From: M Lissack (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon 26 Jan 2004 - 18:55:14 GMT
Then what is it we should find?
artefacts ala Dawkins 1976
mind patterns ala Dawkins 1982
representations of mind patterns?
the problem I have with the whole discussion is that
we have abused the word token meme such that it seems
to mean whatever a user thinks is convenient at the
--- Dace <email@example.com> wrote:
> > From: M Lissack <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > Bruce's 3 Challenges:
> > Challenge 1: A conclusive case study
> One case study, no matter how convincing, is never
> adequate. While there's
> no definitive number of case studies that must be
> established for a theory
> to be convincing, it's a lot more than one.
> > The purpose of this is to clearly demonstrate that
> there is at least one
> > process that is of an evolutionary nature, where
> `evolutionary' is taken
> in a
> > narrow sense.
> As I've stated, that cultures evolve is a perfectly
> banal point that no one
> disputes. The question is whether such evolution
> proceeds according to a
> process akin to natural selection of genes. Can
> culture be regarded in
> terms of autonomous units that are environmentally
> > This needs to be robust against serious criticism.
> In my opinion this
> needs to
> > achieve the following as a minimum.
> > Exhibit a replicator mechanism - this needs to be
> something physical and
> > in the mind.
> Since we are dealing with human culture, not nature,
> this point is clearly
> bogus. There's no such thing as "culture" without
> mentality. Without a
> human mind to interpret it, a painting is just so
> many pigments and a song
> just so many soundwaves. It's all in the mind,
> folks. If you don't like
> that, go to another field.
> > The mechanism must provide a testable cause of the
> claimed evolutionary
> > process. It must faithfully replicate with a low
> level of error or change
> > there must be some variation). There must be no
> doubt that particular
> > inheritable patterns have been accurately
> replicated many times over.
> This is no different, in principle, from perusing
> the genetic and geological
> record for speciation. Of course, such speciation
> must be matched up with
> the environmental context that caused it to proceed
> in one direction and not
> > Challenge 2: A theoretical model for when it is
> more appropriate to use a
> > memetic model.
> > What is needed is some (falsifiable) theory that
> (under some specified
> > conditions) tells us when a memetic analysis is
> more helpful than a more
> > traditional one. Such a theory would have to meet
> the following criteria.
> > It would have to make some sort of prediction of
> when a memetic model was
> > appropriate - i.e. it had explanatory or
> predictive value - and when not.
> In other
> > words when it is helpful to model a pattern that
> has been copied as a
> >interested meme.
> If memes are real, then we will see cultural trends
> taking on a life of
> their own, even when they are harmful to human
> interests. Since cultural
> trends that are not harmful can be chalked up to
> individuals simply
> following their capacity to reason, the memetic
> model is appropriate in
> pathological cases only. That memes also promote
> normal cultural
> developments must be inferred from the pathological
> Why, for instance, is there a growing international
> movement dedicated to
> eliminating vaccinations? We know that the
> incidence of whooping cough, to
> take a single example, declined considerably when
> most children were
> vaccinated, while in those countries in which
> anti-vaccination hysteria took
> hold, whooping cough rebounded to 19th century
> levels. We also know that
> only a minute fraction of children react negatively
> to the vaccination,
> nowhere near the number who would otherwise have
> come down with his horrible
> illness. It's one thing for a single person to be
> irrational. It's quite
> another when numerous people get drawn into the same
> irrational belief. The
> existence of such collective pathology tells us that
> individual minds can be
> colonized, so to speak, by a pathological meme.
> From this we infer that our
> minds are also colonized by benign memes.
> > The theory would be workable on information that
> was sometimes possible to
> > obtain, i.e. not based on unobtainable information
> (e.g. the composition
> > mental states).
> Such as hysteria? Again, there's no memetics
> without considering mental
> states. Nor would there be any such thing as a
> genuine psychology (as
> opposed to the fraudulent "psychology" of
> > Challenge 3: A simulation model showing the true
> emergence of a memetic
> > process
> While modelling a process is valuable, it doesn't
> prove anything (though the
> inability to do so would be significant). So too,
> the equations developed
> to describe a model don't prove that the process is
> literally determined by
> those equations.
> Like any other social science, the main thing is a
> theory of what we should
> find and then numerous case studies demonstrating
> that we do indeed find it.
> The central delusion of memetics is that it makes
> the study of culture into
> a "hard" science. Trying to do memetics like
> physics will get us nowhere.
> 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.
> see: http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit
Do you Yahoo!?
New Yahoo! Photos - easier uploading and sharing.
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)
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Mon 26 Jan 2004 - 19:06:33 GMT