Re: Memetic trapping and wars.

Date: Sun 13 Jul 2003 - 21:09:07 GMT

  • Next message: derek gatherer: "Sue Blackmore's new book"

    In a message dated 7/7/2003 8:30:07 PM Central Daylight Time, writes:

    > > > Currently, I am
    > > >using the phrase "thought contagion" to denote "A memory
    > > >item, or portion of an organism's neurally-stored
    > > >information, identified using the abstraction system of the
    > > >observer, whose instantiation depended critically on
    > > >causation by prior instantiation of the same memory item in
    > > >one or more other organisms' nervous systems."
    > >
    Keith wrote:
    > > Man that's complicated. But it boils down to a transmittable
    > > pattern, an idea that spreads, or many other similar ways to put it.
    > Yes, it is a little complicated. Hence, I also define the term
    > less formally as "a self-propagating idea." That gets the gist
    > of it across for those readers who are not looking for a
    > formal technical definition, and is the way I handled it in
    > my book.

    Actually, although the definition of "thought contagion" as given above is wordy, it is not conceptually complicated. It is equivalent to the phrase "homoderivative mnemon" used in my 1998 JOM paper and my 1991 JOI paper. But I have more recently been relying less on neologisms, which seem to be very distracting even to intelligent readers. The neologism
    "homoderivative" can also give an impression of needlessly stilted prose, while the neologism "mnemon" can give a misimpression that I am claiming to have discovered some new kind of entity -- one whose existence would need to be tested with a microscope, for instance. All I really did with the term "homoderivative mnemon" was to label a specific subset of memory items already widely considered to exist by people who are not hard-core behaviorists. Avoiding neologisms leads to a wordy definition, but the core element of theory remains fairly simple.

    When using the less formal term "self-propagating idea," I never mean to conjure a notion of something whose formation depends solely upon its own prior instances. That is, I am not saying that there exists any such thing as a purely self-replicating idea, or a purely self-replicating entity of any other kind either. Rather, I am saying that one or more prior instances played a critical role in causing the new instantiation. For a given phenomenon (self-replicating or not), one can usually make a long list of causal precursors -- some of them distant or very abstractly defined. For instance, one can (for what it's worth) list the electron rest mass, supersymmetries, etc. as causal factors for a war. A defining issue in deciding whether something should be classified as self-replicating or not is whether the potentially very long list of causal precursor factors includes some prior instance of the same thing.

    Thanks for your interesting comments.

    --Aaron Lynch

    Thought Contagion Science Page:

    =============================================================== 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 : Sun 13 Jul 2003 - 21:16:15 GMT