Re: memetics-digest V1 #1474

From: Dace (
Date: Fri 06 Feb 2004 - 18:24:47 GMT

  • Next message: Dace: "Re: the meme/brain problem"

    > From: M Lissack <>
    > Subject: Re: groupthink gauntlet: MacArthur's ill-fated drive toward
    the Yalu
    > this is exactly the type of looseness that prevents
    > serious work from being accomplished
    > what is it that makes "memetics" a meme? arel's
    > comfort with the term?

    No, at that point it was simply an idea she had. Arel recognized that it made sense to refer to the work of memeticists as memetics. It was a good idea.

    > her repetition of it?

    Nope. At that point it was merely a personal habit of thought.

    > the repetition of it by x number of others? or x number of
    > repetitions?

    There you go. Once it became habitual for more than one person (Arel) it was a meme. We may not be able to precisely define x, but we have the general idea of it, and that's all we need.

    A meme is an idea or a way of thinking that becomes culturally ingrained. In this sense it can't be said to exist in one person's mind. What exists in a single mind is an idea. It's a meme only in the context of other minds that just happen to harbor the same idea. Think of it like a garden with various plants. Some of them are flowers you planted intentionally while others are weeds that grow in everyone's garden and invaded yours as well. Only in the context of what's growing in other gardens is a plant a weed.

    > are the repetitiosn to be filtered by
    > meaning? or do the individual meanings associated
    > with the use of the word token not important? what
    > context did each of the repetitions occur in or is
    > that not important?

    Context is everything in memetics. What memes do is to establish the context within which we carry out our conscious thought. Physicists couldn't study high-energy particle collisions without the overall context of quantum physics. It's only against the collectively agreed upon background of quantum theory that researchers can focus on the foreground of individual experiments.

    Unfortunately, what's a useful plant in one garden can be an intrusive and damaging weed in another. The notion of exact measurements is just right in physics and completely wrong in the human sciences. That's not to say we shouldn't be as precise as possible, just that there's a core of subjectivity that can't be removed and ultimately must be taken on its own terms.

    > does meaning get fixed once x number of repetitions
    > happens or can meaning shift?

    Memes do drift about, and this is important in cultural evolution though always secondary to the main engine of cultural novelty, i.e. human consciousness.

    > From: M Lissack <>
    > Subject: Re: the meme/brain problem
    > - --- Dace <> wrote:
    > "every mind reveals the same meme"
    > HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT? by what mechanism are you privy
    > to the data necessary to make this conclusion?

    Through a combination of reflection and deduction. First, we know what's on our own minds-- at least consciously-- through reflection. Second, on the basis of how we express what's on our minds, by listening to other people we can deduce what's on their minds. Of course, all this happens so fast we don't even think about it. We do this constantly, and it's how we're communicating right now.

    > this is shear belief and assertion which may be fine
    > for pop culture and religion but has little to do with
    > a serious field of academic study
    > if you believe this Ted tell us how you came to this
    > belief and what evidence you ahve that woudl convince
    > others of its merit

    I cite this exchange as evidence of our ability to recognize both similarities and differences of thinking among different minds. Of course, you'll never get a computer printout charting the explosion of understandings and misunderstandings when mind A collides with mind B.


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

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri 06 Feb 2004 - 18:36:07 GMT