RE: The Status of Memetics as a Science

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Tue May 01 2001 - 14:29:40 BST

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: The Status of Memetics as a Science
    Date: Tue, 1 May 2001 14:29:40 +0100 
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    Just quickly- apologies to Scott for misidentifying who mentioned the
    cockroaches etc.


    > ----------
    > From: Trupeljak Ozren
    > Reply To:
    > Sent: Monday, April 30, 2001 9:51 pm
    > To:
    > Subject: Re: The Status of Memetics as a Science
    > --- Scott Chase <> wrote:
    > >
    > > An interesting point to consider would be that if we could be considered
    > > dominant, where does that leave those species which benefit from our
    > > existence (mostly at our expense)? Where you find human homes and other
    > > buildings you might find rats, cockroaches, houseflies and fruitflies to
    > > name a few. Have we come close to winning the battle against them? Some
    > of
    > > them are vectors for those pesky little microbes which try to dominate
    > us.
    > > When all is said and done we all wind up as worm food anyway. Maybe the
    > > decomposers are at the top of the ladder? Sorry for the grim
    > reflection...
    > First, just the fact that we have so many species depending on us for
    > their
    > survival, signifies that we are a major force in the ecosystem. Specialy
    > when
    > one considers how inimical our style of life *is* to anyone else! Second,
    > I
    > don't think that bacteria are trying to "dominate" us. They merely use us
    > for
    > their own survival. The most successful ones are those that don't kill the
    > host; and those that learned to live symbioticaly with us.
    > >
    > > Go outside at night and serve as a walking buffet for a cloud of hungry
    > > mosquitos and tell them how dominant you are. Hopefully they don't have
    > > microbial hitch hikers aboard.
    > How many lakes and rivers have been swamped with poison in our efforts to
    > kill
    > of the mosqitoes? It seems that we have the capability to kill them off,
    > but
    > the cost is, again, too much. And can you truly say that just because they
    > can
    > bite us and escape unpunished (most of the time) they are a serious threat
    > to
    > our dominance?!
    > >
    > > I haven't witnessed a locust swarm but I bet that plague is a sight to
    > > behold. Where bacteria evolve antibiotic resisance, isn't there a
    > parallel
    > > where insects evolve pesticide resistance? Does this problem impact
    > humans?
    > > With our great ability to alter the environment, what collateral damage
    > has
    > > been sustained due to DDT and other pest control measures? We think
    > we're
    > > intelligent when we introduce exotic species as a pest control measure.
    > How
    > > did the cane toad problem arise in Australia? Oops.
    > Again, just by doing that we show exactly how much power we *do* have to
    > alter
    > the environment. We are like little children, playing around and learning
    > through bruises. The only problem is, we have the capability to destroy
    > the
    > playground completely.
    > >
    > > Other exotic species are "dominating" various locales thanks to our
    > > "intelligence" and "foresight", our aesthetic judgement of them, or just
    > as
    > > a stroke of luck by riding aboard one of our ships.
    > >
    > How exactly are they dominating *us*?
    > --- Scott Chase <> wrote:
    > > If evolutionary ethics means looking at the evolution of ethics,
    > casuistry,
    > > and morality that wouldn't be too big a deal. OTOH if evolutionary
    > ethics
    > > means defining morality in terms derived from evolutionary biology,
    > there
    > > may be serious problems. Analyzing "the good" in terms of something
    > else,
    > > such as what one finds revealed in nature is wrought with difficulties.
    > If
    > > one perceives the natural state as "red in tooth and claw" or "dog eat
    > dog"
    > > and takes this descriptive "is" and carries over the hump as a
    > presrciption
    > > for morality or an "ought", that may a very flawed undertaking. I think
    > this
    > > is akin to the "naturalistic fallacy" of G.E. Moore, but his precise
    > > arguments are far better than I could muster and are found in his
    > _Principia
    > > Ethica_. Others here could probably muster better than I.
    > >
    > I was refering to ethics derived from some of the principles of evolution
    > (in
    > a biological sense); but not a direct copying of the laws of jungle
    > (might be
    > a very good idea, though, if we did not have such high tech toys to worry
    > about). Since I am no philosopher, nor do I believe I have particularly
    > high
    > set of morals, I will not even attempt to try developing the
    > me, it
    > just seemed a good idea to copy the stuff that obviously works, and modify
    > it
    > according to the specific needs of the local culture.
    > It seems to me that many people equate the dominance of a species with the
    > dominance of the individual of that species, in respect to all other forms
    > of
    > life. This is obviously not what I have been claiming to be the truth. And
    > all
    > of that springs from my idea that maybe the fantastic success of our way
    > of
    > life (civilization, that is), might be because of the unique meme-gene
    > interaction that we are capable of. In fact, I would even go as far as to
    > claim
    > that our civilization, as such, is not designed to be the best way of life
    > for
    > us humans at all, but it seems to be the best way for the memes themselves
    > to
    > propagate, diversify, and develop new eco-systems; look at Internet, for
    > example. Individual human beings, by some measurements, work harder, and
    > are
    > unhappier, then individuals living in "primitive" tribal societies seemed
    > to.
    > As a species, we have spent most of our life in tribal communities, and
    > all of
    > this civilization stuff is very recent; one could argue that it all
    > started
    > with invention of exclusive agriculture and need for precise transfer of
    > knowledge that it entailed. The invention of writing was the most
    > important
    > step in that process, but not for us; we have lived for hundreds of
    > thousands
    > of years just fine without it; but for the longevity of memes. Such a
    > small
    > change in the rate of memetic drift (and arguably, speed of replication)
    > caused
    > such huge consequences!
    > Anyway, just some more fuel for fire...;)
    > N.Sh.Z.
    > =====
    > 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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    > ===============================================================
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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    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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