RE: Memetics/Evolutionary psychology reversal

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Sun 15 Jan 2006 - 02:11:26 GMT

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    >From: Keith Henson <>
    >Subject: RE: Memetics/Evolutionary psychology reversal
    >Date: Thu, 12 Jan 2006 20:55:18 -0500
    >At 12:00 AM 1/12/2006 -0500, you wrote:
    >>>From: Keith Henson <>
    >>>Subject: Memetics/Evolutionary psychology reversal
    >>>Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2006 11:55:15 -0500
    >>>I recently tested memetics and evolutionary psychology with Google.
    >>>Four years ago, there were twice as many hits on memetics as EP, now that
    >>>has reversed to almost twice as many hits on EP as memetics.
    >>>849,000 for "evolutionary psychology"
    >>>475,000 for memetics
    >>>It is also interesting, 22,200 for "evolutionary psychology" memetics
    >>>and I am not responsible for *all* of them :-)
    >>>18,600 for "evolutionary psychology" memetics -henson
    >>Google hits are an index of usage, but how can things like redundancy be
    >>addressed? How many hits are unique versus copied across websites?
    >I am assuming that whatever problems there are with Google, the same
    >problems existed 4 years ago and affected these search terms in similar
    >ways making a ratio comparison over time *somewhat* reasonable.
    Yeah, I guess I was trying too hard to split hairs.
    >Mid 2001 "evolutionary psychology" had about 23,000 Web hits. By
    >comparison, "memetics" had about 50,000 Web hits. Nanotechnology had
    >160,000 up from 80,000 the year before. Interesting. Nanotechnology is
    >currently 47.7 million,--which is almost 1/3 of the way to God (177
    I know that with some databases that index newspapers and periodicals you can engineer your search criteria in very specific ways. You could ask for articles containing a given keyword within a range of dates. I wonder if URL's have time signatures where you could use a search engine like google to specificy a search on cached versions of webpages during certain date ranges. If so, you could see how keywords on the web have shifted over time.
    >>My own experience has led me to believe that websites borrow extensively
    >>from each other to the point that a good many "hits" on a given keyword
    >>are carbon copies or at least cut and pastes from other sites.
    >>Hits coming directly from our memetics discussion here often seem to be
    >>mirrored at the "Church of Virus" site, which is redundant in a sense.
    >>Redundancy in a system is good in some respects, since if one site goes
    >>down temporarily or permanently its content will be accessible at another
    >>location, although google does have the handy cache feature.
    >>By way of comparison to your chosen terms "mneme semon" gets 575 hits,
    >>"mneme meme" gets 763 and "noogenetics" gets an anemic 53. Yet popularity
    >>or number of hits doesn't necesarily reflect value.
    >True. This is only a measure of relative popularity of certain terms on
    >the web. Still, in the last 4 1/2 years memetics is up by a factor of
    >almost 10, EP by a factor of 37 and nanotechnology by a staggering factor
    >of 300.
    I wonder how much impact this list and the Church of Virus list have had in the number of times memetics has been mentioned. How many EP related discussion lists are indexed on the net where you could access them via google? Given the recent slowdown on this list (and subsequent effect on
    "Church of Virus" or other sites that might mirror the content of this list) there might be at least a minor amount of keyword generation coming from each of us on this list and when we fail to post here about memetics memetics memetics ;-) we are failing the cause. If my post is now indexed by google and it is mirrored by at least one other site and you reply without cutting my post and others follow up, how did my saying "memetics" three times influence the number of hits on google in the future?
    >>Plus if you notice I'm responsible for some of the hits on the terms I
    >>How could the usage of terms be evaluated for quality of source? Would a
    >>hit on a prestigious research type site or government site be considered
    >>with more weight than someone's informal homepage or blog site especially
    >>someone's drunken Saturday night ramblings though serious scholars do have
    >>blogs too.
    >>Wiki sites and such can be good sources, if the author(s) know what they
    >>are talking about, but I'm cautious about these sites myself, especially
    >>sans corroboration. It seems that the isue of redundancy is important with
    >>wiki and online "encyclopedia" sites.
    >All this is true, but search engines are the best measure of the memes
    >circulating in society I know of. It may not be the best quality data, but
    >sometimes you have to make do with what you can get.
    True enough. I did a phrase search for "triune brain" (closed with the quotes) on google and found 24000 hits. "triune brain" "evolutionary psychology" results in 212.

    One URL I found was an article by Jeremy Genovese called "Snakes and Ladders: a Reapprausal of the Triune Brain Hypothesis" at which curiously addresses the topic of amniote or vertebrate brain being a better label for MacLean's "reptilian brain" or "R-Complex". Geneovese cites someone named Cory. Intrigued by Genovese's citation I've been reading the book _The Evolutionary Neuroethology of Paul MacLean_ where Cory's essay appears. Cory still doesn't address the actual issue I raised about
    "reptile" being a meaningless term and this book seems to be overly effusive about MacLean's ideas. Critics like Anton Reiner are taken to task. In the introduction to this book, Pinker's criticism of MacLean from _How the Mind Works_ is mentioned as having been influenced by Reiner's negative review. Joseph LeDoux
    (another critic) is also taken to task.

    Yet Karl Pribram, in his early contribution to the book, points out some crucial flaws in the triune brain idea, especially in how the R-complex may be an amphibian (anamniote) feature and how sharks have some "rudimentary hippocampal tissues". The hippocampus is "limbic" (note square quotes influenced by LeDoux's opinions).

    It doesn't seem that, in retrospect, MacLean parsed his Triune Brain correctly, though his work is more fascinating than one would gather from pop-psych versions. Some of what he says about the locus of isopraxic
    (including imitative) behavior is interesting. Though I'm skeptical about a
    "triune" brain especially if one aspect carries the questionable label of
    "reptilian", I don't dispute the importance of comparative neuroanatomy and neuroethology in unraveling the commonalities humans share with other animals. MacLean was a pioneer here, his oversimplified labeling beside the point. Can't say his approach is any worse than that of modern evolutionary psychology overall (touche'!).

    C.U.M. Smith's contribution "Deep Time and the Brain" in this book is a MUST READ, given its recency and summary of modern views. It's perhaps the best part of the book _The Evolutionary Neuroethology of Paul MacLean_.

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