out that there is a vast psychological literature on decision making; it would only appear to be "poorly understood" to someone whose only source for papers on decision making is the literature on Neural Darwinism.) The point critics are making in regard to creativity is that creativity introduces acquired change which is not handled by a selectionist, or Darwinian, or population genetics (it doesn't matter what you call it) type of mathematical framework.

Related criticisms of the effort to frame culture in Darwinian terms have been leveled by Richard Lewontin,[112] Niles Eldredge,[113] and Stuart Kauffman.[114]

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Dual inheritance theory - Wikipedia

Viral marketing – Wikipedia

Viral marketing or viral advertising is a business strategy that uses existing social networks to promote a product. Its name refers to how consumers spread information about a product with other people in their social networks, much in the same way that a virus spreads from one person to another.[1] It can be delivered by word of mouth or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet and mobile networks.[2]

The concept is often misused or misunderstood,[3][4] as people apply it to any successful enough story without taking into account the word "viral".[5]

Viral advertising is personal and, while coming from an identified sponsor, it does not mean businesses pay for its distribution.[6] Most of the well-known viral ads circulating online are ads paid by a sponsor company, launched either on their own platform (company webpage or social media profile) or on social media websites such as YouTube.[7] Consumers receive the page link from a social media network or copy the entire ad from a website and pass it along through e-mail or posting it on a blog, webpage or social media profile. Viral marketing may take the form of video clips, interactive Flash games, advergames, ebooks, brandable software, images, text messages, email messages, or web pages. The most commonly utilized transmission vehicles for viral messages include: pass-along based, incentive based, trendy based, and undercover based. However, the creative nature of viral marketing enables an "endless amount of potential forms and vehicles the messages can utilize for transmission", including mobile devices.[8]

The ultimate goal of marketers interested in creating successful viral marketing programs is to create viral messages that appeal to individuals with high social networking potential (SNP) and that have a high probability of being presented and spread by these individuals and their competitors in their communications with others in a short period of time.[9]

The term "viral marketing" has also been used pejoratively to refer to stealth marketing campaignsmarketing strategies that advertise a product to people without them knowing they are being marketed to.[10]

The emergence of "viral marketing", as an approach to advertisement, has been tied to the popularization of the notion that ideas spread like viruses. The field that developed around this notion, memetics, peaked in popularity in the 1990s.[11] As this then began to influence marketing gurus, it took on a life of its own in that new context.

The term viral strategy was first used in marketing in 1995, in a pre-digital marketing era, by a strategy team at Chiat/Day advertising in LA (now TBWA LA) for the launch of the first PlayStation for Sony Computer Entertainment. Born from a need to combat huge target cynicism the insight was that people reject things pushed at them but seek out things that elude them. Chiat/Day created a 'stealth' campaign to go after influencers/opinion leaders, using street teams for the first time in brand marketing and layered an intricate omni-channel web of info and intrigue. Insiders picked up on it and spread the word. Within 6 months PlayStation was number one in its categorySony's most successful launch in history.

There is debate on the origination and the popularization of the specific term viral marketing, though some of the earliest uses of the current term are attributed to the Harvard Business School graduate Tim Draper and faculty member Jeffrey Rayport. The term was later popularized by Rayport in the 1996 Fast Company article "The Virus of Marketing",[12] and Tim Draper and Steve Jurvetson of the venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson in 1997 to describe Hotmail's practice of appending advertising to outgoing mail from their users.[13] An earlier attestation of the term is found in PC User magazine in 1989, but with a somewhat differing meaning.[14][15]

Among the first to write about viral marketing on the Internet was the media critic Doug Rushkoff.[16] The assumption is that if such an advertisement reaches a "susceptible" user, that user becomes "infected" (i.e., accepts the idea) and shares the idea with others "infecting them", in the viral analogy's terms. As long as each infected user shares the idea with more than one susceptible user on average (i.e., the basic reproductive rate is greater than onethe standard in epidemiology for qualifying something as an epidemic), the number of infected users grows according to an exponential curve. Of course, the marketing campaign may be successful even if the message spreads more slowly, if this user-to-user sharing is sustained by other forms of marketing communications, such as public relations or advertising.[citation needed]

Bob Gerstley was among the first to write about algorithms designed to identify people with high "social networking potential."[17] Gerstley employed SNP algorithms in quantitative marketing research. In 2004, the concept of the alpha user was coined to indicate that it had now become possible to identify the focal members of any viral campaign, the "hubs" who were most influential. Alpha users could be targeted for advertising purposes most accurately in mobile phone networks, due to their personal nature.[citation needed]

In early 2013 the first ever Viral Summit was held in Las Vegas. It attempted to identify similar trends in viral marketing methods for various media.

