RE: sexual selection and memes

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Thu Jul 05 2001 - 15:40:30 BST

  • Next message: Kenneth Van Oost: "Re: sexual selection and memes"

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: sexual selection and memes
    Date: Thu, 5 Jul 2001 15:40:30 +0100 
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            <<This is an interesting idea, since I'm not sure it's right. It
    > seems to me that one of the problems with memetics is the fidelity
    > question.
    > Like games of chinese whispers, cultural transmission can become
    > extraordinarily distorted over time, so I don't know about efficiency.>>
    > <Maybe in order to know its efficiency you have to look for the
    > " collective stream" , the overall stream of data and not look at the
    > individual distortion which seems to pop up very easily !?>
            Didn't someone else on the list imply the same idea as your here
    Kenneth, that there's some kind of central core of a meme that gets through
    even if extraneous elements don't always survive. I suppose there's a kind
    of literal truth in that, given things like religions, on the other hand I'm
    not sure how we might work out how some aspects of a meme (or communication
    containing memes) persist and other aspects do not. I don't know if that
    makes sense at all. In other words, what stops the bits that get
    successfully transmitted from being distorted or forgotten like the other

    > < Same argument here, though !
    > Does he have to find, to know for that matter those individuals to make
    > sure that his teachings did make it with time !?
    > If he, for example should look at some of our societies and to what kind
    > of laws we have, he should know that justice, equality, compassion
    > and far more greater social structures find there bias in his teachings.
    > If he should look at the " collective structures " he would find that his
    > legacy is still alive.>
            Perhaps, but with 2000 years worth of tranformation perhaps other
    faiths may now be closer to what he originally intended. Would Jesus like
    Women priests, or being pro-choice- or for that matter being
    anti-contraception and pro-life? I'm not sure it's easy to work out what
    Jesus really thought, which maybe part of the reason he persists in his

            <<What about the notion that a lot of cultural behaviours that don
    > make much sense in terms of survival utility ( hence something else must
    > be
    > going on hence memes) may be explainable in terms of sexual selection ?>>
    > <To comment this, Vincent I would like to ask you a question_
    > what about the notion that more feminized behavior in men is poppin' up !?
    > Would that be a cultural behavior in sense of survival utility or would it
    > be explainable in terms of sexual selection !?
    > IMO_ it is a genetic drift towards ' womanizing ' and therefor terms of
    > sexual selection are more approiate or useful than terms of cultural be-
    > havior.
    > I don 't see to which extend blokes will intentionaly tend to have more
    > feminized behaviorcharacteristics if not for sexual purposes !?
    > But I agree, cultural tendencies are involved_ remerber, most females
    > like a tender, carrying man above a macho- bloke.
    > (What in a sense could be just another meme though,....)>
            Clearly in humans mate choice is extremely complicated and goes both
    ways to an extent far greater than many other species. This means there's a
    lot of scope for behaviours aimed at getting a mate thatcould work for both
    sexes just as well in different contexts. It depends on how one defines
    gendered characteristics doesn't it- a can of worms certainly. Take ideas of
    the 'new' man from the 1980s, for example, caring sharing men, house
    husbands etc. etc. But to regard such behaviours as feminine is surely a
    mistake (not to mention a red rag to a bull for some), as these
    characteristics could be extremely useful in men demonstrating to women
    their capacity for high male parental investment. But then how do we regard
    such behaviour- as feminised? or as a masculine strategy?

            The one advantage that the sexual selection angle seems to have, in
    arguing for memes, is the experimental evidence apparently showing the
    potential influence of social pressure and imitation on mate choice, often
    over-riding genetic preferences. Dugatkin's book is full of stuff from his
    guppy experiments, as well as other studies, that seem to give a strong
    basis for saying something else other than genes is important in key animal


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