Re: memetics-digest V1 #1398

From: Wade T. Smith (
Date: Wed 18 Jun 2003 - 00:00:55 GMT

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    On Tuesday, June 17, 2003, at 06:23 PM, Richard wrote:

    > I've asked you repeatedly to describe your model. You have failed.

    Well, I would say that you have repeatedly misunderstood, because others have understood it, from the six dozen or so times I've described it, but, here goes-

    > This is the "Feynman test."

    (I would ask you to explain your model of memetics to my ten-year old daughter, but, so far, I have not seen you pass the Feynman test either. As you said, it took you over 250 pages....)

    The performance model of cultural evolution-

    Performer A performs.

    Observer A observes.

    Both Performer A and Observer A are within a societal construct with shared experiences (the venue) so that Observer A can gain knowledge from the performance of Performer A.

    Observer A performs as Performer B.

    Performance B is observed by Observer C who is also within this same venue and Observer C, understanding and finding knowledge in this performance, repeats it, with enough similarity that Observer D can also find similar knowledge.

    Performance A becomes B and then C and then D...., all of which meet observational tests as being similar, if not culturally equal, performances.

    And thus, cultural replication can occur. Any of a myriad of happenstances will affect the outcome of any of the performances- some from nature itself, some from performance alterations from physiological differences among performers, some from observational and perceptual variances among the observers. The venue itself is an environment that is designed to direct and focus performances and observations such that the extra-cultural influences are kept to a minimum. And yet, such control is impossible, and mutations happen. Observers will, or will not, adopt mutations. The venue may or may not attempt to suppress or adopt these mutations. This complex process is culture. This process is evident in all performance.

    Replication, mutation, and selection.

    > 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.

    I'm sorry, Richard, but that is pure hand-waving at its finest. This is no proof whatsoever that I have any meme in my mind and you can only wave your hands to put one there. As you should know, I do not believe in therapeutic touch.

    >> 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.

    You just used it. You just postulated it. Here, let me quote you, again- "the meme for the word "brain" exists in your mind" Deny your own words. Not only do you use 'meme in the mind', but you claim you have a proof that it is there.

    > Calling something "obvious" is the last refuge of the hand-waver.

    This is all you can do, however, when you claim to show me a meme in my mind by saying I have a meme for the word 'brain'. As I said, this is pure hand-waving at its finest.

    There is nothing obvious about anyone having a meme in their mind. This is a claim of some memeticists about how the mind works, and there is no empirical or experimental proof that there is such a thing. The english word 'brain' is in my mind. Nothing more, nothing less. So is the latin 'cognito'.

    > A meme is a replicator. You have no mechanism for "following
    > performance."

    The mechanism for a following performance is the need for a following performance, and this need is predicated by the interest and parametric controls of the venue. When you say 'hello' I am expected to say
    'hello' in return. (Although I may not.) The venue of our society and our language and our civility are offering little else to perform. The mechanisms for the continuation of similar performances is all around us, at all times. The lines on the road. The buttons on a shirt. The silence during a symphony. I can't believe you are being so obtuse.

    > I've seen one of those Irish step dances. Don't they pretty much stay
    > in one
    > place?

    Nope, they go all over the stage. But their hands stay at their side.

    > So now you've finally expanded the definition of "venue" to include the
    > human mind.

    Then I've failed to explain it properly to you. The venue offers experiences to minds, yes. It provides a place for minds to play, yes. And, yes, it is minds that perform (that amalgam of brain and body that is the human) and minds that observe, but the venue itself does not include the mind in the sense your model wants it to, although, sure, culture includes humans. The venue is also adapting and mutating with every performance, while the capacities of mind remain the same. Culture is a way of doing things with minds in the performance model, not an explanation of how minds do things.

    _You_ don't have a replicator. ( You can't show anyone this meme in a mind. It is not possible, at this stage, to show anyone a mind. The performance model has merely to show anyone a performance, and then a following performance, to show replication.) _You_ don't have a meme.
    (You don't have any empirical unit of cultural evolution, and no way to show any sort of replication in something so unexplained as a mind. The performance model not only has a meme, it can show it to you, as the meme is the performance. The performance is replicated every time another person performs again.) _You_ don't have a model. (You have no mechanism to explain how the meme in the mind has any capacity to induce behavior. The performance model not only has a myriad of inducements, including autonomic responses and intentional actions, but the agency of the venue, which compels expected responses, and maintains controls for the elicitation of similar performances.)

    But, as far as a real science of this meme thingee goes, we're both pranksters. And I'll cop to that.

    - Wade

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