Models of human cultural reproduction

Egregores, superorganisms, memeplexes

December 18, 2018 — July 26, 2022

collective knowledge
game theory
social graph

Content warning:

Comparison of groups here by their structural similarities is not to imply moral equivalence or endorsement of said groups. Groups you like and groups who offend you might both have similar dynamics.

I like the notion of egregores, which model human dynamics as organisms, in a usefully loose sense. Superorganisms are not tightly coupled in the way real organisms are, at least AFAICT. But if something is going to survive and propagate in the noisy substrate of humanity, it needs strategies to replicate, adapt and regulate, just like a real organism. Sometimes this way of thinking sounds insight-ey.

1 See also

Subculture dynamics, tribalism, group dynamics, memetics.

2 Egregores

Sarah Perry, in Weaponized Sacredness, almost describes this as a control problem, when she discusses Egregores:

A smart [egregore] would keep its component humans in the zone of maximum productivity, not demanding too much from them, nor allowing them to slack off (producing nothing for the glory and amusement of the egregore and anyway perhaps feeling bored and useless).

I like this metaphor, as it inspires us to think about what the feedback systems that are in place are configured to do.

Figure 1

3 Status

Kevin Simler in Minimum Viable Superorganism, casts the problem of cooperation outside the family unit as built upon status.

4 Incoming

5 References

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