Re: new memetics article

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Sun 12 Jan 2003 - 22:12:44 GMT

  • Next message: Grant Callaghan: "Re: new memetics article"

    At 11:57 AM 12/01/03 -0800, Grant wrote:
    >Inexact copies are one thing, but when the copy is different from the
    >original in almost every instance and radically different in most, it's a
    >whole different kettle of fish. The rules of a game may be the same for
    >everyone, but the way each person uses those rules to win a game is
    >different. No two chess games are exact copies of each other. If they
    >are, it's usually not a game but an instruction. That makes the two
    >things different.

    Grant, it is confusing to the readers to not quote parts of a post when you make a comment like this. My post was based off Ray's post about quasi-species, a population of variants that hovers around a fitness peak. The population is statistically stable as long as selection is intense enough to prune the outlying variations.

    My point was that *perfect* fidelity is hard to find even in genes. My examples were of memes that have very high fidelity:

    "Some memes have very low error rates. Game rules like chess or the suits of cards in a deck are examples of extreme stability."

    Now, it is *obvious* that particular games of chess or baseball are not exact copies. If they were, there would be no point in playing. But from the above sentence (in the post you clipped) anyone can see that I was referring to game *rules* as memes and not the games themselves. You are setting up a "straw man" to knock down instead of doing something enlightening like taking a few hours to dig back into the history of chess for a post on when the current rules settled into stability and how or why they mutated before that time.

    >In addition, most transfers of information do not result in a copy.

    Sure. Looking at a sunset (information transfer rate of at least a megabyte a second) does not make a copy of it in a meaningful sense of the word. But so what? It isn't a meme either.

    >Out of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people who witness an
    >action or hear an expanation, only one or two will try to duplicate the
    >action. Those who do will have to try many times to duplicate it
    >exactly. Even then, there will still differences in performance and what
    >the performance is used for.

    Counter example. There are vast numbers of people who can listen to a melody and write it down as notes or play it with only one hearing. Ghod knows how many popular songs get into people's heads after hearing them a few times. "King of the Road" is one of my banes.

    >This is not Darwinism in my opinion. I doubt it is even Lamarkism.


    Keith Henson

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