This exponential growth is not infinite, because customers, people, are finite. This ceiling is called carrying capacity.[18]

According to the book Contagious: Why Things Catch On,[19] there are six key factors that drive virality.[20] They are organized in an acronym called STEPPS which stands for:

According to marketing professors Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein, to make viral marketing work, three basic criteria must be met, i.e., giving the right message to the right messengers in the right environment:[21]

Whereas Kaplan, Haenlein and others reduce the role of marketers to crafting the initial viral message and seeding it, futurist and sales and marketing analyst Marc Feldman, who conducted IMT Strategies' viral marketing study in 2001,[citation needed] carves a different role for marketers which pushes the 'art' of viral marketing much closer to 'science'.[23]

To clarify and organize the information related to potential measures of viral campaigns, the key measurement possibilities should be considered in relation to the objectives formulated for the viral campaign. In this sense, some of the key cognitive outcomes of viral marketing activities can include measures such as the number of views, clicks, and hits for specific content, as well as the number of shares in social media, such as likes on Facebook or retweets on Twitter, which demonstrate that consumers processed the information received through the marketing message. Measures such as the number of reviews for a product or the number of members for a campaign webpage quantify the number of individuals who have acknowledged the information provided by marketers. Besides statistics that are related to online traffic, surveys can assess the degree of product or brand knowledge, though this type of measurement is more complicated and requires more resources.[24][25]

Related to consumers' attitudes toward a brand or even toward the marketing communication, different online and social media statistics, including the number of likes and shares within a social network, can be used. The number of reviews for a certain brand or product and the quality assessed by users are indicators of attitudes. Classical measures of consumer attitude toward the brand can be gathered through surveys of consumers.Behavioral measures are very important because changes in consumers' behavior and buying decisions are what marketers hope to see through viral campaigns. There are numerous indicators that can be used in this context as a function of marketers' objectives. Some of them include the most known online and social media statistics such as number and quality of shares, views, product reviews, and comments. Consumers' brand engagement can be measured through the K-factor, the number of followers, friends, registered users, and time spent on the website. Indicators that are more bottom-line oriented focus on consumers' actions after acknowledging the marketing content, including the number of requests for information, samples, or test-drives. Nevertheless, responses to actual call-to-action messages are important, including the conversion rate.Consumers' behavior is expected to lead to contributions to the bottom line of the company, meaning increase in sales, both in quantity and financial amount. However, when quantifying changes in sales, managers need to consider other factors that could potentially affect sales besides the viral marketing activities. Besides positive effects on sales, the use of viral marketing is expected to bring significant reductions in marketing costs and expenses.[26][27]

Viral marketing often involves and utilizes:

Viral target marketing is based on three important principles:[28]

By applying these three important disciplines to an advertising model, a VMS company is able to match a client with their targeted customers at a cost effective advantage.

The Internet makes it possible for a campaign to go viral very fast; it can, so to speak, make a brand famous overnight. However, the Internet and social media technologies themselves do not make a brand viral; they just enable people to share content to other people faster. Therefore, it is generally agreed that a campaign must typically follow a certain set of guidelines in order to potentially be successful:

The growth of social networks significantly contributed to the effectiveness of viral marketing.[30] As of 2009, two thirds of the world's Internet population visits a social networking service or blog site at least every week.[31] Facebook alone has over 1 billion active users.[32] In 2009, time spent visiting social media sites began to exceed time spent emailing.[33] A 2010 study found that 52% of people who view news online forward it on through social networks, email, or posts.[34]

The introduction of social media has caused a change how viral marketing is used and the speed at which information is spread and users interact.[35] This has prompted many companies to use social media as a way to market themselves and their products, with Elsamari Botha and Mignon Reyneke stating that viral messages are "playing an increasingly important role in influencing and shifting public opinion on corporate reputations, brands, and products as well as political parties and public personalities to name but a few."[35]

