Re: Mutant swarms and copying fidelity

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Thu 05 May 2005 - 03:18:05 GMT

  • Next message: Scott Chase: "Re: Mutant swarms and copying fidelity"

    --- Bill Spight <> wrote:

    > Dear Keith,
    > > One the other hand, perhaps you are referring to
    > language shifting
    > > generation by generation. People who are up on
    > this (such as my
    > > wife, an English major) say there was more
    > evolution in the language
    > > between Chaucer and Shakespeare than from has
    > happened since (about
    > > twice as long).
    > >
    > I believe it. Printing may be a factor, no?
    How much of culture is actually in printed form? Linguistic evolution is important, yes, and maybe partly dependent on innate cognitive modules, but didn't culture precede the advented of printing? After the advent of printing, was non-printed culture eclipsed?

    The reason I ask is that I'm thinking in terms of Bloch's argument against linguistically based culture in his _How They Think We Think_. Much could be non-linguistic and not address by the word string you and Keith are looking at (regardless of the advent of printing).

    There's lots that words cannot address conceptually as Bloch points out and transformation of cultural content may occur due to the sender taking something out of procedural memory and putting it into declarative memory using words then the receiver intepreting those words which then get stored eventually as procedural memory (or implicit-explicit-----explicit-implicit). Sounds like a barrier for replicationists to cross to me.

    OTOH how much is passed between members of a culture without making it to the declartive stage? How much implicit stuff gets passed? How much misunderstanding arises because the reciver makes the wrong inference as to implication or intention of sender?
    > > To normalize for comparison, you would figure out
    > bits of change per
    > > generation since at the root of it, genes and
    > memes are both
    > > information.
    > Barry goes on to say, "The influenza virus mutates
    > so fast that 99
    > percent of the 100,000 to 1 million new viruses that
    > burst out of a cell
    > . . . are too defective to infect another cell and
    > reproduce again." If
    > we consider that one generation, almost all of the
    > "children" are
    > mutants. It's hard to mutate faster than that.
    Influenza virus has a definite format, does it not? One can look at a molecular biology or immunology text and see an idealized representation of a virus and as Derek has pointed out mutation rates for viruses, unlike, memes can be measured. All you're doing is sporting an analogy, which Derek effectively torpedoed.

    Delius presents what he thought to be an idealized representation of a neuromeme in his papers. That representation was unimpressive and nowhere close to the clarity with which viruses are represented in standard texts. It was like, oh yeah that's what a synaptically based meme might look like. Calvin does better with his hexagonally mosaic thingies, but Hebbian cell assemblies make more sense as ways of representing cultural info than viruses since...ummm..culture does depend upon human memory in the real world. Ideas as viruses are just a fanciful way of looking at culture as contagious.

    One can even conceptualize notions of antigenic shift and drift with an influenza virus, which is not possible for the meme. It's an empty shell of an analogy with nothing analogous to base pairs to go inside or even an "envelope" to surround it.

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