Bunbu Itchi -- Japanese phrase meaning 'Pen and Sword in accord'
Most practitioners of the 'hard' sciences look down their noses at what they refer to as the 'fuzzy' sciences--those domains that are limited to passive observation, with no or only limited application to the real world. This is an understandable chauvinism; when they look around them, they see bridges, skyscrapers, automobiles, airplanes, cellular phones, CAT scanners, synthetic fibers, all the fruits of their labors. What could compete with all that?
Because of this chauvinism (by definition, in fact), a fusion, synthesis, or synergy, take your pick of terms, combining very powerful aspects of certain hard (mathematically malleable) sciences and soft (non-quantifiable), has been seriously overlooked. This may in fact be a good thing; if the repercussions of such a blend of domains are as powerful as they seem, the practitioners of such a new field will, quite literally, wield considerable influence.
Think of this new domain as 'applied sociology' or 'cultural engineering.' Neither name is sufficient description to a field that encompassesinformation theory, general semantics, semiotics, cybernetics, neurolinguistics, statistical theory, advertising/propaganda, conditioning, epistemology, epidemiology, game theory, cognitive psychology, sociology, and evolutionary biology. If your eyes have glazed over, or you have already decided that you shouldn't be reading such 'trash' as this, then resign yourself to being one of the sheep. Careful study of Nazism (and Goebbels), Marxism, or Scientology (and Hubbard) give clear indications that the concepts work; from there, it is simply a matter of analysis of the phenomenon to build a new form of engineering, which in deference to its roots, can be referred to as memetic engineering.
Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, in his book The Selfish Gene, proposed a concept he termed 'memetics,' a corollary to genetics, but in the domain of the mind rather than molecular biology. A 'meme' is a basic unit of memory, but like a gene, can be transferred (via replication); better than a gene, memes can be reproduced by a variety of mechanisms beyond those of conventional biology.
For Dawkins and other biologists, this would function similarly to the discredited principles of Lamarckian evolution, where acquired traits can be passed on to off-spring. On a practical biological level, this is absurd; removing the tails from lizards will not cause the offspring to be born without tails. While physical characteristics are in no way transferable in such a convenient method, psychological characteristics do indeed seem to be. The young of most any species that has parents present through infancy, childhood, and adulthood appear to have a mechanism built in that is geared to learn through imitation; this provides education to the young in a cost-efficient manner for the parent, and so seems to have won out in the natural selection process. In human beings, both behavior and language appear to transfer through this mimicry process; part of our brain, operating independently of conscious will, acts as a 'self programming' computer.
In a typical moment of whimsy, Dawkins wonders if it is possible that Nature views the mind as a whole different eco-system, where memes compete via natural selection for control of a 'host.' Dawkins further speculates that, if true, memes are spreading, mutating, and evolving exponentially faster than their biological brethren; it seems that the human mind is a fertile ground for expansion. Given a cross-divisional background and a cynical view of Humankind, one quickly wonders if this mechanism in the human mind is deliberately accessible and if a specifically engineered meme could be introduced through it, intentionally beneficial to the engineer rather than host.
To get to that point, a brief discussion of other relevant areas is called for.
2.0 Mind as Ecology, Mind as Ecosystem
[The material for these sections derives from the works of Shannon, Korzybski, Eco, Wiener, Jung, Kuhn, Hume, Bateson, McLuhan, Von Neumann, Turing, Pavlov, Skinner, and Pareto; I highly recommend their works as a concrete starting place for an avid student to pursue.]
You are an expert on the human mind; after all, you are in possession of one. Unfortunately, you never received a user's manual. However, you have managed to get this far in life, so obviously your mind seems to be able to take care of itself; just like a top of the line automobile, it automagically takes care of the details and leaves the larger issues up to you (extrapolation of this analogy further, implying that the human brain seems merely a tool for the human mind, and further implications from that, are left to the reader).
