Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id IAA02061 (8.6.9/5.3[ref email@example.com] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from firstname.lastname@example.org); Fri, 18 Jan 2002 08:07:31 GMT To: <email@example.com> Message-Id: <AA-CA1951D145F743BC0ED3CD87EFA1C069-ZZ@maillink1.prodigy.net> Date: Fri, 18 Jan 2002 03:03:36 -0500 From: "Philip Jonkers" <PHILIPJONKERS@prodigy.net> Subject: Reply to Grant Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Precedence: bulk Reply-To: email@example.com
>It's good to hear that there's another theorist on
the list. I like the idea
>of tools being memes, it's the original purpose of
memes: tools to increase
>survival prospects and chances. The converse however
is not always so I
>contend. I will explain why in a more in depth
analysis of your letter to
>Susan Blackmore submitting your theory.
>>>So where do we read about your theory, Grant? >>
>>I was just reading The Meme Machine and was struck
by an idea that may make
>>the field of memetics more like a science. The key
to my idea is to >give
>>up the selfish meme concept. There is selfishness,
all right,but it is not
>>the meme that is selfish. In that sense a meme is
not much like a gene.
>Selfishness of course doesn't really apply to non-
living abstract entities
>or small clumps of molecules. The term selfishness
has meaning only to
>living animated beings. Terms like the selfish
meme/gene doesn't apply to
>the meme/gene itself but to the behavior the
meme/gene helps bring forth in
>such a way that the occurrence of that meme/gene
increases at the expense of
>other genes/memes. In the evolutionary end only those
>greedy and selfish behavior will prevail over those
that produce less
>ambitious and vital behavior. It's a law of nature,
survival of the fittest
>again and again. The term Selfish Meme/Gene is just a
catchy short-hand name
>for memetic/genetic selfish induced behavior. That's
what Dawkins and
>Blackmore meant by that slogan.
I realize that selfish behavior might even apply to
plants, since they have niches to compete over too.
It's not as spectacular and dynamic as the animal
kingdom but still.
>Ok. This is the first real argument about
selfishness that makes sense to
>me. What still bothers me, however, is the
difference between the
>relationship between the gene and the body it creates
and the meme, which
>only codifies behavior. It doesn't build a body, but
it does build a body
>of tools. Those that are about the same thing, like
the various branches of
>science, law or religion, can be considered a
structure, of sorts. But what
>kind of structure is it? They seem basically to be a
library of tools we
>use to solve a specific type of problem, somewhat
like the Java library and
>the other software that run my computer.
Yes there are differences between memes and genes.
You should not stare yourself blind in trying to find
perfect analogies between them, it's a needless
waste of effort. Both memes and genes are replicators.
They resemble eachother in as much that they are
replicators and share a same turf: the human brain.
Genes build the brain, the brain generates memes.
Memes stimulate genes to build even better meme-
generating brains by providing better survival rates,
so that these genes get selected. Indeed,
except for artifacts, memes are less tangible than
genes and are better off when described in an
abstract way. I see no difficulty in that though, but
I'm used to thinking abstract without qualms (th.
>The cities we live in are built on memes as much as
they are built on earth,
>steel and stone. Are cities and nations the bodies
that memes create? Are
>cars and computers and airplanes and factories the
bodies of sub-organisms
>that become for the cities and the nations the
equivalent of blood and
>organs? And is civilization the superorganism that
will someday cover the
>Earth? We seem to be headed in that direction.
Like I said, don't waste your intellectual energy
trying to squeeze memes into a gene-like
>This would dovetail nicely with what genes do for the
body and the species.
>It's a direction that seems worth exploring.
>>Memes, in my estimation, are a set of tools we use
to accomplish certain
>> >objectives in our daily lives. Each tool is a meme
and vice versa. That
>> >simplifies the task of identifying a meme and
categorizing it. I ask you
>>to hear me out and respond to the following
challenge: give me an exampl
>> >of a meme that is NOT a tool.
