The hypothesis for a single, simple, scientific explanation underlying the entire complex social phenomenon of CAGW
Guest essay by Andy West
Whatever is happening in the great outdoors regarding actual climate, inside, truly inside, in the minds of men that is, overwhelming evidence indicates that Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming is a self-sustaining narrative that is living off our mental capacity, either in symbiosis or as an outright cultural parasite; a narrative that is very distanced from physical real-world events. The social phenomenon of CAGW possesses all the characteristics of a grand memetic alliance, like numerous similar structures before it stretching back beyond the reach of historic records, and no doubt many more cultural creatures that have yet to birth.
Having painted a picture of CAGW from a memetic perspective in fiction last December, see the post:
I realized that many people instinctively sense the memetic characteristics of CAGW, and typically express this in blogs or articles as relatively casual comments that cite memes or religion. Yet these folks appear to have no real knowledge of how truly meaningful and fundamental their observations are. Hence I have provided a comprehensive essay which attempts to fill in this knowledge gap, and indeed proposes that the entire complex social phenomenon of CAGW is dominated by memetic action, i.e. CAGW is a memeplex.
Note: a ‘meme’ is a minimal cultural entity that is subject to selective pressures during replication between human minds, its main medium. A meme can be thought of as the cultural equivalent to a gene in biology; examples are a speech, a piece of writing (‘narratives’), a tune or a fashion. A memeplex is a co-adapted group of memes that replicate together and reinforce each other’s survival; cultural or political doctrines and systems, for instance a religion, are major alliances of self-replicating and co-evolving memes. Memetics101: memeplexes do not only find shelter in the mind of a new host, but they will change the perceptions and life of their new host.
Because the memetic explanation for CAGW rests upon social and evolutionary fundamentals (e.g. the differential selection of self-replicating narratives, narrative alliances, the penetration of memes into the psyche causing secondary phenomena like motivated reasoning, noble cause corruption and confirmation bias etc.) it is not dependent upon politics or philosophies of any stripe, which tend to strongly color most ‘explanations’ and typically rob them of objectivity. Critically, a memetic explanation also does not depend on anything happening in the climate (for better or for worse). CO2 worry acted as a catalyst only; sufficient real-world uncertainties at the outset (and indeed still) provided the degree of freedom that let a particular ‘ability’ of memeplexes take hold. That ability is to manipulate perceptions (e.g. of real-world uncertainty itself), values, and even morals, which means among other things that once birthed the CAGW memeplex rapidly insulated itself from actual climate events.
Homo Sapiens Sapiens has likely co-evolved with memeplexes essentially forever (Blackmore), therefore they are a fundamental part of us, and indeed no characteristic of CAGW appears to be in the slightest bit new, quite the contrary. Underlining this ancient origin, one class of memeplexes folks are familiar with is: ‘all religions’. Yet these fuzzy structures are by no means limited to religion; science has triggered memetic themes before and extreme politics frequently does so, and there have even been historic memeplexes centered on climate. This does not mean CAGW is precisely like a religion, but being similarly powered by self-replicating narratives creates the comparable characteristics that many have commented upon.
Using a great deal of circumstantial evidence from the climate blogosphere and support from various knowledge domains: neuroscience, (economic) game theory, law, corporate behavior, philosophy, biological evolution and of course memetics etc. the essay maps the primary characteristics of CAGW onto the expected behavior for a major memeplex, finding conformance. Along the way, contemporary and historic memeplexes (mainly religious) are explored as comparisons. The essay is long, book-sized, because the subject matter is large. I guess an essay describing all of climate science would be very long, so one exploring the entire memetic characteristics of CAGW plus I hope enough context for readers to make sense of that, is similarly so.
The context is extremely broad, ranging from why pyramid building evolved in Egypt to a passionate cry against kings, priests, and tyranny in a radical women’s journal of the early nineteenth century. From the impact of memeplexes on the modern judicial system courtesy of Duke Law, to the ancient purpose of story-telling and contemporary attempts to subvert this, along with a plot analysis of the film Avatar. From the long and curious tale of an incarnation of ‘the past is always better’ meme currently rampant on the internet, to the evolutionary selection of fuzzy populations in biology and the frankenplex multi-element cultural creature that is CAGW. From the conflict related death-rates in primitive tribes versus modern states, to analysis of corporate social responsibilities after the Enron and banking sector crises.
