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From: Steven Thiele (sthiele@metz.une.edu.au)
Date: Sun 15 Feb 2004 - 22:57:06 GMT

  • Next message: derek gatherer: "Re:"
    At 12:38 PM 13/02/2004 -0500, you wrote:

    Are you asserting that you are familiar with the work of all memeticists?

    Lawrence de Bivort

    > The only way to understand social
    > life is to
    > study it, which memeticists...
    > simply refuse to do.
    > Steven Thiele
    > University of New England
    > Armidale NSW Australia

    No, I am not familiar with the work of all memeticists. My point is not that there are no memeticists studying social life at all, it is a more general point that memetics did not begin with a study of social life - the notion of memes does NOT derive from inquiry of any kind whatsoever. Anyone who thinks scientifically should be immediately and strongly suspicious of any notion that is not grounded via investigation. Why did no many rush to embrace memetics? Whatever the answer is it has nothing to do with scientific findings.

    Second, memetics has, as far as I know, no worked out agenda of inquiry. There is, again as far as I know, no attempt to jointly set out the difficult questions that memetics needs to answer before it can be considered a science. Questions such as:

    Where do memes come from and how do they relate to genes?
    How do memes explain the existence, workings and change of the full range of social phenomena, including institutions, selves, and social emotions?
    What elements of sociology are in tune with memetics and what are the strongest challenges thrown up by sociology?

    Those who call themselves memeticists are a very, very diverse bunch who are offering utterly incompatible definitions of a meme and incompatible explanations of social life. All that holds them together is the word meme. This all adds up, in scientific terms, to a 'hill of beans'. Until there is the beginnings of an agreed upon program, designed to solve agreed upon disputes about what memes are and how they express themselves as social life, or constitute social life, memetics cannot be taken seriously as a science.

    In two year time, memetics will be thirty years old (at least Dawkins came up with the idea twenty eight years ago). If anything consequential was going to come out of memetics, scientifically speaking, its shape would already be emerging. It is well past the time when memetics can be spoken of as new.

    Steven Thiele
    University of New England
    ARMIDALE NSW 2351   =============================================================== 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: http://cfpm.org/jom-emit

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