The problem I'd like to look at is why are religions so universally appealing? (1) This is rather like the question I asked about why corporations so appealing -- they are comparably bizarre and seemingly "arbitrary" social phenomena who nevertheless have widespread appeal, and even more curious, exclusivity. Corporations and religions seem to be everywhere, and there does not seem to be a lot in the way of competing systems.
I'm not super-happy with what I've got so far in terms of characterizing ideomemetic systems (or exomemetic ones) in terms of how they interact, or models of same. There are still a lot of questions. I may have to get back to basics on some of this stuff.
Religions Enable Ideomemes - or the Reverse?
The reason I was to look at the connection between ideomemes (endomemes) and the appeal of religion is that I think that religions may make it possible for a diverse group of people to come together and interact in a non-violent way despite their having very different internal make-ups. What kind of "make-up" am I talking about? A world model I'm trying to quantify looks like the following:
|MIAOs, action memes, immunomemes, signal memes, memetic states|
(collected ideomemetic inventory)
|MIAOs, immunomemes, signal memes, memetic states
(no action memes)
|Unconscious Substrate||Biological impulses, organic mental illnesses, etc.|
We've already looked at the simple matrix model of memetic deployment/enactment. It has race condition issues, among other things. My hope is that multi-layer (ideomemetic) model can resolve this. However, a drawback is that inventory of such a system is not strictly possible (3), and requires a great deal of memetic hacking (2). This appears, at least on the face of it, to undermine the promise of (numeric) determinism of macromemetics.
What do the interface layers look like?
Okay, we've already defined a memetic state as a matrix of memes and "destination" states. That is, when a meme is deployed (by somebody), the system changes to another state. Some questions are:
- how to characterize these states
- how to inventory the memes that make them up
Where does MIAOplex Formation Come in?
This is still unresolved. It's almost certainly as relevant to endomemeplexes as to exomemeplexes, and to things like mental illness, corporate membership, and religions. The theory to be developed is how a collections of memes attached to a collection of MIAOs leads to a memetic inventory. That is, how do MIAOs bond together, or rather, are there rules for how their memes are collected together (or excluded) when they bond? Do MIAOplexes somehow determine memetic states, and does the MIAO inventory change along with the memetic state, and what does this look like?
What is the best model of what happens? Just for the sake of argument, let's imagine that a MIAO may be invoked by a meme, e.g., a gesture (possibly obscene), or a word, or story (just mentioning "Jesus" or "Hitler"), and that can invoke one or more MIAOs and depending upon the cohort, establish a sophisticated memetic state.
Is Science a "Religion"?
In the way I shall try to define "religion," Science may well look like one. When Science is discussed by laypeople, it very likely is similar to a religion. The relative "hardness" of a science may relate to how "religion-like" it is. This may be a future topic. Again, "religion" is a specialized term that I'm developing here. I've long wondered about the term itself. It comes from the Latin root "to bind" (as opposed to merely "to connnect," i.e., "ligare").
In a practical sense, religion can be seen as a collection of magical, hysterical, and/or superstitious "beliefs" that manifest themselves as a collection of memes with specific transition matrices (memetic states) that have a structure which tends to avoid memetic pathways leading out of the memeplex. This may be the major defining feature. Other similar features may be high levels of pathway/meme density around certain MIAOs (e.g., Jesus Christ, Adolf Hitler, Bill Gates, The President, etc.).
I may have to finally break down and illustrate some of these ideas with simple matrix models to do with the Blue Shirt Tuesday Doughnut Day (7), and Prime Pizza Thursday.
Two Separate Issues
There are two separate theoretical issues here. One is how are transition matrices determined, i.e., what determines the collection of memes that make up a given state, and what are the transitions to other states? In other words, what does the collection look like, and how did it get that way? The other question is how does it operate? I think that's the other question.
If we take the morphology of the transition matrices as given, then we're left with how we transition around within them. These appear to be related, but they may be separable for the purpose of practical discussion.
Charisma and Memetic Nexuses
One obvious thing that seems to pop up is how not all people are equal in terms of influencing the memetic state transition. How do we characterize this? I haven't really explored the idea that a given number of people, some kind of threshold, or "transition threshold" must be reached in order to move the cohort to a new state (8). A memetic nexus is able to transmit memes (perhaps only certain ones) to an entire sub-cohort in a short amount of time.
One feature of religions (and business corporations) is that they establish as a matter of the course of their functioning memetic nexuses. These even have names and must be filled, cannot be left vacant, such as CEO, Pope, pastor, priest, manager, supervisor, executive vice-president, deacon, Sunday School teacher, etc. Of course, military organizations have the same sort of thing, probably producing similar behavior.
Is a state transition a function of memetic resonance? It probably is. The members of a cohort may have varying levels of probability of resonating with a given meme, even if it is deployed by a memetic nexus. It seems rather an arbitrary, unproven, even undemonstrated concept at the moment, but it may be true that some threshold number of a cohort membership resonating with a given meme enactment (by a nexus of by its propagation over time throughout the cohort) is the most meaningful description of a memetic state transition.
Can individuals "learn" to resonate to new memes?
Does this represent a "training up" of their ideomemetic systems to be more receptive to certain exomemes? This was our working definition of indoctrination and checking/enforcement of ideological orthodoxy. These methods are well-used, if not well-understood. Perhaps examination of brainwashing, religious training, joining of secret societies (including many religions), etc., would inform this investigation.
I'm not super-thrilled with the above discussion. For one thing, it seems to open more questions than it answers. I have a number of lingering issues to address:
- Do MIAOplexes really exist, how to they form, and do they determine memetic inventories?
- How do subconscious substrates interact with ideomemeplexes?
- What does the ideo-endomemetic interface layer look like?
- What are some useful examples of ideomemeplexes...and exomemeplexes (8)
- What does "learning" ("indoctrination") look like?
- Is there a "state transition threshold" and how does it relate to memetic nexuses
....among other things. It's probably high time to lay out some concrete examples and finally expound on the notational system (8,9) I have been working on for the past few years.
(1) assuming this is even true.
(2) one-on-one interviews with individuals in a safe setting to evince their memetic inventories.
(3) a exomemetic inventory may be conducted simply by monitoring the messages and actions where the memetic system is present, c.f., Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky.
(4) the ideomemetic layer is instantiated in a single individual, and its memes are made up of a subset of the memetic inventory of the entire endomemetic space. (5)
(5) One difference between an endomemetic space and an exomemetic space (hitherto termed just "the memespace") is that not all of the members of the endomemetic space are available to a given individual, since they are not outwardly discernable and an individual may not be exposed to them.(6)
(6) One way that religion (and corporate values) may be transmitted is through a process of indoctrination, where what are effectively endomemes are drilled into the individual, and checked and confirmed with tests of doctrinal/ideological purity (also true in communist dictatorships).
(7) See Running Scared and The Second Coming for some discussion.
(8) Blue Shirt Tuesday Doughnut Day may be an example of memetic states. There may be only one memetic state, or there may be many. And also there may be a lot of interesting (possible) ideomemetic (endomemetic) states as well that govern the behavior of this system.
(9) More examples of notational system in Schrödinger's Catachresis.
模倣子 Memetic Essay- Memetic Index