From memetic chain letters that stretch back to the hieroglyphs (Letters from Heaven), to the analysis of social cross-coalitions via game theory within the perspective of economics. From the concept of ‘the Social Mind’ courtesy of neuro-scientist Michael Gazzaniga, to pressure upon religions by aggressive atheism as promoted by Richard Dawkins. From modification of theistic memes in the Old to the New Testament, to notions of Gaia and telegraph wires and wing-nuts. Plus memetic sex, witchcraft, cults, Cathars, concepts of salvation, Communism, hi-jacking altruism, Lynsenkoism, lichen, psychologizers, National Socialism, de-darwinisation, that ugly term ‘denier’, and much more.
The reason for this huge breadth and depth is that memeplexes are deeply integrated into both our psyche and our societies; this level of vision and historical context is necessary to uncover the entities, to identify their actions with as much distancing from what remains of ‘ourselves’ as can be achieved.
In counter-weight to this very broad context the essay is richly laced throughout with quotes from many of the main players and commenters in the climate blogosphere (plus from newspapers and other publications too), much of which will be pretty familiar to followers of the climate debate. These quotes cover luke-warmers, skeptics and Consensus folks, plus politicians, philosophers, psychologists and others as regards their views on CAGW, yet all are chosen and brought together for their focus on the memetic aspects of the phenomenon. There are also plenty of deeper topics specific to the sociological aspects of CAGW that most denizens of the climate blogosphere will recognize and can get their teeth into, some contentious. For instance a look at Richard Dawkins’ immersion within a rampant memeplex (while this would seem to be both controversial and ironic, when one realizes that we’re all immersed to some extent in several memeplexes, irony tends to morph to introspection). A brief view of a different Stephan Lewandowski paper (i.e. NOT either of the ‘conspiracy ideation’ ones) in which he highlights the very type of inbuilt cultural bias that has then led him blindly to produce those very challenged and troubled works!
An exposé of memetically induced cultural bias in a recent paper on ‘Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change’, that in my opinion undermines the objectivity of the work and robs the conclusions of any real meaning. A very interesting take on Mike Hulme’s stance as revealed by the memetic perspective. A glimpse of the ‘shall-we shan’t-we dance’ tentative cross-coalition between the Christian and CAGW memeplexes. The constant references to grandchildren within CAGW advocacy texts. Both the laudable and the lurking memetic content in philosopher Pascal Bruckner’s essay ‘Against Environmental Panic’. Numerous views of sociological comment by atmospheric scientist Judith Curry or at her blog Climate Etc from a memetic perspective. Plus a delve into one of pointman’s very interesting climate related essays, strong language and classic climate quotes explained via memetics, and more…
While CAGW skeptics might at first blush celebrate the possibility of a single, non-climate related, non-partisan, science-based theory that explains the whole complex range of CAGW’s social characteristics, acceptance of this theory also requires acceptance of a couple of pretty uncomfortable truths, and the ditching of at least one touchstone used by many (but by no means all) climate change skeptics. These issues are all expounded in the essay, but I summarize here:
- Acceptance of the memeplex explanation requires us to rethink what ‘self’ means, and how our opinions, perceptions, and even morals are formed and maintained, with an implication that our ‘self’ is much more about the societal groups we’re immersed in than about what’s intrinsically inside our heads. The fact that we don’t really ‘own’ ourselves, is challenging.
- Acceptance of the memeplex explanation requires a rejection of the ‘scam’ or ‘hoax’ theory as a root cause of the CAGW phenomenon, and as a primary motivator for the vast majority of CAGW ‘adherents’. (Note this does not rule out the fact that scams / hoaxes and other negative social phenomena may be attached to the memeplex as secondary structures – this is in fact common for major memeplexes). The essay spends quite some length saying why this is so.
- Whatever downsides are observed to stem from the social phenomenon of CAGW, memeplexes in general often contribute major net advantages to their host societies, sometimes very major. The balance between positive and negative aspects of a major memeplex are not easy to determine except long in retrospect and with access to the ‘big picture’ (all attributes and all impacts across all of society). Hence we cannot yet know the balance of this equation for CAGW. The positive aspects are not typically intuitive.
- As already mentioned, the memetic explanation is virtually independent of actual climate events. Hence dangerous climate scenarios are not ruled out. It simply means that no scenarios are ruled out, from the very dangerous to the utterly benign, and it is very much in the memeplex’s interests to keep the situation that way. Memeplexes wallow in uncertainty and confusion.
