Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id TAA00484 (8.6.9/5.3[ref email@example.com] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from firstname.lastname@example.org); Thu, 4 Oct 2001 19:01:11 +0100 Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2001 12:56:37 -0500 (EST) From: "Derek Gatherer" <email@example.com> Message-Id: <200110041756.MAA11085@snipe.biotech.ufl.org> Re: Memes inside brains Content-Type: text Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Precedence: bulk Reply-To: email@example.com Apparently-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
When one attempts a mathematical deduction, one applies the mathematical
rules inside one's brain to solve the problem at hand. Surely the rules,
which are memes, must be inside the mathematician's brain in order to
warrant a successful solution to the problem without consulting some master.
What you propose is really a variant of the situation Houghton uses (the shopping list problem)
- see the reference list of my reply to the commentaries on my second last
JoM paper for a reference to this. Houghton actually uses this thought
experiment to demonstrate that we do not store such things internally.
Adapting this to your situation, imagine a methematician who could only
solve the equation with difficulty. He struggles to write the next line,
and is forced to consult a book. As soon as he has consulted the book, he
says 'of course!', realising he knew the next line all along. Once he has
written it is seems obvious. A few lines later the same problem arises.
Despite wracking his brains, he is stuck. so he goes back to the book - and
again he mutter 'of course - how is it possible I didn't remember that'
and so on. The production of cultural artefacts is not simply a matter of
storage of the information needed to make them in some kind of neural
media. The brain is obviosuly more subtle, and less relaible, than any
computer-software running chip.
I know how to use binomial theorems to calculate the probability that
2 or more people in a room of 60 people share the same birthday. but don't
ask me to do it without consulting a book. I know perfectly well how to do
it - I just need a little reminder to get me started. The formulae aren't
really stored in my head, because I can't just pull them out at will. But
then how is it that a brief glimpse of the right page in my stats book will
bring it all flooding back??? They are sort of stored and sort of not stored.
This situation is so common in all kinds of human activities that it completely
precludes all attempts to establish any quantitative science of measuring
what is stored in peoples heads (which is what the internalist memeticists
seem to want to be able to do.)
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)
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