Re: transmission

From: Dace (
Date: Thu 22 May 2003 - 20:11:28 GMT

  • Next message: "Re: animals"

    > From: William Benzon <>
    > on 5/21/03 9:07 AM, Keith Henson at wrote:
    > [snip]
    > >
    > > Memes are in competition for a limited resource, human brains. This is
    > > 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.

    Ideas don't have to go flitting about like Tinkerbell in order to be transmitted from one mind to another. If I write "Tinkerbell" on my computer and then email it, and you read "Tinkerbell" on your computer, does that mean Tinkerbell has traveled, via computer networks, from my mind to yours? Not at all. What travels through computer networks is electrons, not angels. What appears on your computer screen is pixels, not pixies. Tinkerbell exists in only one place: human imagination. When you see the pixels correctly arranged on your screen, Tinkerbell appears in your mind-- just as she appeared in mine-- without having had to cross the space separating us. All that's required is that we interpret written language the same way, and ideas that were in my mind instantly appear in yours. Think of Captain Kirk beaming down to a planet. He doesn't have to pass through the hull of the ship and the planet's atmosphere to arrive on its surface. The atoms on the planet's surface simply rearrange themselves to become the body of Captain Kirk, and there he is. That's how mind-to-mind communication works.

    > People compete with one another for all sorts of reasons, individually and
    > in groups. People say do things like: "Convert or die, infidel!" Arguing
    > that what's really going on is that memes are manipulating people for
    > own replicating ends is just silly. It was a bad idea when Dawkins
    > it, and it hasn't improved any for all the elaboration and repetition it
    > received by others.

    When people freely determine their beliefs, they're dealing with ideas, not memes. But when an idea exploits a weakness in an individual's mind, the power of determination has shifted from person to idea, in which case we may call the idea a meme. The idea that black people have lower IQ's is thus a meme because it replicates from mind to mind by exploiting the unconscious desire to justify continued poverty among nonwhites. While the racist meme builds its own momentum, the counter-argument has to proceed under the power of conscious intelligence. This is why we're so often helpless in the face of irrational beliefs. Their advantage is that they self-replicate, while rational beliefs do not.


    =============================================================== 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 : Thu 22 May 2003 - 20:16:17 GMT