Many commenters in the climate blogosphere have written to the effect that: ‘it isn’t and never was about the science’. I happen to agree, very little of the CAGW phenomenon is about the science. The memetic perspective reveals why this is; not in terms of political or financial motivations but in the objective terms of the underlying social mechanisms, which are independent of (and enable) all such motivations.
Despite the essay’s length, I hope you will take the journey to acquiring a memetic perspective. There is a very distilled summary of each section of the essay below this text, and below that the list of references, in which a few regular contributors might find their names. Please note that the work is not a ‘paper’, containing no proofs or supporting mathematics, excepting a couple of references to Game Theory and the Price Equation. And merely for convenience, I have written as though the memeplex hypothesis is true, i.e. that CAGW is a memeplex and that this characteristic dominates the social effects. It is just extremely cumbersome throughout hundreds of references to make them all conditional – so I haven’t. Yet by no means does that mean the hypothesis is true, or at least wholly true in the sense that the memetic effects are dominant. Readers must form their own opinions regarding that, no doubt which opinions will be colored by the memeplexes they’re already immersed in J. I think most folks will find it an interesting and enjoyable ride though. The essay is here: http://wearenarrative.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/cagw-memeplex-us-rev11.pdf (Note: this Post text doubles as the essay Foreword, so you can skip that J).
P.S. while I intend to issue further Revs of the essay with some extensions plus feedback / corrections applied, in practice this may only happen on a very long timescale, or possibly not at all as my time is extremely pressured. Please keep an eye on www.wearenarrative.wordpress.com for any up-Revs or additional information. Note: the novella Truth from the WUWT post above is now available (free) at Smashwords here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/273983 or within the anthology ‘Engines of Life’ also at Smashwords here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/334834, or at Amazon here.
Summary of Content for Essay ‘The Memeplex of CAGW’ : (find the essay here)
Essentially a repeat of the above pointer-post text.
1) Introduction. (~900 words)
The short introduction punts out to the Internet and Appendices regarding background material on memes and the definition of a memeplex, plus other terms / concepts in memetics. It then moves on to an initial look at the very many comparisons in blogs and articles of CAGW with religion, which arise because both are memetically driven.
2) Religious memeplexes. (~1200 words)
Religions are a class of memeplexes that have long been studied by memeticists. A list of 12 characteristics of religions is briefly examined regarding commonality with CAGW. To understand the similarities and differences, we have to know more about what a memeplex is and what it does. The section provides tasters regarding explanation at the widest scope, before moving on to the rest of the essay for detail.
3) Collective-personal duality. (~3500 words)
This section and the following two provide a first-pass characterization of memeplexes. The most perplexing area is covered first, that of a memeplex as an ‘entity’ and its constraints upon the free will and action of its adherents.
Introduces the collective-personal duality model and a symbiotic relationship with interlocking collective and personal elements. Uses this to enlighten regarding both the religious list above and CAGW, especially on self-identification with the memeplex, and cites circumstantial evidence including the actions of Peter Gleick and Michael Tobis. Looks at the fractious peace between the Christian and CAGW memeplexes. Backs the collective-personal duality model via the concept of The Social Mind from neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga (see refs).
4) What memeplexes are not. (~2800 words)
This section explains why CAGW (and any memeplex) is not a conspiracy or a delusion, which notions are themselves are memetic replicators. The section draws on evidence from other memeplexes both religious and secular, plus statements from David Holland, Richard Lindzen, and from the climate blogosphere, plus the anomalous position of Richard Dawkins wrt CAGW and his aggression towards religions. Section quote: The very act of separating out religious memeplexes for special treatment betrays the principle of objectivity. This gets way too close to ‘I favor my memeplexes and not yours’, which while no doubt completely inadvertent, also amounts to calling out your [memetic] bias, but hiding my [memetic] bias.
5) What memeplexes might be. (~2600 words)
An examination of the link between (religious) memeplexes and the catalyzing of civilization, plus the spawning of major construction projects within cultures driven by a major memeplex. Evidence from ancient Egypt and Sumeria. Memeplexes as emergent (naturally selected) and hugely (net) beneficial phenomena promoting co-operation. Despite sometimes severe downsides, are memeplexes the conveyor belts of civilization? This has huge implications for a dominant modern memeplex like CAGW.
6) Memetic-north. (~1500 words)
A useful model to visualize how memeplexes perform an alignment of societies, and “…alignment will tend to converge onto certain ‘attractors’. Or in other words a memetic-north can’t be arbitrary, it must fulfill certain psychologically attractive criteria.”
