Re: memetics-digest V1 #1313

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Tue 11 Mar 2003 - 04:25:00 GMT

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    At 09:45 PM 10/03/03 -0500, scott wrote:

    >>Sixty years ago my father taught me a series of moves on the chess board
    >>with which I could mate an opponent in three moves. He called it "fools
    >>mate." Now I'm teaching it to my grandson. If I haven't been carrying
    >>that meme around in my head for the past 60 years, how can I use it and
    >>teach it today? Sure, I passed it on by performing it, but I recovered
    >>the gambit from my mind and I think that's pretty good proof that it's
    >>been sitting in there waiting to be used for the past 60 years. I didn't
    >>recover it from a book or by watching someone else do it recently. Most
    >>of what I know how to do is stored in the same way, waiting to be used or
    >>passed to someone else. If it's not stored in the mind or the brain,
    >>where is it?
    >Well you've remembered a series of chess moves. I'd call this a memory
    >(not a meme-ory).

    Memes in brains are memory. My vivid recollections of Yosemite National Park are memory too, but not a meme. Why? Because I can't pass on a memory of this class in a meaningful way. Now, my memory of how to make and use a David and Goliath sling are memes. Why? Because I can teach a ten year old how to make and use a sling. It is a minor part of our culture passed on to a relatively small number of the next generation. (Because you have to be out in the country to deal with the wild rocks when kids are learning and most kids are city dwellers now.)

    The Fools mate series of moves is just as much a meme as my sling making and using. It is another minor piece of our culture.


    > might point to the performance of the moves as a beme, but I'd, in my
    > curmudgeony agnostic way probably make funny faces at this stance too. I
    > see a memory (engrammatic or mnemonic storage) of chess moves (a
    > behavioral repertoire. With nice fancy words like memory and repertoire
    > I'd thing that meme-ory and beme sound a little bland, like artificial
    > sweetener might taste.

    Arrgh. Why clutter up a *simple* concept like memes? As I said in a previous post, treat human brains as black boxes, and memes as replicat
    -ing -ed information where the sum total is human culture.

    Keith Henson

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