From: Keith Henson (email@example.com)
Date: Sun 20 Feb 2005 - 16:17:16 GMT
At 11:38 AM 20/02/05 +0100, you wrote:
>Keith Henson wrote:
> >The same is true of talking about non discrete information units, you
> will alienate the people who know information theory
>I didn't mean non-discrete information units. I am talking about
>quantitative - as opposed to qualitative - variables.
>Memetics, as I understand it, is about dichotomous choices. You can either
>acquire a meme or not.
I would say that's looking into the wrong end of the gun. In memetics a
meme acquires (infects) you or it fails. Modern evolution and memetics
both require a taking odd viewpoints to make the subject clear.
In the longer run, memetics amounts to a causal loop feeding back into the
genetic causal loop (evolution). Consider the different odds of genes
existing today of people who joined the Mormons vs those who became Shakers
150 years ago. Farming memes expanded the hunter-gatherer population of
Europe by a factor of 250. Two million years previous, sharp rock memes
gave hominids the "edge" to spread their genes far into Aisa.
>A company can either exist or not. Memetics can handle a theory of
>companies popping up and disapearing, but not a theory of a market where
>the number of companies is constant but some companies are growing and
>others are shrinking. This is the limitation I want to get rid of.
Two points: A company that continues to shrink goes to zero which is the
same as disappearing. Second, this is more in the area of economics than
> >>Memetics, like other evolutionary theories, is a theory of things
> >>happening as controlled by an "invisible hand"
> >That's an almost mystical way of describing it. At the heart of it,
> >evolution is simple, random variation and non random selection.
>Don't misunderstand me. I am not talking about magics. The invisible hand
>is a metaphor for mechanisms that make things happen without conscious
It's bad metaphor if you can express it in a more causal way. For example
you could say that an invisible hand reduced the population in Classical
Greece or the Mayan areas of Mexico. But in both cases it was caused by
trying to farm the hillsides (because of population growth and need for
more food) and erosion carrying relatively less fertile hillside soil into
the valley floors where crop yields there were damaged.
>This is where memetics and other evolutionary theories have their
>strength. The results of planning can be explained by rational choice
>theory without using memetics. If we want to convince social scientists
>that memetics is useful (which many of them strongly deny) then we need to
>point out phenomena that cannot be explained by other theories.
This may sound strange from someone who has been involved in memetics so
long and so deeply, but I don't think memetics is a big enough window to be
useful. You have to enlarge the frame to take in the ecosystem as well as
the evolved psychological traits that underlie the ability of humans to be
infected by memes at all.
Of particular interest to me is the change in the kinds of memes that
spread well in stressed vs unstressed populations. If you can do something
about wars, this is of great value. If you can't, at least being able to
predict enough to get out of the way is of some value.
> =============================================================== 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 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)
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