Re: Knowledge, Memes and Sensory Perception

From: Francesca S. Alcorn (
Date: Tue Jan 15 2002 - 06:41:13 GMT

  • Next message: Grant Callaghan: "Re: Scientology"

    Received: by id GAA20451 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Tue, 15 Jan 2002 06:45:02 GMT
    Message-Id: <p04320406b86955a62a65@[]>
    In-Reply-To: <>
    References: <>
    Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2002 01:41:13 -0500
    From: "Francesca S. Alcorn" <>
    Subject: Re: Knowledge, Memes and Sensory Perception
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" ; format="flowed"
    Precedence: bulk

    >(My far from anything but general understanding of the amish is that
    >they are distinct, but not isolated. I don't see them as intolerant.)

    I am not saying that they are intolerant of outsiders, but that they
    do not tolerate diversity amongst their members, who are
    excommunicated if they wander too far afield.

    >At any rate, here's my take, coming off the fence, if only to stand alone....
    >There is no meme of, say, intolerance, since that's what you
    >mentioned, until intolerance is performed. And thus, there is no
    >'may result'. Schroedinger's cat is in a memetic box.

    This sounds like the extreme behaviorist perspective in psychology -
    Skinner's black box. It certainly helped bring scientific rigor to a
    field awash with quacks and wangdoodles of all sorts, and showed
    Freud and his followers that they had no claim to the sort of
    scientific authority that they claimed for themselves. But it's
    shortcoming is that it says that unless I can measure or observe
    something it does not exist, which is a sort of hubris in itself.

    Cognitive behaviorists get around this by saying that a thought
    counts as a behavior - usually based on self-report for the purposes
    of scientific research. And that a thought can be an (internal)
    stimulus to an external behavior. I gather from what you say that
    you do not consider a thought an action. So an action must terminate
    in a musculo-skeletal event and not a neuro-electrical event. :)

    My work has shaped the way I think about memes. One example of how I
    use it in therapy is with sexual abuse victims who often conflate two
    separate ideas (memes?): sexuality and abuse. Because their sexual
    abuse was most often their first experience(s) with sex, they tend to
    see the violence/coercion and fear of the abuse as part of sex. By
    helping them see this as two separate ideas, it creates an
    opportunity for them to develop their own more fulfilling idea of
    sex. So it is the reductionistic aspect of memes which I find useful
    in therapy. It can result in very real changes in behavior. Or so
    I've been told.

    I find myself in the "meme as abstract idea" camp.

    >In all cases, until that jihad or that teacher or that parent or
    >that cop or that guy down the street tries to demonstrate this
    >intolerance, there is no meme whatsoever.

    Just so I understand correctly, you are saying that the teacher is
    not acting on the meme unless she goes out and bashes someone on the
    head - the act of teaching that meme does not count as "embodying"
    the meme?

    And what if the meme is a meme of *not* doing something. Like not
    smoking. Does the "don't smoke" meme exist if people *stop* smoking,
    but not if they don't start smoking?


    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)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Tue Jan 15 2002 - 07:20:16 GMT