Re: Other roots of memetics

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Mon 31 Mar 2003 - 05:43:37 GMT

  • Next message: Bill Hall: "Re: memetics-digest V1 #1319 - are memes alive?"

    >From: Keith Henson <>
    >Subject: Re: Other roots of memetics
    >Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2003 22:33:33 -0500
    >At 09:21 PM 30/03/03 -0500, Scott wrote:
    >>>From: "Bruce Howlett" <>
    >>>To: <>
    >>>Subject: Re: Other roots of memetics
    >>>Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003 07:33:33 +1000
    >>>Hi Keith.
    >>>I hate being the "nay" sayer, but predictive is out of reach, almost by
    >>>definition. I say "almost" because I do accept the "egg already falling"
    >>>short term possibility, but still with some reservations. The one good
    >>>predictive tool we have is demographical statistics. But psychohistory
    >>>is still science fiction. If I have time over the next few days I will
    >>>expand my comments, as I think that the sooner we stop trying to turn
    >>>memetics into some sort of magical social engineering tool, and
    >>>concentrate on the benefits it delivers to ethnographic and cultural
    >>>anthropology work, the better.
    >>The psychohistory I've been reading about recently is more like a hybrid
    >>of history and psychoanalysis than science fiction. I'm not familiar with
    >>Asimov's spin in the Foundation series.
    >Try "psychohistory Asimov" in Google
    >Psychohistory: The idea of a mathematical "Laws of Humanics" parallelling
    >the Laws of Robotics was first posited on Aurora by Giskard Reventlov and
    >Han Fastolfe, though both realised that it was well beyond existing
    >knowledge. It did not resurface until the Galactic Empire was in decline
    >when, at the Decennial Convention on Trantor, Hari Seldon presented a paper
    >of the theoretical potential of psychohistory as a mathematics of social
    >change, dealing with the reactions of very large human populations to
    >social and economic stimuli. This was siezed upon by various factions as a
    >means of furthering their own political ends, but it was Daneel Olivaw,
    >then acting the role of Eto Demerzel, Chief of Staff to Cleon I, who
    >encouraged Seldon to develop psychohistory as a means of securing a more
    >humane galaxy after the inevitable fall of the Empire,...
    >Psychohistory was also the name of a fictional science in Isaac Asimov's
    >Foundation Trilogy universe, which combined history, psychology and
    >mathematical statistics to create a (nearly) exact science of the behavior
    >of very large populations of people, such as the Galactic Empire. Asimov
    >used the analogy of a gas, where whilst the motion of a single molecule is
    >very difficult to predict, the mass behavior of the gas can be predicted to
    >a high level of accuracy.
    >The web site also discusses the psychoanalytic psychohistory. I don't want
    >to turn this into a thread about Asimov, his Foundation novels, or
    >Loewenberg's kind of psychohistory because none of them, especially the
    >last, relate that strongly to memetics. But if you want to research
    >background, there is a ton of it on the web.
    It might be topical in figuring out just what psychohistory is or what is meant by the term by different people. Maybe there's the type that Asimov put forward in his books and the type that people like Loewenberg follow. Are these types overlapping? Is there a relation between Asimov's use of the term and the usage by Loewenberg et al?

    If you go to you see somebody named Lloyd deMause featured prominently. He wrote one of the essays on childhood I referred to.

    OTOH seems to have more of an Asimovian flavor to it.

    Interesting. I'll have to look deeper into this, perhaps delving into the biographies of sci-fi guru Asimov and the psychoanalytic psychohistorians for childhood antecedents to their respective affinities for this field ;-)

    _________________________________________________________________ STOP MORE SPAM with the new MSN 8 and get 2 months FREE*

    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Mon 31 Mar 2003 - 05:50:27 GMT