Re: memetics-digest V1 #1294

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Thu 27 Feb 2003 - 18:10:05 GMT

  • Next message: Richard Brodie: "RE: memetics-digest V1 #1294"

    At 10:12 PM 26/02/03 -0500, Scott wrote:


    >>>How well would the externalist stance stand?
    >>No idea of what you are proposing here.
    >Given my memory of Wade's previous externalism (IIRC his "bemes" versus
    >Joe's internalist "meme-ories" versus my curmudgeony "pink unicorns" from
    >a while back), I would say he dismises the internalism of mnemons or
    >engrammatic "memes" in favor of some behavioral (hence "bemes") or perhaps
    >artifactual focus for cultural elements. I'd still be hesistant that this
    >sort of memetics would stand, hence my reversion to "pink unicorns"
    >(imaginary but quite beautiful nonetheless).
    >I thought with the history of the internalist-externalist split (something
    >along the lines of Lynch and Gatherer and what someone had coined as
    >L-memes (mnemons) and G-memes (artifacts)) this positional distiction
    >would be obvious.

    Ah. I don't make such distinctions at all. To me memes are pure information. Information has to be in some material form, of course, but I make no distinction between it being in a brain and being on paper or in an artifact.

    This is by close analogy to genes, where most of the time they are in strings of DNA, but can be on paper or magnetic tape. You could even memorize a gene. They are all freely convertible from one form to another.

    Keith Henson

    PS A while ago someone demonstrated reconstructing active polio from the published genome. They did this with a used gene synthesizer that you can pick up for about $2,000. I have not looked it up myself, but a while ago someone I know looked up the smallpox genome on a US government web site.

    So the "fact" that there are only two samples of active smallpox in freezers doesn't mean much in terms of it being used as a terror weapon.

    Keith Henson

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