Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id CAA20325 (8.6.9/5.3[ref firstname.lastname@example.org] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from email@example.com); Thu, 29 Nov 2001 02:56:28 GMT Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2001 13:51:57 +1100 Subject: Memes implemented, was Re: A Question for Wade Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; format=flowed From: John Wilkins <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit In-Reply-To: <20011129022624.AAA12039@firstname.lastname@example.org> Message-Id: <0DF64F5A-E474-11D5-A43D-003065B4D1F0@wehi.edu.au> X-Mailer: Apple Mail (2.475) Sender: email@example.com Precedence: bulk Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
On Thursday, November 29, 2001, at 01:26 PM, Wade T.Smith wrote:
> Problem with a lot of professions is, all they can do is profess.
You know what they say - those who *really* can, teach; those who can't,
earn enormous salaries pretending they can...
As to the implementation of memes, I think it already happened by
default when the statistical methods developed by Pearson and Fisher to
analyse biometric data (on purely Darwinian grounds) were taken over to
social research. So we might not expect that much effect from the
metaphor that is memetics will result. Except in one case - phylogenetic
analysis. The taxonomy debate is not merely about where to draw
arbitrary lines in the sand but about how to classify so that two goals
can be met.
The first is to arrange things that are similar due to descent in
"natural" ways so that inferences can be inductively extended from one
taxon to a related one. This is an economical way to make use of our
knowledge; and it presents us with anomalous (ie, evolved) situations
that are worth pursuing in detail, rather than just doing stamp
The second is to reconstruct as best we can the *history* of modern
diversity; initially in terms of the branching order of taxa, and then
in terms of the dates of the branches. The *only* way to do this is
through phylogenetic analysis, because historical records are as
incomplete in many ways as the fossil record.
There is a paper by Price and Lord in a recent JoM, which attempts to do
a classification in terms of cluster analysis, which is known in
biotaxonomy as "phenetics". This is not, in my view, useful for either
purpose, but tat least it is a start in the right direction. [If, I know
you are on this list - want to comment?]
-- John Wilkins Head Communication Services, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne Australia Personal page: <http://users.bigpond.com/thewilkins/darwiniana.html>
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