#796 Why Memes Rule The World w/ Luke Burgis - Deepstash
#796 Why Memes Rule The World w/ Luke Burgis

#796 Why Memes Rule The World w/ Luke Burgis

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Memetic Theory Versus Mimetic Theory

Memetic Theory Versus Mimetic Theory

Memetics is the study of memes, cultural units of information that replicate, comparable with Darwinian evolution.

In memetic theory (Richard Dawkins) it’s not well understood why memes spread, it’s somewhat of a mystery.

Mimetic theory is how and why memes and desires spread.

What are the origins of our desires, and how do they transfer to other people. Desire is a social phenomenon, and it’s highly contagious; it’s not something we generate ourselves.


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Desire Is Contagious

Desire Is Contagious

The mimetic theory of desire originated with French polymath René Girard

Desire is hardwired into human nature, and it’s been around forever. We can never extinguish mimetic desire from life. It’s part of how we’ve always been.

Most people believe that desires are 100% internal, but René Girard calls that a romantic lie. We are not in complete control of our desires, the whole idea of mimetic theory is that most desires have more external forces than we realize.

Social media especially accelerates mimetic desire.


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Impact on the Financial Markets

Impact on the Financial Markets

How to measure mimesis in the markets?

  • Digital on-chain transactions are transparent, there is more visibility compared to the stock market
  • It’s possible to measure mimetic sentiment in the market; maybe not equivalent to a sharp ratio, but Luke believes it’s worth trying.

When there is a parabolic rise in the asset, we know that people are imitating other people (mimesis)

2020 – Tesla’s parabolic rise

The number 1 search on Google was “Should I buy…”, which Google was auto-filling with “Tesla?”

Technology accelerates mimesis and mimetic desire and diffuses it throughout the whole world.


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Mimetic Desire and Religion Are Negatively Correlated

Mimetic desire is not inherently a negative thing. It can work positively in forming a sense of community (people with a shared desire).

Luke is a Catholic, and he acknowledges the power of mimetic desire in informing the community and the church. Italian immigration to the United States – mimesis for a shared object of desire and community was a tremendously positive thing. The same is happening with the move to digital finance (communities forming like DAO’s, Discord channels, etc.)

A lot of people are fulfilling their need for community and religion in bitcoin and crypto.


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What do we do once we become aware that we are in a mimetic environment or are behaving in a mimetic way?

  • Radical honesty, self-reflection, and introspection – it’s more challenging to discover our mimetic behavior than to see it externally in other people
  • Thinking about people that are influencing your decision-making
  • Luke learned to identify certain signals; people who influence him over Twitter and in real life
  • Check yourself; maybe your desires to act are driven by wrong reasons (insecurity, pride, ego, etc.)


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How to avoid bad investment decisions?

It’s about developing a certain kind of disposition for patience, sober waiting, and recognizing your emotions. In early 2020, Luke got caught up in the mimesis of the markets in the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic

He thought it was a good idea to try and day trade the markets, in/out of highly volatile stocks

When there is a lot of fear-driven mimetic desire and uncertainty, just sit back, wait, and learn as much as you can.


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If you are ever caught in a riptide in an ocean, the worst possible thing that you can do is to try to resist and swim against it.



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Offensive and Defensive Components to Mimetic Desire

You can manipulate people via mimetic desire (marketing, political campaigns, etc.)

One way to weaponize mimetic desire is to forge identity among people by creating a powerful scapegoat, some enemy on the other side that makes people cohere and band together with a shared hatred for some singular object or person.

Some people are being very intentional about it, but it can be done by accident.


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Is the Meme the Message?

Both age and demographics play a role in mimesis

  • Teenagers are famously mimetic
  • As people get older they are less mimetically driven because they know themselves better
  • Highly agreeable people tend to be more mimetic people. Part of that is due to their personalities, but a large part of it is a learned behavior.

The carrier is far more important than the meme itself

The people spreading the memes are the driver of the contagion.

When Elon Musk is behind a meme, it changes everything


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People who have the power to generate mimetic desire are lead indicators of cultural trajectory



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