Re: memetics/memics/mimetics

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Tue 27 Jan 2004 - 15:46:19 GMT

  • Next message: M Lissack: "Re: memetics/memics/mimetics"

    At 08:33 PM 26/01/04 -0500, Scott wrote:

    >>So from usage memetics comes out ahead by on the order of 100 to one (at
    >>this time).


    >What sort of criterion is hits on google beyond being a popularity
    >contest? Does popularity translate to validity?

    In matter of this sort, yes. If you use the more common word where there are equal choices your message is more likely to be understood.

    For example, "culturgen" has the exact same meaning as meme.

    Lecture 14 – Culture and Evolution
    ... Culture consists of bits of information sometimes called culturgens.
    · Culturgens can be spread both horizontally and vertically ... - 63k - Cached - Similar pages

    culturgen OR culturgens gets 280 hits. Adding meme only cuts the hits to 194, indicating that most uses are in the context of discussing its similar meaning. In spite of the prestige of the coiners of "culturgen" it came in a distant second to meme.

    "A substantial part of the concern over the units of cultural transmission derives from analogies made between cultural evolution and biological evolution. Though the unit of selection in biological evolution is still hotly debated (some choosing the gene, most preferring the individual, and a few still holding out for the group), many researchers interested in cultural evolution have seen the need to adopt a particulate unit of cultural transmission that is analogous to the gene. Hence, in recent years, several have been proposed. The most notable of these include Lumsden and Wilson’s (1981)
    “culturgen” and the “meme,” originally proposed by Dawkins (1976). Of these two, the
    “meme” has apparently has been “selected.” Durham (1991), for example, has adopted it as the unit of cultural transmission in his theory of coevolution while several individuals outside of anthropology (e.g., Blackmore 1999; Dennett 1991, 1995; Lynch 1996) have embraced the notion with few apparent misgivings. Some have even proposed a new field of
    (e.g., Lynch 1996; Blackmore 1998). Wilson (1998) has abandoned his “culturgen” construct and adopted the meme, although his definition of it differs in significant ways from definitions proposed by others."

    In spite of *Dawkin's* preference for "memics," "memetics" (first suggested by Arel Lucas--my wife--to Douglas Hofstadter after his 1983 Scientific American column) has won out in the cultural selection process. Speculation as to why would be interesting, the term's obvious mental resonance pairing with "genetics" may be a factor.

    Keith Henson

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