Re: Do all memes die out or evolve? I think not.

From: Joe Dees (
Date: Fri Jan 18 2002 - 08:49:24 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Do all memes die out or evolve? I think not.
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    >Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 10:45:56 +0000
    > Chris Taylor <> Re: Do all memes die out or evolve? I think not.Reply-To:
    >Dace wrote:
    >>>>Just because memes are liable to arrive at an optimal state doesn't mean
    >>>>they aren't still products of evolution. The same thing occurs in the
    >>>>natural environment all the time. Organisms get to a certain point where
    >>>>they fit their ecosystem perfectly.
    >>>I didn't realize evolution was about perfection. Are you sure you haven't
    >>>conflated evolution with some outdated natural theological view long
    >>>replaced by Darwin's evolution via selection?
    >> No one has said anything about theology except you. Try not to be so
    >> literal. We're just chatting here, Scott.
    >>>There's the difference between stabilizing selection which would keep a
    >>>feature of a population at a satisfactory (ie- just getting by) state
    >>>a stable ecological context and directional selection which takes the
    >>>population toward a different state "better" for a different ecological
    >>>context when this context has itself changed, along with the playing
    >Sorry in advance - this bloated out of all proportion...
    >What we're on about here is local optima and (the usually impossible to
    >find or even define especially in a dynamic world) global optima. It is
    >quite legitimate to sit on a local optimum for ages. Coelacanths
    >(spelling time...), tuataras, some cycad ferns, cyanobacteria etc.,
    >ginkgos, sharks and other cartilaginous fish to an extent, crocodilians,
    >arachnids - all offer examples of not really changing a whole hell of a
    >lot over a long time. If we talk about ecosystems, many persist for
    >extended periods, even though the players may change, because ecosystems
    >have two opportunities for neutral change between their three levels.
    >Nothing is ever a perfect fit though, it's just a question of staying as
    >high on the fitness landscape as you can. If nothing better comes along
    >(through external [ecological-environmental] or internal [genetic]
    >change), and noone wipes you out, you'll probably stay more or less the
    >same. That's it. I'd (just about) guarantee though that there'll always
    >be something you could 'improve' but there will be some conflict
    >(antagonistic pleiotropy and or epistasis and or some phenotypic design
    >tradeoff) preventing the 'improvement' from evolving. Therefore lasting,
    >but not perfect. Unless you mean perfect to be 'as good as it can get'.
    >Also considering genes in isolation, homeobox genes are *really* ancient
    >(animal) patterning genes that you can take out of a human, put in a fly
    >(for god's sake) and they work fine - that is what I call sitting on
    >your optimum; bear in mind though that that optimum is defined wholly by
    >context (Francesca's point), but then most are - what do arbitrarily
    >designed creatures consume - other arbitrarily designed creatures (plus
    >light and/or some chemicals).
    >Neutral evolution needs to be considered here, but only to be dismissed
    >as long as we stick to considering phenotypes (which is all that memes
    >have - more akin to Kauffman's coadapted complexes / Maynard Smith and
    >Szathmary's hypercycles than a genotype/phenotype structure).
    >Memes seem to have a phenotypic and ecological level, but what about the
    >encoding? Are they an expression of something, or are they just sort of
    >run 'in simulation' in their mind in the sense that they are their own
    >encoding (I'd go for the latter, or a latte).
    >As an aside it annoys me that coffee bars *have* to have a name for
    >normal coffee (not latte/espresso/cappucino/mocha whatever) so it
    >becomes cafe americano. There you go - that naming is only fit in the
    >context of all the others having an extra bit of name...
    If either of you can suggest a more optimum answer to the question "What is 2x2?" that 4, I am all ears...
    > Chris Taylor (
    > »people»chris
    >This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    >Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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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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