'The influencers in order to communicate marketing messages to the audiences you seek to reach'.[36] In business, it is indicated that people prefer interaction with humans to a logo.[37] Therefore, it seems that influencers are on behalf of a company to build up a relationship between the brand and their customers. Companies would be left behind if they neglected the trend of influencers in viral marketing, as over 60% of global brands have used influencers in marketing in 2016.[38]The influencer types come along with the level of customers' involvement in companies' marketing.[39] First, unintentional influences,[40][39] because of brand satisfaction and low involvement, their action is just to deliver a company's message to a potential user.[41] Secondly, users will become salesmen or promoters for a particular company with incentives.[40][39] For example, ICQ offered their users benefits to create the awareness of their friends. Finally, the mass reached influencers are those who have a huge range of followers on the social network. Recent trend in businesses activity is to offer incentives to individual users for re-posting the advertisement messages to their own profiles. A common type of an incentive puts all the re-posting users into a random draw for a valuable gift [42]

Marketers and agencies commonly consider celebrities as a good influencer with endorsement work. This conception is similar to celebrity marketing. Based on a survey, 69% of company marketing department and 74% of agencies are currently working with celebrities in the UK. The celebrity types come along with their working environment. Traditional celebrities are considered as singles, dancers, actors or models. These types of public characters are continuing to be the most commonly used by company marketers. The survey found that 4 in 10 company having worked with these traditional celebrities in the prior year. However, people these years are spending more time on social media rather than traditional media such as TV. The researchers also claim that customers are not firmly believed celebrities are effectively influential.[43][44]

Social media stars among a kind of influencer on viral marketing since consumers are spending more time on the Internet than before. And companies and agencies start to consider collaborating with social media stars as their product endorser.

Social media stars such as YouTuber Zoella or Instagrammer Aimee Song are followed by millions of people online. These online celebrities are having more connection and influence with their followers because they have more frequent and realistic conversation and interaction on the Internet in terms of comments or likes.[45]

This trend captured by marketers who are used to explore new potential customers. Agencies are placing social media stars alongside singers and musicians at the top of the heap of celebrity types they had worked with. And there are more than 28% of company marketers having worked with one social media celebrity in the previous year.[44]

The challenges of strategically maximizing the influence spread in social networks are addressed in management science.[46]

Using influencers in viral marketing provides companies several benefits. It enables companies to spend little time and budget on their marketing communication and brand awareness promotion.[47] For example, Alberto Zanot, in the 2006 FIFA Football World Cup, shared Zinedine Zidane's headbutt against Italy and engaged more than 1.5 million viewers in less than the very first hour. Secondly, it enhances the credibility of messages.[48][49][50][51][52] These trust-based relationships grab the audience's attention, create customers' demand, increase sales and loyalty, or simply drive customers' attitude and behavior.[50][51] In the case of Coke, Millennials changed their mind about the product, from parents' drink to the beverage for teens.[53] It built up Millennials' social needs by 'sharing a Coke' with their friends. This created a deep connection with Gen Y, dramatically increased sales (+11% compared with last year) and market share (+1.6%).[53]

No doubt that harnessing influencers would be a lucrative business for both companies and influencers.[54] The concept of 'influencer' is no longer just an 'expert' but also anyone who delivers and influence on the credibility of a message (e.g. blogger)[49] In 2014, BritMums, network sharing family's daily life, had 6,000 bloggers and 11,300 views per month on average[55][56] and became endorsers for some particular brand such as Coca-Cola, Morrison. Another case, Aimee Song who had over 3.6m followers on the Instagram page and became Laura Mercier's social media influencers, gaining $500,000 monthly.[55]

Decision-making process seems to be hard for customers these days. Millers (1956) argued that people suffered from short-term memory.[57] This links to difficulties in customers' decision-making process and Paradox of Choice,[58] as they face various adverts and newspapers daily.[59] Influencers serve as a credible source for customers' decision-making process.[49][41] Neilsen reported that 80% of consumers appreciated a recommendation of their acquaintances,[60] as they have reasons to trust in their friends delivering the messages without benefits[60] and helping them reduce perceived risks behind choices.[61][62]

The main risk coming from the company is for it to target the wrong influencer or segment. Once the content is online, the sender won't be able to control it anymore.[63] It is therefore vital to aim at a particular segment when releasing the message. This is what happened to the company BlendTech which released videos showing the blender could blend anything, and encouraged users to share videos. This mainly caught the attention of teenage boys who thought it funny to blend and destroy anything they could;[64] even though the videos went viral, they did not target potential buyers of the product. This is considered to be one of the major factors that affects the success of the online promotion. It is critical and inevitable for the organisations to target the right audience. Another risk with internet is that a company's video could end up going viral on the other side of the planet where their products are not even for sale.[65]

According to a paper by Duncan Watts and colleagues entitled: "Everyone's an influencer",[66] the most common risk in viral marketing is that of the influencer not passing on the message, which can lead to the failure of the viral marketing campaign. A second risk is that the influencer modifies the content of the message. A third risk is that influencers pass on the wrong message. This can result from a misunderstanding or as a deliberate move.

