Memetic warfare

From Memetics

/1 Goal and purpose: Memetic warfare[1] is perhaps the easiest application of memes for practical purposes. No other framework offers the comprehension of:

1. Which factors are important for transferring norms and comprehension. The goal of memetic warfare.

2. How memes transplant (essential)

3. How to evaluate the effectiveness of propaganda campaigns.

/2 Relevance:

Memetic warfare might be entering it's coming heyday as global intelligence agencies, corporations, private individuals, and internet subcultures begin to understand and utilize the internet to propagate their methods of thinking.

Included is the fact that memes not only transplant, but can also cause adverse memetic creation. See -> counter-cultures.

/3 Method of study.

In the little free-time I have available I will post case-studies, highlights of relevant reading, primers/documents, and (hopefully) engaging questions.

All will, in one way or another, be consolidated into a single document from which a formatted and edited document will be created in many months / years.

/4 scope

Memetic warfare ranges from direct battle situations (war propaganda) to cultural group conflict. Any conflict where groups attempt to introduce new norms / methods of thinking and wishes to incite specific viewpoints will be considered (essentially) memetic warfare.

My primary interests are the following, but any related topics will be allowed: a/ Which subcultures are vulnerable to which memes. How to evaluate the easiest "transitional memes".

If you wished to convince somebody that races influence morality, the path would be different for different targets. Consider: For a hardcore left-winger, attempt to convince them that the majority of slavery was committed by white individuals. They are vulnerable to the white oppressor meme, which is a sub-group of "race-morality" memes. For a hardcore right-winger, using race-IQ studies (black-inferiority meme) or conspiracy theories (evil-jew meme) would prove more effective.

b/ Methods of transfer. How to effectively deliver payloads fit to cultural and biological methods of absorbing information. A case study on afghan music and Taliban coming up soon.

c/ How to layer memetic warfare. Most, if not all, succesful manipulation rests on a spiral of accepted arguments that turn gradually more intense. Consider the descent into hardcore racism. You start on message boards (4chan?) seeing light editions of the memes, and end up on stormfront.

d/ Practical methods of implementing and defending against memetic warfare.

e/ Abstraction node placement. Which groups, when influenced, will propagate further influence. (Influencing the elders/leaders of a society). Which groups will immunize the rest of the body (if all republicans believed in memetics as a study, the democrats would soon hate it).

We don't see things as they are; we see them as we are. – Anaïs Nin

to edit :

Copy of lens model:

The eye theory of comprehension using memetics and mental models.

Memes as the lens filters at the (what information is relevant) and (interpretation of analysis result) start and final levels. What to take in and how to understand the analysis.

Mental models (related to, but not memes themselves) as tools of processing.

We can atl east somewhat verify that the first filter (memetic filter of relevance) is true based on studies re: confirmation bias + focus bias (the dancing monkey video). People tend to only acknowledge the existence of the external world in relation to what they care about. Too much information otherwise.

We also know that priors affect conclusions in humans, thus memes also affect the result post-processing.

Mental models as tools of processing. If this link was not put in, nobody would ever change their mind.

Main take-away is how we/anybody can influence another person.

Change external inputs (The manipulation of Mentats in Dune as an example!)

Change what people care about (manipulation of what counts as important. Mainstream propaganda memetic warfare - what Vegans are attempting to do)

Change how people process facts. Understudied.

Change how people interpret facts. Schools and higher education as indoctrinators of the "science meme", society as indoctrinators "norm memes"

ALL levels are reflexive and influence one another.


to edit ii

Today I've decided to quickly write up a primer to memetic warfare through entertainment. There is (perhaps) no bigger and more influential topic that ideological manipulation through entertainment, so I've started on an extremely simple case-study / observation level.(edited) [7:30 PM] KhushalKhattak: 1/ simple observations on the nature of memes and entertainment

What we consume shapes our norms and narratives. Consistent across all cultures is a love of entertainment. Songs, dance, music, play, and competition all play central roles in the lives of most children, adolescents and even adults in the western world. If we move east, the core consumer base remains children and adolescents.

I’ve decided to explicitly NOT focus on the mainstream facts of propaganda through media. Any monkey with a PC can find documents on the topic. Instead, let us look at how the memetics aspect (self-spreading ideas) interact with cultural propaganda.

