Re: Rare original memetics document found

From: derek gatherer (
Date: Fri 13 Feb 2004 - 09:06:13 GMT

  • Next message: Alan Patrick: "Re: Forthcoming review of Aunger"

    > Questions about how the word "memetics" formed and
    > propagated should not be confused with personal
    > preferences
    > of who should become ........ etc etc etc

    But what are you driving at here, Aaron? Who's doing the confusing? And what is the confusion anyway? It all seems quite clear to me. Dawkins coined the words
    'meme' and 'memeticist' (and by implication all their cognates) to put a replicator-selectionist slant on work that he cited as being done already by Cloak, Cavalli-Sforza et al, and Popper. Popper cites Huxley and Medawar among others. I can't remember who Cavalli et al cite in their early papers, but I think Rogers and the 'diffusion of innovations' sociologists get mentioned, as does Durham. Durham cites all the social evolutionists back to Spencer. These are clear lineages. Nobody's trying to rewrite history.

     We may feel more proud
    > and
    > confident of words we use if we can attribute them
    > to our
    > favorite sources and treat "lesser" sources as
    > unmentionable. Even evolutionists may cherish and
    > propagate
    > creation myths about scientific ideas being "handed
    > down"
    > from the pantheon, the patron saint, or even a lofty
    > chair.
    > But the questions of the early formations and
    > transmissions
    > of ideas and words are themselves also scientific
    > questions, topics where data and observation are not
    > to be
    > distorted or falsified in pursuit of economic,
    > political,
    > or social goals. Whether we want to associate our
    > work,
    > however incidentally, with Arel Lucas, or can bear
    > mentioning her in a paper is irrelevant to the
    > scientific
    > question of whether she acted at the start of the
    > causal
    > chain that led to wide use of the word "memetics" in
    > reference to a particular line of study. We may find
    > that
    > the origins of our favorite words or ideas are more
    > humble
    > than we want to admit, but if we are actually
    > scientists
    > rather than just another crowd of socialites, then
    > we must
    > admit to those humble origins in spite of impulses
    > to the
    > contrary.
    > > Besides, the concept of memes is what's
    > > important, and surely that's what's important to
    > get adopted, assuming one's
    > > in agreement with the concept. Still, if people
    > want to cling on to their
    > > claims to fame...
    > >
    === message truncated ===

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