Re: Aunger vs. Pinker on Galton

From: Bill Spight (
Date: Thu 21 Apr 2005 - 20:26:29 GMT

  • Next message: Bill Spight: "Re: Aunger vs. Pinker on Galton"

    Dear Bill B.,

    Bill S.:
    >>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."

    Bill B:
    > But at least Blackmore is within the realm of the more or less possible.
    > Even if she takes imitation at unanalyzed face value, one can imagine that
    > something would be left of her ideas if one were more careful.

    I did not mean to be overly critical of Blackmore. I was just expressing my disappointment in that regard.

    Bill B.:
    > But Aunger's
    > confusion is so massive that it's hard to imagine anything coming of his
    > book. It's also hard to imagine how it ever got past editorial review.

    > When [Aunger is] talking about replication in biology, I'm
    > hoping for a competent description of DNA replication,
    > but instead get something that grates on my nerves and
    > makes me worry about the rest of the book.

    Unfortunately I am reminded of something someone (Carl Sagan, I think) wrote about Velikovsky ("Worlds in Collision"). Many scientists who read Velikovsky in the 50s spotted his errors in their own fields, but thought he knew what he was talking about in other fields. I do not mean to put Aunger on Velikovsky's level, but it is very easy to go astray when you venture outside your area of expertise, and not so easy to recognize that someone has done so, when it is outside your field, as well.

    It's funny to hear myself saying such things, because I resist the pigeonholing of knowledge and am drawn to interdisciplinary stuff. But I have to admit the difficulties.

    Best regards,

    Bill S.

    =============================================================== 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 archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu 21 Apr 2005 - 20:50:08 GMT