Re: Study shows brain can learn without really trying

From: Robin Faichney (
Date: Thu Nov 22 2001 - 10:34:49 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Study shows brain can learn without really trying
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    On Wed, Nov 21, 2001 at 02:49:40PM -0500, Wade Smith wrote:
    > >That's interesting. It seems to have nothing in common with
    > >what people
    > >like Dawkins and Dennett and Blackmore mean by the word. Can
    > >you explain
    > >why you want to use "meme" that way?
    > I don't see it as misplaced. If culture and memes are connected
    > at the hip and somehow humancentric (as opposed to a more
    > complex form of spiderweb or birdsong, which would be totally
    > Wilsonian, and which I don't discount), then somehow and
    > somewhere, humans _do_ something that is unique- they create,
    > they don't just reacte. ;-)

    "If culture and memes are connected at the hip and somehow humancentric"
    -- that's what's called assuming the consequent, isn't it? You seem to
    want to find something "humancentric", and have latched on to memetics.

    > So, okay, here we are, putting memes in just about anywhere we
    > think they might fit, and finding perhaps a few places where
    > they don't really belong, where other things already are, and
    > where arguments are the only product of the squeeze.
    > So, if there is (and there don't have to be) an attempt to
    > explain why humans do this 'create' thingee, I personally see
    > memes as an explanation, often specifically- to bring our
    > culture that needed step beyond the reacting behaviors of the
    > genetic model.

    OK, I can see where you're coming from now. But what you don't seem to
    appreciate is that memetics is just as mechanistic and deterministic
    as is genetics. Or memetics a la Dawkins/Dennett/Blackmore, anyway.
    Of course you can use the words "meme" and "memetics" in any way you
    want, but unfortunately, using the same words in very different ways in
    the same forum leads to great confusion. As we see here every week.

    Some people latch on to memetics as a stick they think they can use to
    beat religious and other irrational types. Others latch on to it as
    a refuge from mechanistic determinism. A few try to use it both ways!
    But both of these rely on a fundamental misunderstanding of memetics,
    because rationality and science are just as reliant on memetic processes
    as are religions, and memetics is entirely mechanistic and deterministic.

    I suppose it's inevitable that any new area of enquiry will be subject
    to hijack attempts by those with ulterior motives.

    Robin Faichney
    alt.m: "Memes do not exist. Tell everyone you know."
    inside information --

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