Re: Kate's book/ "recessive memes"

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Fri 25 Mar 2005 - 03:07:07 GMT

  • Next message: Scott Chase: "Re: Kate's book/ "recessive memes""

    --- Bill Spight <> wrote:

    > Dear Kate,
    > > I agree with you, by the way, on the dangers of
    > looking for a memetic
    > > analogy for every passing genetic detail, and hope
    > I don't fall into
    > > this trap too often. I'm interested to hear that
    > my use of the term
    > > "recessive" has raised this sort of question-mark
    > for you. I
    > > certainly wasn't thinking so precisely in terms of
    > loci and a
    > > particular meme *always* being recessive. You
    > have made me wonder
    > > whether a different term might have been better -
    > I'll ponder this
    > > further.
    > As I suggested in my just previous note about roles
    > in interpersonal
    > games, external circumstances may evoke behavior
    > which is unusual for
    > the person and the role or roles they play. It does
    > not take the
    > acquisition of new memes for this to happen. If you
    > want to keep to the
    > genetic analogy, "unexpressed" might fit better than
    > "recessive".
    If people learn all the roles of a game even if they only play one, these other roles are stored in memory and can be recalled later when the situation warrants.
    "Unexpressed" yes, but not expressing oneself is something that need not require a genetic analogy. There are times when I'm tongue tied during a conversation and...ummm...can't quite remember what would be best to say until later. I have difficulty expressing myself at that moment. There's probably lots of dormant memories we all carry which await the proper cue to be "ecphorized" (cough, cough). These
    "traces" are currently not expressed. Are they recessive? Are those that are expressed dominant?

    I also contrasted truth value to dominance/recessiveness using the flat earth example. When looking at memetic alleles for origins is creationism or evolutionism dominant or recessive? Creationism can be likened to the flat earth notion, yet quite a few more people believe in a literal Genesis account than believe in a flat earth and this notion is competive with the notion of evolution in the "noosphere". One could even go as far as saying there are multiple alleles for creationism, starting with young versus old earth creationists and a variant of Paleyism has emerged known as intelligent design. I would be as oppsed to looking at variant forms of ideas as aleles as I would using tems like dominance and recessiveness when looking at relations between these alleles. Truth value applies to certain situations, but is itself limited, since we are talking beliefs based upon faith. OK enough of that tangent.

    Was the notion of continental drift recessive until something changed which made it dominant? Did the plate tectonics meme modify the effect of the continental drift memetic allele? We could ponder these analogies til we're blue in the face, but I'm not sure, at the end of the day, that any light has been cast upon the topic of cultural evolution.

    Like Kate I'll need to ponder analogizing the relations between alleles at a locus in terms of dominance, recessiveness, codominance etc in memetic terms. It's been a while since I've had to really think about molecular genetics, so I'd defer to practicing biologists like Chris Taylor and Derek Gatherer on this one. There's something that seems intuitivenley wrong to me using terms like dominant and recessive when speaking of representations. I'd imagine there to be some serious disanalogies. I already exploded a literal usage of memetic alleles using an armchair version of the Punnett square for heterozygous parentage. Taken too literally, in this case, 25% of offspring could be expected to be homozygous for the "recessive" memetic allele (ff) and have the flat earth phenotype. But I'd be interested in hearing someone explore disanalogies wrt molecular genetics wrt relations between alleles at a locus...

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