One aspect is creating in/out-groups for cultural groups. Songs and jokes within a cultural context naturally exclude outsiders, thus providing incentive for insiders to regularly revive shared entertainment-memes. Hooligan songs at sports games, tv-series in-jokes (she’s a total Jessica), and popular gestures dab all indicate belonging to certain groups. Thus there is a natural tendency towards virality as intra-group belonging is reinforced.

A second aspect is stickyness. Good entertainment sticks (whether emotionally or rhytmically) to the brain. Emotional movies, funny turns of phrase in songs, or even moments in sports and gaming will create powerful responses on a biological level, saving the information with higher intensity. There is a reason nearly all prophets spoke in parables. Memes stick better through vivid tales. [7:32 PM] KhushalKhattak: A third aspect (arguable) is that of higher weakness. Most young & adolescent people are not extremely aware that movies and songs have ulterior purposes, but are often "woke" enough to realize that direct logos arguments do. This is why Disney is a great case study for another time. [7:32 PM] KhushalKhattak: Those are a few aspects of entertainment memes, now for a simple study of how memetic warfare intersects with these facts. [7:40 PM] KhushalKhattak: I'm a white European who loves Afghan culture for various personal reasons. My name is, for example, a warlord from the 16th century Afghanistan.

No place has seen more ideological confusion and warfare in the last 40 years. Soviets during 1979-1989, overtaken by religious extremists, until the currently "democratic" government with supposed (slightly more) secular and liberal values. At the same time, Afghanistan is very insulated and culturally homogenous (on some levels, for example religion) on a village level. While different tribes (from 4 sorts of Pashtun to Tajik) inhabit parts of Afghanistan, nearly all are extremely Muslim and rural. Economic development is also low in many areas.

Afghans generally have little television outside major cities. A high percentage are simply extremely illiterate as well. Thus the primary means of entertainment are SONG, dancing, and kiterunning.

Kiterunning has few means of transferring memes. Dancing has some, but most are extremely implicit and relate more to sexual dynamics than political. Song, however, sit naturally in the mind of even illiterates and can portray layered memetic implications. They also spread easily, as they're naturally almost mnemonic devices.

An interesting move in the ideological war of Afghanistan was when the Taliban banned songs. This is what I've decided to take a look at:(edited) [7:48 PM] KhushalKhattak: My conclusions are as follows, from studying the case:

In EM's, memetic warfare is difficult from the outside. Thus most campaigns in current days (twitter-bots as an example) will be ineffective.

In-person songs are an extremely potent source of memetic unity, but must be coupled with physical distance which makes transfer slow and cumbersome. In modern times the effect has weakened somewhat as the personal element is removed (Unless you go to church often), but spread is easier. Thus a memetic pipeline has actually weakened materially in this age.

When attempting to halt memetic evolution towards stronger memes, insulation partly works.

The Taliban quickly had to offer their own tapes with propaganda songs (allowed), because any meme removal attracts new memes. Something is "missing", similar to weather dynamics on hot/cold winds. If you attempt to remove a meme or source of memes, prepare to replace it or offer an alternative. Same with Chinese search. Music exists for a variety of reasons, emotional, communication, unity. You must replace all, if any are left out the removal will be ineffective. [7:52 PM] KhushalKhattak: To not drag out the post into almost perpetuity:

1. Economic and cultural aspects heavily affect methods of delivering intended memes.

2. Songs and chants are extremely sticky, but hard to create before a cohesive group exists. A competitive advantage for owners of established chants. Chants at rallies serve as examples of humans' natural understanding of group memetics.

3. Removing a source of narratives required replacing it, because it often exists for a reason.

4. Memetic unity is a scary and beautiful thing. Getting a narrative just perfect is less important than getting everybody on roughly the same page.(edited) madru 4 [7:52 PM] KhushalKhattak: 4 +3 are most novel, 1 + 2 are obvious but important. [7:53 PM] KhushalKhattak: /end

One of the contributors of Defense Strategic Communications journal issued by NATO Stratcom COE, Jeff Giesea defines memetic warfare as “competition over narrative, ideas, and social control in a social-media battlefield. One might think of it as a subset of ‘information operations’ tailored to social media. Information operations involve the collection and dissemination of information to establish a competitive advantage over an opponent”.

In Jeff’s opinion “memetic warfare could also be viewed as a ‘digital native’ version of psychological warfare, more commonly known as propaganda. If propaganda and public diplomacy are conventional forms of memetic warfare, then trolling and PSYOPs are guerrilla versions”.[2]