From: Keith Henson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri 14 Apr 2006 - 17:31:55 GMT
At 04:02 PM 4/14/2006 +0100, Robin wrote:
>Thursday, April 13, 2006, 11:12:49 PM, Jesse wrote:
> > In addition, memetics, in my opinion, should not and will not be a
> total picture or explanation for human culture, but rather will become
> the tool by which we understand how information transmits and changes
> over time (strangely the electrical engineering courses I took in
> communications principles gave me some interesting insight on memes from
> this perspective).
>I gave up arguing about this years ago, but maybe I should take it up
>again. Memes are items of INFORMATION! Genes are extremely unusual in
>being items of info that are stored only on one medium: DNA. Otherwise,
>info can be and is stored and encoded in diverse formats. It might be on
>DVD or video tape or in an encrypted zip file on your hard drive, but it's
>the SAME film. Likewise, memes are encoded in behavioural patterns, neural
>patterns, books and computers, etc, etc. It's not either/or but both/and.
>Is there anyone at all out there, besides Tim Rhodes and (maybe) Jesse who
>can see the sense of this?
I see it, having made the same argument for years as well. I go a bit
further that genes can be in any storage medium as well. The difference in
these classes of information is that memes to have real world influence
have to be in a brain, genes have to be in cells, and likewise a computer
virus has to be in the proper computer/OS. Otherwise all three are all
just inactive bits.
Aunger is correct that memetics failed to become an academic discipline
with the perks that entails. Instead, it make the jump into public common
knowledge. (Google Results 1 - 10 of about 830,000 for memetics
[definition].) But I don't think it has anything to do with "defining the meme," people understand it well enough. The problem I see is that memetics just isn't a big enough frame to ask interesting questions.
Like "Why do we have cults?" http://human-nature.com/nibbs/02/cults.html
Or "Why do we have wars?"
Evolutionary Psychology, Memes and the Origin of War
By H. Keith Henson
Abstract: Evolutionary psychology and memetics are used to propose a
model of war. Population growth leads to a resource crisis. An impending
resource crisis activates a behavioral switch in humans allowing the build
up of xenophobic or dehumanizing memes, which synchronizes attacks on
neighboring tribes. Hamilton's criterion of inclusive fitness is invoked
to account for the evolution of this species typical behavior. War as a
species typical behavior in the EEA for humans is discussed, first as an
attack response and second as unprovoked attacks. Unprovoked attacks are
proposed to require the build up of xenophobic or dehumanizing
memes. Evolved brain mechanisms are proposed to cause these memes to
become more common when the subject population anticipates "looming
privation." The well-known reduction in the ability of humans to think
rationally in war situations is explained in evolutionary terms as a
divergence in interest between the individual and his genes. The problem
of avoiding wars is examined in terms of these mechanisms. Population
growth at a higher rate than economic growth is proposed as the causal
factor for wars in the modern world. This model and the "excess males"
model make different predictions about where future wars will start. The
model is then applied to analyze current events.
(Unpublished, ask for a copy by email)
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)
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