Memetic Engineering v/s Cultural Evolution

From: Jeremy Bradley (
Date: Tue Dec 18 2001 - 05:25:30 GMT

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    From: Jeremy Bradley <>
    Subject: Memetic Engineering v/s Cultural Evolution
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    Hi all
    I came across the concept of memes some years ago in an examination of
    cultural development as predicated by elements encoded into cultural
    narratives. My thesis views cultures as the products of memetic
    engineering rather than a 'natural selection', or evolution process as many
    of you suggest.
    In this context I define a meme as the underlying code which identifies an
    artefact of culture as valid or invalid within a culture. A cultural
    artefact is anything from a thought to a tea-pot which is produced by a
    For example, a Western formative narrative may begin with "Once upon a time
    there was a poor Prince". This unremarkable beginning assumes the
    acceptance of; linier time, material and hereditary hierarchy, and would
    probably end with "And they lived happily ever after". The normalising
    effect of this narrative excludes the artefacts of non-compliant cultures
    in like manner to the way that a genetically created physical body will
    identify and reject a splinter of wood.
    As you will understand the concepts which I am discussing are more subtle
    than 'thought contagion'. In fact for a thought to be contagious it must
    either be recognisable as valid or be able to invade the cultural body To
    me memes are truly like the genes of culture. Each artefact produced
    within a culture and every artefact of another culture is judged for its
    acceptability or validity according to the code which produces, maintains,
    defends and reproduces that culture.
    My thesis, (1999), examines the cultural narratives of indigenous and
    non-indigenous Australians. In a nutshell I claim that cultures are
    designed, and that their directions are predicated, by the processes of
    sense-creation (i.e. makes sense or doesn't) which is embedded in
    childhood, spiritual, historical and contemporary narratives. In it I have
    attempted to 'map' a cultural meme (and - I did it before the human gene
    was mapped). The interesting thing is that the 'meme maps' for the two
    cultures are consistently different.
    My thesis is only at an honours level but if any of you would like to read
    it E me and I will send it.
    Cheers Jeremy
    P. S. I may be a bit slow replying but don't worry I'll get there.

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    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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