RE: To be or not to be: memetics a science?

From: Lawrence DeBivort (
Date: Wed Apr 03 2002 - 16:10:09 BST

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    Subject: RE: To be or not to be: memetics a science?
    Date: Wed, 3 Apr 2002 10:10:09 -0500
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    Greetings, Philip

    Yes, good summary. And I agree that the dynamics of memes should be
    analyzable with somewhat the same degree of of precision as genetic dynamics
    (The difference being that larger more complex systems -- as society is to
    molecules and cells -- may make it more difficult to discern precise cause
    and effect interactions).

    And I know of several instances where studies with this kind of rigor have
    or are being carried out. I don't read the Journal of Memetics, but I
    imagine that there are many studies reported there on these matters. Right
    now, for example, I am carrying out a study of the 'War on Terrorism' -- a
    straightforward linguistic dissemination and evolution study.

    There is no question in my mind that memetics lends itself to study with at
    least the same precision as sociology and psychology (not that is saying
    much) and I would expect us to do a lot better.

    Lawrence de Bivort
    The Memetics Group

    Philip: > To the best of my knowledge, memetics is founded on the
    recognition of a
    > second replicator, the meme. Similar to replicators of the first kind:
    > genes,
    > memes are also necessarily subject to evolution. Memetics tries
    > to describe
    > this process of evolution in which this replicator thrives, which
    > currently
    > is
    > human culture and may very well turn into an AI-kind of turf one day.
    > Another perspective which may be considered typical for memetics
    > is to take on the viewpoint from the meme itself: the meme's eyeview
    > (possibly inspired after Dawkins' gene's eyeview expounded in The Selfish
    > Gene).
    > In this rather controversial interpretation of culture the focus
    > is laid on
    > the meme which exploits its habitat of rendered robotic and
    > slavelike hosts
    > in a
    > metaphorically and perceived selfish way to achieve domination
    > over `rival'
    > memes.
    > A disadvantage of this approach however is that it understates or even
    > ignores
    > the coercive force memes need to have in order to successfully persuade
    > their
    > potential hosts to adopt and propagate them.
    > But that's a different story altogether. My point is that genetics has
    > opportunities to
    > test their theories regarding gene-dynamics. By symmetry, one might expect
    > memetics
    > to be able to do the same thing regarding meme-dynamics. And that's
    > precisely the
    > question I'm trying to address here.
    > Phil.

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