From: Richard Brodie (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue 17 Jun 2003 - 18:47:30 GMT
<<You see, the performance model is not an attempt to undermine memetics,
but it is an attempt to remove the unnecessary and merely postulated
and non-empirical entity known as the memeinthemind.>>
I've never heard anyone but you use that term, so you are either lying or
deluded if you say anyone is postulating such a thing.
> The core of the model is that the future of a culture is created by
> the differential selection of cultural replicators.
<<Guess what? That's the exact same thing that is at the core of the performance model.>>
Nonsense. You don't have a replicator. You can't predict anything. You can't
explain anything. You can't even write down the mechanics of your so-called
> Cultural replicators include memes, artifacts, and cultural organisms
> such as religions, chain letters, and governments.
<<Guess what again? Well, with some qualifications. The performance model does not call anything but the meme itself a cultural replicator. Artifacts are special cases of performance, sustained through time. >>
You don't have a meme. You don't have a replicator. Now you are calling an
artifact a performance.
<<Religions are isolational cultural and social venues. Chain letters are
useless, but that's my prejudice.... Governments are social
infrastructures as well as cultural venues. The only meme in the
performance model is the performance itself within a venue, as this is
the only thing which may be selected, and that's a matter of obvious
logic. I can't select my government, even when I'm allowed to vote....>>
Calling something "obvious" is the last refuge of the hand-waver. From this
last statement I don't believe you understand what "selection" means. And
how could calling chain letters "useless" possibly contribute to
understanding of the phenomenon?
<<Ah, the crux. You see- you have just described the performance model to
a T. In fact, that last sentence of yours, well, there it is. IT IS
THROUGH THIS BEHAVIOR THAT MEMES REPLICATE. (Emphasis mine.)
It is through the performance (which is the behavior as observed within
the venue) that memes replicate.>>
Well, I haven't described the performance model because as far as I can tell
there isn't one. But I will be thankful if you stop posting claims that
memetics asserts that memes replicate through telepathy.
<<I couldn't have said it better myself. Are you ready to live
I'm guessing that by "live dangerously" you mean change my strongly-held,
cobwebbed, erroneous beliefs. I'm sure you meet plenty of people with
petrified mindsets in Cambridge. I assure you I'm not one of them. The truth
is there's just no substance to your so-called model. It doesn't explain or
predict. It's not even coherent. You keep redefining your terms and evading
questions. What replicates in your model?
> A successful meme in a mind influences behavior, which causes the meme
> to be replicated in another mind.
<<I'm sorry, but, prove this.>>
You asked me to explain the basic model of memetics. That I did. Notice that
when a model is useful its basics can be described in a few sentences. This
is the "Feynman test." I've asked you repeatedly to describe your model. You
Scientific models can never be proved. They can only be shown to be
non-useful in certain situations.
> I've defined meme many times for you.
<<But you can't _show_ anyone one, which means you can only _suppose_ how it works in a brain, and then _suppose_ how it works to alter culture. >>
This is another of your favorite nonsensical arguments. Either you're
denying that knowledge and memory exist, or you're being disingenuous about
how one would test for the existence of specific items of knowledge. Of
course you can show the existence of memes. For instance, you used the word
"brain." That shows pretty much for certain that the meme for the word
"brain" exists in your mind.
<<The performance model can _show_ everyone a meme, _show_ how it gets
observed in a brain, and then _show_ how it, through following
performance, alters culture. Hell, I can define god many times for you.>>
There is no performance model. You don't have a meme. A meme is a
replicator. You have no mechanism for "following performance."
> I think we both know the Capital of Massachusetts beyond any doubt.
<<That is just hand waving. Which is all the memeinthemind will ever be. Your example here does not prove any memetic entity in a brain, it merely shows a common knowledge.>>
I'm not sure what you think an "entity" is. If we both know the Capital, we
both know the same thing.
<< We both know lots of similar things.
It ain't what we know, as memories are merely that, but what we do with
it. In your case, ellipsoidal comment. Nobody actually gave the answer
here- do you really know the Capital of Massachusetts? ;-) In my case,
I can say I not only know it, but I've stood at its effectual center.
Since you don't have that memory, there is doubt about what you know
and I know, and no reason to say we know the same thing, or that the
same thing is in our heads. Again, hand waving is all this
memeinthemind thingee will ever be.>>
Well, you're exactly right. It's what we do with our memes that selects
them. By the way, I was born in the Capital of Massachusetts (not to be
confused with the Capitol... that would have been uncomfortable for my mom,
who turns 80 this year). But there's no doubt we both know the name of the
Capital of Massachusetts, identical, 100%, letter for letter. That's a meme.
