Re: Logic

From: Dace (
Date: Fri Aug 17 2001 - 00:17:10 BST

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    From: "Dace" <>
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    Subject: Re: Logic
    Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2001 16:17:10 -0700
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    > > The question is why some memes are so successful at colonizing brains
    > > compared to other memes. What gives them their power? According to
    > > the morphic model, the more often an organic structure is replicated
    > > the more powerful its resonance becomes. If a whole lot of people
    > > think a particular style of clothing is cool, then other people are
    > > liable to feel that way as well. This would explain why some memes
    > > propagate so well regardless of any factors that make them somehow
    > > more "fit." The terrain of human consciousness is far different from
    > > the earth. In the real world you've got to be smart and resilient to
    > > survive. In the human world, even pet rocks are suitable for
    > > propagation if enough people think they're cool.
    > According to the evolutionary model, useful memes enhanced the
    > reproductive success of those brains that were more permeable to
    > them at the same time that brains selected for more brain-
    > permeable useful memes; co-evolution, from both ends.

    It's interesting that your usual teleological approach actually works in
    this example. That's because memes function in the context of the human
    mind. In the arena of reflexive consciousness, goals alone can determine
    behavior. Given our capacity for self-determination, we humans can select
    and pursue goals without any help from physical or morphic causation. Amino
    acid chains, on the other hand, can't intentionally fix in their minds the
    correct protein configuration and then methodically pursue this vision.
    They have to be guided, both deterministically by physical properties and
    probabilistically by morphic resonance.

    Natural selection in no way accounts for the propagation of memes. Let's
    say you're in high school or college, and you start gravitating to a style
    of music that just happens to be favored by the people you want to hang out
    with. At this point, the meme appears to confer an advantage in your social
    survivability. But as you get older, the kind of music you listen to ceases
    to have any value in your social life. Yet your tastes continue to change
    and grow. Why, at the age of 42, are you suddenly listening to Ornette
    Coleman alone in your living room? Where's the advantage in selecting this
    meme? Most successful memes have no clear basis in natural selection. We
    just like some things better than others. Some memes propagate better
    than others, when clearly no one is benefitting. Why does one tribe paint
    its face blue while another picks red?

    Within the restrictions of orthodox theory, we have no choice but to
    conclude that successful memes somehow outcompete their opponents in the
    habitat of the brain. Some memes settle in and prosper in this
    neuro-terrain while others must keep wandering in search of a hospitable
    synaptic environment. Presumably this process is determined by the memes
    already entrenched in a given brain. If the local memes give you the nod,
    you're in. Otherwise, hit the road!

    In the morphic model, it's not the brain but the *mind* that provides the
    field of memetic struggle. The mind isn't a separate thing from the brain
    but merely the brain in resonance with its own past states. The
    newly-introduced meme must resonate with whatever memes were present in the
    brain's past. This is made much more likely if the new meme on the block is
    already in resonance with many other memes in other brains. Regardless
    of what you've believed in the past, you're much more likely to take on a
    new belief if lots and lots of other people already believe it. It's like
    an asteroid on a near-collision course with the earth. The asteroid has a
    greater chance of getting drawin into the earth's gravity if it has more
    mass of its own to begin with.

    In the physicalist model, memes must be transmitted to us externally from
    other people. But memetics has always been more than just imitation. Memes
    spring up from within. If you're at a football game, and the home team
    scores, when you rise to your feet, it's not because you feel like you really
    ought to do what everyone else is doing. It's because you're on the same
    "wavelength" with the rest of the crowd. The meme in your head is simply
    the particle aspect of the cultural morphic field embracing all the fans in
    the stadium.

    Memes commonly spread without any possible mode of physical transmission.
    For instance, not only agriculture but similar building designs appeared
    independently in several locations around the earth. Throughout modern
    history, the same inventions kept appearing almost simultaneously in
    different countries, which is why, for instance, the US, France, and Germany
    can all take credit for the bicycle. There's nothing the least bit unusual
    about the fact that morphogenetic field theory appeared three times in three
    different places within a period of three years. Happens all the time. We
    don't even notice. Just background noise.

    Ted Dace

    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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