Re: memetics-digest V1 #1294

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Thu 27 Feb 2003 - 23:56:14 GMT

  • Next message: Hernan Silberman: "Re: memetics-digest V1 #1294"

    >From: Keith Henson <>
    >Subject: Re: memetics-digest V1 #1294
    >Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2003 13:10:05 -0500
    >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
    Whatever that means...
    >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
    I think important distinctions could be made between neural states, scribblings on paper, or an artifact (a category which could include paper scribblings).

    I might have a hazy vision (neural state) of what a good painting should look like. I might attempt to commit this vision to canvas. 'm not sure how well my attempt would conincide with the vision I have. By the same token I might have ideas for stories, yet attempting to put them to paper may result in a divergence from the original.

    OTOH I might look at a painting and come away with a somewhat divrgence impression than you would, so my recollection of said painting could diverge from yours.

    What I'm getting at is that there may be divergence from brain to paper and vice versa just as there may be divergence between brains. I'm not sure this variation could be shoehorned into a reified abstraction such as the "meme".
    >This is by close analogy to genes,
    I'm not sure how close an analogy can be made between the messy relation between neural states or ideas and scribblings as carried over 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.
    Perhaps using some sense of the phrase "freely convertible". A representation of a gene on paper isn't about to go and get transcribed to make an RNA. A paper representation is shorthand at best, just like a pencil sketch is but a facsimile of a real life scene, since you like analogies.

    The base sequence of a gene might be memorized, but it would take some serious effort to make a gene out of a memory.

    Nonetheless, I don't see how the analogy helps the memetic cause.
    >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.

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