Date: Fri 21 Nov 2003 - 15:34:49 GMT
> I don't understand your logic, why does internalism
> imply that memes cannot be quantified?
> So how would you quantify them? For instance, it's
> easy enough to count the number of murders, but rather
> more difficult to count the number with murderous
This question I can answer, if a meme does not exert a phenotypic effect than it can be considered to be analogous to selfish DNA, and is not important in any useful theory of memetics. Of course the natural argument to this is that, it is easy to imagine a circumstance in which a meme acts only to negate the phenotypic effect of another meme. This of course would present practical difficulties in anylysis, but it is still possible to integrate this idea into any model of memetics that we might have. We can observe the phenotypic effect of memes, and from that deduce the symbolic structure behind them. This is no different than how we deduce physical laws, we cannot observe the laws that govern the universe directly however we can deduce them through observation. I think that the problem in the study of memetics is similar to the problems with the study of quantum theory. By attempting to deduce what memes someone is in possession of, we can wind up changing the symbolic structure of there memes, simpl
y through the act of observation. It would be difficult to set up experiments in which this is not the case. Basically what I am saying is that by asking somebody to verbalize an idea, in a survey or in another enviroment, you are changing the way in which they think of that idea. It's very similar to quantum theory, a person might not pick a stance on something untill asked about it, they might have a superposition of beliefs, from which they choose according to the situation, or even choose from randomly. By trying to observe somebodies belief, you are forcing them to solidify there position into something logical consistent, as well as something which can be expressed verbally. This is one of my criticisms of the mathematical structures that have been layed out thus far, I caguely remember a paper which made use of chaos theory (or did I just dream it), does that ring a bell for anyone? I'd be interested in trying to find it again.
> Viewing this paper through the
> lens of memetics, we can develop a mathematical
> framework for analyzing the spread, and probable
> growth of memes.
> But we already have several competing methematical
> frameworks for that (Cavalli-Sforza/Feldman/Laland,
> Lumsden/Wilson, Boyd/Richerson and a few lesser ones)
> Why develop another one unless those are lacking in
> some way?
I accept this criticism. However, It seems to me that too much of the work that has been done, is dependent on the gene analogy, this seems to be dangerous, because the mechanisms of meme replication are entirely different than the mechanism of genetic replication.
Computers are fundamentally different than books because they are able to manipulate symbolic systems, and are able to hold ideas, and execute processes that the human mind is incapable of. I view books as a phenotypic effect of or memes, where as I view computers, as an actual media of meme storage. I view source code in the same way I view books, as a phenotypic effect of memes. I agree totally that computers have led to a bootstrapping effect, which has led to a rapid increase, and change in direction of memetic evolution. Not even taking into account the huge increase in horizontal transmission that is allowed through the use of technology. What do you mean by "therefore an evolutionary transition beyond the analogue evolution of human culture," I'm confused about your use of the word analogue, do you mean that this is a separate evolution? I see evolution of human culture and the digital evolution as being inextricably intertwined, almost in the same way that I consider the evolution of genes and
the evolution of human culture as being intertwined to the point where the two cannot be separated. I think any math that fully describes memetics has to take both genetic and digital evolution into account as well, have you heard of any such theory? The interesting thing about this to me is that if a meme can exist both in the media of a computer and the mind, and can be transferred back and forth between the two, than this lends itself to a platonic interpretation of memes, which I find to be very philosophically satisfying. The argument is obvious and simple, if two media can represent the same idea, than what do you call the ideal form that both media are attempting to represent? Two dissimilar patterns are interpreted as the same thing, what is the thing they are interpreted as? An idea in almost the platonic sense! I appreciate any time and energy you put into setting me straight, my idea's feel clear, but are likely muddled.
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