RE: Wade's hammer

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Wed Jan 09 2002 - 12:36:54 GMT

  • Next message: Vincent Campbell: "RE: Wade's hammer"

    Received: by id MAA04721 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Wed, 9 Jan 2002 12:49:12 GMT
    Message-ID: <>
    From: Vincent Campbell <>
    To: "''" <>
    Subject: RE: Wade's hammer
    Date: Wed, 9 Jan 2002 12:36:54 -0000 
    X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.2650.21)
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
    X-Filter-Info: UoS MailScan 0.1 [D 1]
    Precedence: bulk

    ooh I'm so tempted to do that old joke about American culture being an

    oops I just did...


    > ----------
    > From: Grant Callaghan
    > Reply To:
    > Sent: Tuesday, January 8, 2002 15:52 PM
    > To:
    > Subject: Re: Wade's hammer
    > Hi Wade
    > > >What I do is
    > > >use memetics as a 'tool' to find evidence for cultural manipulation in
    > >our
    > > >storyscape.
    > >
    > >So, you might think of a meme as a mathematical formula derived from the
    > >patterns of cultural, uh, what? Propagation? Mutation?
    > >
    > >How do you determine what is mutated, and how?
    > >
    > >In what sense are, say, low-rider jeans a mutation from pantaloons?
    > >
    > >How do we speciate culture? And are we justified in doing so, when
    > >culture itself is a product of only one species?
    > >
    > >- Wade
    > >
    > Although I don't see mutation as a useful concept for what happens in the
    > meme stream -- the way memes are formed insures that they will not be
    > copied
    > faithfully in most cases -- I can see a sense in which there is speciation
    > between culutres. Seaparation, for example, causes speciation in nature
    > (genes) and it does the same thing in culutre. Language, for example,
    > defines a culture. When English culture came to America with the
    > colonists,
    > it follow an evolutionary path that diverged greatly from the culture
    > expressed in England. Even at the time of Franklin and Jefferson, people
    > were writing about it. The political memes of our revolution were taken
    > up
    > by the French and used to change the concept of how to govern in their
    > country. Most people now agree that American culture and English culture
    > are two different cultures. But we still retain a lot of the memes we
    > brought with us.
    > But look at genetic evolution. Humans and Chimps share some 99% of their
    > DNA but the differences between the two are immediately apparent. The
    > cultural differences between Brits and Americans are much greater as a
    > percentage of the whole but you have to step back and look at the whole
    > culture to see how different we really are. Because of language and
    > communication we have managed to keep sharing memes across the ocean and
    > the
    > amount of separation is not as much as it once was. But our legal and
    > political systems seem a world apart to the people from the other side who
    > get caught up in them. The same applies to education, art, music, and all
    > the fields where we once shared a common cultural ancestry.
    > It reminds me of two species of butterfly I once read about. The only
    > difference between them was that one came out in the morning and the other
    > came out in the evening. But that was enough that they are now unable to
    > mate with each other. It takes a lot more memes to cause cultural
    > speciation than it does genes to cause genetic speciation. That's because
    > the genetic code is very tightly controlled by its process of evolution
    > and
    > the evolution of memes is much faster and looser and the kind of
    > information
    > on which it is based is not passed the same way.
    > If I see you doing something and try to copy it, I may not understand what
    > you are trying to do or why you are doing it, but I will come up with
    > something that outwardly resembles what you did. Take the kid crashing
    > the
    > airplane, for example. Outwardly, what he did was the same thing the al
    > Queda did with airliners. But when you get beneath that outward venier,
    > there was little or no resemblance at all. The only thing they had in
    > common was the use of a crashed airplane to make a statement. But I don't
    > think the statements they were making were anything alike. One was a
    > display of hatered, the other a cry for help.
    > Back on the subject of memes and speciation, it's not the memes themselves
    > that mutate. Or perhaps we can look at the single instances of change as
    > more like the three-letter words that make up a gene. They only change
    > things when they fit into the process as a whole. Those that don't fit
    > are
    > cast out.
    > Grant
    > _________________________________________________________________
    > Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at
    > ===============================================================
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    > For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    > see:

    The University of Stirling is a university established in Scotland by
    charter at Stirling, FK9 4LA.  Privileged/Confidential Information may
    be contained in this message.  If you are not the addressee indicated
    in this message (or responsible for delivery of the message to such
    person), you may not disclose, copy or deliver this message to anyone
    and any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it, is
    prohibited and may be unlawful.  In such case, you should destroy this
    message and kindly notify the sender by reply email.  Please advise
    immediately if you or your employer do not consent to Internet email
    for messages of this kind.  Opinions, conclusions and other
    information in this message that do not relate to the official
    business of the University of Stirling shall be understood as neither
    given nor endorsed by it.

    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed Jan 09 2002 - 13:02:17 GMT