7) Salvation substitutes within CAGW. (~3700 words)
Religious memeplexes almost always feature a salvation schema (e.g. the pious go to heaven), highly useful for attracting and keeping adherents and thereby sustaining the memeplex. Secular memeplexes, especially those that are spawned by science, may not have a sufficient degree of freedom to blatantly offer salvation for adherents, yet typically they have one or more substitute schemas, which offer the nearest alternatives to direct salvation that each memeplex is able to sustain. This section examines two salvation substitutes within CAGW, one weak and one strong, using quotes from many scientists writers and politicians (see refs below for all these) within the social domain of climate change, which is practically filled to bursting with memes propagating these substitutes.
8) A memetic explanation of CAGW uncertainty issues. (~2200 words)
The apparent paradox of strong consensus against a backdrop of multiple major uncertainties (both real and imagined), is a classic fingerprint of a memeplex, and results from the entity’s engineering of society. But how and why does a memeplex ‘engineer society’? As to the ‘why’, those social narratives that create conditions more beneficial to their own survival will prosper more, and rampant uncertainty forms an ideal medium in which a memeplex most easily achieves maximal replication within daunted and confused minds. This section goes on to explain the ‘how’, which involves the great weight of memetically created orthodoxy keeping the ‘uncertainty monster’ trapped out of sight beneath, resulting not only in little work on real uncertainties but a tacit acceptance (orthodoxy prevents scientists from saying “we don’t know”) of all sorts of highly unlikely disaster scenarios loosely underwritten by ‘the science is settled’. Many of these scenarios are vague and conflicted, with disputed timeframes, and some require major spending. So from a policy and planning point-of-view this amounts to a nightmare level of fantasy uncertainty with a consequent flood of public insecurity, a mud-wallow that the memeplex must just love, and actively attempts to maintain. Martin Brumby (quoted) commenting at Bishop Hill is one of many skeptics who has perceived this switcheroo of uncertainties.
9) ‘Differential belief’ and self-awareness. (~4600 words)
Memes lodge in the psyche as a permanent phenomenon, retransmitting by pushing hot buttons in our minds. They also restrict an individual’s world-view and make taboo certain types of argumentation / development, plus block normal negotiations, eventually causing ‘encapsulation’ (Valenčík and Budinský, see refs), and a differential belief system (a super-set term covering a range of phenomena such as motivated reasoning). Examples of differential belief and comment upon it are legion in the social sphere of climate change, and many such are quoted (see refs). It is even noted from within the climate community (Professor Hans von Storch is quoted, and he also acknowledges memetic content via the invocation of religious metaphors). Differential belief can miscue skeptics into the false explanation of a scam or hoax, itself a memetic form; this is briefly explained. The surprising fact that people can be fully aware of the holistic cultural nature of CAGW and yet simultaneously still fully immersed in it and exhibiting differential belief, is examined, with Mike Hulme as the main example looked at in detail. The section finishes with a warning that differential belief cannot be spotted without relevant context, and this is a major problem for those who don’t possess the context.
10) Trusting ‘The System’. (~600 words)
This section is largely a placeholder to be expanded later. It does have a little starting material with short quotes by James Annan, Judith Curry, ‘pokerguy’ and ‘sunshinehours1’.
11) Personal Responsibility. (~4500 words)
This section deals with the issue of what level of personal responsibility and potential punishment is applicable to those who have engaged in dubious behavior in the name of CAGW, getting there via the broader topic of ‘The Law as a defense against invasive memes’, and also covering Corporate behavior in the name of CAGW or other environmental concerns.
Part 1 draws heavily on a Duke Law paper: The Implications of Memetics for the Cultural Defense by Neal A. Gordon, and concludes that the law must be used to help determine memetic fitness, i.e. to encourage the cultural traits we want and discourage those we don’t want. Gordon recommends we deal firmly with the wrong-doing influenced, albeit the emphasis should be on deterrence and rehabilitation rather than retribution, else the power of the law is undermined. So the ‘culture’ of CAGW is not an excuse for arbitrary breaking of the law, and folks attempting this must be responsible for their actions. However, to correctly defend regarding the memeplex of CAGW one must regard this entity as an invasive memetic culture in the first place, and not just a ‘science subject’ or an environmental program. Right now the public, or the law, or governments either come to that, do not recognize CAGW as a ‘culture’ in and of itself. This is despite some of the immersed themselves (e.g. Mike Hulme) heavily advertise the holistic cultural aspects. Hence the law is blind to any potential threat, and longer term once a memeplex takes hold it can in any case cause the law to change in its favor (examples are given).
