Re: pls direct me to a memetics list <eom

From: Steve Drew (
Date: Sat May 18 2002 - 13:26:34 BST

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    > Date: Wed, 15 May 2002 18:31:41 -0400
    > From: "Scott Chase" <>
    > Subject: Re: pls direct me to a memetics list <eom>
    >> From: <>
    >> Reply-To:
    >> To:
    >> Subject: Re: pls direct me to a memetics list <eom>
    >> Date: Wed, 15 May 2002 09:29:15 -0400
    >> -----Original Message-----
    >> From: "Scott Chase" <>
    >> To:
    >> Date: Tue, 14 May 2002 19:21:37 -0400
    >> Subject: Re: pls direct me to a memetics list <eom>
    >>>> 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?
    >> No he wasn't. But I wasn't given the impression he had put a lot of
    >> thought into his criticism.
    >> Bottom line: Just because deWaal doesn't think memetics is useful to him
    >> doesn't mean deWaal isn't useful to memetics.
    > What might get a lot of people worked up is that there are long standing
    > social science traditions that have approached cultural and societal topics
    > at various angles previous to Dawkins' and Dennett's ruminations on memes,
    > yet one would think that memetics is the big revolution that's goona tie
    > everything together almost devoid of acknowledgement of viability and
    > alternatives.
    > How many times have memeticists referred to concepts such as Leon
    > Festinger's "cognitive dissonance" or something I vaguely recalled on the
    > recent set of replies...Irving Janis's "groupthink" concept?
    > It's like a bunch of computer science and biology afficianados have latched
    > onto some novel idea, yet haven't delved into the history and theory of
    > psychology, sociology, or anthropology to see if other ideas may compete
    > with, complement or converge upon the meme meme. There's more rumination
    > upon the latest pop sci book and how memetics applies than earlier whether
    > thought patterns of folks icluding but definitely not limited to Adolph
    > Bastian, Jacob Burckhardt, Emile Durkheim, Lucien Levy-Bruhl, Julian Huxley
    > and so on might have some pertinence. People would rather dream about the
    > Sante Fe institute and complexity and whose most recently published memetic
    > theory of everything has toppled the prevailing paradigms.

    Like most subjects really!

    Seriously, as a social scientist, psychology, sociology etc do have things
    to offer memetics. It was the complimentarity that drew me to memetics,
    particularly that of social psychology. You might add to your list Mead,
    Goffman and Shibutani to name a few more.
    >>>> 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
    >>> conflict.
    >> Right. I think they are important issues and I have opinions on a lot of
    >> them. I understand the need that people feel to discuss them. I just
    >> don't do it here and I have a problem with using memetics to justify
    >> political or religious belief.
    > I'd think a reasonable approach (memetic or otherwise) would be descriptive
    > and theoretical, not prescriptive or taking a stance for one side or the
    > other.

    This is very true IMO, and it is probably something that is achievable.

    >What are the factors that influence people when they join activist
    > groups like PETA, ALF (the militant arm of the animal right movement last I
    > recall), ACT-UP (of course need to influence legislation and public views
    > about HIV/AIDS is very important here for someone with the disease) etc...
    > The Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the Northern Ireland troubles have long
    > standing historical bases, but mindsets come into play at some level,
    > notwithstanding the deep seated feeling towards territory and ethnicity. de
    > Bivort probably has lots of ideas floating around in his noggin about these
    > problems when he's not romanticizing over memetics technology being
    > comparable to nuclear technology ;-)
    >>>> 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?
    >> Gets a bit repetitious after a while.
    > Yeah that's true.



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