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On 16 Aug 2001, at 16:17, Dace wrote:
> From: <email@example.com>
> > > 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.
The morphic resonance fantasy is unnecessary; As the
mathemetician LaPlace answered Napoleon, when he inquired why
there was no mention of a Grand Designer in his work, "I have no
need of such a hypothesis." The physico-chemical lock and key
properties of the chains and the chaperones are quite enough, as
has been voluminously explained to you (and not just by me).
> 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?
Memetic selection is indeed a combination of the freely chosen
and the inadvertently adopted within the constraints placed by
environmental availability - one tribe may use red dye because that
pigment is more available than blue for them. The selecting
environment for memes is a cognitive one, which
phenomenologically is not natural so much as it is intentional.
> 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!
This is known as the effect of memetic hooks and filters. Such
effects are not absolute; otherwise there would never be religious
conversion or cult deprogramming.
> 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.
This sort of thing is already addressed in the memetic model; the
memes already present in a brain constitute a gestalt whole, and
when new memes manage to enter, the new memes and the
already present memes coadapt (adaptation = assimilation +
accommodation, according to Piaget's genetic epistemology) to
produce a new gestalt.
> 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.
It's a matter of perception leading to action; you see and hear the
excitement, and sympathetically respond. I don't think Helen
Keller would be doing the wave in sync. The 'wavelength' metaphor
should not be taken fundamentalistically, that is, literally.
> 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.
Certain basic tools and structures occur independently simply
because the physics of the world is the same, and people who are
interacting with it possess the same basic physical equipment
(fingers, hands, arms, legs, feet, toes, laps, etc.). Levers, springs,
wheels and wedges are so basic as to be practically impossible for
most cultures to NOT discover/create over time.
> Ted Dace
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