LogoGatherer, D. (1998). The case for commentary.
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission, 3.

The Case for Commentary

Derek Gatherer
School of Biomolecular Sciences
Liverpool John Moores University
Byrom St.
Liverpool L3 3AF

The article `Why the Thought Contagion Metaphor is Retarding the Progress of Memetics' argues that the field of memetics took a wrong turning in the early 1980s, with the result that all subsequent memetic theorising has driven down the same blind alley. The wrong turning was to substitute the earlier, flexible definition of a meme (which in the article I term Dawkins A) with a far narrower and more specific definition as a unit of information in a mind or brain (termed Dawkins B).

Since science generally abhors vagueness and thrives on precise defiintions, such a move naturally seemed like a step forward. In this case, however, it was counter-productive, since:

I should therefore like to ask the commentators if they consider `internal' memetics to be still tenable in the light of these criticisms. If so, how do they believe it should be constitued as an experimental science (as opposed to a pseudoscience dealing in postulated unobservable entities, where neither verification nor falsification are possible)? If the commentators agree with me that `internal' memetics is untenable, do they tend towards my quasi- behaviourist version of `external' memetics, or have they a third alternative?

© JoM-EMIT 1998

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