Re: Selfish meme?

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Sun Jan 27 2002 - 17:07:27 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Selfish meme?
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    At 01:52 PM 26/01/02 -0900, "Philip Jonkers" <>


    >What property should a meme have in order for you to call it a meme?

    Information content and transmissibility.

    >the looks of your reply it seems a meme should have meaning. But that again
    >every word has a meaning because if you omit any word in a sentence either
    >its meaning is changed or the sentence becomes non-sensical. Consider the
    >trivial sentence: 'The bird flies to its nest.' and try to omit any word
    >changing its meaning. Therefore every word has a meaning and every word is
    >memetic as
    >it can be transmitted to other hosts.

    The trouble with using "meaning" is that it is highly subjective. "Horse"
    or "cow" are just word pointers to objects. I don't consider such words
    memes. Memes that spread like wildfire and massively affected human
    history are "horses can be ridden!' and "you can make an eatable substance
    that will keep from cow milk!"


    > > Memes don't have to be expressed in words. You would not have to use a
    > > single word to show someone how to chip out a "killer frisbee" a million
    > > and a half years ago, and the learned songs of birds and whales are memes
    > > without words.
    >Precisely so. According to the latest poll here on the list we have
    >identified four
    >modes of transmission: verbal, depiction, and ...?? When AI machines emerge
    >they will too produce memes (see the Meme-Machine) and transmission of
    >memes will happen entirely electronic as software exchange between `smart'

    How memes are transmitted is not in my opinion very interesting. Why
    people are affected by some and not by others is far more interesting to me.

    Keith Henson

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