Re: precison of replication

From: Wade T. Smith (
Date: Thu 19 Jun 2003 - 19:28:32 GMT

  • Next message: Wade T. Smith: "Re: memetics-digest V1 #1406"

    On Thursday, June 19, 2003, at 01:47 PM, Richard wrote in response to Scott:

    >> how fundamental to an understanding of human behavior can memetics be?

    > Assuming you mean "understanding of culture" -- because "human
    > behavior" has a lot to do with genetic evolution as well -- I suppose
    > [the model of memetics that posits a replicating meme at 100% fidelity
    > from mind to mind] as fundamental as the identical copying of genes is
    > to genetics.

    Ah, but the identical copying of genes in genetics has very little to do with evolution, or should I say, the understanding of different species of life and how they came to be, since this all seems to be lost to the 100% replication fraternity. Whether it has much to do with behavior is also problematic, although, yeah, at some level, things need to be copied with some fidelity in order to survive in the fitness landscape they are evolving in as individual organisms.

    Each Ford Escort needs to have a huge collection of parts, all of which meet precisely defined tolerances in order for the factory to make Ford Escorts. Each human being needs to have a huge collection of parts, all of which meet precisely defined tolerances in order for two humans to manufacture another human being. But, these parts are a matter of birth in the human, which is where genetics matters, and where copying with high fidelity is so important, but the manufacturing of human beings capable of interacting socially is the job of culture, not the mere job of genetics, and culture itself is a matter of _tolerances_, not a matter of exactitude. Many parts fit into many different places in culture. French fits into the language part, and so does English. Crepes fit into the breakfast part, and so do donuts. Peugeots fit into the transportation part, and so do Fords, even Ford Escorts, which are sold in France....

    So, QED, there is no fundamental need for the 100% fidelity meme, in the brain, or anywhere else, for the understanding of culture or cultural change, except as how the individual agents of the culture survive physically and reproduce more agents.

    Therefore, the meme in the mind model which you and others postulate that demands a meme of definitional 100% replicative fidelity is a bogus model of cultural evolution. It may be a good model of something else, but I'll leave that to you to discover. Right now, it's not working where you say it should. Its parts don't fit.

    - Wade

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