Excerpt: Why Cultures Develop Memetic ‘Immune Systems’

By | May 10, 2016

From a blog post by Pablo Reyes Arellano, a professor from Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, touching on cultures that, while evolving, still protect themselves through rejection of other ways of seeing, thinking and acting.

Modernity has accelerated development, expansion, new possibilities and substantially improved the quality of life in many ways. But, are the systems with which we have approached the management of problems in the past enough to deal with the complex environments we find ourselves in today?

The process of cultural evolution occurs through an algorithm. When there is inheritance, variation and selection, it operates via the evolutionary mechanism that allows the new generations (seen from genetics) to be better adapted to the context in which they live.

At the cultural level, change happens in the same way; however, the replication systems are not genes, but cultural transmission units that are inheriting, varying and selecting from person to person (or group to group) depending on the contexts in which they participate. We are imitating what we see and generating complex systems of beliefs, values and paradigms that make us, on one side, to see reality in a certain way, and on the other, to act, teach, and manage according to this conception of reality.

This evolutionary form is increasingly becoming more complex as what we have to face is more complex, so new forms of inheritance, variation and selection are happening as the environment changes, largely as a product of the same results that we foster.

In the process of cultural evolution, these generate an “immune system” that attracts those practices, values and systems that are consistent with the central cultural system, while repelling those that are not in accordance.

Full version: https://evolution-institute.org/article/evolving-organizations