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Old 08-16-2011, 03:12 AM   #1
vicky_molokh
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Default [Toxic Memes] Memetics: rules, power, effectiveness etc.

Greetings, all!

In another discussion a poster mentioned that THS memetics is like mind control. I countered by making a real-world example political campaign - a rough approximation for launching 'Vote Putin!' (with -7 for not having memetic software, since psychology TL in Soviet/Post-Soviet space is perhaps as low as 7, and definitely no better than 8). Even when I assumed 2-year planning, and took away the -7 for no memetic program, the results were underwhelming compared to the real-world results (definitely not enough to get a majority vote, perhaps not even enough to get 25%, depending on roll and chosen level of % per MoS).

OTOH, I heard whswhs had a moment in a game where he found memetics to be extremely strong. But back then I didn't have the book to see and understand the mechanics behind the event.

I'd like to hear opinions on the game-mechanical/world-statistical effects of memetics, arguments why they are considered infallible mind control by some posters, perhaps any murphies etc.

Thanks in advance!
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Last edited by vicky_molokh; 09-01-2011 at 03:30 AM.
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Old 09-01-2011, 04:01 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Toxic Memes] Memetics: rules, power, effectiveness etc.

I've never seen Memetics as "magic mind control". When you have the proper amount of data about large numbers of people - which is fairly easy to do in the era of Transhuman Space - it can be very effective at finding just the right hooks for the right people which allow your ideas to spread. But even then, the control you have is statistical, not absolute - the ability to find the right kind of people who are receptive to your message and are also willing to spread it is very useful, but no guarantee of success.
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Old 09-01-2011, 05:03 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Toxic Memes] Memetics: rules, power, effectiveness etc.

Two thoughts.

First, memetics is about changing beliefs. If Putin was already popular a "Vote Putin" memetic campaign would have less effect than if he were unpopular - it's pointless preaching to the choir. You need a baseline (i.e. where people would have voted without memetic influence) before you can decide how much influence memetics has.

Second, budget (or more generally the amount of media time the memeticist[1] has available) is important. I'm guessing Putin would have had a disproportionate share of TV/radio time (both him directly speaking and general news items talking about him) compared with his rivals.

[1] What is the proper term for a professional user of memetics?
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Old 09-01-2011, 09:32 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Toxic Memes] Memetics: rules, power, effectiveness etc.

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Originally Posted by Jonathan Willis View Post
What is the proper term for a professional user of memetics?
We seem to have settled on "memeticist".

In truth, I'd be happy to see some more tinkering with the rules for memetics in TS. We probably need more consideration of the baseline population state which the memetics campaign is seeking to modulate, and of the inherent appeal of the object, person, or idea which the campaign is keyed to.

On the one hand, if you've got, say, a discontented national population, "This is the strong leader who you're looking for [consciously or not]" can sometimes be astonishingly effective, especially given a charismatic or rhetorically competent leader-figure. And on the other, given an even vaguely typical human population, "Kill your children!" is working against an extremely powerful psychological immune response.
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Old 09-01-2011, 10:05 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Toxic Memes] Memetics: rules, power, effectiveness etc.

But it wouldn't be stated that way.
It would be something that might eventually lead to death like don't vaccinate your children because it might cause autism, or rely on faith healing instead of modern medicine.
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Old 09-01-2011, 05:04 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Toxic Memes] Memetics: rules, power, effectiveness etc.

I'm not a big fan of Memetics, it appears to do something that something else does but avoids saying that by calling itself Memetics.

If ideas are transferred culturally via Memes and if they are Toxic (seriously how are ideas Toxic and how does it infect your gene pool?) are there antidote or immunisation memes?

The problems arise with genetic 'defects' of memes that dictate that the individual is no longer responsible for its actions. The so called 'criminal disposition' because some DNA scientist has 'found' the criminal gene, the driving car fast gene or something totally unfeasable because evolution has not created X because it was created by social means etc.

Now to really push the boat out... if memetics is true and it can be activated my surname is Stephens brought to (then) England by the French. Therefore, is there a meme to make me speak and read French (albeit old French)? Now That's taking it back by about 1000 years, so how far back in time does Memes have access to ancient stuff.

But let's run with it, it's fun. We will need Meme blockers, Meme enhancers and Meme switches to turn them on and off. What does this do to the individual, you are not who you are but the Genetic combination of past Memes. Hello, Future Shock (no I'm not an Alvin Topher fan). Meme assassination, injecting Memes into people (Dark City?) and is that a genetic assault.

