Re: The Status of Memetics as a Science

From: wilkins (wilkins@wehi.EDU.AU)
Date: Thu Apr 26 2001 - 02:42:38 BST

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    From: wilkins <wilkins@wehi.EDU.AU>
    Organization: The Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
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    William Benzon wrote:
    > on 4/25/01 7:07 AM, Vincent Campbell at wrote:
    > >
    > > ... b)
    > > there are entire industries engaged in persuasive communication already who,
    > > despite the money paid to them by clients, have absolutely no way of
    > > predetermining the effectiveness of their efforts, and when they are
    > > successful its largely nothing to do with them, and everything to do with
    > > the attitudes of those they're trying to persuade).
    > It's really quite amazing isn't it?
    > Taken collectively, those attitudes are the environment in which these pesky
    > little meme thingys must survive. But memeticists give almost zero
    > attention to them.
    > Why? I suspect because it would seem to diminish the power of these memes,
    > making them seem less like self-propelled vehicles of mentation.

    A lot of this strikes me as somehow parallel to the arguments in favour
    of eugenics (the non-Nazi variety) before the war. It never seemed to
    connect to many (an honourable exception being Theodosius Dobzhansky)
    that if these feeblemindedness genes were so bad, then they ought to
    eliminate themselves from the gene pool. But if they were spreading so
    rapidly, then they must, by definition, be fitter for that environment
    than the "noble" genes that the working class, etc, threatened.

    Memes survive, if memes "do" such a thing, in virtue of their adaptation
    to local environments. I fail to understand why people think that they
    have any better idea of the long term fate of manipulated memes than
    they do of manipulated genes...
    > BB, the curmudgeon

    JSW - another curmudgeon.

    John Wilkins, Head, Communication Services, The Walter and Eliza Hall 
    Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, Australia
    Homo homini aut deus aut lupus - Erasmus of Rotterdam

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