Part 2 draws on the paper The Psychology of Corporate Dishonesty by Kath Hall of the Australian National University, plus a view from the inside of climate science by Lennar Bentsen (see refs). Given that the memetic cultural drive and aligned personal motives behind CAGW are more ‘idealistic’ and as strong or stronger than the profit motive, the conclusion is that similar techniques used to combat corporate dishonesty in say, our banks, need to be implemented within organizations working on Climate Change issues. Otherwise, negative cultural evolution in such organizations will spiral out of control and cause dramatic failures of responsibility.
12) The ultimate ménage. (~4000 words)
The intelligent and accidental modification of memes, a look at some ancient baseline memes: the past is always better (with ancient and modern examples), we are special and our times are special. The modification of theistic memes in the Christian canon. A brief comparison of memes with primeval genes. ‘Silent acknowledgements’ of memetic action by modern participants in the debate about CAGW (economist Rupert Darwall and psychologist Daniel Kahneman).
13)They and Us and Arguments against Memetic Tyranny. (~3500 words)
Although skeptics do not belong to a uniting major memeplex, many of their arguments also have memetic content, some which is very obvious and avoidable (liberal conspiracy, it’s all about tax, they’re all lying, etc), but some of which is more subtle. Philosopher Pascal Bruckner’s short essay at The Chronicle of Higher Education is examined in detail for memetic content, finding the classic memetic device of the ‘mysterious they’ (who are likely us in fact), as is evidence of common memes such as our times are special and we are special. Despite the presence of such memetic forms, a useful cry against the tyranny of a major memeplex (CAGW / Ecologism) is made, and it is noted that there is commonality of such cries against other memeplexes down the ages. An example from 1832 in which the Editress of The Isis rails against the religious memeplex of the era is given. However, a common problem with such apparently reasoned protests is that the authors are generally semi-immersed themselves, resulting in an attack on the agents of the memeplex (e.g. depending on the memeplex: priests, judges, politicians, NGOs, media, consensus police, liberal elite or just the ‘mysterious they’ – which means ‘fill in your own imagined baddies’), and not the (unrecognized) process, which is the ultimate ‘enemy’. Professor Curry’s similar rail against memetic tyranny (with the same issue), is noted (see refs).
14) Defense mechanisms in memeplexes. (~7400 words)
Starting with a list of standard defense systems (or ‘vaccimes’) for memeplexes, i.e. conservatism, orthodoxy, radicalism, ‘new age’ etc. it is shown that most of this list is deployed by the CAGW memeplex, but that different defenses are deployed by different component parts of the memeplex, yet at the same time a common core narrative ties the entire memetic creature together, the whole evolving together in a manner similar to complex colony creatures (loose biological parallels are drawn). Some length is spent explaining which organizations (IPCC, NGOs, academia etc) deploy which components, the tension between the different defense messages and the common-core messaging, and comparisons are drawn with religious bodies historically deploying similar defenses and subject to the same tensioning (e.g. the Jesuits). Along the way it is noted that flat facts and therefore ‘true’ science harms the replicative ability of memeplexes, yet co-opted or ‘immersed’ science may assist. Support is drawn from quotes by Rupert Darwall, David Deming and others (see refs). A defense scenario involving the CAGW memeplex versus Christopher Monckton is explored, as is the memetic power of the ‘denier’ word, the inadvisability of the skeptics’ ‘scam’ tactic, and the fact that the whole cultural landscape is shifted for the heavily ‘immersed’. Further support and synergy is noted within Craig Loehle’s article on WUWT about Categorical Thinking in the climate debate. It is noted that the root motivation within CAGW belongs to the memeplex and not to any of its adherents. However, it is an emergent agenda resulting from selection and so not agential. In exploring the ‘straw-man delusion’ defense, the skeptics who unwittingly play to this defense, and positions outside of the memeplex, there is consolidation and more detail on earlier material, plus various further quotes (see refs).
15) Macro Social Leverage. (~2700 words)
Inhomogeneities in society and the evolution of social cross-coalitions allows a few memeplexes to spread rapidly and achieve global dominance. Discussion of this draws upon an article from the domain of economic game theory: Redistribution Systems, Cross-Coalitions among them and Complexes of Memes Securing their Robustness, by Radim Valenčík and Petr Budinský. The article also emphasizes the penetration of memes into the psyche, which is consistent with an ultimate root for noble cause corruption, confirmation bias, and motivated reasoning; the last of these is briefly examined. The historic persistence of memetic systems that deploy consensus cultures and amplify the perception of social problems, is noted, as is the convergence of parts of the climate blogosphere and academia on memetic issues, which despite misunderstanding and blindness in cases, is I think progress.
