memetic species?

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Tue Feb 26 2002 - 11:59:46 GMT

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: memetic species?
    Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 11:59:46 -0000
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    <As said earlier, if you want to use biological terms, what would be the
    equivalent for things that can still interact but are not seperate

    I saw a TV show a while back that astonished me as it showed a troop of
    baboons and a (collective noun?) of chimps interacting. The young chimps
    and baboons were playing with each other (until one lot got too rough, and
    the scene broke up). Apart from the odd 'family pet (dog/cat) being
    "friends" with rescued wild animal (badger etc.)' story, I'd never seen this
    kind of non-predatory/territorial activity in other animals before. [I'm not
    an ethologist, of course, so my experience of this is limited]

    The reason I mention this is the question of memetic species. Humans kind
    of interact with other animals in non-adaptive ways e.g. keeping dangerous
    animals close to us in zoos as pets etc. Other animals- baboons and chimps
    playing notwithstanding- don't seem to interact in the complex range of ways
    we do.

    I think this difference (if I'm right to see such a difference), lies at the
    problem of talking about memetic species. As a
    meme-as-cultural-artefact proponent one might talk of things akin to species
    (although it's a poor term for my money), such as... weapons. The Mongols
    were very effective against European knights, because despite their lack of
    armour and small weapons they could move far more quickly than the armour
    laden knights. The Japanese survived the Mongols partly due to the weather
    but also due to jumping onto Mongol ships and using their superior samurai
    swords to great effect.

    A less combative example might be computers/video games consoles. There
    have been many powerful consoles/computers that have failed outside of their
    own countries regardless of their capabilities (the Sinclair Spectrum did
    nothing in the US for example, the PC Engine did nothing outside of Japan a
    few years later).

    Sports too might count. I can't see Americans ever going for football in a
    big way (not enough stats or ad breaks, and fights aren't allowed to make up
    for the lack of goals, as in ice hockey... where I see that having the
    referee come from one of the nations competing in the final isn't seen to be
    problematic (nonetheless the glorious former colony that is Canada came
    through... what was the score again... 5-2, and 3-2 in the women's final?).

    Such things are distinct enough, and often closely associate with particular
    geographical regions/nations/communities to kind of count, but again, I
    don't really see species as a viable term for memetics.


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