Re: To Robin, Applied Memetics

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Mon 01 Aug 2005 - 21:43:16 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "RE: To Robin, Applied Memetics"

    At 07:34 PM 01/08/05 +0100, you wrote:
    >Keith Henson wrote:
    >>At 12:04 PM 31/07/05 +0100, Kate wrote:
    >>> But at least biological evolution is an accepted scientific theory
    >>> which stands firm on the available evidence - memetics is too new and
    >>> untested to withstand the impact of too many non-explanations: the
    >>> cumulative effect will be a feeling that memetics has no explanatory worth.
    >>>I remain fairly hopeful that it does have explanatory worth, but I don't
    >>>think we're there yet!
    >>Memetics does not have explanatory power simply because the frame is too
    >>small. You have to understand the meme's host to be able to say much
    >>about its life cycle. Trying to look at memes alone is like trying to
    >>study the malaria parasite without considering its hosts and vectors.
    >>Best wishes,
    >>Keith Henson
    >Memetics, seen as the study of memetic evolution, would encompass both
    >memes and their environment (including human minds) - just as the study of
    >genetic evolution encompasses both genes and their environment. Memetics
    >doesn't have to over-emphasise the power of the meme, and dismiss human
    >autonomy and psychology.

    True. But I don't think you can get away with it under the "turf" principle. I.e., the first people into a new territory get to name the features and set up the lingo.

    When you start talking about human psychological biases that allows some memes to do better than others, you are in evolutionary psychology territory.

    I think memetics is a really important area to study and understand, but it fits into a really tiny territory next to EP and can't expand that direction because the intellectual turf is already occupied.

    Sorry about that. :-(

    Keith Henson

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