Re: pls direct me to a memetics list <eom>

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Wed May 15 2002 - 00:21:37 BST

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    From: "Scott Chase" <>
    Subject: Re: pls direct me to a memetics list <eom>
    Date: Tue, 14 May 2002 19:21:37 -0400
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    >From: <>
    >Subject: Re: pls direct me to a memetics list <eom>
    >Date: Tue, 14 May 2002 13:57:31 -0400
    > >
    > > 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.
    And regaring de Waal, what's his views on memetics in _The Ape and the Sushi
    Master_ again? Was he especially fond of memetics, burning with enthusiasm
    to jump on the bandwagon?
    >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.
    I think the hot button issues are especiaaly important to discuss and I
    could stand to learn tons more myself. I've always had a fascination for
    conflict (would that make me a Marxist?) I'm drawn like a moth towards the
    Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Northern Ireland troubles. Other
    conflicts that involve "hot-button" isues are those like the animalrights
    versus utilization and research conflict, the evolution/creation controversy
    and such. I can't remember the details off the top of my head but back
    around 1996 there was some big pro-animal event in Washington DC which
    attracted luminaries such as Jane Goodall. It also attracted pro-research
    activists fighting for AIDS related research (like ACT-UP IIRC). There were
    some minor conflicts IIRC as opposing political viewpoints clashed. Animal
    rights and AIDS research are important issues where PETA and ACT-UP might
    not exactly see eye to eye.

    The trouble arises when one cannot become objectively detached from the
    >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.
    Some of us are interested in seeing self-proclaimed memeticists becoming a
    little less captivated by imagination and a little more self-critical. When
    I see comparisons drawn between memetics "technology" and nuclear technology
    as having similar magnitudes of importance, I get a little worked up into a
    rabid lather.
    >Still it's
    >better than being at alt.evolution where you can rehash the same old
    >stuff with creationists for years if you want.
    That's where you can study people with opposed mind sets going at it like
    mad. What's so wrong with that?

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