If you think about how you think, you will find your mind is made of memories, facts, and that sort of thing; you picked these up through continual reinforcement and having been there for it (some things can be taught, others need to be learned). Using a computer metaphor, your mind is hardware (the grey matter, providing you with senses, nerve endings, neurons) and software (combined from that odd core of your being that is doing the reflecting, and the material it is reflecting upon, kind of like a computer program and its data). That isn't the whole story, of course; there is an unidentified extra component, the 'wetware,' that gives you free will, volition, self-awareness. We know next to nothing about how this piece works; it appears to be an odd combination of chaotic and stochastic processes, transcending both. About the only thing we know for certain about the human mind is that we haven't even begun to utilize it to its full potential.
3.0 Language, the Building Blocks of the Mind
Very little of what we think of as 'conscious' thought goes on without language. Language seems not so much an expression of thought, but the basic assembly materials of it; as such, it is also the limiting factor to a peoples' thought process (for an instructive example, track the historical tendency in the New World for English speakers to favor free markets and democracy, while Spanish speakers favored controlled markets and oppressive governments). Language has its limitations; for instance, there are some things that can't be represented, only evoked, such as emotions. Communication is thus limited to the realm of dogma, where the symbols passing back and forth between people are just second-hand slices of someone else's point of view. The amazing thing is that it is capable of occurring at all.
When very young, and with the mind acting continually to acquire patterns to imitate and mimic, the basic building blocks of communication become programmed. View them as precursors, primitives, or archetypes, they are critical pieces necessary to interaction with the environment for the rest of your life. When someone tells you something is 'blue,' you are forced back into the original foundation of your language skills; the same for most anything we view as 'baby talk,' those simple one-syllable words that form the least common denominator of all other concepts.
Obviously, access to this primal mechanism in the human mind would be quite powerful; access, however, becomes more complicated over time. It appears that without constant use, the capability atrophies, much like a muscle; as we grow and become more sophisticated, higher reasoning centers and capabilities of abstraction come into play, leaving the more basic and powerful 'store and repeat' functions alone. We also tend to create a center of disbelief; while young, it is statistically likely that most of the behavior and language acquired is pro-survival, while later in life this probability radically decreases. Any adult with exposure to children will note how easy it is to convince them of things; soon though, children stop believing in the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus, and other spurious bits that are easy to 'root out.' We gain an ability to be more selective in our beliefs, at the cost of an amazingly robust learning process that is native to the human mind. That is not to say that the faculty goes away, it does not; it is only harder to get to.
Humans develop 'blinders,' a functional inability to recognize or process certain symbols or concepts that do not agree with the operational psychology of the resident wetware. Kuhn, when examining scientific progress, coined the term 'paradigm' to explain the issue; people wear rose-colored glasses that causes them to see or interpret the world around them in a way consistent with that which they already believe. Oddly enough, this seems an odd corollary of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum reality, or the bane of the professional intelligence gatherer, which is 'you get what you look for,' and in many cases, only what you look for. The human mind has a unique ability to take a large body of data, or an unknown situation, and put whatever interpretation upon it suits them the most, ignoring everything else. Take as given this level of uncertainty as to the underlying 'truth' of things, and sure enough, you come around to 'tell them enough times, and they come to believe it,' the operational philosophy of both Goebbels and Madison Avenue.
4.0 An Expanded Model of Communication
Review of a communication model may be helpful at this point; note the diagram
FIGURE 1. Expanded Model of Communication (Parties A and B with Arbitrary Channel)
[Image not available in text-only version of this document. Diagram content can be inferred from the body text.]
Clearly, communication is not a simple thing, or at least not diagrammatically; most of what the diagram shows are intricacies taken for granted by those involved, and so seldom consciously noticed.
Party Able of the communication begins with an intent, a purpose for wishing to communicate. A channel for communication is chosen by Able; the channel and medium of communication has certain traits which effect the message. There are throughput, how fast you can communicate; bandwidth, how much you can communicate; and interactivity, the degree and frequency with which there is contact with the other party. Proper choice of channel is critical to the ability to successfully communicate the message; a picture can be worth a thousand words, and vice versa. Additional choices, some not consciously, are made--the initial conditions of and for communication, handshaking to confirm that there is a dialog possible, and the basic building blocks to be used to assemble the message, the primitives, precursors, and archetypes.
