I just finished a fairly mundane book called Stumblin On Happiness written by a professor from Harvard by the name of Daniel Gilbert. I say mundane simply because the book is a beginner's pamphlet on psychology designed for people who are not nearly as self obsessed and analytical as myself...
However the chapter on Super Replicators and belief transmission was very interesting. The basic idea is that Beliefs transmit much like viruses or genes. Any belief that promotes it's own means of transmission will be represented in larger and larger quantities of the population moving forward. Or in Laymen's terms beliefs (even those that are false) that helps itself transmit (usually by having a side benefit) will tend to spread faster than those without the benefit. Belief transmission can even work without the transmitters being aware that they are transmitting any belief at all.
So let's look at how this affects people's beliefs about what will make them happy
Money: Economists explain that money has a "declining marginal value" which is to say that money helps you the most the less of it you have. However if everyone just decided to give up working and focus on doing the things that made only themselves happy, well the entire global economy would collapse. that's because the entire economy is built on the idea of producing and consuming goods and services. Economies do the best when individuals are putting in lots of time and energy and effort. However because human beings will only put in effort, energy, and time in search of their own individual happiness, it is imperative that human beings mistakenly believe that producing and consuming are essential to being happy.
Children: A measure of actual satisfaction of people who have children, shows a striking contrast to the usual discussion of oohs, aahs, and baby talk. In fact FOUR separate studies show that marital satisfaction decreases dramatically after the birth of the first child and increases only when the last child leaves home. The belief " children bring happiness" is a super-replicator because it is found in every cutlure across the World. Without this belief people(like myself) might choose to never have kids, thus wiping out the entire World's population within about 50 years.
Sex: Sex is another one of those things with declining marginal utility, meaning the more you have it the less pleasure it brings you. if you're reading this and you haven't had sex in three years, you're going to see sex as much more valuable than someone who had it 10 minutes ago. The other interesting thing about sex is that most guys believe they need to experience a variety of women or experiences in order to be happy, but most studies show that variety only increases happiness when consumption is rapid. Or in other words, you're only going to enjoy sleeping with a lot of girls if it happens in a FAST time period. this explains why soooo many guys out there (Instructors at various companies I'm talking to you) have slept with a lot of women, yet aren't getting happier. In fact when consumption is slow(like the process of learning cold approach) variety actually DECREASES pleasure. So if it's going to take you 3 years to get good at pickup(on average without extensive coaching like 12m2m or MULTIPLE bootcamps),than it actually makes more sense to be more selective about the women you sleep with knowing that variety over the long term decreases pleasure as people tend to think about experiences as simultaneous rather than sequential.
The belief transmission game is rigged. We must believe that money, sex, and children bring happiness whether or not it's true. Oftentimes we don't even have a choice in the matter. The fact that we don't have a choice doesn't mean that we're the victim of some global conspiracy, but simply that as the belief transmission game teaches us the spreading of false beliefs doesn't need anyone trying to spread the belief. There are no secret societies making these decisions in secret in some form of mass control. Super replicating beliefs happen because the very act of holding the belief causes us to take the actions that perpetuate it. Similarly to how people who want the pleasure from having sex often end up pregnant as an unintended but beneficial to society side effect.
I'll leave you with a direct quote from the chapter:
" We are nodes in a social network that arises and falls by a logic all it's own, which is why we continue to toil, continue to mate and continue to be surprised when we do not experience all the joy we so gullibly anticipated."
JS- The King Of Content