Re: Plotkin's new book

From: Steve Drew (
Date: Wed Apr 03 2002 - 17:59:47 BST

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    Date: Wed, 03 Apr 2002 17:59:47 +0100
    Subject: Re: Plotkin's new book
    From: Steve Drew <>
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    From: Steve Drew <>
    Date: Tue, 02 Apr 2002 21:28:22 +0100
    To: <>
    Subject: Re: Plotkin's new book

    Hi Scott and Vincent

    > Date: Wed, 27 Mar 2002 13:59:39 -0500
    > From: "Scott Chase" <>
    > Subject: Re: Plotkin's new book
    >> From: Vincent Campbell <>
    >> Reply-To:
    >> To: "''" <>
    >> Subject: Plotkin's new book
    >> Date: Wed, 27 Mar 2002 13:28:48 -0000
    >> Hi Everyone,
    >> As usual, whilst looking for something entirely unrelated, I ended up in my
    >> uni bookshop yesterday buying a copy of Plotkin's new book 'The Imagined
    >> World Made Real', which is about natural sciences and culture (there's a
    >> section on memes not surprisingly).
    > Oh great, another book to look for and buy so it can sit on the shelf
    > collecting dust while awaiting its turn...
    >> It looks pretty good, although it is making the case for encorporating the
    >> social sciences into the natural sciences (particularly biology). I don't
    >> have ideological problems with this, like many other social scientists do,
    >> but do worry that if such a goal is ever achieved what the hell am I going
    >> to do for a living? Being humanities/social science trained I don't think
    >> reading a few books by Dawkins and Gould count as an education in
    >> evolutionary biology.
    > You could become a radical neo-Durkheimian and rally for the *sui generis*
    > view of social facts, opposed to the imperialistic sociobiological camp.
    > Arrogance and determinism cut both ways.
    > There's nothing wrong with a all-inclusive multidisciplinary approach, but I
    > find it hard to believe that a field like media studies is readily
    > collapsible into biology. I don't think training in genetics, ecology, or
    > physiology gives someone background for the nuances of studying various
    > human cultural phenomenon, which have been studied within other disciplines
    > like yours.
    > Collapsing media studies into biology may be nothing more than a universal
    > Darwinist pipe dream. Don't worry, your field may be safe from invasion.
    > OTOH, communication between people whose strengths are in various fields
    > related to biology, psychology, sociology, and anthropology may allow for a
    > better "big tent" approach. You could learn from biologists and vice versa.

    I thought the Big Tent was called the Memetics List :-) I'm damned if i can
    recall a more diverse and interesting bunch of people from many different
    fields! We must have covered a 100 subjects since i joined. Still i agree
    wholeheartedly it does need to be more widespread in the academic community.
    I haven't read the book but i will take a litle guess at what Plotkin may be
    on about (if it doesn't gather dust, you can tell me if i'm wrong!).
    Psychology and social psychology are strongly linked, which in turn is
    linked with sociology. Sociology has undergone a lot of changes over the
    last few years. they may still talk about relative values etc, but when it
    comes down to observing and measuring, it has more or less adopted the
    scientific method. The biggest problem remains in the replicability of an
    experiment. Everyone is different! More powerful computers etc seem to
    adressing this, at least in the simulation world./ being able to have some
    random actions in a sim seems to be helping. Yes i think there is a case to
    be made for sociology and social psychology to move over to the science camp
    (gradually). Try and convince most of the practichioners however! - me



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