RE: Definition of meme

From: Richard Brodie (
Date: Tue 20 May 2003 - 16:01:07 GMT

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    Bill Benzon wrote:

    <<OK, so a meme is a mental replicator: Find one.>>

    Any standardized test will reveal the existence of dozens of them. I remember a billboard in Boston when I was a kid that stated, simply, "Calvin Coolidge was our 30th President." It turned out a marketing firm was doing research into the effectiveness of billboards. Well, that meme replicated and still resides in my mind.

    << No one has actually found mental entities within brains that replicate from one brain to another. Richard Aunger has written an incoherent attempt to find such things in the brain. I don't see any reason to believe that they will ever be found.>>

    Do you think brains contain mental entities that DON'T replicate from one brain to another, or do you think brains contain no mental entities at all? If the former, how do you explain education?

    <<These mentalist memes are purely hypothetical entities. Now, if these hypothetical entities had given rise to a good research program with substantial empirical results, that would be a different matter. But that research program has not come into being. Memetics doesn't have a Gregor Mendel.>>

    I interpret this to mean you are unwilling to study memes as mental replicators unless and until the workings of the brain are sufficiently known. You want a codon x-ray to show some pattern in two brains and no amount or inference from similar behaviors will satisfy you that two people share similar thoughts.

    Richard Brodie

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