Re: Aunger vs. Pinker on Galton

From: Bill Spight (
Date: Thu 21 Apr 2005 - 00:18:44 GMT

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    Dear Bill,

    > Aunger's first half-dozon or so chapters are pretty good. But his neural
    > memetics is gibberish. It's embarrassing to read it.

    One of the joys of memetics is its interdisciplinary character. It really lies at the intersection of quite a number of fields. :-) But that is also a source of difficulty.

    One thing that attracted me to Aunger is the fact that he is an anthropologist. Since anthropologists study culture, I looked forward to his take on memetics. But as a psychology grad student, I have studied enough neuroscience to cringe at his ideas about neural memetics. (As I have mentioned before, they are reminiscent of Calvin's speculations about replicating patterns of activation in the cerebral cortex, but Calvin is a neurobiologist. He makes sense.)

    I was also disappointed by Blackmore. In "The Selfish Gene" Dawkins talks about memes replicating by "a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation." Now, that statement cries out for more detailed explication and analysis based upon social learning theory. But Blackmore takes off her psychologist hat for a second and says, "Hey, it's imitation."



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