Phoenix Artisan misunderstanding
As recently as today, a couple of comments on Wicked_Edge went into a familiar rant: that the proprietor of Phoenix Artisan posed as a veteran and thus we must downvote any favorable mention of his company or products: the Internet lends itself to that sort of cybermob, and of course anonymity is a factor as well.
As you know, rumors are so common on the Internet that there are several sites like Factcheck.com and Snopes.com that exist solely to rebut the various false rumors. But it is inevitable that this will happen. The nature of memes is that there is some variation as the meme (and its variants and their variants, etc.) are copied/repeated. Darwinian law applies in the meme struggle for survival, and the meme that reproduces most dominates. In the Darwinian/survival sense, that version is a “better” meme—that is, more likely to be repeated. However, as you can see (scroll down), does not mean that the highly successful meme-variant actually corresponds to the truth. Its success is derived from its fecundity of reproducing (being repeated), not from its truth (which, from a meme point of view, is irrelevant—the meme is fighting to survive, and only the most repeatable variants will succeed. The “better” meme is just a meme that propagates well—and in this case, that is not the meme of what actually happened (as you see—scroll down). One of the two memes just does better in the memeverse.
UPDATE: Other examples of memes that are highly successful at propagating despite being false: childhood vaccines cause autism and global warming is a hoax.
UPDATE 2: Someone on Wicked_Edge got the impression that this stuff about memes is something I created. Regular readers know that memes have been of interest to me for a while, and memetics is in fact a subject of study, not something I made up. I do find that it provides a look at how human culture evolves that seems valid to me, but I make no claim for originality or authority in discussing memes. For those interested, here is a brief reading list:
Richard Dawkins: The Selfish Gene, chapter 11 is where “meme” was first defined and introduced.
Susan Blackmore: The Meme Machine
Rober Aunger (editor): Darwinizing Culture: The Status of Memetics as a Science
Richard Brodie: Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme
Tim Tyler: Memetics: Memes and the Science of Cultural Evolution