Re: transmission

From: Wade T. Smith (
Date: Wed 14 May 2003 - 18:33:39 GMT

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    On Wednesday, May 14, 2003, at 02:02 PM, Scott wrote:

    > Fact of memes? A rather bold statement that is. I'd rather see it as
    > "presupposition (or assumption) of memes".
    > Is there sufficient reason to assume that ideas are isomorphic between
    > individuals? If so, provide some here:
    > I don't see Wade as raising a straw man, but raising healthy objection.

    Well, firstly, thanks. I don't see it as a straw man either. I see people who object to it as a straw man as deliberately avoiding the issue, entirely, almost to ad hominem levels. There is no straw there in this objection, as there is no straw there in your claiming memes are assumptions.

    But- in the case of the performance model, memes are not only evidential and non-abstract, but absolute and defined with certain rigidity. They are not assumptions about the way a mind, or minds, work, but a working theory about the process of cultural evolution, at the level of quantum units.

    There is no reason to assume that ideas are isomorphic between individuals. In fact, memetics would not be possible if this were the case- the telepathy that is required to create this isomorphism (this transmission from one mind to another) would also ensure that any and all of the communicative steps now necessary for transmission- a body, language, artistic expression, context, scenery, venues, etc.- would be unneeded, in fact, extraneous.

    Joe claims that, one day, fMRI and other technologies, will show us such isomorphisms as a proof of memesinthemind, but, I also claim this is impossible, just as impossible as telepathy, because no two minds can be isomorphic to begin with. That a river is a river because it has banks and moving water is a truism. That the Mississippi is the Amazon is not.

    That Richard, who has been raising his specious claim of memesinthemind for, what, seven years or more now?, sees information and transmission in some unexplained way, denying the modes of communication, or, somehow, seeing them as agents of the progress of some 'meme', which somehow, regardless, 'takes hold of' or 'controls' someone's
    'memespace', is most understandable, as he is the leader of the mob carrying the banners that most amply reinforce my statement that such is "a simplicity that dumbs down any further effort to explore memetics, if not halt it altogether." It is certainly this willingness to mysticize memetics or to multiply cognitive entities that sociobiologists and cognitive scientists find most off-putting about the general schema of memetics, if not urging them to reject it out of hand.

    On the other hand, since we're talking about hands, the performance model rejects nothing from sociobiology or cognitive science (it rather embraces any and all empirical and developmental work about the brain and body and the mind), but manages, as the memesinthemind model cannot, to place its agent, the meme, outside of _direct_ human sociobiology, into the milieu of culture, that very non-imaginary construction of mind and society and environment that biological evolution has worked so hard to put the human animal into and without which our species probably would not have formed and most certainly could not continue.

    And, if the study of memetics is indeed the study of cultural evolution, then the performance model is the best and most viable analytic tool, and the only one that does not introduce questionable entities or suppositions as prefaces to the enterprise.

    - Wade

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