Re: meme definition

From: Wade T. Smith (
Date: Sun 22 Jun 2003 - 20:20:39 GMT

  • Next message: Chris Taylor: "Re: meme definition"

    Scott wrote:

    > OTOH 100% accurate replication would mean that there would be no
    > variation.
    > Variation is the motor for evolution.

    Muller's ratchet is indeed only a marginal fit into memetics- but, it does show that if there is no variation, and an asexual recombination, then extinction is a distinct possibility, as you say, variation is an engine, and with cultures being as fast moving evolutionarily speaking as we contend they are, variation at a high degree would be needed, and, sexual reproduction serves both the need for variation and the need for non-100% replication the best of all the engines we know. And, as I've often said, I have never seen a sexual analog in any memeinthemind model, especially one that demands 100% replication. In fact, the better the transmission abilities in such a model, the more probable the death of the culture. That would seem to fly in the face of cultural traits that have endured for generations, such as song as celebratory act and not individual song as continuing stable act.

    Now, there's an argument to be made for this sort of asexual replication for memes- after all, there are extinctions. But there is no sexual analogous mechanism proposed by the 100%memeinthmind models, therefore, no engine of correction. (Every meme is a sexual analogous act in the performance model.) Mutations, on the other hand, are mentioned, in passing, but, where does the mutation happen? In the mind? Is that not simply creativity? Do we need memes to explain creativity? Why do we need memes to explain creativity?

    IMHO, we don't. We need memes to explain cultural evolution in any memetic model, but we don't need them in a creative mind, which is quite happy thinking up creative things without a meme in the way, thank yew veddy much. In fact, if a model speaks of memebots, then creativity is being denied by the meme presence in the mind, is it not?

    The performance model does not try to quell creativity, it can't- creativity is part and parcel of the human minds the venue has to deal with. But what it can do, and does, is limit the amount of experiences each mind gathers, in an attempt to limit creativity to a proscribed hallway of motion. The exit from the stadium, if you will, when sharply defined and marked, becomes the only exit from the place, and regardless of the creativity of the minds exiting, they will all expel their creativity while exiting through the expected passage, and if they don't, they are expunged, exiled, possibly ostracized, possibly killed. Each venue has its own way of dealing with the creativity inherent in the species homo sapiens sapiens which are two-thirds of its working mechanism.

    But such strictured structuring of venue is doomed to fail, as well, by the Ratchet, as any attempt to replicate with 100% fidelity (or no variation) does not allow for survival or correct for natural mutations, or adaptation to changing physical environments, and unless such mutations are explained by a model, it is not complete. IMHO, no model of memes that demands 100% replication is complete as an explanation of cultural evolution, and even less as an explanation of human creativity.

    And yet, Chris and others will say, there is a good reason to drop the meme into a discussion of cognition, as we have culture-like behaviors amid many animals, so, let them have memes as well. The problem with this is, these animals lack so many other things that we obviously possess, namely language and writing, (and more specifically, the venue in the performance model), that we really should not be linking mental processes other than genetic ones, since writing is an absolute line of demarcation between homo sapiens and other species. And birds don't write, even though they sing effectively.

    To return to the experimental arena- I will ask again- is there an experiment actually available which will in any way determine if a meme is in a mind? I continue to declare that such an experiment would be so unethical as to be inhuman, since the only way to examine a mind without memes (if they are in there), is to deny a mind all culture, which is, in this world we live in, to deny it all development. We are tied to a social development as we are tied to a genetic development- we cannot acquire a language without being in the presence of one, and if we aren't, we never learn to speak. This is so purely an external phenomenon of acquisition, that requires a continuing venue, that I see no other model to use other than the performance model for even the acquisition of language, and, certainly, there is no acquisition of acceptable cultural behavior without training from the venue. Culture, like language, fills holes opened by genetic activity. That we have such large holes to fill is a developmental genetic evolutionary fact- that culture fills them is a developmental social fact- that we have continuing variances of _fill_ material is memetics, not the fact that the holes are there.

    To be free of the chains of our venues, we have to fly outside of them. That we can do this is our nature. That culture has to follow is memetics.

    >> Then again, pranks lead us places. Lessons learned.
    > Yeah, folklorists precede philosophers who precede alchemists who
    > precede scientists. We're (I like to think) at least between the first
    > two...

    I was more thinking school of hard knocks, or even 'fool me once....'

    - Wade

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