Able then frames the message. This message intends to impart some informational value to the recipient; there is a fine line as to whether such intention is value-neutral communication or manipulation in varying degrees of subtly (a game theory expansion of evolutionary benefits of communication as a tool concretely supports that manipulation of others and their resources is the primary intent of the faculty). The message will contain a variable degree of explicit and implied data points. Explicit hard points are the standard 'who, what, where, when, how, and why'; soft points are 'relative' concepts commonly exchanged in absence of quantification (such as "I'm in pain." which can describe a paper cut or amputation, unknown without referents); and there are also 'null' points such as the format or level of politeness. Implied content to a message can come from traffic analysis (given a statistically significant base to work from) as well as the intentional and unintentional inclusions and omissions in the content (which implies the receiver has at least equivalent or greater knowledge of the content topics to gauge properly).
Able's message may be sent in many forms, many times, via many channels and media types to increase the probability of successfully achieving the intent; variably the intent may require continual reinforcement, thus benefiting from the 'signal saturation,' or this may cause overload in the recipient, to the detriment of Able's purpose.
Party Baker is the receiving party of the message; Baker may or may not be a willing party to such communication. Baker's motivation is to remain integrated and maintain equilibrium; to do this, Baker passes the message (already having potentially suffered loss and noise related to the channel) through a variety of automatic cognitive filters, such as Baker's perception, operational paradigms, interpretations, and frame of reference. What such mechanisms do is strip the message down so that it can be rendered into its useful component parts; the results may be complete acceptance of all content, or total filtration of the message until there is no content. This is a product of the layers built initially by the 'mimicry' mechanism and compounded by later cognitive faculties. Depending upon the medium and channel, Baker may give feedback, reply, ask for clarification, etc. The message may initiate actions or reactions in Baker based upon an accurate match-up of releasers, gestalts, and concepts that evoke a response.
Baker may initiate a message, becoming the Able party in the model, but the message must be reviewed in the light of the initial trigger. Is the content of the initial message continuing on (thus successfully causing replication or transmission, being a meme with contagion)? Has the content changed? If so, was it done poorly (bad replication, a decay, like the game of 'telephone')? Oddly (mutation)? Improved upon and added to (aggregation)? Did it spur new content (offshoots)?
Taken in its entirety, even basic communication is incredibly complex; as stated earlier, it's amazing it occurs at all. As is evident in the model, however, is just how closely communication of ideas seems congruent with the spread of infection; review of some basics on disease will help clarify this further.
5.0 Diseases and Other Automata
No matter what else may be an apparent effect, the only purpose of a disease (and automata) is that of reproduction and metabolism. Everything else is secondary; most flu symptoms are caused by a virus intent on replicating itself into additional hosts; the potential eventual fatality of the host is meaningless to an unreasoning reproduction mechanism that cannot foresee the results in the event of it actually succeeding (a game theory expansion on this with 'rational' players requires the use of new positions "don't lose" and "don't win" and is highly educational).
Infection, regardless of the source (bacterial, viral, fungal), is opportunistic; all it 'wants' is access to the resources necessary to continue on its quest for expansion. The vectors of contagion, via which the automata reproduce and replicate to additional hosts, are varied channels; all require that some representative sample of the automata, suspended in a mechanism that can support its meager claim to 'life,' be exchanged.
Limits to the growth and spread of such automata are many; the diversity of the domain of potential hosts itself is a barrier, since such variation is beyond the capabilities of automata to reproduce and be transmitted in; the 'yeast growth law,' where the most limited resource constrains the system, also works to the automata's detriment, commonly through limiting the number of new and available hosts in a brownian motion-type expansion.
