RE: memetics-digest V1 #916

From: Lawrence de Bivort (
Date: Sun Feb 03 2002 - 19:21:11 GMT

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    Subject: RE: memetics-digest V1 #916
    Date: Sun, 3 Feb 2002 11:21:11 -0800
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    We have long ago realized on this list that some of us use the term 'memes'
    in different ways. Blackmore's formulation is not of great interest,
    precision, distinction or utility to me and has, if she is to be given
    credit for it, been the source of much fruitless discussion and confusion.
    My definition is more closely allied with those of Keith, Joe and Wade:
    self-replication and self-defense lie at the core of the definition. At this
    point, we must all stick with our own definitions, make them as public and
    well-explained as possible, and see whose turns out to be the most


    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: []On Behalf
    > Of John Croft
    > Sent: Friday, February 01, 2002 6:56 PM
    > To:
    > Subject: Re: memetics-digest V1 #916
    > Joe, Ted, and Keith on the activity of memes to
    > duplicate themselves suggested that
    > > >To be replicated is necessary but insufficient to
    > > >qualify as memetic. Memes are not passively
    > > >replicated but actively self-replicate. The mere
    > > >repetition of words doesn't mean memetic
    > > >propagation is occurring. Memes exploit our
    > > >conscious interaction in order to replicate
    > > >themselves from one mind to another.
    > I would strongly disagree. Memes come in many kinds.
    > Some memes do invest a great deal in "actively self
    > replicating". Others do not. Still others invest
    > almost nothing, "piggybacking" on the active ones.
    > It was Blackmore's contribution to recognise any
    > replicable learned behaviour has the character of a
    > meme. "The bacon is in the fridge" from the moment it
    > is repeated by a second person is a meme. Whether it
    > gets repeated a third time, or a fourth depends upon
    > other circumstances, some of which the mem has "under
    > control" and others which are contextual and
    > environmental. But this is the same about gene
    > duplication also. It is the meaning behind the meme
    > that will determine the number of repetitions it gets.
    > For instance, if you are living in a community of
    > baconophiles "The bacon is in the fridge" would be
    > duplicated many times. But the same contextual
    > fashion is found in "bacon is evil" also operate. In
    > a community of "bacon is evil" people, it would only
    > duplicate if bacon were present, and a believer were
    > wishing to let otyhers know. Both are composed of
    > sub-memes. "Bacon" by itself is a meme, if
    > duplicated. "Fridges" certainly are memes in their
    > own right. A whole culture of "bacon" and "fridge"
    > using can evolve to duplicate both. This operates in
    > the same way that termite fishing operates as a meme
    > amongst Gombe chimpanzees.
    > Thus Ted wrote
    > > >In order for this to occur, the words must involve
    > > >some kind of interpretation ("bacon is evil") and
    > > >not a mere statement of fact ("bacon is in the
    > > >fridge"). If it's merely factual, the repetition
    > > >of the statement can be accounted for according to
    > > >normal, intentional use of language.
    > and Keith replied
    > > Good way to put it. You can't call everything a
    > > meme or it becomes a useless word.
    > Again I would disagree with you both here. Everything
    > that is culturally duplicated and diseminated is a
    > meme. (Not just statements with interpretation - for
    > instance - a sung melody is a meme, a gesture (eg
    > shaking hands in greeting) is a meme, washing potatoes
    > in the sea before eating them is a meme. It is the
    > fact of duplication that makes it mimetic. If not
    > duplicated, but learned individually with every
    > generation, or if "instinctual" and passed genetically
    > then it is not a meme. "Fridges", "bacon" and putting
    > "bacon" into "fridges" are all mimentic, specific to
    > one culture, and all "seek" replication.
    > Regards
    > John
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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)
    > see:

    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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