Re: Meme-physics

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Fri 25 Oct 2002 - 22:12:30 GMT

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    >From: "Philip Jonkers" <>
    >To: <>
    >Subject: Re: Meme-physics
    >Date: Thu, 24 Oct 2002 19:10:17 -0700
    > > >Darek:
    > > > > What are these pink unicorns. I am new here and these unicorns
    > > >in a
    > > > > message which was a reply to my first email sent to the group. Can
    > > > > possibly explain to me what you are talking/writing about?? :-)))
    > > >
    > > >It so happens that some of us happen to like horny animals, that's all.
    > > >Do I need to explain the color?
    > > >
    > > >Phil (who else?)
    > > >
    > > An oblique ad hominem. I see. I've been talking about viability of ideas
    > > alternative hypotheses and you resort to the personal insult.
    >Alternative hypotheses: Pink unicorns... yeah well if you want us to
    >take that seriously the least you must do is to rephrase your
    >opinion using more serious concepts.
    >Anyway, it was a joke Scott so why the heck would I go through great
    >explaining myself...
    "pink unicorn" popped into my head when I was seraching for a lexeme that would serve as a means of conveying the possibility (not likelihood or certainty so don't all get your dander up in a lather) that memes are but an illusion. "Invisible pink unicorn" has some historic precedence as a tool to show the futility of invoking an intelligent designer as creationists do, as this is usually the Judeochristian god and someone could counter with 'well it could have been done by invisible pink unicorns so what's your point'?
    "Pink unicorn" in my sense (*sensu* me) is just a general imaginary figment. As I've recently said "mirage" could do just as well or maybe
    "will-o'-the-wisp", though a debate could ensue between unicornists, miragists, and wispers. All I was pointing out was we should stop and consider the possibility that there are no cultural units called memes, in which case debate over internalist versus externalist aspects gets the rug pulled from beneath it. The "old Yeller" allusion was an MST3K way of saying that there's a time for putting one's cherished "pet" ideas down. Everybody cries at the end of "Old Yeller" so that may have been too troubling an allusion, but it does point out the trouble with becoming emotionally invested in one's ideas. I'll try not to get too attached to my pink unicorn. What do pink unicorns (invisible or otherwise) eat anyway?

    The spirit I was trying to bring across is stated best by Lorenz (though I've got my reservations about him now): "It is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard a pet hypothesis every day before breakfast. It keeps him young." [Konrad Lorenz. 1966. On Aggression. Harvest/HBJ. New York, p. 12]

    This likewise applies to pink unicorns I suppose, but at this point I'm not sure either of the other memetic alternatives has yet warranted getting rid of Pinky quite yet.

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