Re: The Status of Memetics as a Science

From: Trupeljak Ozren (
Date: Thu Apr 26 2001 - 19:54:21 BST

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    From: Trupeljak Ozren <>
    Subject: Re: The Status of Memetics as a Science
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    --- Kenneth Van Oost <> wrote:
    > > > You make of meme- engineering and the replication of mutated
    > memes
    > > > a quantative factor where IMO it has to be a qualitative one.
    > If you believe in one of the first postulates, that memes evolved,
    > then
    > > greater quantity means greater quality, after a certain period of
    > time.
    > << Yes, but the only possible profit we have from war, stupidity and
    > vulgarity is the knowledge we assembled about these subjects.
    > By themselves they are useless. They are just memes- propagating- ma-
    > chines. But very strong ones, indeed !!

    So how is knowledge about war, stupidity, gullibility etc. useless? I
    would argue that it is of central importance to the issues of trying to
    prevent these events from happening in the future! Europe learned
    something from it's wars in the way that many African states did not...
    I don't think that knowledge of war (or stupidity) is going to make
    anyone to commit them, actually, it seems to me that the reaction would
    be quite the opposite.

    > > As I said, whatever memetic structures survive the initial
    > explosion of
    > > population, are "good" by the ethics of evolution.
    > << But this is " a life just for the sake of it " statement !!
    > There is no purpose, no meaning, no beginning and no end !
    Exactly. :) Sounds bright and optimistic to me!
    To explain a little, I don't believe that there is any necesarry "end
    state" for evolution or life in general (unless you count death as one
    ;), and do not subscribe to beliefs that there *is* a purpose or
    meaning in life beyond the life itself. Rather common belief amongst
    the atheists, I believe...;)

    > > > In a way, by not using the principles of evolution as our ethical
    > > > system, you deny people their birthrights, whatever they may be
    > and whatever kind of behavior they include !!
    > In a way, yes. It is a very general statement, though.
    > << A general statement !? Denying someone 's genetical/ memetical/
    > cultu-
    > ral/... birthrights is IMO perverse. Giving someone the right(s) to
    > explore
    > the possibilites of those birthrights in their full extent, that is
    > humain
    > !!

    I agree with you on that one. When I said that it is a very general
    statement, I meant that if you propose evolutionary ethics (something
    that at least one philosopher of today has already done in an elegant
    manner (R.Pirsig in Lila)) you should elaborate more on what
    constitutes it, at least in general terms...

    > > Well, one could also go all the way out with natural selection and
    > just
    > > give people the right to carry guns, and the right to duel. :)
    > << Yes, and why not, if like you write rightly, if someone is raised
    > as a
    > believer, than everything that you will do or will perceive in
    > whatever way
    > is colored by that belief. And IMO that counts also for the genetical
    > and
    > memetical side of the coin. And one of the reasons why children and
    > grown ups in the USA shoot eachother is part of such a believe.
    IMHO, memetic side of the coin is the same as the belief side; there is
    a strong recursive realtionship between the two. One of my first
    thoughts on the subject of memes is that they were adapted as the main
    tool of our (human) evolution because they influenced our perception so
    much (which is of vital importance in the game of survival), as much as
    genes do, but are able to mutate, change and adapt much more quickly
    then genes do. And religious or cultural perception filters are very
    much meme influenced.

    > It supposes that general public * is * interested in solving the
    > problems. It doesn 't seem that way to me; but then again, US is
    > different.
    > << Not that different of Europe if we look at this !
    > Problem solving is Ok, but not in their time, and most of all, if it
    > costs
    > nothing, be my guest !!
    > Again, the contradiction between what the public wants and in what
    > the
    > public is interested comes to mind. ( See my post to Vincent)

    I saw it and the problem that you perceive seems to me to be the old
    one. The general sheep-like behavior of the people in modern
    democracies does present an interesting paradox: with all the today's
    technology and freedom of information distribution, with all the legal
    power that even a single citizen can wield if he chooses to, less and
    less people are actualy choosing to use these opportunities for their
    voice to be heard. 18th century philosophers argued that education of
    everyone is going to make people more aware of deceptions, and evoke
    the wish for their voice to be heard in government affairs.
     But today, I would argue that spread of mass media (and the length of
    our formal education, but of this, later..)is producing such an
    information overload that in order to protect ourselves, we shut down
    all, or most, of the high order fucntions of the mind whenever we are
    presented with any of the mass media vectors. The only ones (memes?)
    which seem to be able to penetrate this "shield" are either those who
    engage our "lizard" brain in some way, or those which are subtle enough
    not to raise our shields in the first place (anything related to humor,
    for example..) Now how can active participation in the well-being of
    the nation (or state) mask itself good enough to be heard by the
    Since level of living comfort is so high today, only substantial
    decreases in that area are going to produce mass movements...
    I am rambling...
    other idea that fell on my head was that people in power don't want
    everyone to meddle in their affairs, and by subtle incentives control
    the media content, steering it towards the "immediate gratification of
    the lizard brain" type of thinking, and we all know how much influence
    does media have these days....
    (me the conspiracy theorist ;)

