Re: A Test

From: Bill Spight (
Date: Fri Oct 05 2001 - 17:04:01 BST

  • Next message: Bill Spight: "Re: A Test"

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    From: Bill Spight <>
    Subject: Re: A Test
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    Dear Vincent,

    > <Commit suicide now.>
    > <White people are stupid gay racist fucks.>
    > <Reply to this mail now.>
    > Two things here. First, none of these are memes the first and last
    > are instructions/suggestions depending on one's interpretations, the middle
    > one is a statement. Such things may only become memes if they are
    > replicated, transmitted by people you've sent them to.

    There are real theoretical problems with requiring that something has to
    be actually replicated, rather than replicable, to be a meme.

    A gene is not just a strand of DNA, of course. But genetic material, DNA
    and RNA, can replicate and evolve without being genes. Experiments have
    been done to show that. What distinguishes a gene from other DNA is
    where it is. That, of course, has to do with its role in the
    reproduction of organisms.

    Suppose that a person learns two different chunks of information. One he
    passes on, one he does not. What distinguishes them? If we say that the
    only theoretical distinction is that one is passed on, that raises the
    question of why? Is there some mysterious memetic force that makes one
    chunk replicate while the other does not?

    If we are going to distinguish memes from other culturally replicable
    material, the fact of transmission is not the way to do it. The purpose
    of memetic theory is to explain cultural inheritance. If we simply
    determine what is a meme by the fact that it is culturally inherited, we
    are mumbling tautologies.

    BTW, not all genes are inherited. A non-viable mutation is still a gene.



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