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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sophisticated Immune Systems: Religion [One]

One feature of a memeplex (versus a set of independent memes) is its ability to scrutinize other memes, incorporate compatible memes and respond defensively to detrimental memes.   To draw the biological metaphor out, a memeplex has an immune system.

The sacred statements of religions are perhaps the best known examples of memeplex immune systems.  For example: Catholics say, 'Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ will come again.'  It is a declarative statement that is (or is expected to be) beyond question. It is the core of the faith.  Serious discussions may be had about other doctrinal points, but the core teaching is too sacred to be examined.  

Affirming this declaration (even in ritual and not as personal conviction) places the speaker in an in-group, making them more receptive to internalizing other ideas within the Catholic memeplex.  ['Taboo' or 'sacred' statements indicate regions of vulnerability & intense defensive structures, the equivalent of 'vital organs' in a biological organism.]

If these ideas are ever challenged (or perceived to be challenged) there are various, natural responses within the community to limit the damage.  Internal, individual responses can range from strong emotions of anger & sadness to dispassionate dismissal of the speaker due to age, gender, education, etc.  These responses distract the listener from possibly adopting the new, opposing meme.

Communal responses range from embarrassed silence, contemptuous laughter or redirection of the discussion.  This is accompanied by a social demotion for the culprit and anyone in close association with them, making even the most daring soul reconsider dissent.

Additionally, the most sacred memes continue to persist in the minds of former Catholics.  For example, a former Catholic may continue to believe that Jesus is the Christ and attend another Christian denomination.

These patterns of emotion and behavior are predictable, no matter how personal the experience is for the people involved.

Continue to Sophisticated Immune Systems: High Control Groups [2]

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