Their quote below written by the above authors before Climategate, and from a field of study not directly related to climate science (i.e. economic theory, specifically redistribution systems analyzed via game theory), characterizes with uncanny accuracy what was and still is going on regarding CAGW, which is essentially a social and memetically driven cross-coalition (a memeplex).
“The typical signs of memes active during the formation of cross-coalitions are: the formation of a picture of the enemy, non-critical adoration of some authority, tendency towards solutions based on strength, the consideration of some statements as all-explaining or indisputable, the granting of a right to something for only a few chosen ones, a catastrophic vision of the world, expectation of brighter tomorrows [Andy West: conditional on catastrophe avoidance!], relativization of morality as well as rationality, use of double standards, creation of a feeling of being threatened by something, etc.”
16) Material alignment. (~2000 words)
The taxation demand of memeplexes is briefly explored: ‘The demand that the host contribute time, energy, or money to the meme complex and its organization. These resources are needed by the organization for the purpose of competition against rival meme complexes.’ Material alignment (financial / infra-structure) to CAGW or indeed to memeplexes in general, is not about group conspiracy to extort or the rampant self-interest of individuals.
17) Summary and Recommendations. (~7800 words)
In addition to briefly summarizing the material thus far, this section adds topics I couldn’t fit elsewhere, including: The ‘sense of urgency’ memeplexes promote to maximize their replication. Psychologists who seem to have been completely co-opted by the type of invasive (memetic) culture that they themselves warn about, i.e. CAGW, with a paper by Stephan Lewandowsky cited as a specific example (NOT the ‘conspiracy ideation’ ones). The memetic entity of ‘belief in witches’, which caused the death of 35,000 innocent citizens and was leveraged to exterminate ~1 million Cathars. Modern quotes comparing belief in CAGW to belief in witchcraft and magic (see refs). The line between a ‘responsible’ wrong-doer and a gullible victim re the memetically influenced. The sweeping aside of law and a brief comparison with similar effects in the grand-memetic-alliance of fascism, anti-Semitism and eugenics in the 1930s.
Amid modest recommendations to tame an out-of-control memetic entity are ‘counter-narratives’: It is perhaps unfortunate, but we need a wolfhound to defend ourselves from the wolf.
18) Postscript: The Big Picture. (~9000 words)
Memetic characterization of CAGW in an essay by regular commenter ‘pointman’ (see refs); Rousseau, Avatar, the false back-to-nature meme and narrative breakouts, all revealing the age and psychic penetration of memeplexes. The endless war of narratives: Memeplexes as an expression of the communal ego, ‘heroes’ and the ancient story-telling defense against rampant memeplexes. Memetic commonality in historic climate scares and CAGW. Speculation on the future of memeplexes in the context of social de-darwinisation. Memetic hi-jacking of major attempts to ‘consciously’ steer society. Left-right political oscillation as an evolved control-mechanism for less conscious steering that utilizes memes. CAGW as a fully recorded modern memeplex, and a call for memeticists to take up the challenge of analysis.
Appendix 1) Definitions of a memeplex.
From multiple sources. Memeplex structure and a link to a compact reference site regarding memes and memetics.
Appendix 2) Critique of memetics.
Short, but for balance links to some critique from a reference source, and leads into the following Appendix as partial offset to that critique and a wider evolutionary context.
Appendix 3) The evolutionary process in genetic and memetic domains.
This Appendix and the following one provide a modern perspective on biological evolution (i.e. in the genetic domain) that demonstrates support and overlap with similar principles in cultural evolution (i.e. in the memetic domain). Until the sheer scope of biological evolution is appreciated, along with its fuzzy boundaries and plethora of overlapping simultaneous processes, parallels between the two domains (and therefore support for cultural evolution / memetics) are not generally appreciated either. Support for group and multi-level evolution, essentially required for the theory of memeplexes.
Appendix 4) Background on the ‘Editress’ of The Isis.
Section quote: In her fight for women’s rights and place of women, Sharples took on memetic giants (‘superstition’ and ‘the church-state monopoly’), yet at the same time fought from within the boundaries of the Christian memeplex (radical Christianity). When memeplexes are very dominant, as CAGW is within the environmental domain, it is extremely hard to see out of them, and those completely outside (in the case of CAGW, skeptics) often have no power-base from which to fight. Hence the ‘enlightened immersed’ from within the memeplex often carry the main fight.