>Well allow me on behalf of Susan, that shouldn't be
so hard when you admit
>the following logical argument. Suppose all memes
were tools, what remains
>as tool-substrate then? Tools have to apply to
something, but what according
>to your theory. It's like trying to build a house
with all hammers and no
>From this logical premise it should be easy to find
examples of non-tool
>memes: music-plays, fashion/catch phrases, fashion,
etc.... If you insist to
>stick to your infinitely broad definition of the
concept of a tool, the
>meaning of tool-substrate becomes irrelevant.
>I'm not sure what you mean by "substrate" and why
it's important. The
>tools/memes of architecture and city planning are
what allow us to build
>cities. The writer and speaker use the tools/memes
of language to
>communicate. Music, art, fashion and catch phrases
work to cement and guide
>our relationships with each other. A person who
lacks these tools can't
>function in society. Oh, sure, we can individually
get along without some
>of these tools but anyone who lacks all of them will
not really be a member
Okay, allow me to explain. With substrate I mean
that on which a tool acts. Although I find you're
interpretation attractive I think meme=tool is a
little too broad a concept. Suppose you want to
build a house. You will need tools, like hammers,
chissels, cranes, and stuff like that. But how would
you call bricks, wood, tiles and cement? Surely, these
inventions are memes. Indeed they are quite
successful as they offer a great deal of fitness to
their hosts. But to call them tools... hmmm...
bricks as tools to build a house, it doesn't sound
right to me.
>Unless one suffers from some sort of speech
impediment this is simply not
>true. You don't pause in between words, you as a
linguist should know this
>perfectly well. I refer to Steven Pinker. You only
pause to catch breath or
>to think about the next sentence construction.
>The silence may not be there physically, but it's
there symbolically. You
>know where a word begins and ends. That's why it's
represented by a space
>in writing. If you don't hear it, you insert it with
your mind as you turn
>sound into speech in your head. You also know where
sentences begin and
>end. They do have physical silences between them.
We don't pause only to
>breathe. We pause for effect. We pause for
emphasis. We pause to change
>the subject. We pause to consider what to say next.
Just because words run
>together does not mean there are no pauses that carry
information in our
Pauses are useful in conversations I agree that much,
it's just that they are not audibly present as they
are in script. That's all I wanted to get across.
Try listening to someone speaking a foreign language
fluently, they sound like long pauseless phonetic
strings. You ultimately unconsciously extract separate
words once you master that language to sufficient
>>That is silence, no sound, nothing. We also use
every possible contortion
>>of our faces to convey=20 >information. A wink, a
smile, a frown, a
>>drooping eyelid, a wrinkled nose >or brow, the angle
of ones head, and more
>>are used as tools to convey >information of one kind
or another. The term
>>poker face even defines the >use of that expression.
It is an attempt to
>>keep ones face blank during >some transaction in
order to gain an
>>advantage. Of course, the blank fac >e >also conveys
>>everybody knows what the user is using it >for. But
think of it. The lack
>>of expression is being used as a tool to both hide
information and to
>>convey it at the same time.
>This is not true either. It's all about changes that
>Tell me Grant how on earth can you extract
information from somebody who
>maintains a poker face throughout the *entire* game?
You can't, this is
>precisely where the use of poker-faces lie. It's
fullproof if consistently
>maintained and this is precisely what these guys do...
>Again, I beg to differ. The information you get from
a poker face is not
>about the cards being held. It's about the player.
It says what kind of
>player he is and how serious he is about the game.
You don't mess with a
>guy who wears a poker face. He uses it to intimidate
the other players as
>well as to hide his intentions. It's a badge he
wears to show his skill
>level. It takes practice to perfect and helps
separate the wolves from the
>sheep. There's more to the game than just the gam
Well there's a relatively simple way to neutralize
to edge a poker-face has in card-plays. Assume one
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