Joined: 06 Oct 2005
Location: Cupertino, California, U.S. of A!
|Posted: Sat Oct 08, 2005 6:28 am Post subject: Introuduction to the MemPolice
|Welcome to MemePolice
This Forum has two Goals:
1) Indentify existing memes, and examine their veracity.
2) Providing a public forum where new memes can be named.
What's in a Meme?
Think you're not brainwashed? If you can read this, you are. Your beliefs, no matter what they are, are influenced by a huge array of thoughts and ideas from your fellow humans. If you can use a web browser and reached this site, you've probably encountereed thousands of these ideas. A normal mind can't help but be influenced; and is thus at least slightly, somehow, brainwashed. Human societies are based on this principle. You can't avoid it, but you can be aware of it and help control who is doing it.
A potent type of idea for brainwashing is the "meme" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme). Here's some examples:
* Welfare State
* Free Market
Each of these expressions could mean a lot of things, but when we see them in the media, we know exactly what they mean. Their wide use creates what George Lakoff calls a frame.
Why do we need to "police" Memes?
I recently caught "Cultural Collapse" in a rant (there's another meme) by columnist George F. Will. As soon as I saw the words, I knew exactly what he meant - that American Culture had disintegrated, fallen apart and was somehow much less than is once was. It brings to mind Gay marriage, Legal Abortion, Crackhouses and Bill Clinton. I understood it as fast as I would have understood "Boogie Man" or "Armageddon".
Now, I think the idea that our culture has collapsed is totally bogus. IMO Personal computers, the Internet, modern medicine, universal literacy, and widest distribution of arts & music in human history make modern American Culture easily as great as anything that had gone before it. Maybe Mr. Will is referring to social culture like Divorce, Poverty, Drug abuse, or even Obesity. But all these problems are most evident in the "Red states" where Mr. Will finds his biggest audience. I doubt Mr Will intended "Cultural Collapse" to describe his political supporters.
So why does Mr. Will's mis-application of this idea of "Cultural Collapse" go unnoticed and unchallenged? Because this meme was planted years ago, and then deliberatly nurtured into a full blow frame. It allows Mr. Will to inject a huge load of negative and untrue ideas into his reader's mind, without challenge, with two words. Brainwashing.
This brings us to the first purpose of mempolice: To Indentify existing Cultural memes, and examine their veracity. In simpler words: what are we being told, and is it true? Will's meme of "cultural collapse" should be subject to public debate, and if found suspect should never go unchallenged.
This web site provides a forum for doing this. You can nominate a meme for examination, subject it to public scrutiny, and keep the results on-line. Whenever some "Meme-monger" casualy tosses out the meme you will know it for what it is at once, so you can stop the brainwashing in it's tracks (if you so desire) and present the other side of the issue.
Where Memes come from
Sometimes a meme is a more elaborate statement:
* Trees cost jobs
* Public schools have failed
* Conservatives like smaller government
Each of these is a well known meme dating back decades. In each case, millions of dollars have been spent publicizing and reinforcing the meme, although none are entirely true. This is because each of these memes has a well funded backer - Companies that save money if they pollute, Religious fanatics that want to end public schooling, etc.
A few memes resonate so strongly with so many people that they spread even without big money behind them.
* Spin doctor
But what about ideas which have powerful enemys, and no major backers? How can one get a Meme in place for one of the following concepts?
* Religious zealots whose actions contradict the principles their religion was founded on.
* Arguing for "free market" economic policies in markets which are heavily maninulated or monopolized.
This suggests the other goal for the meme police - providing a public forum where new memes can be named. For years our culture has been shaped and manipulated by memes created by moneyed interests (There should be a meme for that too!) - it's about time for an organized gress-roots effort to create non-profit memes for public service.