Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Memetic condoms

If memes are like diseases, then maybe memetic condoms could stop people getting so badly infected by the wrong sorts of memes.

That is the idea that Diane Benscoter has been promoting on TED.

Diane is the ex-Moonie lady that made the How Cults Think presentation (embedded below) - which also featured memes.

Her presentation about memetic condoms focussed on extremism. She wrote:

If extremism is an infectious destructive meme it must be understood and combated with an even more powerful meme.

However, the idea seems more broadly applicable - and could be applied to the general case off preventing infections.

Of course preventing memetic infections with immunisations and other interventions is not exactly a new idea.

The more usual idea is that you fight memes with memes - using a kind of memetic innoculation - the cultural equivalent of a vaccination.

However, memetic condoms is a nice idea that I haven't heard too much about until now. I am not sure how realistic "barrier" methods of prevention are. That particular idea might go down better behind the Great Firewall of China, though.

Cultural condoms might alliterate better - though it isn't so specific to memetics. "Mememtic prophylactic" is another similar term.

No doubt the pope would not approve of memetic condoms though!

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