What to Make of the Brian Williams/NBC Fiasco

[ 0 ] February 10, 2015 |

All of us are being influenced all the time in ways that we might not be aware of. Though many of us know this, we may not think about it much as we go about our daily business. This was brought into our consciousness again recently when Brian Williams, an American journalist who is the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News, the evening news program of the NBC television network, recanted a story he told of personal experiences aboard a military helicopter during the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Because of this, many of his “so-called” recollections of incidents during NBC’s Katrina coverage have been questioned. On February 7, 2015, he announced he would temporarily step down from his news anchor role to remove a distraction from NBC’s news coverage and to enable the network to investigate the issue. “Investigate the Issue?” What issue? He lied. He lied either out of ego, or because he was ordered to lie.

Of course we all tell lies some of the time, but this is not little lying. This is big lying and there are many among us who are clear that most of what we are told are either lies or the selective presentation of some facts but not others; all designed to influence what we think and what we believe.

We have discussed all this before in previous newsletters and blogs. There is an entire social science built around the idea of this kind of lying, lying that is politely called “cultural influence.”

Most people interested in this idea are familiar with the word “meme.” Meme (/ˈmiːm/ meem) is a word coined by the British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene (1976). Meme describes “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” The word meme is a shortening (modeled on gene – and for the Ancient Greek  words for “to imitate,” and from “mime”). A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme.

Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective processes.  Examples of these cultural ideas and symbols include catch-phrases, fashion, and the specific application of technology.

I believe there is a limitation to this model of how cultural ideas spread. When Dawkins created the concept of memes he modeled them on the way viruses spread but the fact is humans are also invaded by bacteria and carry genes within them; all models for ways they can be infected with ideas that are often beyond our control to prevent or stop.

If one is seriously interested in how humans are influenced and how to limit that influence with ideas, it is important to integrate all the distinct models of what I call “Regenerating Thought Processes” (RTPs) including viruses, bacteria and gene-based models.

In the coming weeks, I will offer a detailed approach to this concept with an exploration and explanation of each model – virus, bacteria and gene. It is, I believe, important to understand these distinctions between how viruses, bacteria, and genes pass on forms to others because it shows the many different ways we can be influenced.

Visit Lewis Harrison’s official website.

Tags: , , , , ,

Category: Film, Music and Entertainment

Profile photo of Lewis Harrison

About Lewis Harrison: Lewis Harrison is a speaker, bestselling author, and radio talk show host on NPR affiliated WIOX 91.3 FM. As an “inspired data machine” and expert on futurism, personal development, gamification, leadership and conspiracy theory Lewis [...]
View author profile.

Comments are closed.

Skip to toolbar