Re: Sensory and sensibility

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Tue Jan 22 2002 - 02:40:52 GMT

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    Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2002 21:40:52 -0500
    From: Keith Henson <>
    Subject: Re: Sensory and sensibility
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    At 05:22 PM 21/01/02 -0800, "Dace" <>

    > > Salice:


    > > By the way, these kind of memes are pathological according to Ted,
    > > as they obviously give an false interpretation of reality.
    >I'm not the one reducing an unresolved 2500 year-old philosophical debate to
    >a battle of the memes. Obviously, there's going to be some truth in there s
    >omewhere. I'd take Aristotle over Plato any day (and Darwin over Weismann).
    >The point is that some memes carry truth (or the nearest we can come to it)
    >while other memes carry nothing other than whatever enables them to
    >procreate more effectively.

    Another way to put it, symbiotic memes vs parasitic memes. With respect to
    what are they symbiotic or parasitic? Genes. Genes, and the animals they
    construct, live in the real world. The "truth" memes carry is with respect
    to the real (objective) world. Memes have to be in sync with the real
    world or at least not dangerously out of sync or the animals using them
    (mostly humans) and their genes fail to make it into the next
    generation. A meme to plant seeds in the fall may have been as fatal to
    early humans and their genes as the Shaker meme of never having sex was
    fatal to the genes of those it infected.

    >The essence of logical memes is their content.

    Because by being based in a true representation of the world, or at least a
    harmless one, they aid or at least don't interfere with genes.

    >The essence of pathological memes is their memeness, that is, their ability
    >to reproduce and to colonize minds.

    Pathological or parasitical. To the extent you can see the evolution of
    cults to religions (typically taking 300 years) you are seeing a meme move
    from a parasite to a symbiote. That does not always happen, but it is a
    typical path for the evolution of biological parasites to take. Along this
    line it is possible to say something good about even scientology. It may
    be all that keeps some people from being sucked into something *even
    worse,* like Heaven's Gate. Or as I put it in one of my papers, it is
    safer to be a Methodist than to be sucked into Jim Jones's cult.

    Keith Henson

    PS. Memes can be *conditionally* true. A meme of "it is safer to drive
    on the left side of the road" is a true meme only in places where others
    are doing the same. :-)

    PPS. The metameme of the scientific method is the way we have figured out
    how to rate memes as to how well they fit the real world--a measure of
    truth in this context.

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