Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The problem with the term "memeoid"

Memetics pioneer Keith Henson coined the term "memeoids" in 1985 - as follows:

We need a name for victims that have been taken over by a meme to the extent that their own survival becomes inconsequential. "Memeoids" is my suggestion.

I think there's a problem with the term "memeoids":

"Parasitoid" is a conventional term in epidemiology. That term is quite suitable for use in memetics - however it doesn't mean what Keith Henson said "memeoids" meant. A "parasitoid" is a parasite that kills its host. So: "memeoid" makes sense as a synonym for necrotrophic memes.

Since "memeoid" seems more suitable as a term for cultural parasites than their victims, what could their hosts be called? "Parasitoid host" seems to be the dominant terminology from epidemiology. So: the most obvious option is: "memeoid host". There's also the terminology of memetic hijacking to consider here - we could refer to hosts as victims of memetic hijacking.

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