Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence

From: Steve Drew (
Date: Sun Mar 17 2002 - 20:33:07 GMT

  • Next message: Grant Callaghan: "Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence"

    Received: by id UAA18446 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Sun, 17 Mar 2002 20:41:17 GMT
    X-Originating-IP: []
    User-Agent: Microsoft-Outlook-Express-Macintosh-Edition/5.0.3
    Date: Sun, 17 Mar 2002 20:33:07 +0000
    Subject: Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence
    From: Steve Drew <>
    To: <>
    Message-ID: <>
    In-Reply-To: <>
    Content-type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII"
    Content-transfer-encoding: 7bit
    X-OriginalArrivalTime: 17 Mar 2002 20:35:13.0315 (UTC) FILETIME=[3D5A2730:01C1CDF3]
    Precedence: bulk

    Hi Douglas,

    > Date: Sun, 17 Mar 2002 08:43:32 +0000
    > From: Douglas Brooker <>
    > Subject: Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence
    > The migration of a word from a narrow scientific context to a much wider
    > one would seem to be a
    > perfect subject for memetics. One one extreme, the physicists; one the
    > other,
    > the 'kooky pet theories'.
    > Question 1: describe the migration (or expansion) of the use of
    > "quantum."
    > Question 2: explain the migration
    > In many of the social sciences there is a tension in the discipline
    > between its prescriptive and descriptive urges. It's internal politics,
    > perhaps. Linguistics is a good
    > example. (and maybe the positive-natural law dichotomy in legal
    > theory.) Prescriptivism is not much in fashion these days. But
    > fashions, by definition, change.
    > Dawkins sounds as if he comes from a prescriptivist school of memetics.
    > It's a bit like a lab scientist criticising germs because they are bad.

    I is a question of legitimacy and adoption. Until very recently there was i
    high degree of respect for the 'man in the white coat' i.e. scientist., as
    well as the notion of not challenging knowledgeable authorities such as the
    doctor etc.

    Advertisers latched on to the white coat effect early on with such things as
    soap powder. Watch any add for cosmetic anti-aging cream and see the
    scientific gobbledegook flow. To me it is a case of dressing things up to
    make it more believable and therefore more acceptable.

    Also there is the question of the word quantum. IMO most people do not know
    what it means except in the most vague way, but could be aware that it is
    important. Recent searches for the god particle (Higg's boson) at Cern and
    Fermilab did make it into the daily's in the UK, and many people have heard
    of Einstein. So use a word that is scientific which few people know about
    can be used to lend credence to anything.

    The tension between prescriptive and descriptive in the social sciences is a
    tension between the social and the science to my mind. The social to
    interfere and change, and the science to observe, record and interpret. how
    is this any different from say, genetics?

    BTW, most social scientists i have encountered do not like memetics.



    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sun Mar 17 2002 - 21:12:09 GMT