Certain potential hosts have a susceptibility to being infected, some through genetic or hereditary predisposition, or because of age, with a young, 'inexperienced' immune system, or an old 'tired' one. The host's immune system will commonly recognize the infection for what it is and begin an immune response, an attempt to repel the invader or integrate it into the system. While the host deals with the automata on a 'micro' level, there are 'macro' level actions as well; there are processes of containment, the control and suppression of vectors, 'firefighting' with specific treatments, and 'firebreaks' intended to prevent the spread.
There is an aftermath to dealing with the automata, related to the survival enhancement (value added) or detraction (value subtracted) effects, which may vary from the benefits of E.coli or mitochondria, or an improved immune response, or the damage of an impaired or weakened immune response, or the loss of some resource in the fight for control with the automata.
It takes no great stretch of the imagination to draw the parallels between disease-automata and message-automata. Memetics, the study of language-communication-informational automata, will become a generally recognized field of increasing importance. At one point in time, historically, we had no biological or 'germ' theory of disease; because of this, we were late to cope with the effects of widespread access of automata to improved disease vectors (as simple as fleas on rats spreading the plague to the effects of air travel on modern, yet primitive, epidemiology); we are suffering greatly now because such poor understanding has allowed such automata as AIDS to gain a statistically significant foothold, and other 'dead' diseases are returning.
There are now similar vectors in place for memetic type automatawitness the media explosion of telephone, television, cable, fax machines, computer and computer networks, movies, books, magazines, posters, billboards, radio, whisper nets; it is endless. And while naturally occurring biological diseases are simply opportunistic and have no such mechanism, memes can be very accurately targeted, aimed at self-selecting affinity groups that will make 'ideal' hosts.
6.0 Memetics as an Applied Science
Plato banned music from his 'Republic' because of his primitive natural understanding of memetic engineering; the notion of an 'idea' coming along and literally rewriting the nature of a culture is obviously an old one. Examples of memes are instructive case studies and merit examination.
6.1 Primitive and Not-So-Primitive Attempts
Santa Claus is a meme that parents deliberately infect their children with; the purpose for it is quite unfathomable, and seems to run along two paths--it didn't seem to hurt the parent when they had it, and it helps to explain the odd behavior that people go through once a year. The Claus meme in a child helps the way cowpox helped with smallpox; part of growing up is the 'trauma' of learning, once old enough, that Santa is a myth, and that people, including one's own parents, have systematically lied to you. This may seem a callous way to view it, but from the viewpoint of building cognitive mechanisms, this is one of the earliest we gain that fosters the ability of disbelief.
Nazism, the myth of Germanic racial superiority, is an interesting look at a common historical occurrence. Hitler provided the skeleton, but Goebbels and the Propaganda Ministry put flesh on the bones. Use of constant reinforcement, triggering an amazing number of cultural responses such as 'noble sacrifice' and 'total commitment,' use of the 'elite chosen by God' metaphor, indoctrination of the young, all were a masterful implementation by a natural talent. The meme, however, had the roots of its destruction built in, with non-tolerance, the inability to conceive of losing, and the perpetration of unspeakable acts as side effects that combined to kill off those infected. Nazism also gives an example in recent history of a successful meme actually managing to become an operational paradigm for continuing generations.
Religion and cults are understandable when one realizes that a cult is a meme that spreads throughout a population, but once it becomes the operational paradigm in a significant number, it acts as a religion. Judaism is specifically interesting for its exceptions, such as the lack of the ability to convert into the system, and the requirement that the Talmud be exactly duplicated, with no changes or interpretation. These have acted to give the followers a solid cultural identity that has resisted schism and other, not inconsiderable, attacks. The odd beast known as 'Scientology' is another clear example of natural talent at work. Hubbard, a failed science fiction author, created Dianetics on a wager, freely plagiarizing critical concepts from an older 'mystical' group he monitored when younger. Scientology was deliberately engineered to give power and wealth to its creator, while providing an operational 'philosophy of living' to the followers; certain 'religious' functions such as 'clearing' with a pseudo-polygraph device create additional opportunities for control through blackmail. A comparative study of religions and religious history is an instructive lesson in memetics and cultural manipulation.