Between 19961997, Hotmail was one of the first internet businesses to become extremely successful utilizing viral marketing techniques by inserting the tagline "Get your free e-mail at Hotmail" at the bottom of every e-mail sent out by its users. Hotmail was able to sign up 12 million users in 18 months.[67] At the time, this was historically the fastest growth of any user based media company.[68] By the time Hotmail reached 66 million users, the company was establishing 270,000 new accounts each day.[68]

In 2000, described TiVo's unpublicized gambit of giving free systems to web-savvy enthusiasts to create "viral" word of mouth, pointing out that a viral campaign differs from a publicity stunt.[69]

Burger King has used several marketing campaigns. Its The Subservient Chicken campaign, running from 2004 until 2007, was an example of viral or word-of-mouth marketing.[70]

The Blendtec viral video series Will It Blend? debuted in 2006. In the show, Tom Dickson, Blendtec founder and CEO, attempts to blend various unusual items in order to show off the power of his blender. Will it Blend? has been nominated for the 2007 YouTube award for Best Series, winner of .Net Magazine's 2007 Viral Video campaign of the year and winner of the Bronze level Clio Award for Viral Video in 2008.[71] In 2010, Blendtec claimed the top spot on the AdAge list of "Top 10 Viral Ads of All Time".[72] The Will It Blend page on YouTube currently shows over 200 million video views.[73]

The Big Word Project, launched in 2008, aimed to redefine the Oxford English Dictionary by allowing people to submit their website as the definition of their chosen word. The project, created to fund two Masters students' educations, attracted the attention of bloggers worldwide, and was featured on Daring Fireball and Wired Magazine.[74]

Companies may also be able to use a viral video that they did not create for marketing purposes. A notable example is the viral video "The Extreme Diet Coke & Mentos Experiments" created by Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz of EepyBird. After the initial success of the video, Mentos was quick to offer its support. They shipped EepyBird thousands of mints for their experiments. Coke was slower to get involved.[75]

On March 6, 2012, Dollar Shave Club launched their online video campaign. In the first 48 hours of their video debuting on YouTube they had over 12,000 people signing up for the service. The video cost just $4500 to make and as of November 2015 has had more than 21 million views. The video was considered as one of the best viral marketing campaigns of 2012 and won "Best Out-of-Nowhere Video Campaign" at the 2012 AdAge Viral Video Awards.

In 2014, A.L.S. Ice Bucket Challenge was among the best viral marketing challenges examples in the social network. Millions of people on the social media started filming themselves, pouring a bucket of ice water over their heads and sharing the video with their friends. The challenge was created to give support for fighting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig's disease. People finished the challenge and then nominated the next person they knew on the social media to take the same challenge. By following this trend, Ice Bucket Challenge became a 'fab' on social media with many online celebrities such as Tyler Oakley, Zoe Sugg and huge celebrities and entrepreneurs like Justin Bieber, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates participating.[76] Until September 2014, over 2.4 million ice bucket-related videos had been posted on Facebook, and 28 million people had uploaded, commented on or liked ice bucket-related posts. And about 3.7 million videos had been uploaded on Instagram with the hashtags #ALSicebucketchallenge and #icebucketchallenge.[77] The ALS association didn't invent the ice bucket challenge, but they sure received a huge amount of donation from this activity. It raised a reported $220 million worldwide for A.L.S. organisations, and this amount is thirteen times as much donation as what it had in the whole preceding year in just eight weeks.[78]

In mid 2016, an Indian tea company (TE-A-ME) has delivered 6,000 tea bags[79] to DonaldTrumpand launched a video on YouTube.[80] and Facebook[81] The video campaign received various awards including most creative PR stunt[82] in Southeast Asia after receiving 52000+ video shares, 3.1M video view in first 72-hour and hundreds of publication mentions (including Mashable, Quartz,[83] Indian Express,[84] Buzzfeed[85]) across 80+ countries.

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Disinfect Your Mind: Defend Yourself with Memetics Against …

While authorities in psychology discuss whether memetics is a science, its use by politicians, marketing departments and mass media becomes more and more ubiquitous.

Consider a computer. You can only use a word processor to edit a text. You can only use a merchant's website to order merchandize. But you can use programming languages like C++ or C# to make a computer do virtually anything you want. Similarly, psychology is not enough anymore for politicians, mass media, and large businesses. Preinstalled programs in human minds, such as widely accepted social norms, habits, and prejudices, are not enough for them to exploit anymore. They want to make you do virtually anything they want you to do.

