The Null Device

Emotional selection in memes

When memes compete for mindshare in the ideosphere, one of the things they're selected for is emotional impact. The most sensational story wins, as does the most disgusting urban legend, according to this paper. (via FmH)

(Which all makes sense; by the same token, there are other (so far anecdotal) laws of memetics. For example, it has been observed that urban legends that mention a "brand" of some category mutate to refer to the best-known brand. (For example, the one about some small fried-chicken restaurant chain supporting the Ku Klux Klan mutated into an urban legend about KFC, and it's probable that the "Albert Einstein said we only use 10% of our brains" UL started as a claim about some lesser known very smart person making that statement.) I'd speculate that this is the result of a selection for economy or consistency with one's existing knowledge/memes, or a streamlining process that erodes memes into more agile forms.)

There are 2 comments on "Emotional selection in memes":

Posted by: jesse http:// Mon Aug 12 10:49:27 2002

Like the conversation I overheard floating down from the upstairs studio, concerning "John Cale of the Velvet Underground" who "recorded" a section of silence and copyrighted it.

Posted by: Ben http:// Mon Aug 12 11:18:54 2002

The KKK was rumored to meet at 'Churchs' fried chicken franchises, possibly because people misunderstood a popular documentary that pointed out the KKK often met in Churchs.

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