Re: Modes of Transmission

From: Joe Dees (
Date: Wed Jan 16 2002 - 06:35:40 GMT

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    > <>Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002 00:12:06 EST
    > Re: Modes of Transmission
    >In a message dated 1/15/2002 10:30:17 PM Central Standard Time,Joe Dees
    ><> writes:
    >Hi Joe.
    >It looks like you are listing media of communication, at least with regard to
    >the transmission of ideas.
    >Some very basic questions are:
    >1. WHAT is the replicator or WHAT are the replicators
    >2. HOW does the replicator (or replicators) replicate
    >3. WHY do some replicators replicate more than others do.
    >Questions 1 and 2 seem to be getting mixed together in recent threads, though
    >I have not read everything.
    I have been endeavoring to separate them, while at the same time noting that means of replicating the understandings replicated may constitute memes themselves (ways of doing things, e. g. replicating memes), each of which is functionally applicable to many (although not all) memetic content. For instance, it is easier to read WAR AND PEACE for comprehension (although that in and of itself is no easy task) than it is to mime it.
    >In answering question 1, there seem to be three very broad classes under
    > A. Internal phenomena that might be called ideas and/or memories and/or
    >internal behaviors,
    > B. External behaviors, typically visible, audible, tangible, etc. with
    >the unaided senses
    > C. Artifacts.
    I maintain that in a finer grained sense, real distinctions may be drawn; for instance, signing, although ephemeral and visual, is constitutive of a language, that is, a symbol system, whereas picturing (such as drawing, photography, etc.), although inscribed, does not employ such a system, but instead endeavors to re-present the object iconically.
    >All of A, B, and C are identified by way of abstractions, as discussed in
    >this excerpt from my paper Units, Events, and Dynamics in the Evolutionary
    >Epidemiology of ideas (
    >" Many of the conceptual and analytical tools used to consider thought
    >contagions also pertain to the various other kinds of cultural replicators,
    >though often with modification. Still, the similarities allow for scientists
    >to study a range of different kinds of cultural replicators. As with memory
    >items, one still needs abstractions to consider two behaviors or two
    >artifacts "the same." That means that one still needs to use abstractions to
    >view behaviors or artifacts as replicators. For example, it takes an
    >abstraction to say that two people both performed "the same" behavior of
    >tying a shoe. One does not mean that hands followed the exact same
    >trajectories over time, since no two people's hands are exactly identical.
    >Some hands have fewer than five digits, others have extra digits, while still
    >others have arthritic joints. Even for a single individual, the trajectories
    >followed in tying a shoe can vary dramatically, while the physiological state
    >of the hands and body also change from moment to moment and year to year.
    >What one calls "the behavior" of tying a shoe is recognized more for the
    >outcome of a secure bow made by one person than the specific behavior leading
    >to that result. People also learn different ways of tying a shoe:
    >single-handedly or left-handedly, while others learn to tie bows that have
    >slight topological differences such as a clockwise or counterclockwise twist.
    >Compounding the diversity is the huge variety of shoes and shoe laces. A very
    >young child needs a certain amount of experiential learning just to know that
    >a shoe-tying behavior is happening. Cultural replication can only happen with
    >respect to an abstraction, whether it involves internal memory items or
    >external behaviors and artifacts or any combination of them.
    >While a behavior such as tying a shoe is not itself a thought contagion, the
    >knowledge of how to tie a shoe with a bow does spread as a thought contagion.
    >The ease of untying a slip knot such as a bow would have given people
    >incentive to learn the knowledge of how to tie a bow from other people seen
    >doing it. As that knowledge spread in adults, parents had motives for
    >inculcating the knowledge into their children: doing so saved them from
    >having to dig terrible knots out of their children's shoelaces or from
    >dealing with shoes falling off of their children or from always having to
    >help the children with their shoes.
    >When artifacts are viewed as replicators, most involve brains at some point
    >in the causal pathway to forming new "copies." Bows tied in shoelaces do not
    >replicate themselves, and they are usually not even used for clues about how
    >to tie shoelaces. Instead, bows result from behaviors that result from stored
    >knowledge, with the behaviors playing an essential role in communicating the
    >knowledge from brain to brain. The bow as an artifact helps call attention to
    >the fact that there is a useful bow-tying behavior and knowledge of how to
    >tie a bow. The artifacts of bows, the behavior of tying bows, and the
    >knowledge of how to tie a bow all depend upon each other for propagation.
    >They all depend on the persistence of memory for preservation, as the bows
    >and the behaviors of tying them usually remain dormant while people sleep
    >with their shoes off and untied. " END QUOTE
    >In regard to ideas as replicators, the general question 2 of how the
    >replicators replicate includes both the media of communication and other
    >behavioral specifics. Under media of communication, you do indeed have such
    >things as showing, saying, writing, and picturing. With respect to idea
    >transmission, artifacts and behaviors can be media of communication. Along
    >with showing, saying, writing, and picturing, one might add signing (as in
    >sign language), and even some exotic, futuristic methods involving
    >micro-neurosurgery. If we could learn from osmosis, I would add that one too
    Thanx for the info.; I have bookmarked them for future perusal.
    >--Aaron Lynch
    >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)

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    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)

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