From: Keith Henson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu 22 May 2003 - 00:02:33 GMT
At 11:54 AM 21/05/03 -0400, you wrote:
>on 5/21/03 9:07 AM, Keith Henson at email@example.com wrote:
> > Memes are in competition for a limited resource, human brains. This is the
> > main factor that makes memetics so interesting since memes can induce
> > behavior that affects how many are carrying them. "Convert or die,
>This makes no sense. Sooner or later mentalist memetics gets around to
>talking about memes as though they were living beings flitting about from
>mind to mind.
To some very limited extent they are. A virus is just a hunk of DNA or
RNA. Is it a "living being?" If your cells are being converted to more
SARS viruses and you need a ventilator just to breath, such nit picking
questions are far from your concerns.
Dawkins' major contribution was to popularize the "selfish gene"
paradigm. "Unthinking" genes and memes can be modeled as "striving"
entities because of the Darwinian effect. Genes that make more successful
bodies become more common as time progresses. Memes that people spread
become more common. Purely a mechanical consequence of the way evolution
works, no thoughts on the part of memes or genes required.
>People compete with one another for all sorts of reasons, individually and
>People say do things like: "Convert or die, infidel!" Arguing
>that what's really going on is that memes are manipulating people for their
>own replicating ends is just silly. It was a bad idea when Dawkins advanced
>it, and it hasn't improved any for all the elaboration and repetition it has
>received by others.
It is a clever shorthand that lets you say in a single word like "striving"
the long winded logic of how evolution works to make some genes (or memes)
more or less common as time goes forward. It was a good way to put a
complicated explanation in a few words, but some people have a lot of
trouble groking it.
I no longer find total lack of comprehension of simple concepts to be all
that strange. One universal (in my experience) characteristic of
scientologists is that not a single one of them (sample size = 200 at
least) can tell you why blind and double blind experiments are needed to
test drugs and medical procedures. (They can't *imagine* that people could
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