RE: meme as catalytic indexical

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Mon 26 Jan 2004 - 06:08:16 GMT

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

    At 05:54 PM 25/01/04 -0800, you wrote:
    >I know who Richard is.

    That wasn't my question. Do you agree that he defined memes as replicators?

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

    If you want to facilitate communications, it would be better to use standard practice for postings. Which is to say put your postings where people don't have to guess what you are referring too.

    Assuming you are talking about my example near the end of the post, then the part about Cytochrome C was there to give shape to the hand ax discussion. The mechanism is survival feedback in both cases, namely cells with a bad mutation of the gene for Cytochrome C don't do well at surviving and human line primates who used a different shape of hand ax don't kill game as often and thus in the long run don't do as well in competition with primates who did make egg shaped, flattened, and sharpened all the way around hand axes. The good-for-survival 3D shapes for both the protean and a good game killing rock depends on factors ultimately rooted in physics. In fitness landscapes these shapes are on peaks.

    If you had a time machine, you could go back and find a proto human band. Transplant them somewhere else without taking any rocks. Now watch for a while. Do they find some rock and chip out these really specifically shaped killer rocks or not? If they do, then it is my contention that they had the meme of how to chip a hand ax in the brains/minds. Do they then use them to water hole hunt? If so it is my contention they have another meme about how to use these rocks as well.

    Point being that physical reality generates a niche for certain memes. Memes like this one cannot drift far from the peak before their hosts pay a terrible price.

    >Once again I repeat I have come up with ONE answer to
    >Bruce's challenges.

    So you say. I see no evidence that the people who post here understand what you are saying.

    >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.

    I don't know how you can have read that chapter and make such a statement. Dawkins does use the chapter partly as an analogy but he researched the literature and cites a dozen sources starting with P.F. Jenkins and including Cavalli-Sforza, F.T Cloak (who did the marvelous wheel evolution work) and J.M. Cullen by the end of the second page.

    >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,

    When physics reached the level where they needed to describe parts below the atoms of elements they invented new words, electrons, nucleons (protons and neutrons). When it turned out that nucleons were composites, they pulled a whimsey name for the parts from James Joyce (Three Quarks for Mr. Mark).

    >and evolution really means something
    >very different than almost all of us understand.
    >(Since by this rationale only the work of Darwin

    Darwin got it mostly right. But again when you needed something to go into more detail about how natural selection works, new concepts got new names like Hamilton's "inclusive fitness."

    >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.

    As I have mentioned and you have ignored I don't think memetics is a big enough subject to be an isolated area to study. Like genetics it has to be embedded in a larger sociobiology/evolutionary psychology/culture context to be meaningful. Perhaps we should talk about the memetic model instead. If you want to contribute to this area of study, the first chapter of _The Adapted Mind_ is essential background. You certainly won't get anywhere trying to develop memetics themes within the SSSM.

    >Memes as an idea can survive by ignoring Bruce's
    >challenges. Memetics probably cannot.

    Can you rephrase? This makes no sense.

    Keith Henson

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