    > > What do you mean, what kind of ethical problems? Just make the
    > > knowledge widely available, and whoever chooses to use it is free
    > to do
    > > just that, and whoever doesn't, well tough luck...
    > << I don 't know what about you, but IMO people will never use tech-
    > nology, on a voluntary basis, to solve theirs or to solve worldwide
    > problems.

    well, governments seem to have no problem in using technology to solve
    theirs...the only problem I see is that governments usualy do not
    perceive same things to be problems as their citizens do.

    > If Bush says no to the environmental quotas raised on the last
    > environmen-
    > tal summit, why should we bother !?

    Because to change the mind of an American you need to own CNN? ;)
    Seriously, though, neither he nor his big business advisors perceive
    that as a serious problem, so they don't bother solving it.
    And if they do know how big a problem is, and still don't do anything,
    well I think we, as a species, deserve whatever happens to us if we
    continue to go with that charade.

    > IMO people will never choose to use the technology free to solve
    > problems,
    > and on the other hand, forcing them will collide with ethical notion
    > like
    > having a free will.

    Subtle coercion? Apple seems to do it rather well...mask technology as
    something not very complicated and color it in a non-threatening
    manner...:) People are scared witless of complexity (majority, anyway,
    and IMHO), and technology usualy presents itself as complex.

    > Though luck if you don 't !? No way, the equality- principle states
    > it very
    > clear, noone should be left out.

    What equality principle? Is it part of evolutionary ethics? Is it a
    necesary part of evolutionary ethics? Seems obvious to me that we are
    *not* all equal, although it would be a desired state to move to,
    yes...(my ethics are a bit old fashioned in that respect, too..)

     Making the knowledge widely avaible
    > is
    > not enough. You have to come up with underlying proposals and agree-
    > ments so that everyone can get access to the knowledge.
    > Saying that the memetics- concept is avaible on the Net is not
    > enough,
    > you have to show people where to find it and if necessary to give a
    > com-
    > puter to find it and show them how such a stupid things works and
    > tell
    > them what the importance is of memetics and advertise the thing,...
    > that
    > kind of stuff.

    Why? When I say access to knowledge, I don't have in mind the wholesale
    teaching of the subject in schools. It should be as freely available as
    computers are; if you want one, you get one, if you want to know how to
    use one, you expend some effort and find a techer, buy a book, or
    fiddle with the damnt!@!@ machine yourself...:)
    And since it is information that does not need machine to work, it is
    even cheaper to get then computers are. Again, I am all for
    evolutionary ethics here: whoever can perceive the usefulness of the
    concept, and master the applications, should get his due reward. Lazy
    ass who likes to play footbal and reads with difficulty should rightly
    stay in the place of dumb consumer of today.
    (oh my, am I not politicaly correct! :)

    > > > IMO, you have to deal with the following,
    > > > If you want a certain stability in your society you can
    > accomplish
    > > > that in two ways,
    > > > 1) by force and you will have no problem with ethics whatsoever,
    > or
    > > > 2) by linking principles of evolution, genetic and memetic, to
    > our
    > > > ethical system.
    > You lost me there. I don't see why you would have only these two
    > > choices.
    > << I mean by this that if you want some stability in your society
    > that you
    > have two choises, you will use a or some ethical system or not !
    > There is no inbetween. There is no " well we use ethics if that.. "
    > and we
    > " will not use ethics if this ". You use it or not!
    Ok, that clarifies it a lot. Makes sense to me. Although, I wonder,
    could you have a stabile social system that doesn't have any ethical
    system? If not, then you have no choice, you have to have one, and
    problems present only in choosing which one should be used.

    > Best,
    > Kenneth
    > ( I am, because we are) just another ethical concept

    There are very few man - and they are exceptions - who are able to think and feel beyond the present moment.

    Carl von Clausewitz

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