RE: A Test

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Wed Oct 10 2001 - 12:39:43 BST

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    Subject: RE: A Test
    Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2001 12:39:43 +0100
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    > (1) people build culture
    > (2) different people in a culture select for different memes
    > (3) it's not important whether a person thinks he's done a decision
    > consciously or unconsciously, the thing is that he made the decision
    > in his brain>
            The point is that IMHO you're being reductive to the point of
    absurdity in order to argue for the genetic determination of culture, which
    goes against the whole point of memetics.

    >> That's a bit like saying that because you observe the sun rise
    >>set, it must be going around the Earth.

            <Well, at least i observe! I haven't read any explanation from any
    > you why different people select different memes.
    > So, maybe i'm wrong, but at least i don't shut my eyes.>
            I said context is all important. Socio-cultural factors are
    important in the decisions people make, and the cultural trends they follow,
    or don't follow. Family structures are important also. There's lots of
    work on this kind of thing, e.g. Cavalli-Sforza's work on cultural traits.

            <Well you yourself wrote about 'transmitting' of memes, you still
    > the answer to my question between what else than brains memes get
    > transmitted.>
            Look, I'm not disputing that people (and thus their brains) are
    important parts of the process of the development of culture, all I'm saying
    is that I don't think that memes reside in brains. I believe this thread
    began because you were trying to make the point that DNA/Genes determine
    culture through determining the brain. One way to dispute this simplistic
    reductionism is by questioning the presence of memes in brains. That's all
    I've been trying to do by making the case for the artefactual meme (or
    G-meme after Derek Gatherer's ideas).

            Take your example of memes from Ancient Greece, as I think it shows
    what I mean. That greek ideas of democracy, for example, disappeared for
    hundreds of years only to reappear much later on, and could not have
    happened if memes were transmitted purely between brains. Such memes
    required a form of storage that allowed for long periods of disinterest and
    non-transmission, and being in written form allowed that. What made those
    memes begin to spread again and more widely than before was not a product of
    individual choice, but of social circumstances that made notions of
    democracy attractive.

            <Well i do this, and from my observation it is obvious that people
    > react differently to memes even in a given culture.
    > I don't know why i'm the only one who sees this. I mean, my ideas
    > about how memes might be stored in the brain and that is speculation
    > and maybe it's all wrong.
    > But that not everybody goes into celibacy, commits suicide or
    > whatever when they heard about the idea the meme is something that
    > everyone can see. Or not?
    > And that not everyone spreads the same memes can be seen quite easily
    > in reality too, so what's my problem?>
    In seeing a simple line from genes to brains to memes to culture. Part of
    the basic point of memetics is that culture is, at least to some extent, off
    the leash from being determined by the genes, and may operate by its own
    processes, which may in turn operate according to an evolutionary model akin
    to the replicator theory of natural selection.

    > > 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.
            <Well i wish you would do this!

    > But when i read the replies to my point that memes get selected by
    > people i just get the standard "It's culture" reply.>
            There are things like diffusion research, cultural traits research.
    Derek's done some of this, as have others on the list. I personally haven't
    yet, although I intend to do some news diffusion/framing research in the
    future to try and tie memetics into my discipline (media/journalism

            How can I put it.... what I'm talking about in contrasting
    individual people to a culture, is akin to the difference between
    interpersonal communication and mass communication. Both are forms of
    communication, both involve human beings, but they are not the same, and the
    same rules do not apply in those different circumstances. I think it's fair
    to say that the same goes for the difference between individual interaction
    and culture.

            To refer back to the Greek example, it's also a bit like the
    differences between Athenian democracy and mass democracy.


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