Do you want to defend yourself?

Mind viruses are not biological viruses like influenza, but pieces of information or ideas that, once they get into our minds, are capable of causing us to replicate them to other peoples minds. They are very much like computer viruses, but instead of spreading from one computer to another, they spread from one human mind to another. They are also similar to the usual biological viruses (flu, cold, hepatitis, AIDS) in the sense that they use us to replicate themselves. And just like biological and computer viruses, they usually hurt the host in the process. This host is you.

Mind viruses force your mind to replicate them, because thats the only purpose of their existence. If it hurts you, the virus does not care, as long as you continue to replicate it.

As such, they compete with each other for the place in human minds, like yours. This competition results in a sort of evolution where only those mind viruses survive that are most efficient in grabbing your attention and forcing you to spread them. In doing so, they have no concern for your well-being. They dont have a reason to be relevant to your life and wellness. In fact, one of their main goals is to impair your judgment, because otherwise, why would you spread them?

The very existence of mind viruses is based on their ability to impair your judgment, which you need for your own survival and success.

And once they take over, they are forcing you to spread them. This means that you spend cycles in your life spreading the virus instead of working on improving your own life or just merely enjoying your own life. In fact,

Enjoying your life is something that mind viruses attack first, because the promise of enjoying your life in the future is one of the most efficient ways to force you into replicating them.

As you can guess, the future reward never comes.

Long story short, mind viruses can:

Impair your judgment; Make you act against your own interests; Prevent your success in life; Prevent you from enjoying your life.

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Applied Memetics LLC Employee Reviews –

Leadership really cares

Employee(Current Employee) Arlington, VA January 17, 2018

Most people would say that a company is only as good as the people it hires. Well, that is true but it has to start with leadership. AM has what every company needs; excellent leadership who really care about their employees. It's almost as if leadership sends down a blessing by their care and in turn they receive praises such as this from their employees. It's less about the money and more about the needs of the people; the way every company should be run.


Leadership that really cares about their employees.


None that I can think of.

Last Company You'll Want To Work For

Program Manager(Current Employee) Raleigh, NC January 23, 2018

I transitioned from the Department of Homeland Security USCIS to work for Applied Memetics LLC. AM have not only proved to be a competition with the federal government, but has also shown to provide better lifestyle. The culture and work ethic of AM has not only gave me confidence as my last company to work for, but also the assurance of upward mobility and career progression.


Workload is forecast ahead and provide ample time to prepare and execute, Management is supportive and provides guidance and assistance when needed, Communication is beyond reproach as from the top down is an open door policy, Benefits are phenomenal and competitive, Moral is very high as each individual motivates one another daily, Cross training in other departments is feasible upon interest, Work/ Life Balance is essential as management encourage time off and family time


Honestly cannot provide any

Great and supportive environment to work

Managing Director(Current Employee) Washington, DC October 26, 2017

The culture is one of open collaboration where team members are encouraged to think and act innovatively and independently to achieve the objective. The management provide the necessary support and tools to get the job done and are open to suggestions on how to improve processes. Even though some of the team are remotely located, communication between teams works well and it has been easy to build rapport with them even without having met them! The company is supportive of training and personal development goals and opportunities.


great benefits and atmosphere to work in


None that I can think of

Excellent Company with a great future

Application Developer(Current Employee) Remote October 22, 2017

Applied Memetics is an excellent company with a great future. Many companies do government IT consulting and contracting. Very few companies actually see its consultants as the core part of the company. Most of the team members at A.M. work remote, so the company goes the extra mile to get you involved with the team. When you join A.M. in a non-manager capacity, you will discover that your non-manager status doesn't matter. You'll show up in the newsletter, you'll get opportunities for free baseball game tickets, you'll be invited to join management meetings off the bat. The workplace culture fosters innovation and has an entrepreneurial spirit. Excellent experience so far!


Remote work and Many opportunities to make a difference.

Great Place to work

Junior Systems Engineer(Current Employee) Saint Louis, MO October 19, 2017

The job placement was perfect for my skill sets, the employees are very quick to respond to any questions. They knew exactly how to prepare me for the onboarding process for the company I was going to work for. The job description was on point and very detailed.


benefits, compensation, skill advancement

Great team work, and management.

