Gene-Meme Co-evolution in Reverse?

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Sun Aug 12 2001 - 22:35:15 BST

  • Next message: Kenneth Van Oost: "Re: Logic/ stemcells"

    Received: by id JAA21651 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Mon, 13 Aug 2001 09:50:11 +0100
    From: Philip Jonkers <>
    X-Authentication-Warning: www-data set sender to jonkers@localhost using -f
    Subject: Gene-Meme Co-evolution in Reverse?
    Message-ID: <>
    Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2001 23:35:15 +0200 (CEST)
    References: <3B748479.1169.151ED0B@localhost>
    In-Reply-To: <3B748479.1169.151ED0B@localhost>
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
    User-Agent: IMP/PHP IMAP webmail program 2.2.5
    Precedence: bulk

    Gene-Meme Co-evolution in Reverse?

    According to Susan Blackmore in `The Meme-Machine', the human brain owes its
    present big size to gene-meme co-evolutionary pressures. It's hardly exaggerated
    when claiming that culture has gained a firm grip on human life indeed. In fact,
    culture might overrule humans' original reproductive role to such an extent that
    it poses a serious threat to further cultural evolution in the sense of
    inducing a reduction in human brain size. Allow me to explain.

    People with culturally very demanding jobs such as scientists,
    professors and businessmen, devote the bulk of their time and energy
    to memetic evolution. Little or no time is left in raising possible
    offspring. Today's increasing divorce rates among this risk group
    indicate further that these people fail to serve the reproductive purpose
    of their genes. Ergo, genes suffer and memes flourish for these
    `cultural people'. Given the fact that feeding our culture gave us our
    present day brain size, it seems reasonable to assume that cultural
    people generally have high intelligence levels.

    In contrast, people with less culturally engaged occupations, such as
    manual workers and 9-5 employees, generally have more time to spend
    on upbringing their offspring. Opposing the cultural people,
    `biological people' tend to show lower intelligence.

    Based on the previous conjectures it follows that cultural people
    will decrease in numbers while biological people increase in numbers.
    If latter group becomes dominant then the average big size of the
    brain would become superfluous. Indeed, biologically speaking,
    humans would be better off with a less `metabolically greedy organ' (Pinker?).
    Since the culture necessary to sustain a predominantly biologically
    oriented population is of a less sophistication than their cultural
    counterparts, it may be expected that biology strikes back by forcing
    through a reduction in human brain size on average. Due to the richness of our
    present day culture, with falling birthrates from intellectual marriages,
    it may be that this reverse gene-meme co-evolution has already set in.
    This may be reflected in overall decreasing IQs.
    I know IQ tests are not the perfect absolute measures for
    intelligence but as an overall indication they may be significant.
    They were used in the past too, so in a relative sense they might be

    As this hypothesis rests on Blackmore's, confirmation
    of the former serves as supporting evidence for the latter too.

    Anyone, any comments?

    ps. Let the record show that I have no interest in supporting malevolent
    ideologies which disrespect human life. Therefore, do not dare to suspect
    any eugenic motives or sentiments behind me posting this,
    I'm on an inspirational high that's all...

    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)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Aug 13 2001 - 10:14:37 BST