Species and food

From: Steve Drew (srdrew_1@hotmail.com)
Date: Fri Mar 01 2002 - 21:53:49 GMT

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    Date: Fri, 01 Mar 2002 21:53:49 +0000
    Subject: Species and food
    From: Steve Drew <srdrew_1@hotmail.com>
    To: Jom-emit <memetics@mmu.ac.uk>
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    Hi Randy,

    > Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 18:46:16 -0500
    > From: rmey4892 <rmey4892@postoffice.uri.edu>
    > Subject: [none]
    > Steve
    >> I am very ignorant regarding biology, but i thought speciation occured when
    >> two creatures could no longer 'get it together' ie the offspring of the
    >> union either is sterile or spontaneously aborts. With memetics, this
    >> division is far more fluid, and doesn't necessarily represent the true
    >> picture when cultures and languages interact.
    > The biological species concept is what you speak of and it is very useful for
    > genetics. It is utterly worthless for memetics, except only when you want to
    > see the effects of memes on genes. I prefer to focus on the memes themselves
    > and forget about the genes since they are both seperate and independent
    > information systems with only minimal overlap.
    >> If we push the biological analogy, which i am not always too keen on, then
    >> if we had memetic species then there would be no point of contact except as
    >> hunter , prey, or indifference (ie neither food nor hunter).
    > not sure I understood the second part of that answer?<

    I meant that these tend to be the occasions at which species interact. ie
    is it hunting me, is it my food? or is it neither?

    But i'm still not keen on too much of the biological analogy when it comes
    to memetics.

    > but as for the biology
    > analogy I think it is a perfect one, and far superior to the virus analogy.
    > Point of contact? tribes communicate with each other....but if it is below
    > some threshold and they differ significantly in their memetic composition (my
    > kingdom for a memetic code to prove me right!!!!!! Somebody Watson and Crick
    > me!!!) then they are memetic species. as for hunter and prey there are some
    > interesting readings out there about the Maoris of New Zealand and other
    > cannabalistic tribes. I think I read it in Jared Diamonds "Guns Germs and
    > Steel" that it was generally a pacific Islander response to protein deficient
    > diets???? anyone can corrwect me on that if you like.

    Don't know about the Jared Diamond as i have not read it. [If i add to my
    'to do list', i will need a step ladder to get the top one :-) ]. I am not
    keen on this memetic species as any group of humans have the potential (and
    this word is important) to interact. Sometimes they don't obviously, but i
    don't think anyone would dispute (?) that with a very few gestures and
    examples the ideas for this is edible / drinkable can be transmitted between
    two people from a different memetic enviroment. For much of human history
    the human population comprised small groups roaming fairly wide areas such
    that contacts would not be that frequent, and you would thus have some
    memetic drift. I suspect that if there is such a concept as memetic species,
    there has been insufficient isolation for it to have occured.

    The only memetic species i can think of is also essentially one of genetic
    species. That of the interaction of us and the Neanderthals. Paul Jordan
    (Neanderthal, 1999, Sutton Publishing, UK) presents an interesting view on
    this interaction, with some fairly compelling evidence.
    >> Except of course that we don't because for us they weren't too useful, or we
    >> would.
    > If every selection pressure that ever occured on any living organism were
    > reversed then time would in essence move backwards reducing us all to
    > primordial slime. you with me? In fact it would remove us all from this earth
    > living only the common progenitor of all living things. This progenitor would
    > then be subject to some "forward" evolution with an endpoint of some of his
    > ancestors having prehensile tails or long necks. In fact it can be said, if
    > you don't mind me saying that your mother is primordial ooze, that we all have
    > close cousins that have prehensile tails and long necks, and they find very
    > good uses for them.(I'm sorry I dragged your mother and cousins into
    > this....I'll refrain in the future)

    No offence the primordial ooze is mama and papa to us all!
    >> If you wished to live in times of scarcity you would let some one else try
    >> first. When you are very hungry the temptation is eat! Memetically you would
    >> copy someone else. Let them take the risk. Of course with scarce resource if
    >> they scoff first there may be nothing left for you.
    > If I saw something that appeared to be food I am sure I would try it using all
    > my senses and reason to ascertain if it was safe, or even desirable. If I knew
    > it was food and i was hungry I would of course eat, and probably try to beat
    > the other guy to it.

    Of course you would. And if you *knew* it was food you would grab it. the
    problem lies in when you are hungry and you don't know if it is food. I'm
    even tempted to suggest that this is part of the mechanism that expanded the
    human diet. Although i favour the littoral zone theory of human expansion
    from Africa, we obviously moved away from the sea and moved inland
    (population pressure, over fishing?) you are faced with the dilema of an
    enviroment that is not totally known to you.
    >> A said earlier, if you want to use biological terms, what would be the
    >> equivalent for things that can still interact but are not seperate species.
    > let me tell you a little story about two birds that live in the northern
    > hemisphere. One bird is black, the other white. they cannot interbreed. but
    > the white bird has various neighbors it breeds with that are an off-white,
    > egg-shell, or gray (I can't recall specifics, just know that it is a gradation
    > of color). It is very interesting that if you follow these interbreeding
    > populations around the Artic circle you finally arrive at the black bird. now,
    > the black and white bird are considered seperate species but they do a fair
    > amount of "interacting". as for humans, if two humans who are not members of
    > seperate memetic species interact (sexually, socially, economically,
    > memetically (communication that is),politically, etc.) then thay, by
    > definition are the same species, since memetic differentiation has not
    > isolated them.
    > this is interesting if you've ever played the Kevin Bacon game. It also has
    > the effect of uniting almost the entire extant population of humans into one
    > memetic species, save those isolated tribes like the Inuit or Yanomamo. So how
    > useful is the term memetic species? not very, except to describe the current
    > state of the world as a fusion of ideas that were derived in memetic isolation
    > and the wars in the world less about genetic proliferation and more about
    > memetic domination (interesting side note here: George Bush has decided to
    > extinguish memes in a two-fold way. 1 destroy biological organisms that carry
    > said memes. 2 innundate the world with memes that show disdain for destruction
    > of biological organisms. methinks I smell circular reasoning.But I guess its
    > OK if I get to watch it all on TV (thinly veiled sarcasm....If I were G.W. I
    > would have taken the moral high ground))
    > Regards
    > Randy
    > P.S. oh yeah war is also about resource utilization. This is to ensure the
    > continued increase in a population of memetically homogenized individuals, all
    > striving to remove the barriers that memetic speciation created. In essence
    > hybridization is the new "name of the game".

    I think war used to be about resource utilisation only. Now they also carry
    a memetic component, which is the values of the combatants which is what you
    are on about. Certainly, most society try to limit memetic drift.

    Apologies for the spelling, but my copy of Outlook ain't working too well.
    Upgrading soon.



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