Re: Memetic vulnerability: was: Faking It

From: Chris Taylor (
Date: Fri Jul 20 2001 - 16:56:25 BST

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    > Perhaps kin selection in nature, should be replaced by peer
    > selection in culture?

    Peer selection - mots justes(?)! You really are Mr Neat Phrase today
    aren't you...

    > Kin selection in nature doesn't require awareness on the part of the
    > organism of the relationship (does it?), but what about peer selection in
    > culture? Is this why youth subcultures invariably develop very distinct
    > modes of dress, musical tastes, patterns of speech etc., so identification
    > of people in the same peer group is easy?

    Actually mice can smell how related they are to each other to avoid
    inbreeding - not kin selection as such I know, just a well characterised
    similar(ish) thing; however most of the kin selection stuff has a big
    pheremonal component. In insects (where most of the eusocial [=truly
    social] stuff occurs) pheremones are all powerful. In naked mole rats
    (!), the best mammal one I know, most of the control (including the
    queen surpressing other females from breeding) is pheremonal. In other
    'big' animals the recognition is usually a mix of smell, appearance and

    Excluding cheaters is the main problem for the social types. Again this
    isn't a direct example of this but I think it's interesting: Female
    ostriches lacking a good nest site will often lay in other mothers'
    nests, exploiting brooding behaviour (as I say, not an altruistic or
    social behaviour); the other mothers push these eggs to the boundary of
    the nest (they can smell the foreign ones), so they still get incubated,
    but egg predators (usually small grab-it-and-run types) take
    preferentially from the edge of the brood. Does this constitute some
    sort of social contract too?

    I also agree completely about the subcultural identifiers - not just
    analogous but homologous?

    > Going back to Kenneth's idea, surely this too suggests that memes must have
    > at least periods of fixity so that people can recognise their own, and
    > opposing subcultural groups. That's not to say they can't be fluid, as with
    > the original punk/NF skinhead haircut being appropriated, first by the gay
    > community in the UK, and currently it's become a mainstream look as well.

    Deffo. We're into Gould and Eldredge's punctuated equilibrium here...

     Chris Taylor ( »people»chris

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