Music and Memetic Biasing Levels
24-30 July, 1994
Number of articles: 5
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Name withheld by request)
Subject: Music and Memetic Biasing Levels.
Date: 24 Jul 1994 08:57:05 -0600
Can different types of music cause different types of emotionally
based memes to arise? Example: Rap music; violent feelings, thinking
of taking an Uzi and 'cleaning the street' with it. Example: classical
music, thinking of 'Amadeus' style ballrooms, heightened intellectual
Example: There is a nearby fast food restaurant that used to have a
problem with loitering, and rough customers hanging out in the parking
lot--about 2 months ago, this establishment started playing classical
music over the P.A. system--subsequently, the rougues have abandon the
I submit that these individuals had mindsets conducive to violence,
conducive to impulsive, base desires--and that the classical music was
actually breaking down their memes of choice, or rather the memes that
most efficaciously dovetailed with their character and personality
Conversely, those with memes of the intellect, those of n
non-hostility and non-agression, those memes of stability found in the
most even keeled citizens, would be fostered in this environment of
Another way to think of it: say that there are two memes represented
by two different varieties of rampant weeds--weed A is like a dandylion,
and weed B is like a milkweed. These hypothetical strains in our example
response, respectively, to different wavelengths of light.
Using a wide spectrum, like white light, they will both grow moderately.
But what if you irradiate these plants with one particular wavelength or
another? One plant, at, or close to, that wavelength, will grow
rampantly, while the other will wither and may even die, given enough
So it is true with good and evil in persons, with proclivities w
towards one or another set of behaviors.
Another example: think of a nearby shopping mall--I'll bet anyone
on this newsgroup half a dozen fresh doughnuts that you can't walk
through _any_ nearby full-size shopping mall without hearing soothing
music and/or smelling a pleasant fragrance--why?
Folks, there's more here than just "setting the mood." Your minds
are actually having their memetic biasing levels externally set, and
this is often done subliminally--so the minds of the targets (you and
me) become a rampant breeding ground for memes that, collectively,,
impel you, the aggregate entity, to act in favor of the merchants whose
final goal is to sell their wares. T
This is not a bad thing, but I would invite you to consciously
think of the extent to which your buying decisions are influenced by
these elements of the mall ambience as you walk in--and if the music
is just right, whether you buy or not, you will leave glass-eyed,
and mollified, and a bit more relaxed; the memes have been hard at
work reproducing in your mind, trying to add up to a vector strong
enough to commandeer your faculties and body. Example: have you ever
heard someone say, "if I spend one more second in here, I'm going to
buy everything! Get me out of here, please!" This is the last cry of
small, eroded kernel of willpower that is left to the piranha-like
memes whose feeding-frenzy is catalyzed, indeed, exacerbated by the
Any comments would be welcome, anything at all, and thanks form
starting the much needed FAQ, Marc.
From: email@example.com (Lee Borkman)
Subject: Re: Music and Memetic Biasing Levels.
Date: 25 Jul 1994 12:40:15 +1000
> Can different types of music cause different types of emotionally
>based memes to arise? Example: Rap music; violent feelings, thinking
>of taking an Uzi and 'cleaning the street' with it. Example: classical
>music, thinking of 'Amadeus' style ballrooms, heightened intellectual
If you can find it, you might look at Manfred Clynes' book "Sentics", which is
all about the emotional communication embedded in musical 'shapes', which have
their analogs in the visual arts, etc. Be warned: take everything he says with
a hefty grain of salt, but the ideas are interesting.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (William Denton)
Subject: Re: Music and Memetic Biasing Levels.
Date: 25 Jul 1994 22:01:41 -0400
email@example.com, "Jon," said:
: Can different types of music cause different types of emotionally
: based memes to arise? Example: Rap music; violent feelings, thinking
: of taking an Uzi and 'cleaning the street' with it. Example: classical
: music, thinking of 'Amadeus' style ballrooms, heightened intellectual
: awareness memes.
: Example: There is a nearby fast food restaurant that used to have a
: problem with loitering, and rough customers hanging out in the parking
: lot--about 2 months ago, this establishment started playing classical
: music over the P.A. system--subsequently, the rougues have abandon the
I can explain this without resorting to memetics. First, let's reverse the
situation. Now, I presume you classify yourself amongst those whose
"heightened intellectual awareness memes" are continually stimulated.
Hence, I presume you like classical music and have a distaste for loud
rap, heavy metal and punk music. Let's say you have a favourite
tea-room, where you can relax, sip a cup of tea, nibble a biscuit, read
Tolstoy and listen to Bach and Mozart records be played. If the tea-room
began to blast Body Count and N.W.A, what would you do? You would
leave. This is what these nefarious characters lurking outside the
restaurant did. They didn't like the music, so they walked away.
If this same restaurant began serving fried worms and rotting fish on a
bed of dirt, all their customers would leave. Not because some
food-related meme took effect but because they didn't like the food as
much as a cheeseburger with fries. I don't think the idea of "Don't eat
what you don't like" (or "Don't listen to music you don't like," or
"Don't watch movies you don't like") counts as a meme. It isn't an idea
passing from person to person, it's something you learn at a very early
age, or perhaps are born with (this is Freud's pleasure principle, I
guess). Nobody has to tell small children not to like spinach.