Finally, the military provides another view of memetics. Military training and indoctrination are a factory for memetic implantation; such training strips the individuals down to their basic core personality and rebuilds them in the image desired by the service. Such training uses many of the accepted tactics of 'brainwashing'de-individualization, sleep deprivation, exhaustion, control of the means of support, immersion into chaos and personal incompetence, and the creation through reinforcement of a new doctrine and identity. It is suspicious, in fact, that military personnel have a unique susceptibility to brainwashing attacks, as it has already been done once; such indoctrination techniques wear down an individual's resistance, but do not necessarily build it back up properly to act as an immunity. Additionally instructive is the lack of success of military sponsored 'hearts and minds' campaigns, where memes are never crafted to become the operational paradigm of the targeted people, and so have instead fostered hostility or resentment through the oversaturation of what the target's view as 'noise.'
As the Noble Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman stated, you can't predict the actions of a single thing at a single time because there is no math--prediction is a rough adherence to an average, which requires a statistical body. Use of memetics to manipulate individuals would seem to be out of the question, but the large scale use to manipulate large bodies or cultures is not. Anyone familiar with systems operations is aware that, in rough terms, 20 percent of the members of any average set will produce 80 percent of the effects of the set (for example, 20 percent of the scientific researchers in a given domain will produce 80 percent of the discoveries, or publish 80 percent of the papers). It does not, then, require an unwieldy number of 'converts' to manipulate a large body, as controlling a small number gives the apparent effect of controlling the statistic majority. What is important is the correct identification of those who will be susceptible, reaching them, and doing it with the correctly fashioned message to evoke the desired response.
It is important to remember at this time that the mechanism that can be relied upon for replication of a meme into a host is a primitive one; it is not susceptible to reasoned arguments, or sophisticated ones. This is more of a case of life imitating art; people don't perceive reality, only their perceptions of reality--everything is second hand; people live their myths and only tolerate their reality.
6.2.1 Target Hosts
Proper identification of the target hosts conserves resources, and so should be done carefully. Individuals who have recently undergone 'crisis events' are particularly susceptible to most any message; this group are the most likely to undergo a religious conversion or complete change of life behavior. The uneducated, inexperienced, or unsophisticated lack the more advanced cognitive mechanisms for manipulation of language and for 'filtering' it, acting like an immune system. Individuals who need to fill a void, such as college students away from home, commonly for the first time, are ripe targets for more than an education, as numerous cults have found. The Jesuit belief that if you 'catch them early, and they are yours for life' seems true for more than religion; such identifications as 'brand loyalty' are also fixed while subjects are young.
For more sophisticated hosts, the messages must be more diffuse, but that in fact seems to aid in transmission; just as people strain harder to hear a whisper, concepts that they 'absorb' or receive through extrapolation seem to by-pass filters better. This seems to be akin to 'tweening' in motion pictures, where an eye will smooth the actual jerky motions into smooth action; people fill in cracks, they categorize, and these tendencies can be put to good use.
6.2.2 Crafting the Meme
A robust meme needs good, thoughtful design, like a well laid out house or city. Many memes suffer from 'organic growth' problems, where they are undirected, unmanaged, and soon die under their own weight. Creation of a meme requires that the engineer frame the correct intent for best performance value; just as with a military mission, if you can't state the objective, you aren't likely to succeed. It is important to identify the right 'buttons to push,' the releasers or triggers for behavior that are desired; note that a target subject can act or react based upon a meme, and a clearly directed outlet should be built in. Unlike with a biological automata, the meme should not unnecessarily impair the host and their ability to function; making certain that the meme and host fits into the system is critical to the spread and overall influence of the meme.
