Re: Kate's book/ "recessive memes"

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Fri 25 Mar 2005 - 19:14:22 GMT

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    --- Scott Chase <> wrote:

    > --- Bill Spight <> wrote:
    > >
    (snip for brevity)
    > >
    > > Is the belief that the earth is flat a meme? In
    > > modern times, I suppose
    > > so, but what about in the pre-Columbian Great
    > Plains
    > > of North America?
    > > Among land-locked peoples the earth is apparently
    > > flat, and if people
    > > were not taught otherwise, that belief was
    > > widespread without cultural
    > > transmission.
    > >
    > >
    > Good point. One might look at the belief as a meme
    > if
    > it takes one person in a group (say Great Plains
    > natives) to point it out to another person and that
    > person would say "Now why haven't I ever thought
    > about
    > that before? Doh!" But, I think what you say is
    > important in that many people can converge upon the
    > same idea just because of shared external
    > enviromemts.
    > The earth looks kinda flat to me from my view out my
    > window. If I lived on the beeach and could stare at
    > the horizon for extended periods of time I might say
    > "Hmmm...looks sort of curved...I wonder." When I
    > present my findings to my village they pelt me with
    > rocks and tell me to go live with the squirrels.
    I had forgotten that Kate made a contrast between beliefs and memes in her book where she is critical of Blackmore's arguments. She says (p. 169): "[B]eliefs are not memes, but *responses* to memes." So in this sense a belief would be a way of one looking at the idea that the earth is flat. They could say "I believe" or "I don't believe". There would be a flat earth meme that, if it wasn't merely independently converged upon by a group of people, could be passed from person to person. Each person could decide whether to believe the meme. Even if they don't believe, they could still pass it on and the person they tranmit it to could say: "I believe that." Is contrasting beliefs and memes splitting hairs? Kate addresses this distinction in the context of distinguishing her views from Blackmore's so there's lots more than I can convey comfortably. Maybe she can elaborate.

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