From: William Benzon (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sun 24 Apr 2005 - 01:01:55 GMT
on 4/21/05 3:26 PM, Bill Spight at email@example.com wrote:
> 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.
I know. Your disappointment is quite proper.
> 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.
Still, it seems to me that Aunger was pretty perceptive in his pre-neural
chapters. He got some biology wrong -- which I didn't catch, because my
molecular biology's pretty primitive -- but mostly it was good stuff. The
neuro-memetics is a different matter. I'm keenly aware of the difficulties
of working outside of your core expertise, but you don't have to abandon all
sense when you do so. Aunger clearly had little grasp of the neuroscience he
was reading and he seemed to be blissfully unaware of that. The stuff he
wrote doesn't even make sense on its own terms. The idea seems to be that
if its confusing enough, there must be something in there that's correct.
> 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: http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit
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