RE: meme as catalytic indexical

From: M Lissack (
Date: Mon 26 Jan 2004 - 01:54:03 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "RE: meme as catalytic indexical"


    I know who Richard is.

    Your example by analogy is just that. Where is the mechanism? Why is it that "same shape" means same idea?

    Once again I repeat I have come up with ONE answer to Bruce's challenges. No one else seems to have. So are you all rejecting Bruce's challenges or merely ignoring them?

    Yes Dawkins coinage is offhand. He did no research to
    "support" his point instead he uses it as analogy.

    By your rationale as to priority of definitions then the very notion of physics as we now udnerstand it should be called something else, atoms must have another name, and evolution really means something very different than almost all of us understand.
    (Since by this rationale only the work of Darwin counts.)

    Bruce raised serious issues about the future of memetics. You ignore them and defend your point by stating that "memes" means.... well it is not the idea of memes whose future was challenged it was the idea that there is a serious study and science of memes called memetics.

    Memes as an idea can survive by ignoring Bruce's challenges. Memetics probably cannot.
    --- Keith Henson <> wrote:
    > At 05:42 PM 24/01/04 -0800, you wrote:
    > >Richard you are ignoring the question. How do you
    > >know that it is the meme that is the replicator
    > rather
    > >than something else being the replicator and the
    > meme
    > >only being the sign?
    > Richard answered this once, so I doubt he will
    > respond a second time.
    > First, do you doubt that Richard Dawkins coined the
    > term meme?
    > Second, do you doubt that Chapter 11 in _Selfish
    > Gene_ is called "Memes:
    > the new replicators.
    > Dawkins *defined* memes as replicators, something
    > that is the right of a
    > person who coins a new word.
    > It is in my opinion a terribly unfriendly act to
    > come along and redefine a
    > word someone else invented and defined. If you have
    > a different concept,
    > use a different word. There is no charge for
    > inventing words.
    > >Some ideas thrive some ideas do not. What is that
    > >distinguishes them? What is the mechanism for
    > their
    > >thriving or failing?
    > >
    > >Sure you can cite many examples of ideas that have
    > >been replicated but what is the cause of the
    > >replication?
    > The answer to this class of questions will be found
    > in evolutionary
    > psychology, i.e., evolved psychological traits, if
    > they are found at
    > all. Of course some memes such as remote TV
    > controls depend on
    > psychological traits *and* other memes. In other
    > words, the remote control
    > meme is not going to do well before TV sets come
    > along.
    > >Memes as replicator is an assertion that the meme
    > is
    > >its own cause for replication. Idea as "Final
    > Cause"
    > >if you will. But what distinguishes the causes
    > >between successful and unsuccessful memes?
    > >
    > >When word meanings change over time have the memes
    > >changed, failed, succeeded, or mutated and what
    > >distinguishes these from the change in environment.
    > >
    > >You are happy with memes as they are. That is not
    > >what my article or Bruce's challenges are about.
    > If
    > >the world is happy with memes as they are ---
    > >wonderful. But memetics is presently not treated
    > as
    > >science and lacks academic credence. Without
    > either
    > >credence or the "science" label it gets little in
    > the
    > >way of research attention or funding.
    > Ah. That's your problem.
    > >Maybe memetics is fine but maybe it is like cold
    > >fusion or the misapplications of catastrophe
    > theory.
    > >Your web site contains many stories but little in
    > the
    > >way of serious research. Some of us who think
    > >memetics could be so much more find that to be an
    > >unacceptable state of affairs for the field in
    > >general.
    > May I suggest you research just who Richard Brodie
    > is? And if you have a
    > serious research proposal related to memetics,
    > publish it. I would say
    > that the lack of research is more from a lack of
    > good proposals than a lack
    > of funding.
    > >Dawkins made an offhand remark when he coined
    > "meme."
    > Offhand? Look at the chapter name!
    > >To treat an offhand analogy as the "word of god"
    > >instead of as an initial idea worthy of research
    > and
    > >subject to change is to suggest that all memes can
    > be
    > >subjected to evolutionary forces except for the
    > meme
    > >meme.
    > "Evolutionary forces" normally mean going extinct or
    > (since memes don't
    > usually go entirely extinct) inactive--like
    > phrenology. If memetics is not
    > a useful model it will become a disused concept. If
    > you have something
    > that makes better sense in understanding changes in
    > the social world around
    > us, by all means give it a name and make a case that
    > it does a better job
    > helping to understand the world than the concept of
    > replicating elements of
    > culture (memes).
    > >Memes as catalysts and memes as replicators differ
    > >mainly in the notions of cause and of actors. All
    > of
    > >the stories found on your web site can be recast as
    > >meme as catalyst without losing anything except
    > these
    > >two notions.
    > And how does the above have any relation to the next
    > paragraph? How about
    > a specific example?
    > >I still await someone else to suggest an answer to
    > >Bruce's challenges or explain why they should be
    > >rejected. Telling me I have suggested that the
    > word
    > >of god is wrong does neither.
    > If you can't come up with examples, perhaps others
    > can.
    > One of the most stable *genes* of all time is
    > Cytochrome C that makes the
    > enzyme for the last step of food oxidation.
    > The shape of Cytochrome C is strongly constrained by
    > its function, so much
    > that there are only a hand full of differences that
    > have accumulated over
    > the last half billion years. I.e., if you inherited
    > a mutated version,
    > generally you didn't live to pass it on.
    > One of the most stable *memes* of all time is the
    > killer Frisbee or hand
    > ax. These things look the same over most of a
    > million years of human line
    > existence.
    > A hand ax's shape is strongly selected by
    > aerodynamic considerations and
    > the role it has in water hole hunting. (Thrown
    > horizontally it turns
    > vertical to come down among grouped animals on its
    > spinning sharp
    > edge.) So people who chipped rocks differently for
    > this application didn't
    > kill as many animals and didn't survive to teach
    > chipping out their mutated
    > hand ax as well as those that chipped them into the
    > optimal shape.
    > Is this example related to your concepts of niche?
    > Keith Henson.
    > 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:

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    =============================================================== 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:

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