The memetic engineer will likely want direct unaltered transmission of the meme from host to host, as that gives a uniform basis for prediction of actions and reactions. A well crafted meme encourages replication and transmission (the 'preaching' factor) to others; it should also allow a 'group identification' communication to give hosts a feeling of 'belonging' to something larger than themselves. Intent is likely that the meme alters or becomes the host's operational paradigm (a 'conversion'); this provides the longest lasting effect of the meme, rather than being just a 'fad.' It would be useful if it helped impart a resistance to further reprogramming (the strength of 'faith'), and shouldn't require continual reinforcement (which, to prevent overload, would require signal variation, which may then cause schisms). A meme should be resistant to schisms and interpretation by encouraging 'dogma,' acceptance of the communicated experience rather than a direct one, and enforce a desire for external, 'wiser' guidance.
Effects can also be seen through the use of aggregation, alterations, expansion, and improvements off of existing memes; in many ways, this is an easier task to accomplish, since the engineer can 'hijack' a proven operational meme with similar or shortfall effects to their desired intent and have a solid likelihood of success.
6.2.3 Starting the Fire
The engineer or sponsoring group will need to have access to the necessary vector channel for distribution. Research will also likely provide leverage points, where the effort invested gives back considerable return. It will be important to maintain a sense of realism, however, and focus efforts based on the needs of the intended goal; is it necessary to have a significant number of people over a short period of time, or a few, dedicated people over a longer period of time? The engineer should follow the communication model and maintain the proper role and actions based on it.
7.0 Operational Uses of Memetic Engineering
Manipulation of this sort occurs all the time, albeit primitive and directed at such things as 'Drink Coke' or 'Vote <Whomever>.' There are a great number of areas that memetic engineering could have large scale effect.
7.1 Jungian Economics
Since most people don't know the difference between real worth and perceived value, they get them very confused. What makes a certain stock on the market worth more than another? What causes a bank run? People's perceptions do; two stocks can have the same real worth and yet sell for wildly different amounts; a perception of bank instability triggering a run becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. It is all popular delusions and the madness of crowds. Deliberate manipulation of perceived values can have extreme effects on a market and economy.
7.2 Cover Stories
Careful use of memetic concepts can provide the intelligence community with the ideal process for cover stories. Crafting a set of memes that take into account various perceptions of events can create an impenetrable chaos; the 'actual' facts are wrapped, like successive layers of an onion around the core. Each layer of the onion is yet another plausible interpretation of events mixed with 'red herrings'; use of multiple layers insures that if one or a few get peeled off, the truth still remains covered. Interestingly, tailoring a few layers of the memetic cover story for specific types of 'probers' can send them off with their expectations properly met, but with the truth still secure.
7.3 Cultural Manipulation & Cultural Warfare
As a tool of covert intelligence and operations, memetic engineering has considerable potential. Politics by its nature lies (pun intended) on perceptions, and so becomes an easy target for this sort of operation.
There are other uses for the practice that are more indirect yet beneficial. For instance, the region of the former Soviet Union is in chaos, the operational paradigm under which they have been operating having been completely shattered. Some want to return to the old ways because it is familiar, it fits with their paradigm. Yet all those people have had their myths shattered; this makes them dangerously susceptible to any chance meme that happens along. Taking advantage of this ready-made target group should be done as soon as possible, instilling a new myth that is beneficial to the West. Introduction of a quasi-religious semi-political movement with a charismatic leader, preaching how the collapse of 'Socialist Realism' should have killed them off, but how they are a strong people, able to 'conquer' any obstacles, would be quite effective. Free market values and the upheaval necessary to make them a reality are made palatable by pointing out that even with active opposition, and with a waste of considerable resources, they had never been 'beaten'; then the message that they can turn this energy and their resources to winning in the market can be introduced. Current reform process is proceeding at far too lofty an intellectual level and is doomed for failure; a resurgence of hostile forces to the West in the region are not desirable.
This is just one example of the covert political use of memetics; it will grow to be a considerable tool for operations that may not use more coercive forms of manipulation.
