How a mind virus works.
Human beings love to think that their actions are the consequence of their own independent thinking.
But is this really so?
When we are talking about a mind virus we are describing an idea which has come from outside of ourselves and then inserts itself into our thinking and modifies our behaviour. Some mind viruses [MV’s] are deliberately constructed and purposely aimed at controlling human behaviour. These we commonly recognise as a component of advertising and marketing strategies. Some MV’s are deliberately designed for one purpose but have other consequences not necessarily foreseen by the creators. These we commonly see as vicarious effects. Then there are other MV’s which are solely about the transmission of behaviours. These we commonly see as top-down transmissions; from superiors to subordinates.
What is certain about human beings and their lives is that most of what is thought to be independent action, under analysis, turns out to be little more than repeated behaviour. Even more definite is that supposed intelligence is no defence to MV’s.
MV’s are constructs from within the concept of memes. Memes were an idea evolved by Richard Dawkins and given a chapter in his book The Selfish Gene. For Dawkins, a meme was an idea which had the capacity to evolve in an echo of the way physical evolution occurred. This powerful and innovative idea described a meme fundamentally as a ‘self-replicating unit of transmission’.
Considering them as a virus is to bring to the discussion the idea of a meme as a contaminating factor or even as an infection. We can then question whether such an infection is capable of making the infected subject, the mind of an individual human being, unwell, sick or incapacitated in some way.
Clearly, we must also allow that it may be possible that instead of infecting an individual an MV could also be inoculating them as well. In other words, we must not be trapped in solely a negative interpretation of MV’s.
In the story, “So what! How a mind virus works.”, a fictional tale told by a quite pompous narrator explores this theme.