RE: A Test

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Tue Oct 09 2001 - 11:31:24 BST

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: A Test
    Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2001 11:31:24 +0100 
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    >> Reproduction is not what meme theory is based on.

            <Memes don't get reproduced?>

            I'm being a bit pedantic here, but reproduction is not the same
    thing as replication, strictly speaking.

    >> Wait a minute, wait a minute. Again your sentence_in and of
    >> itself_is not a meme. As to cult suicides read my earlier posts
    on this
    >> list, where we've discussed suicidal cults loads of times before.
    >> matters is context. You posting that sentence on this list
    doesn't have the
    >> same potential impact that David Koresh writing it for his
    >> followers when the FBI/ATF are outside the door.

            <Yes, it's the same meme but it can have different results depending

    > on people's decisions. mY pOint.>
            No, I'm making the same point as about the publisher example.
    Socio-cultural context is crucial in whether something becomes a meme or
    not, and the socio-cultural context heavily influences the decisions people
    make, even when they regard those decisions as autonomously produced. In
    other words what appears to be a decision made by an individual, is shaped
    heavily by the circumstances they find themselves within, so much so that
    one could question the extent to which the decision is a product of choice.
    A bit like those studies in the US showing that a high proportion of people
    would induce electric shocks strong enough to kill a person if someone in
    authority told them to do it- even if they could hear the screams of their

    >> But transmitting things, is not transmitting memes. E.G.
    >> language conveys information but it is not intended to be

            <But it CAN be copied/imitated, that is what makes it a meme and
    > is why our sentences here are memes too. Because they CAN be copied.
    > Compare this to the DNA-world. Just because a being has no childs
    > doesn't mean his genes were not reproducible.>
            Well, in terms of culture, I don't think potentiality is enough to
    define a meme. I made the point in the post you're replying to:

    >> I disagree here. Every thought we have is not a meme
    regardless of
    >> whether we tell anyone else about it. A meme is something that
    has been
    >> communicated, transmitted to others, and persists.

            <Well, we have different views.>

            That's your perogative.

    >> Nobody can describe exactly how it happens, whether that be
    in terms
    >> of the artefact meme people, like me, OR the internal
    memeticists. Nobody's
    >> got that far yet. The artefact approach at least has something
    tangible to
    >> study- the artifacts themselves.

            <Well i observe people, there's real meme selection action going on
    > everyday which you will never find in artefacts, because artefacts
    > select memes only in the way that the memes vanish when the artefact
    > vanishes too.>
            That's a bit like saying that because you observe the sun rise and
    set, it must be going around the Earth. By postulating that memes pass
    between brains, you're presuming some kind of neurological process that you
    can't see by watching people. All you can see is external behaviours, and
    at this point that is all we have to observe and analyse. By saying that,
    in effect, memes are these outward behaviours and artefacts, it allows us to
    ask questions of how such things spread, whether that be a ritualistic
    behaviour (e.g. the mexican wave), a clothing fashion, or a sacred text etc.
    It gives us things to study that we know exist. Perhaps by observing such
    things we may come to some general ideas about cultural evolution, a bit
    like Darwin coming up with ideas about natural selection based on
    observations of speciation in the Galapagos, before genes and DNA were


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