Re: Modes of transmission

From: Francesca S. Alcorn (
Date: Thu Jan 17 2002 - 01:16:15 GMT

  • Next message: Francesca S. Alcorn: "Re: Do all memes die out or evolve? I think not."

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    From: "Francesca S. Alcorn" <>
    Subject: Re: Modes of transmission
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    >In this way, the behavioral meme was the obvious agent in the environment
    >of culture- the agent that altered the species of chair upon which we
    >sat, and the agent that altered the variety of restaurant where we ate,
    >and the agent that altered the shape of the hat on our heads, ad
    >infinitum. And none of that messy meaning stuff to have to sift through,
    >and interpret, and well, get wrong.

    And that is precisely what I valued about what you were doing with
    this. The line you were drawing, at least reminded us what is
    knowable in a scientific way, and what is not. The
    meaning/motivation for adopting a certain behavior is conjecture. If
    the person who adopted that behavior is alive you can ask them -
    although they could lie to you. (Or their therapist could tell you
    that they really did it because of their unresolved childhood issues.
    :) )

    But in archaeology for instance, there is no one to ask about
    motivation. We have only artifacts from which we infer behaviors,
    and then motivations. These are speculation and conjecture at best,
    and at least Wade's focus on behavior reminds us that. I think that
    assuming early humans believed in an afterlife, just because they
    buried them with flowers is a bit of a leap. Maybe they were just
    trying to mask the odor.

    And in a very real way, it doesn't matter how many people have a meme
    if none of them act on it. Like Kitty Genovese.

    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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