Re: memetics-digest V1 #1321

From: Wade T. Smith (
Date: Tue 25 Mar 2003 - 16:18:44 GMT

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    On Tuesday, March 25, 2003, at 08:42 AM, memetics-digest wrote:

    > The development of memetics provides improved mental tools (models)
    > for thinking about the influences, be they benign, silly, or fatal,
    > that
    > replicating information patterns have on all of us.

    This sort of statement has always impressed me just about as much as a press release from a PR firm, which is what it really is, ain't it?

    Making claims in any inflated fashion about memetics is a favorite pastime of the popularizers of it (especially those using the phrase
    'memetic engineering'), and those carpetbagging it, true. And yet, the basic premise is false- there is no (intentional or otherwise) information replicated or transmitted by cultural performance- all meaning and information is semantically constructed (albeit upon some pre-conditioning foundations, none of which should be called memes and all of which can be ascribed to normal perceptual cognition and socialization) by the culture's participants during and after the performance- and there is no replication of any mental entity (that concept itself is absurdity)- there is only patterning and mutating reproduction, in performance, within a culture, by individuals, of sensorially perceived and erratically or conditionally stored stimuli,
    _all_ of which _may_ or _may not_ be similar, and thus (if similar) observed and analyzed as patterns and models. Culture is (far from merely!) only one of several maintainers of similarity of human behaviors while it is the primary maintainer of the semantic patterns that surround and enforce them. Meaning and intent, so gleefully propounded by the memeinthemind theorists, implies design, and, I'm not actually very sorry, but ID is out of the question in darwinian analysis, and it should be totally out of the question in memetics. And yet, this motive to 'memetically engineer' persists. Perhaps it is, in some root, fascistic? I personally think so. I personally reject it, precisely so. It is also rejectable because, outside of culture, meaning and intent and even method all vanish, as I so perfectly observed with the Tlingit tribal elders, and as thousands if not millions of extinctions of cultures over time and history attest.

    We have many influences upon our behavior. Memetics may utilize those discovered by biology, or by cognitive neuroscience, or even by psycho-social mechanics, but its main usefulness is the analyzation of cultural patterns, in consilience with these other disciplines, not in some overseeing paradigm of influencing techniques and the inaccurate judgments made by utilizing them, all of which are quite well known, and quite unnecessary (if not antagonistic) to memetics in toto.

    - Wade

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