Appendix 5) Religious characteristics list reframed as memeplex benefits.
The list from Section 2 reframed as benefits to the memeplex, plus mapped to the structure list in Appendix 1.
Appendix 6) Tables of theistic meme selection, Old to New Testament.
Concerning the virgin birth and Joseph as the father of Jesus. Short backup to section 12.
Appendix 7) Pre-disposition to religion.
Short backup to sections 5 & 6 via an Oxford University media release (see refs). Pre-disposition to religion implies pre-disposition to generic memeplexes, including those like CAGW.
Appendix 8) A detailed example of ‘The Past is Always Better’ meme.
The novella ‘Meme’ is fiction, but explores in intricate detail the workings of a real and specific branch of ‘the past is always better’ meme that is currently rampant on the Internet. The story is highly informative about how such apparently simple structures can be so powerful, can fool us so easily, and have such a long history and such complex effects that in fact challenge our understanding of evolution in this domain (and the fiction format makes it enjoyable too J). A grasp of memetic action at this level is extremely helpful to understanding the incredible power of a major memetic alliance like CAGW. Pay and free links to the novella are provided. At the time I wrote the story (2006), there were about 25,000 hits on Google for the featured meme; there are now 427,000.
Appendix 9) Videos of Immersion.
Immersion in the CAGW memeplex, that is. Curious and interesting, but with a health warning.
Appendix 10) An example of memetically induced cultural bias in academia.
And pretty fatal bias at that. An examination of the paper Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change by Lianne M. Lefsrud and Renate E. Meyer. Section quote: So, by isolating a narrow (climate-change ‘resistive’) sector completely from the context of the wider narrative competition, the authors have thus succeeded in changing a relatively firm metric that surely we all knew about anyhow (i.e. older males dominate org leaderships), and one that is neutral wrt climate narratives, into a storyline that is not neutral wrt climate narratives, and is deployed within their CAGW supportive frame to try and morally undermine those who are leaders in the petro-chemical sector (so the implied storyline is: ‘those bad old dudes are harming the climate for self-interest; dudettes and younger dudes are way cooler than those stuffy old types anyway’). This storyline is a recurrent meme within the CAGW memeplex, and indeed within other memeplexes that foster radicalism and seek a change to the current regime, sometimes attempting to frame that regime in terms of an ‘Ancien Régime’.
Appendix 11) Andy West on the web.
Including my home site: www.wearenarrative.wordpress.com
and Amazon US page: http://www.amazon.com/Andy-West/e/B004TSI73G
Section 1: Memes at theumwelt.net, Memetics 101, UK MP Peter Lilley at The Huffington Post, and commenters John Bell and ‘Justice4Rinka’ (the latter citing Michael Crichton), both at Bishop Hill. Section2: Cultural Selection by Agner Fog. Section 3: commenter ‘BetaPlug’ at Watts Up With That, Resisting the Green Dragon, Paul Krugman at the New York Times, Katherine Hayhoe at the blog climatebites.org, Michael Tobis at planet3 blog, MP Peter Lilley in a letter to Prof. Kevin Anderson at Bishop Hill, and psychologist Michael S. Gazzaniger’s book Who’s in Charge. Section 4: David Holland at the Times Higher Educational Supplement, commenter ‘karmatic’ at The Huffington Post, professor Richard Lindzen at the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Michael Tobis at Planet3blog, commenter ‘lolwot’ at Climate Etc. and then The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Section 5: A Short History of War by Richard A. Gabriel and Karen S. Metz, Peter Turchin, Vice President of the Evolution Institute. Section 6: Cultural Selection by Agner Fog, Daily Express, WUWT, Forbes, Discover. Section 7: Blurb on James Hansen’s book at Amazon, Professor Micha Tomkiewicz and ‘Eli Rabett’ at the former’s blog Climate Change Fork, Amy Huva at the Vancouver Observer, from a letter sent by Dr Willis to journalist James Delingpole and published in the latter’s Daily Telegraph blog, Bob Inglis via an adaptation of his words by the blog Boomerang Warrior, Greg Laden at Before It’s News and Anthony Watts in answer to Greg at Watts Up With That. Section 8: Judith Curry’s testimony to Congress 