What is meant by Toxic?
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Old 09-01-2011, 10:20 PM   #7
Jürgen Hubert
 
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Default Re: [Toxic Memes] Memetics: rules, power, effectiveness etc.

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Originally Posted by smurf View Post
I'm not a big fan of Memetics, it appears to do something that something else does but avoids saying that by calling itself Memetics.

If ideas are transferred culturally via Memes and if they are Toxic (seriously how are ideas Toxic and how does it infect your gene pool?) are there antidote or immunisation memes?
They don't infect your gene pool. The evolution of memes parallels the evolution of genes to some degree, mainly because they are both evolutionary systems of staggering complexity, but one doesn't infect the other directly.

And of course there are antidote memes (though immunization is harder). "Don't take drugs!" in all its many variants, for instance, and any other kind of meme that tries to prevent self-destructive behavior (or following a particular ideology, religion, and so forth). None of these are 100% effective, of course.

Quote:
The problems arise with genetic 'defects' of memes that dictate that the individual is no longer responsible for its actions. The so called 'criminal disposition' because some DNA scientist has 'found' the criminal gene, the driving car fast gene or something totally unfeasable because evolution has not created X because it was created by social means etc.
Again, memes parallel genes, but don't directly affect them.

But yes, it can be argued that the hosts of particular memes are not in full control of their actions - it was the memes' fault instead. In fact, some memeticists (such as Susan Blackmore, in her "The Meme Machine") go so far and argue that there is no free will, only memes.

Certainly, the EU and many other jurisdictions will at least lean into that direction with their emphasis of memetic therapy for offenders over punishment. On the other hand, this means that they feel little hesitation about aiming for true personality changes - after all, the memes someone carries is not a true part of his "self" but more akin to a disease that needs to be cured...

Quote:
What is meant by Toxic?
Memes that lead to behavior that is either destructive to oneself or to society at large.
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Old 09-02-2011, 01:14 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Toxic Memes] Memetics: rules, power, effectiveness etc.

The next question must be is Meme theory true in this 'verse or just a dominant theory? Are there anti Meme parties?
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Old 09-02-2011, 01:23 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Toxic Memes] Memetics: rules, power, effectiveness etc.

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
But it wouldn't be stated that way.
It would be something that might eventually lead to death like don't vaccinate your children because it might cause autism, or rely on faith healing instead of modern medicine.
Actually, no. I presented it as a straightforward message, "Kill your children [to save the Earth]." I gave it a substantial negative modifier, of course! But, at the same time, there were several elements that supported it:

* As a Fifth Wave society, Montréal had long lifespans, comparatively low fertility, and lots of people who never had children; being a parent was inconvenient and made you a target for social pressure, and many parents had some "buyer's remorse."

* There had been a recurring campaign sponsored by Preservationist groups with the theme "Show that you care for the Earth by not having children!"

* The woman who designed the campaign "paid the price" by killing her own daughter, and then turning herself in, with a statement of why she did it.

The dice roll came up as a modest success. But even having 1-2% of the parents in Montréal decide that killing their children was a good idea struck me as not passing reality testing, besides being way too much for the city's police even to try to cope with, and more than enough to cause widespread terror. So I cut the response rate down to a fraction of 1%, by GM decree, because I simply didn't believe that the outcome of the roll was plausible, even granting an exaggerated effectiveness of memetic methods.

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Old 09-02-2011, 01:46 AM   #10
Jürgen Hubert
 
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Default Re: [Toxic Memes] Memetics: rules, power, effectiveness etc.

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
The dice roll came up as a modest success. But even having 1-2% of the parents in Montréal decide that killing their children was a good idea struck me as not passing reality testing, besides being way too much for the city's police even to try to cope with, and more than enough to cause widespread terror. So I cut the response rate down to a fraction of 1%, by GM decree, because I simply didn't believe that the outcome of the roll was plausible, even granting an exaggerated effectiveness of memetic methods.
Alternatively, you could interpret it that 1-2% of the parents agree with the idea in principle and now regret having children, but fear the legal consequences of actually doing so. Or more subtly that while they still love their children, they have been infected by doubt and might spread the meme further - and if they are pushed into a true personal crisis they might actually follow through with it.

Certainly child-murders will be on the upswing, but not enough to reach the 1-2% mark. Still, this meme might persist for a long time and make problems for the police, not to mention weaken the fabric of society.
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