From: Philip Jonkers (email@example.com)
Date: Tue 14 Jan 2003 - 18:25:34 GMT
--- Keith Henson <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Memetics comes from "meme" (which rhymes with "cream"), a word
>coined in purposeful analogy to gene by Richard Dawkins in his 1976
>book, _The Selfish Gene_. To understand memes, you must have a good
>understanding of the modern concepts of evolution, and this is a good
>source. In its last chapter, memes were defined as replicating
>information patterns that use minds to get themselves copied much as a
>virus uses cells to get itself copied. (Dawkins credits several
>others for developing the concepts, especially the anthropologist F.
>T. Cloak.) Like genes, memes are pure information.*
> [*The essence of a gene is in its information. It is still a gene
> "for hemoglobin" or "for waltzing behavior in mice" whether the
> sequence is coded in DNA, printed on paper, or is written on
> magnetic tape.]
No argument here.
>They must be
>perceived indirectly, most often by their effect on behavior or by
>material objects that result from behavior. Humans are not the only
>creatures that pass memes about. Bird songs that are learned (and
>subject to variation) and the songs of whales are also replicating
>information pattern that fit the model of a meme. So is the
>"termiteing" behavior that chimps pass from generation to generation.
> "Meme" is similar to "idea," but not all ideas are memes. A
>passing idea which you do not communicate to others, or one which
>fails to take root in others, falls short of being a meme. The
>important part of the "meme about memes" is that memes are subject to
>adaptive evolutionary forces very similar to those that select for
>genes. That is, their variation is subject to selection in the
>environment provided by human minds, communication channels, and the
>vast collection of cooperating and competing memes that make up human
>culture. The analogy is remarkably close. For example, genes in cold
>viruses that cause sneezes by irritating noses spread themselves by
>this route to new hosts and become more common in the gene pool of a
>cold virus. Memes cause those they have successfully infected to
>spread the meme by both direct methods (proselytizing) and indirect
>methods (such as writing). Such memes become more common in the
You justifiably draw the parallels with genes. You exemplify genetic evolution. Since this is about memes, I would suggest you do the same about memes. Perhaps you can give examples about pushy Yehova's witnesses or about those home-invading tupperware guild we saw in the eighties. Needless to say, memes associated with systems such as Yehova's cult or tupperware proliferate better using aggressive (or should I say 'annoying') marketing tactics.
> The entire topic would be academic except that there are two
>levels of evolution (genes and memes) involved and the memetic level
>is only loosely coupled to the genetic. Memes which override genetic
>survival, such as those which induce young Lebanese Shiites to blow
>themselves "into the next world" from the front seat of a truck loaded
>with high explosives, or induce untrained Iranians to volunteer to
>charge Iraqi machine guns, or the WW II Kamikaze "social movement" in
>Japan, are all too well known. I have proposed the term "memeoid" for
>people whose behavior is so strongly influenced by a replicating
>information pattern (meme) that their survival becomes inconsequential
>in their own minds.
Last I heard, the originally Japanese term Kamikaze translates into "Divine Wind", which may be considered to be a movement alright but not really a social one I'm afraid :-).
>2003 comment. I could elaborate, or use different examples, but this seems
>good enough for a working definition.
Other than those minor technicalities it sounds like a sound elaboration to me Keith.
Greetings from Plymouth UK to you all,
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