RE: The selfish gene meme

From: Price, Ilfryn (
Date: Thu Dec 06 2001 - 12:19:54 GMT

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    Subject: RE: The selfish gene meme
    Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2001 12:19:54 -0000
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    Hi Aaron

    I missedthe quote. Apologies

    > "... However, the ambiguity of a word with many definitions
    > swirling around
    > it can actually increase its propagation, even as some
    > scientists recoil from
    > it. When people are able to read into a word the meaning that
    > most suits
    > them, it may increase the numbers of non-specialists and even social
    > scientists who adopt and use the term. ..."

    Your 'Physics' memes are showing ne c'est pas? are 'even social scientists' a sub group of 'non-specialists'?

    > What is important, in my opinion, is that any word we use serve the
    > scientists and their work rather than the other way around.

    Most words / memes that take hold in the domain of science need to do that at least initially. The same is true of business fads in the
    business domain. However as John W pointed out in the case of 'gene' replication can proceed beyond the utility of precision and other terms
    take over.
    > Interestingly, your use of the term "replication space"
    > suggests that you are
    > referring to something that is defined with sufficient
    > mathematical precision
    > to call for a coordinate system. Some readers will want to
    > know in exact
    > quantitative terms how that space is defined, which in turn
    > may cause them to
    > want to know in more exact terms how the word "meme" is defined.

    I can appreciate how it would suggest that precision to a physicist but I used it as no more than metaphor. C.f Dennet's space in the
    Libraries of Mendel and Babel.


    If Price
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    Sheffield Hallam University
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