8.0 Spread and Control of Memes
There are many unanswered questions that will only receive answers with time and study. Among them are many critical points, such as how do you deal with information once it is released? You can't take it back, so you had better get it right the first time. How do you fight an idea? Such things as gun control can't work as long as there is the basic idea of a gun, and the know-how to assemble one. Even more important is dealing with a meme like 'Marxism,' which was correctly seen as spreading uncontrollably; the accompanying paradigm shift was a simple concept (as opposed to explaining a complicated democracy to illiterate and uneducated peasants) and attractive to the majority of those it infected--that they should have control, a steady supply of food, an education, freedom from 'the oppression of the ruling class.' Without instituting a careful study and science of memetics, we'll never know how to deal with such things in the future (although it might be suspected that introduction of another primitive meme to counter it would work, if only through the perpetuation of a chaotic state of affairs and the subsequent susceptibility of the population, then taken advantage of that with another meme; see the rise of Napoleon as an example).
9.0 Protecting Yourself
The best way to protect oneself, knowing that this sort of thing is possible, is the Delphic oracle's comment to 'know thyself.' Understanding the rudiments of what is going on allows for considerable self programming and self control; a sophisticated person in fact will have a number of paradigms and shift them at will. It is interesting to note that prophylactic measures against this sort of thing have considerable history; for example, Speculative Freemasonry, in an attempt to counteract the rise of superstition and the power of the Church, used various rituals and initiations (kept secret to increase the 'shock value' to the participant) to invoke and evoke a state of mind and being through 'gnosis,' direct experience. The influence, historically, of such groups is still debated, yet the influence of the practitioners still remains; we view them as the most significant free thinkers, artists, and scientists of their age. Clearly, the ability to continually integrate the signals one receives and choose one's own actions and reactions is a beneficial capability.
An old Eskimo proverb states that to 'give a man a fish is to feed him for a day, to teach a man to fish is to feed him for life.' The discovery or invention of concepts and memes and subsequent transmission of them is the story of Man. Yet many other historical pressures, once given careful analysis, have yielded useful, beneficial engineering practices and sciences. It is only a matter of time before a practice of memetics, called something that will make it palatable and believable, comes into formal existence. Hopefully, it will be soon, as there are a number of areas for study and implementation immediately.
Meanwhile, just as diseases cut down humanity before we understood about germs, memes are cutting through and having their effect. American 'culture' is particularly susceptible, having become highly sensitized to it. Culture is, in fact, simply a statistical aggregate of the reinforced signals available in a body of people. European and Asian cultures, with considerable tradition and what could be termed 'cultural inertia,' are harder to manipulate 'against the grain.' Aberrations such as Nazism are not influences that run contrary to a cultural bias--they are, in fact, a tight feedback loop of the primitive cultural identity symbols transmitted back into the culture continually, much like feedback in a sound system.
The U.S. has no culture anymore--rapid adoption of high-throughput, high-bandwidth signals channels, from cellular phones through MTV, have completely eroded what culture there was and replaced it with 'instant gratification,' 'pop culture,' and 'sound bites.' Culture is a statistical average of the signals, and Americans are subjected to continual bombardment of ever-changing and inconsistent signals; cultural schizophrenia is the least resultant problem, yet causes splinters of the culture of retreat into more insular cultural identifications. Studies of violence, drugs use, and other behavior are incomplete without an accompanying memetic investigation.
Control of the signals and messages presents the ultimate tool for defining, shaping, and controlling a people, American or otherwise. What of the considerable investment by the Japanese in American media organizations, or the fact that more children recognize Super Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog than Mickey Mouse? Memetics can be a powerful tool, and can be seen as a culmination of the Japanese sentiment that the pen and sword should be used together (to think and act are one) and can even be the same weapon.
This document is an attempt at memetic manipulation as well. You the reader now have a spawn of new memes, not to mention the meme of memes, in your personal wetware. The difference is that my intent is to turn you the reader into a player rather than a pawn. You trust me, don't you?