Re: Coordinated behavior among birds, fish, and insects

From: Chris Taylor (
Date: Tue Aug 28 2001 - 16:09:04 BST

  • Next message: Dace: "Re: Shaggy Dog vs. Psychic Dog"

    Received: by id RAA10810 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Tue, 28 Aug 2001 17:10:40 +0100
    Message-ID: <>
    Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2001 16:09:04 +0100
    From: Chris Taylor <>
    Organization: University of Manchester
    X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.77 [en] (Windows NT 5.0; U)
    X-Accept-Language: en
    Subject: Re: Coordinated behavior among birds, fish, and insects
    References: <>
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
    Precedence: bulk

    > I don't think memetics and MR are linked, but when one looks at
    > other theories of cultural evolution and critiques of memetics, they tend to
    > have the same kind of rhetoric that critics of MR on this list have, namely
    > the argument of why do you need theory 'X' to explain phenomena already
    > (arguably) explainable by other, empirically established theories. Now,
    > before everyone jumps down my throat, I don't think memetics is on anywhere
    > near as shaky ground as MR, but there are those who make this kind of
    > argument (e.g. evolutionary psychology people who reckon they've got culture
    > sussed etc.). I think proponents of memetics have more potential in the
    > long run to counter those kind of criticisms than the MR crowd (not least
    > because first, unlike MR, it proposes a mechanism which is in principle
    > empirically testable, and second it doesn't refute established bodies of
    > empirical data).

    Yeah, it irritates me when that criticism is deployed (such as 'already
    done it another way') - a worthy evolutionary biologist said just that
    again, in a book review in nature just a week or two ago.
    Cue the rant:

    The selling point of memetics is that it is a unifying theory, from the
    smallest building blocks of behaviour right up to sociology and history.
    That is why it is worthwhile (why not go for a GUT for the behavioural
    sciences). That's after all one of the three rules for a modeller -
    'explains more' (the others being 'explains better' and 'explains with

    Actually, there's a rule four - 'this looks like rock hard maths and I
    can say whatever I want now'.

     Chris Taylor ( »people»chris

    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 : Tue Aug 28 2001 - 17:15:20 BST