Re: Sue Blackmore lecture Wednesday 5.15pm London

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Tue 18 Feb 2003 - 03:25:18 GMT

  • Next message: "Re: Sue Blackmore lecture Wednesday 5.15pm London"

    At 06:49 PM 17/02/03 -0600, you wrote:
    > > At 06:23 PM 16/02/03 -0500, you wrote:


    > > Particular memes become more or less common over time because some are
    > > better at getting into new human minds. (Most memes are
    > > helpful--ultimately to the genes of their host--but a few are
    > > pathological, damaging or killing their hosts.) Memes vary (mutate,
    > > copy errors) and because of variation and selection ones better suited
    > > to get into human minds and be passed on further become more common
    > > and memes less good at being passed on become less common over time.
    > >
    >True enough; most memes are symbionts rather than virulents, but
    >those that are virulent must be strongly contagious, or 'hook-into-able',
    >due to the disadvantage that assimilating them confers.

    Some of them are slow poison, so it is not so obvious what you are getting into. Though, by the time you are cutting off your own balls, it should be clear enough. :-)

    > > The environment for memes both physical and memetic is in a flux,
    > > especially in the last few hundred years. So what was a meme of
    > > considerable power to get itself replicated 100 years ago may be
    > > nearly extinct today (example phrenology).
    > >
    >Yep; memetic evoilution snowballs, standing on progressively higher
    >shoulders of the previously known, and thus the rate of memetic change
    >continually accelerates and cascades.

    In things like science for sure. Not so sure about other fields.

    > > The overall system of humans (constructed by their genes) and memes
    > > (sum of memes = culture) has co-evolved. This introduces
    > > complications, but certainly not beyond that often seen in
    > > biologically co-evolved systems.
    > >
    >There is a mutual feedback system operating between genes and
    >memes, so that neither can any longer be considered strictly in
    >isolation. Genes influence the choices of possible memes in the short
    >run, but memes influence which genes proliferate over the long run.

    That's certainly true. The thing that is very different is the time scale for memes and genes. But that's not new in biology either.

    Keith Henson

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