Monday, September 20, 2004

Meme Proliferation, Pt. 3

And now onto the Political biome of the meme ecosphere. Optimally, one would believe that the Political environment would be much like the Scientific environment except for the variability in definition of "best adapted". The scientific influence would be shown in the requirement that all theories, points of view, and forecasts will be contiguous with all other memes, if not across the entire political scene, then at least within one's own philosophy. Remember that memes that create a niche for other memes are actually the evidence that supports a conclusion.

In a political campaign, the goal is to create the strongest meme in the field. Come Election Day, will the "President Bush" meme be stronger than the "President Kerry" meme? A meme can not be strengthened in and of itself, however. In order to make a meme a better option is to lift it up with other memes. "President Bush" has a very strong supporting meme with "War on Terror", while "President Kerry" has been relying very much on "War Hero".

If a meme can build up, it can certainly tear down. The "War on Terror" meme "President Bush" rests upon is most definitely vulnerable to "Botched Iraq Reconstruction". The "War Hero" meme has taken a great many hits from the memes that have been bundled under "Swift Boat Vets".

Much as an african dung beetle would be out of luck if elephants died off, a meme that has lost its supporting memes is due for extinction. This follows quickly in the scientific setting, less quickly in the political. We are currently seeing a wonderful example of that concept with the CBS memos. Dan Rather made a report on 60 Minutes with an alegation (new meme) that President Bush had disobeyed orders while in the Texas Air National Guard but was not called on it due to political influence. Essentially new memes "History of Political Favoritism" and "Failure to Complete Duty" were spawned that attacked the "Fit for Presidency" meme under "President Bush". A supporting meme, "Memos from Personal File of Commanding Officer" was presented to back up the assertions. Without the "Memos" meme, the two assertions would be disconnected from any support, and should die.

In science, that is what would happen. In politics, there can be those who try to hold fast. The New York Times headline about the memos being "Fake, but Accurate" shows that attitude nicely. Dan Rather's assertion that the story should be about President Bush's service is entirely missing the point. In order to bring as much evidence against as Rather has for, all the President has to say is "I did complete my National Guard service." That has already happened. That is the same amount because the memos have not been shown to be reliably true, indeed they have been shown to be almost certainly false.

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