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> I would like to know what the forum here considers valid to
> leave out of studies of culture (and memetics- which is a
> proposed mechanism of culture, after all....)
> Personally, I'd like to leave out any and all references or
> studies of chain letters- but that's a bias of mine.
> - Wade
Since Dawkins and my former professor Oliver Goodenough published a
letter to Nature on chain letters and memetics I suspect that they are a
valid area of study.
Memetics is an evolutionary process and involves patterns that are
replicated with variation and then selected for. I think that good
discussions are ones which focus on these elements. Of course we've
beaten 'the pattern' issue to death.
Replication and selection are most often talked about here and are
probably the most easily studied. At the individual level we ask how
ideas get transmitted and what causes a person to choose to adopt them.
At larger population level we can look at differing modes of mass
transmission and the effectiveness of meme transmission. I think that
chain letters fit under that sub heading.
Variation is a good topic. A discussion of the different ways that
variation is introduced in memetic systems would be interesting. Pure
random variation is not even seen in genetics, but memes seem to get
varied using a number of different mechanisms.
Discussions of computer and mathematical models like those in the most
recent articles of the Journal of Memetics are good. I liked the article
by Castro and Toro. It fit in neatly with game theory studies from
Scientific American we were discussing a few months ago.
I have expressed on numerous occassions my interest in 'memetic'
transmission in animals in works by de Waal, Dugatkin, and Pepperberg.
In a broad sense everything cultural is memetic and thus anything
cultural can be discussed. Personally I believe that we are better off
avoiding hot button topics like current events because different
cultures, political perspectives, and religious beliefs can lead to
different conclusions which is unlikely to lead a broadly accepted theory
of memetics. I don't get particularly upset when I see diversions into
discussion of these areas because I think that it is something that
happens as a result of the open nature of this list. I'd rather not see
it happen but I don't die when it does.
Of course what I don't like is when people who aren't really interested
in memetics at all try to shove the list into other areas. Still it's
better than being at alt.evolution where you can rehash the same old
stuff with creationists for years if you want.
This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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