Memetics funding

From: derek gatherer (
Date: Mon 04 Nov 2002 - 09:01:18 GMT

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    Keith: Has there yet even *been* any funding of memetics research? I have not heard of such so far. Derek: Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman have been extensively funded by the National Science Foundation and other bodies since the early 70s. Their work is clearly memetics even if they didn't have the word when they began back in 1969 or so. Boyd and Richerson were awarded a JI Staley Prize (apparently a big honour in anthropology). If one insists that only those actually using the word 'memetics' qualify, (although that seems a little like insisting that Mendel wasn't a geneticist because he didn't use the word 'gene), then Kevin Laland, whose recent book we were mentioning a few times over the last few weeks, has received 10 years of Royal Society funding, and a Royal Society Research Fellowship. So there you have the oldest and most prestigious institution in the scientific world (if not the richest) giving a resounding thumbs-up to the field. The people at the new Centre for the Evolutionary Analysis of Cultural Behaviour at University College London, also use the meme-word quite freely in their discourse and of course are headed by Stephen Shennan, author of the latest memetics book to hit the stands. so memetics funding has been very healthy considering the small numbers of people involved. I failed to get funding, and my academic career came to an end. But the only person responsible for that was me. My grant applications simply weren't good enough to persuade the funding bodies. That's life. It hasn't stopped me continuing in an amateur capacity, and organs like JoM and JASSS are occasionally kind enough to publish my stuff. The professional heavyweights like Laland and the Americans pull the grant money because they are the best. There is no 'establishment' out there being obstructive in any way. On the contrary, the establishment will be generous to those who can put together a persuasive grant application.

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