: Your minds
: are actually having their memetic biasing levels externally set.
Could you please explain what my "memetic biasing levels" are? How can
I measure them? Can I get a remote control to adjust them?
:: firstname.lastname@example.org :: William Denton ::
"Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."
- George Orwell, 1937
From: email@example.com (Name withheld by request)
Subject: Music, etc., and Memetic Biasing Levels. (Sony remote control :)
Date: 28 Jul 1994 06:31:04 -0600
When I mentioned the memetic biasing levels being externally set,
this is what I mean: Thoughts concatenate, and spawn each other--I once
saw an illustration of this in a very concrete, clear allegory, but
more applicable to a fission reaction. A room is filled with mousetraps,
and each one is rigged to launch two ping-pong balls in the air when
it snaps, and the triggers are made more sensitive to the ping-pong
balls. So, if you throw a ping-pong (or any other) ball into the room,
there is a chain reaction (exponential?) and in about 45 seconds, the
whole room is filled with the sound of snapping traps, and balls bouncingg
off of the walls.
Now, when I am thinking of memetic biasing levels, I am thinking
of adding or taking away the ping-pong balls that are launched by each
trap--a low bias might have one very small ping-pong ball that is launched
from each trap, and thus, the idea will barely concatenate, and willl
die out. A high bias level might have 3 or 4 balls for each trap, setting
off a veritable explosion with the slightest thought.
This can be done, I believe, with environmental stimulus, but also
with stimulants and depressants. For example, if you have a nice glass
of scotch, on the rocks, you will feel differently than if you have two
cups of coffee, of course--but more importantly, from a memetic standpoint,
is that your thoughts will concatenate to differing degrees, and along
Example: Drinking Scotch/soothing music:
Frazzled! long day--->loosening up, things aren't so bad--->
well, why did I get upset, when my boss came in shouting, actually
it was kind of funny-->laugh--->more relaxed--->when is next
vacation?-->maybe go skiing in Aspen, CO-->like the big fireplace
in the ski lodge...etc. (mellow feeling)
Example: Drinking Coffee, listening to Mozart:
Feeling more and more alert-->start visualizing 3D constructs-
-->mind racing ahead of music, placing notes from memory-->
applying rational, logical thinking to previous unsolvable
problems, enigmas, dilemmas--->find solution, or new insight-->
success at solving problems acts as positive feedback-->
looping structure initiated-->attack bigger problems-->solve
those-->repeat positive looping structure-->euphoric-->
thought patterns concatenate wildly-->memes spawn in all
directions-->nascent ideas accrete...etc.
So the mind, when the "memetic biasing levels" are "externally
set", acts like a liquid solution of this or that type that can
grow a particular type of crystal. (memes, replicating not only in the
solution (mind) in number, but also increasing in size and complexity?)
I know this is a bit crude, and I am sorry for how poorly worded
it is--am I crazy? Is this memetics, or something else?
Thanks for reading this, and for any replies--I welcome any criticism
here. (I could be entirely wrong in all this, and if so, I would rather
see the error of my ways)
A quick remark on some of your latest postings.
You seem to use the meme concept in a somewhat unorthodox manner. Dawkins
defined memes as entities that replicate from brain to brain. This means
that one meme is supposed to have only one copy of itself in one brain at
the same time.
Your usage portrays a different picture:
> (...) the memes have been hard at
> work reproducing in your mind, trying to add up to a vector strong
> enough to commandeer your faculties and body.
Do you mean there can be multiple copies of the same meme in one brain?
It looks like you borrowed the idea of in-mind replicating entities from
genetic AI, and called those replicators 'memes'.
Neither Dawkins nor me own the exclusive rights of the word 'meme' though,
so I don't mind you subscribe an alternative meme concept. It's clear what
processes you refer to, and their role in 'real' memetics is essential.
Evoluonary processes take place inside our brains on all kinds of time-
scales. There is a fast, local evolution of ideas/habits inside one brain;
and a slower evolution of cultural ideas/habits shared by many brains.
Replicators (memes) of the latter type of evolution will evolve in such a
way that they give rise to a succesful 'local' evolution of replicators
that promise to help propagate the (non-local) memes.
One way of stimulating evolution of certain types of in-mind replicators
could indeed be what you call 'setting biasing levels' using music and/or
drugs. To find out if this is what's really happening, one should wonder if
the (cultural) memes that make a person --for instance-- drink alcohol,
have co-memes whose (non-local!) reproduction is advanced when their hosts
are under the influence of alcohol.
So you'd have to look at the effects of changed biasing levels on social
interactions, not only on individual brains.
Question: is the in-mind replication a real material replication process,
or a mere *iteration* (=replication in time)?
I think it's important to keep clear awareness of the exact way we use the
gene-meme analogy. Maybe you should coin a different word for your in-mind
replicators, to avoid ambiguity in future discussions.
Hope I made myself clear enough.
"Dogmatism is a sin"