Re: reading a book

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Sat 23 Apr 2005 - 19:56:48 GMT

  • Next message: Scott Chase: "history repeats itself?"

    --- Kate Distin <> wrote:

    > Scott Chase wrote:
    > >
    > > Aunger does raise some points prior to the parrot
    > > example I co-opted without remembering where it
    > came
    > > from. He argues in his replicator chapter (where
    > he
    > > botches biology again by goofing up on base
    > pairing)
    > > for substrate specificity (vs. substrate
    > neutrality)
    > > and for structural equivalence (vs. functional
    > > equivalence). I'm reminded of Keith Henson's
    > frequent
    > > refrain about how a gene can exist in a cell or
    > "on
    > > paper" since Aunger addresses this too. I think
    > Aunger
    > > is trying to diverge from the standard memetic
    > > assumption that memes can be represented as mental
    > > states, behaviors and artefacts. If memory serves,
    > he
    > > will start arguing for the neuromeme pretty soon,
    > > making his preferred memetic substrate quite
    > obvious
    > > and putting the challenge to "behaviorists" like
    > > Benzon or Gatherer and the substrate neutral
    > folks.
    > >
    > > Though not predisposed towards Aunger's view I can
    > see
    > > where he's going with it anyway...
    > >
    > >
    > The substrate is clearly significant: information
    > will be transmitted
    > more/less effectively depending on the medium in
    > which it's realized; it
    > will also be more/less powerful in exerting its
    > potential effects. But
    > Aunger doesn't convince me that this means the same
    > information (meme)
    > cannnot "really" be realized across different media.
    Well when he's discussing abstract stuff about memes he's not causing me as much grief as when he starts goofing on molecular biology and now, it seems, basic zoology (head-desk, head-desk, repeat 10 times). I had cleaned the slate and he goes and does it again. When he's talking about the molecular bases of memory, which in itself is an important topic I need seriously to remediate myself on, he totally fries my brain with a category error of serious proportions in zoology. He equates the genus *Aplysia* which is a model organism for memory research with the nematode. He says (p. 190): "A number of studies, involving animals as varied as the fruit fly (*Drosophila*), nematode worm
    (*Aplysia*), and mouse...".

    Yipes. Not even close. Nematodes and sea hares are both "invertebrates" (as privatively excluded from the vertebrates). They are in totally different phyla and have different body plans. The nematode belongs in Phylum Nematoda and the sea hare (*Aplysia*) belongs in Phylum Mollusca. Belonging in Class Gastropoda it's kin to the snails we are all familar with. Big difference. Looking at Figure 15-12 of Hickman, Roberts, and Larson's _Biology of Animals_ (7th edition) the body plans of nematodes and sea hares are very different. The nematode is pseudocoelomate where the mollusc is schizocoelomate. Good thing I can refer to accurate texts when I have a question about Aunger's knowledge base.

    A nematode that is used for a model organism in biology is *Caenorhabditis elegans* (see Rudy Raff's
    _The Shape of Life_ page 213).

    Kate, I might have questioned your usage of
    "recessive" in your book, but I can't recall your book getting me flustered like Aunger's. I still see some diamonds in the muck in Aunger's book, but man, the guy's giving me fits with basic errors of fact like this! If he's making such major errors in areas where I know enough to question it, what shoud I hope for in areas where I'm not very familiar? What do hackers think of his treatment of computer viruses?

    Admittedly I'm rusty on my knowledge of basic biology and memory research and Aunger has motivated me to review some stuff. He has woken me from my dogmatic slumber so to speak, but I can't recall Kant getting as flustered with Hume.

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