Re: meme as catalytic indexical

From: Ray Recchia (
Date: Sat 24 Jan 2004 - 00:30:23 GMT

  • Next message: M Lissack: "Re: meme as catalytic indexical"

    At 05:07 PM 1/23/2004, Ted wrote:

    > > From: M Lissack <>
    > >
    > > where is the question in this question?
    > >
    > > all you have said is that racism exists and has existed
    > >
    > > how has it "propogated'? what is the mechanism of that propogation?
    > >
    > > is your explanation of mechanism testable? or even disprovable?
    > >
    > > f you have no mechanism or if your mechanism is not disprovable then all
    >you > have is tautology
    >The mechanism of cultural evolution is exactly the same as natural
    >evolution. The environment of the meme, which in this case is the human
    >mind, selects some memes over others. Those that survive do so because they
    >are more adaptable to changing environmental conditions.
    >Memetics is a historical science. This means that testing of ideas is not
    >necessarily carried out in current experiments. The same is true of any
    >evolutionary theory. For instance, our theories of how galaxies form are
    >tested by looking out into space and viewing galxies at various levels of
    >development. The theory of biological evolution is entirely dependent on
    >our studies of geological strata and past-preserving genes. Even before
    >gene studies emerged, we knew species evolved simply on the basis of what we
    >found in the earth's strata. One species existed at a certain era and a
    >"new and improved" version existed at a later era. That's not to say
    >Darwin's theory wasn't tested many times over. But the testing didn't occur
    >in the form of laboratory experiments. Darwin's hypothesis was about events
    >in the past and was tested by searching for signs that these events happened
    >the way Darwin suggested. If we hadn't found signs of one species yielding
    >to a more adapted form-- if instead we found that all the species were
    >created in the present form at roughly the same time-- then the hypothesis
    >would have failed the test.
    >Indeed, this is exactly what we find in the historical record. We see a
    >great many examples of cultural trends that take on a life of their own,
    >that refuse to die even after the social context in which they once made
    >sense have disappeared. Barbara Ehrenreich provides an excellent example of
    >this phenomenon from the late Paleolithic. Up until the end of the last Ice
    >Age, humans were commonly preyed upon by wild animals, especially the big
    >cats. We developed weapons with which to fight and kill these beasts. But
    >when their populations were decimated at the end of the Ice Age, along with
    >the great herd populations they mostly fed on, instead of putting down our
    >weapons, we began wielding them against each other. The battle mentality
    >took on a life of its own. Ehrenreich's thesis can be tested against the
    >historical record. Indeed, the evidence for warfare goes back about 12,000
    >years, to the end of the Ice Age, where it abruptly leaves off. She
    >describes war as a meme that was unleashed 12,000 years ago and has
    >successfully adapted to changing conditions ever since.

    This is the perfect example of how something can be disproved historically. Barbara Ehrenreich's hypothesis - War is a meme that first began propagating in humans 12,000 years ago.

    The proof that this is incorrect: chimpanzee wars

    Ray Recchia

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