IT Analyst Security management division(Current Employee) Manchester, NH May 3, 2017

During the one year I have been working with Applied Memetics I have really enjoyed the team work, and not being micromanaged while I work. I have been able to learn the job role and now helping new hires learn the job role also. Training the new team mates has also pushed me to learn more about the role myself so that I can pass this knowledge off to them.


Being able to work from home when needed makes family life a lot easier.


The healthcare for my family was a little high.

Great company! Love my job!

Systems Engineer, Junior(Current Employee) Lincoln, NE April 27, 2017

There aren't too many companies these days that truly care about their employees. Applied Memetics is a small company with a big heart. They are fiscally responsible so you know you have a job tomorrow and they are concerned about the welfare of their employees and that you truly love your job. Never had an issue contacting the home office and getting answers. They are responsive and truly care you are taken care of the best they can. One thing I appreciate is they have good integrity. They say what they mean and mean what they say. Very good place to work even if you are remote. They make you feel you are in the same office.


Excellent communication. They care about their employees


None. This is a good company.

Great company to work for as remote employee

Senior Software Engineer(Current Employee) Minneapolis, MN April 26, 2017

Committed group of co-workers, and managers. I've been employed as Software Engineer for more than a year now serving VA CRISP project. I love the challenge, and am honored to serve our veterans wherever possible. Living in Minneapolis, MN., I work both remotely, and onsite Minneapolis VAMC, which provides me a very flexible working environment. I've already been promoted to senior level engineer, and demonstrates room for professional growth and promotions. Employees are provided great benefits, and I highly recommend Applied Memetics to motivated, self-starting individuals.


I save time, gas, and money not having to commute each/every working day to onsite facility.

Room to grow in sophisticated telework environment

Producer(Current Employee) Austin, TX April 13, 2017

Well-developed virtual office/telework environment enables you to set your own own goals and figure out how to meet them, without micro-management or bureaucratic obstacles. Access to the most current technology and tools, as well as the training required to get to the next level. Interesting work assignments that deal with significant contemporary issues.


Work with other people who know how to telework effectively and manage time well


If you prefer social setting of a traditional office desk or cubicle, telework/virtual office environment of AM may not be for you.

Great Company with Unlimited Upside

Security Analyst(Current Employee) Washington City, DC April 24, 2017

I've been with Applied Memetics going on 2 years and I have been enjoying my excursion so far. My colleagues here are talented and professional and the staff here are extremely knowledgeable and supportive of our future endeavors to enhance our careers!


Full benefits, outings, career focused and trustworthy

Dynamic start-up with great opportunities for advancement

Manager(Current Employee) Arlington, VA July 15, 2015

AM boasts a small business culture, flat management, and a focus on employee engagement and advancement. Team members are expected to contribute and expand their horizons, and most of all deliver superior services and capabilities to a diverse customer base across the government and commercial space.


Family-friendly, flexible hours. Great benefits.


Junior system engineer(Current Employee) Fresno, CA April 28, 2017

Love this va contact. Serving again. ..what I do matters. Quiets to never have gave to face meetings. Boss on the ready coast while I'm on the west coast.


No micro management. I matter. Flexible hours and work location.


No family package health care.

Great Place To Work

System Administrator, Expert Level I(Current Employee) Louisville, KY October 31, 2016

Great small company to work for, that provides as great work and life balance. Management has an open door policy. Room for growth in both career and life.


Cares about employees


With this being a small company, benefits are a little slim compared to larger companies.

Security Engineer III

Security Engineer III(Current Employee) Hines, IL October 28, 2016

This is a great company to work for! They show concern for their employee's needs and development. Easy to talk to and to work with. Always available when I need help or support.


Good benefits and compensation.


Newer company that is still growing and forming solid patterns.

Nice company with a small company feel

Application Developer(Current Employee) Austin, TX October 31, 2016

I've only worked at this company for a few months, but i've been so impressed with the professionalism of my coworkers. It has a flat-management style which is great for collaboration. They use the latest in open source, which is another big plus.

Unique Company With A Strategic Vision

Digital Analyst(Current Employee) Washington, D.C. July 15, 2015

There is a lot of camaraderie between employees, even across different client accounts. The entire team stays busy - no one has only one job. The work-life balance, however, is great, and the advantage is that everyone has multiple opportunities to engage in diverse, interesting projects to which they may not have been exposed at a more traditional "sit-in-front-of-a-computer-and-only-do-one-thing" job.

Self-starters will quickly advance; hard work and measurable results are rewarded.


Supportive management, good benefits, exposure to interesting projects


Difficult to "move up" in the traditional sense, as titles are not as important as project results

Great company!

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