Re: new review of memetics/sociobiology/EP

From: John Wilkins (
Date: Sat 04 Feb 2006 - 06:45:00 GMT

  • Next message: Robin Faichney: "Re[2]: Environment for memes (lost sending again)"

    On 04/02/2006, at 1:33 PM, Keith Henson wrote:

    > At 09:39 AM 2/3/2006 +1000, you wrote:
    > ...
    >> Religion is less virulent when passed on vertically (Boyd and
    >> Richerson's "unbiased" transmission) from parent to child, because
    >> then the religion must adapt to the hosts' needs to reproduce. It is
    >> more virulent when it is laterally ("biasedly") transmitted because
    >> then the meme-complex (religion is *not* a meme - it's a memome or
    >> something similar. A meme-complex of coadapted memes) has different
    >> "interests" to the hosts.
    > I don't object to your terminology, I just don't see the need for
    > it. Memes to me are like string, any length is still string.

    A meme is something that gets passed on entire (which of course means that something can be a meme at one point in history and a meme- complex at another). But something like a religion has many elements that can be differentially sorted and cross-lineage transmitted. These things are memes.
    >> Of course, religious evolution is somewhat faster than biological
    >> evolution, so there is considerable slop, but overall if a religion
    >> is vertically transmitted, it will tend to be more benign.
    > At least it can't be too rough on host reproduction.

    In the long run (in which we are all dead, as Keynes remarked), sure. But given that meme complexes can change rapidly relative to host reproduction, so long as there are sufficient new hosts for the meme to inhabit, it can in fact be quite deleterious biologically. Shakers, again, or (my personal favourite) the Albigensians.

    John S. Wilkins, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Biohumanities Project
    University of Queensland - Blog:
    "Darwin's theory has no more to do with philosophy than any other
    hypothesis in natural science." Tractatus 4.1122
    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)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sat 04 Feb 2006 - 07:04:18 GMT