RE: virus: Meme Update #29: Copycat Shootings

Richard Brodie (
Thu, 17 Jun 1999 16:45:03 -0700


I agree with what you say. The main problem is that TV saturates us with behaviors that are largely undesirable: conflict, violence, sexual predation -- because these attract viewers.

Richard Brodie
Author, "Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme" Free newsletter!

-----Original Message-----

From: []On Behalf Of Sodom
Sent: Thursday, June 17, 1999 12:25 PM
Subject: Re: virus: Meme Update #29: Copycat Shootings

Richard, It seems like you have given this some thought, here is my question to
you. How are copycat shootings or suicides or whatever any different from most
other types of learned behavior. It just seems to be a lot more basic than the
press spreading the info along. If one child sees another playing with matches
and burning his hands, despite seeing the pain, I'll bet the kid still will pick
up the matches and proceed to burn himself. The only difference I see is that
the media can spread the word faster. I think all I am saying is that if an idea
is glorified in any way, others copy it. The message is irrelevant other than a
short and simple message is probably more effective than a complicated one. I
don't think the media is naive - I do think that their reasons are good ones - I
simply think that they don't weigh the costs to humanity against the benefits
cash. Lets face it, people want to believe and to be led - they want to think
that what the professor, teacher, preacher and news man (or woman) are telling
them is the truth. People like to think that a Judge or News person, celebrity
have some sort of insight we regular people lack. I don't think I can make the
proper logical connections so the next statement is pure speculation: I think
that "self respect and/or self confidence" plays a large role in copy cat behavior due to a lack of self trust when confronted with information that is
glorified. Many of us have an almost knee-jerk reaction to ideas that don't seem
reasonable on the face of things, and that our self confidence helps us to question what we are told helps and to protect against copy cat behavior.

Bill Roh