26th April 13, Tommy Wills of Swansea University, via Climategate email 1682, and Martin Brumby at Bishop Hill commenting on the Royal Academy of Engineering’s report Generating the Future. Section 9: R. Valenčík and P. Budinský paper on Redistribution Systems, Cross-Coalitions & Meme Complexes Securing Robustness, Cultural Selection by Agner Fog, commenter John Shade at Bishop Hill, the Greenfyre blog regarding a Michael Tobis post, Professor Hans von Storch and cultural scientist Werner Krauss regarding their book launch (via Bishop Hill), Stephen Schneider and Mike Hulme. Section 10: James Annan, plus Judith Curry, ‘pokerguy’ and ‘sunshinehours1’ on Marcott and Shakun. Section 11: The Implications of Memetics for the Cultural Defense by Neal A. Gordon, via Duke Law Library, The Psychology of Corporate Dishonesty by Kath Hall of the Australian National University, Bishop Hill regarding questions about statistical significance raised in the UK parliament, and an essay by Lennart Bengtsson in Die Klimazwiebel. Section 12: Anonymous writer, Kish, 3500BC, Paradox verses by Bob Moorehouse, Donna Laframboise, Bill McKibben and Van Jones via nofrakkingconsensus, Mutation, Selection, And Vertical Transmission Of Theistic Memes In Religious Canons by John D. Gottsch and published in The Journal of Memetics, Daniel W. Van Arsdale on chain letters, Rupert Darwall, Daniel Kahneman. Section 13: Pascal Bruckner’s essay at The Chronicle of Higher Education, from Bishop Hill regarding Pascal Bruckner’s book The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse: Save the Earth, Punish Human Beings, and the Editress of The Isis, Number 19 Volume 1, Saturday 16th June 1832. Section 14: Rupert Darwall (from his speech to the Global Warming Policy Foundation), Tony Press (University of Tasmania) and Joanne Nova regarding Christopher Monckton’s antipodean tour, Bishop Hill (aka Andrew Mountford) regarding sociologists Dunlap and Jacques, Piers Corbyn of Weather Action at the Daily Telegraph blog, Craig Loehle’s article at Watts Up With That entitled Categorical Thinking in the Climate Debate. Section 15: R. Valenčík and P. Budinský paper on Redistribution Systems, Cross-Coalitions & Meme Complexes Securing Robustness. Section 16: Paul Driessen’s essay at Watts Up With That entitled: Our real manmade climate-crisis, US Secretary of State John Kerry. Section 17: Piers Corbyn and commenter ‘rw’ at the Daily Telegraph blog, Brumberg and Brumberg’s essay on The Paradox of Consensus at Watts Up With That, commenters ‘dbstealey’, ‘jbird’, and John West at Watts Up With That, Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. regarding errors in Marcott et al, Donna Laframboise regarding the ‘urgency’ pushed by Greenpeace, the Biased BBC blog, Tim Black at Spiked Online regarding the non-scientific origins of CAGW, and reference to the controversy about and papers by psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky. Section 18: An essay by ‘pointman’ entitled Some thoughts about policy for the aftermath of the climate wars, at his blog, ‘Agouts’ and Mike Jackson at Bishop Hill , The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker, plus Darwin and International Relations by Bradley A. Thyer. Appendix 1: the lexicon and definition of memes from an ex-page at the reduced site http://intraspec.ca. Appendix 2: Critique of memetics at theumwelt.net. Appendix 3: Introduction to Evolutionary Biology by Chris Colby at the TalkOrigins Archive, Stephen Jay Gould, wiki on Group Selection, Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection by Peter Godfrey-Smith, frozenevolution.com, Cultural selection, by Agner Fog, Susan Blackmore. Appendix 4: PhD thesis: ‘POETESSES AND POLITICIANS: GENDER, KNOWLEDGE AND POWER IN RADICAL CULTURE, 1830-1870’ by Helen Rogers. Appendix 6: Tables from Mutation, Selection, And Vertical Transmission Of Theistic Memes In Religious Canons by John D. Gottsch. Appendix 7: An Oxford University media release: Humans ‘predisposed’ to believe in gods and the afterlife. 13 May 11. Appendix 8:‘Meme’ by Andy West in Engines of Life from Greyhart Press and originally published at Bewildering Stories. Appendix 9: Video links from Bishop Hill and Watts Up With That. Appendix 10: Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change by Lianne M. Lefsrud and Renate E. Meyer, and from Stephen Mosher at Climate Etc. Appendix 11: Andy West links including home site: www.wearenarrative.wordpress.com.