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Modern Mythologies

  1. Mar 3, 2006 #1
    I think this subject goes well here though it may have a bit of an S&D flavour.


    I've always been fascinated by conspiracy theories, secret societies, claims of the paranormal, mysticism, satanism, Alistair Crowley, Theosophy/H.P. Blavatsky, bigfoot, Nessie, ect. Even though the majority of it has been proven fabricated, embellished, or otherwise explainable and I believe the sceptics and debunkers I still wish to study these things anyway. They're just so intriguing to me.

    Does any one else think that the study of "Modern Mythology" is really a worthy academic pursuit on par with studying ancient mythology?
    What myths of our time do you think will be the strongest and most persistant as part of our culture? And what would you suppose future anthropologists might deduce about our current culture (say approximately the last century) based on these myths?
     
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  3. Mar 3, 2006 #2

    arildno

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    Certainly, and I would say even more so, since you can get a lot of important statistics on modern mythologies that are unavailable for ancient ones.
    Therefore, it should be easier to formulate specific theories (say, what mythologies will naturally occur in clusters, and which are independent from each other), and empirical confirmation/refutation of your theories.


    Science nowadays is extremely specialized and totally incomprehensible for outsiders. It is the magic of our time.
    Thus, I believe stories as to what may have happened in labs or has been done by scientists will crop up over and over again, to the frustration of
    working scientists.
     
  4. Mar 5, 2006 #3

    Astronuc

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    I would agree. Given the development of our 'modern' society, one has to ask, why do myths persist?

    Probably because the education still fails to get to the masses. Advanced mathematics and science are taught to a small percentage of the overall population in any society.

    And then there is the matter that some people simply lack the ability to comprehend or reason.
     
  5. Mar 5, 2006 #4

    arildno

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    On the level of UNDERSTANDING, in particular with respect to maths and the natural sciences, the vast majority of individuals today are as lacking as their Stone Age forefathers. It could even be argued that the implicit understanding of natural laws you'd get by doing "stuff" and work outdoors has been lost to the modern population.

    The amount of snippets of scientific knowledge that an average individual has, of course, increased compared to that of his Stone Age forefather.
     
  6. Jun 2, 2006 #5
    I don't think it's a lack of education or reasoning ability that causes myths to persist, but rather that it is an inherint quality of human beings to create stories which represent characters or ideas which are larger than life. That's just my two cents.
     
  7. Jun 2, 2006 #6

    arildno

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    Note that there is quite a difference between making up stories, and believing in such stories.

    While I can agree that it seems to be an inherent need for humans to make up stories in some forms, I do not think there exist any need to believe in any such stories.
     
  8. Jun 3, 2006 #7
    It depends how you define "modern" i guess. Most of the things you listed are still believed by a number of people and thus, should not be taught in academic study.

    However, any number of other myths that have died out, lets say at latest the beginning of the 20th century, would be of great interest to me as an academic pursuit.
     
  9. Dec 10, 2006 #8
    I think people do have a need for such stories. They are searching for meaning, truth, and a connection to their roots. Mythologies offer all of those things. I'm not so sure much of modern cosmology and evolutionary theory won't be put off as some type of western mythology someday after the west is gone and some other civilization rediscovers the remains.
     
  10. Dec 19, 2006 #9

    jim mcnamara

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    The Joseph Campbell point of view.

    An idea is that humans have innate visual templates - it's easy to see a face or an animal in clouds, for example. None are there, but the human way of processing images creates them for us.

    If you extend the idea of templates to scary or momentous happenings, the same thing obtains. Humans templatize the event, re-formulating it in a way that verbal images create humanly understandable ones. In other words, myths transform a story from simple reality into something transcendant.

    IMO
     
  11. Dec 20, 2006 #10

    Astronuc

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    Joseph Campbell is great.

    Humans have variable levels of ability of abstract thought, which comes with brain development. Some people never achieve that ability and are restricted to concrete belief with the necessity of tangibles in their experience and understanding, or otherwise simple concepts that are comfortable.

    Early indoctrination has an advantage in terms of retention of belief. The stronger the emotional state when a memory is placed, it will be embedded and retained longer. The mind absorbs information and process and develops concepts at a greater rate when the individual is younger, and the rate decreases for many or most with age.

    Brain and mental development are hugely variant in any population partly because individual physiologies are widely variant and experiences are widely variant. It makes for an interesting and challenging world - and unfortunately conflict.
     
  12. Dec 20, 2006 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    An interesting thing about myths.

    "a commonly believed but false idea"

    Perhaps in some cases the myth lies in the use of the word "myth". Is the need to explain away anything not understood a function of the myth making process - the same mechanism that leads to myths? I think it is. I think we see at least two distinct types of personalities: Those who need to believe, and those who need to not believe.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2006
  13. Dec 20, 2006 #12
    Hmm..And I thought Michael Jordan could really fly.:wink:
     
  14. Dec 20, 2006 #13

    Ivan Seeking

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    Ah, a true disbeliever - the first sign being the strawman nonsense.

    Edit: This is usually followed by either a personal attack, or some subtle innuendo.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2006
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