<<I deny the memeinthemind. Not only that, I claim it is an extraordinary
claim, and requires extraordinary proof. Please supply it, keeping your
hands at your sides.>>
I don't know what a "memeinthemind" is. You're the only one who uses that
term, I believe in an attempt to ridicule what you do not understand. Once
again, if you understood science you would know that you can't prove a
definition. The only question is whether the definition is useful.
<<The performance model has been doing an irish step dance around the
memeinthemind model, and its music is way better.>>
I've seen one of those Irish step dances. Don't they pretty much stay in one
> To test your model, pick any venue and I'll pick two sets of a dozen
> people, one of which has memorized "As You Like It" and one of which
> hasn't. An impartial observer will decide if the two performances can
> be called by the same "cultural marker." Next, to test my model, I'll
> pick a set of a dozen people and you pick any two venues. We'll ask an
> impartial observer the same question. Do we need to perform the
<<Now, if you meant that these groups were supposed to _perform_ As You Like It, well, you haven't included enough parameters to make this performance possible, which is the job of the venue. At any rate, it would not be a relevant experiment. But, let's say that is the experiment you want to do- 'picking any venue' is not possible, of course, as the venue for 'As You Like It' includes, _at a minimum_, the script, and a set of humans who can read and understand english, so, yes, if I had a set of people who had memorized As You Like It and another set who didn't, and supplied them both with scripts, then this impartial observer of whom you speak would indeed say, 'yes, these are both attempts at a performance of 'As You Like It." One point to the performance model.>>
So now you've finally expanded the definition of "venue" to include the
human mind. Guess what? You've just come around to memetics.
Congratulations. Performances are a result of nature (genes), nurture
(memes), and environmental stimulus. Each performance provides new stimulus to observing minds and creates artifacts that may continue to provide stimulus. These stimuli modify the mental state of the people involved, affecting future behavior. The memes that increase the likelihood of further behavior that increases the likelihood of more people getting those memes increase in number. Same with the artifacts, same with the cultural organisms. That, my friend, is how culture evolves.
<<Okay, I'll have to say I don't quite understand your experiments.
In the second experiment, "[you] pick a set of a dozen people and [I]
pick any two venues", and I take them to a performance of Shakespeare's
As You Like It. Then I take them to a bus stop. When the time is up, we
ask them what they've just seen. They say, 'We've just seen a
performance of William Shakespeare's As You Like It', and then we've
been standing around at a bus stop'. And if we ask an observer where
they've been, he wouldn't know where they'd been unless he was with
them, or heard them say where they'd been.>>
This is another favorite trick of yours, making up your own question if you
don't like the one that has been asked. My original experiments illustrate
the lack of substance in your so-called model.
[snip you arguing with yourself]
> You contradict yourself. If each performance is unique, there is no
<<No, there is no contradiction. Each human is unique, but they are all
'repeats' of homo sapiens sapiens. Each dog is unique, but they are all repeats of 'canine'. Yes, each and every meme is not only unique, (each and every performance is not only unique), but they are momentarily unique. They are temporal. They are not continuous. (The old analogy to film fits here, of course.) It is culture's job to parametrize the venue with enough precision to ensure similar performances, such that each dog is a canine, and not a giraffe, and each 'As You Like It' is an 'As You Like It', and it is _only_ culture that can attempt to be continuous, by eliciting similar performances, not some ghost entity in a mind that somehow stays the same.>>
"Canine" is a meme. It is a "ghost entity" existing nowhere but in people's
minds and books. It is indeed culture, consisting of human minds and
artifacts, that steers the replication of these "ghost entities" called
<<And I only speak of uniqueness in the very concise way that every item
is unique. Certainly you would not claim that every performance of
Beethoven's Fifth is not unique, would you? And yet, I'm also sure you
would, in fact, claim that every performance is not only unique, but
that you would also call the Bernstein Columbia recordings and the
Bruno Walter Columbia recordings with the same orchestra different, and
yet, at no time would you claim that all of these performances are not
Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. This is what I mean by the cultural marker-
the venue that commands Beethoven's Fifth Symphony will attempt to
always command it, even when the venue stretches to disco, and that
happened. It made many people claim that Ludwig was spinning in his
grave, but no-one claimed it was not the Fifth, although they wanted
many to take the fifth after listening to it. Sure, call it a name. But
it's also a thing to perform.>>
The name is the meme, not the performance. The name replicates. The notes
replicate. The performance does not.
<<There _is_ no 'however' point to make, here, Ray- the performance model
does not _want_ 'same' performances, it only wants _similar_
performances, and it would have little use of exact duplicate
performances if it found them- in all ways, this would be a
falsification of the model!>>
You don't have a replicator. You don't have a meme. You don't have a model.
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