Re: Words and memes

From: Ray Recchia (
Date: Fri Feb 08 2002 - 02:22:52 GMT

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    Date: Thu, 07 Feb 2002 21:22:52 -0500
    From: Ray Recchia <>
    Subject: Re: Words and memes
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    Hi Wade,

    At 07:52 PM 2/7/2002 -0500, you wrote:
    >Hi Ray Recchia -
    > >I think we need to stick to safer topics.
    >That's also known as ostrichism.
    I think you are spelling it wrong. The term is "ostracism." And it's
    something this field needs to avoid in a very serious way. Look at the
    what the misuse of evolutionary theory lead to in the last century. The
    ripples were felt when in the 1970's E.O. Wilson wrote a wonderful book
    describing his ideas about a new science. There were some twenty or so
    chapters in that book and only the last one addressed humans at all. A few
    politically incorrect statements about men and women and the whole field
    got ostracized (not ostrichised).

    > >If we can work in that sort of vein and characterize memes
    > >in terms of symbiosis, predation, and competition we can get beyond this
    > >stupid bickering about what is and isn't a meme.
    >And that's known as circular reasoning.

    Many years ago when I took my first biology class I remember the professor
    putting up on the board "Biology - the study of life" and then saying "And
    what is life?" At which point we spent about fifteen minutes coming to the
    conclusion that we didn't have a good definition. Now if we had stopped
    there and said, "My god we can't even agree on a definition for life how
    can we study this field?" it would have been a very short and frustrating
    class. Fortunately biology has always been a science that placed more
    value in carefully defined experiments and observations rather than
    carefully defined terms.

    So yes we can talk about parasitic memes without precisely agreeing about
    what a meme is. Just as we can talk about species of life without a nice
    neat definition of life.

    >Sticking one's head in a hole, and going around in circles....
    >Sounds like academia to me.
    >- Wade

    Certain fields of academia I would agree. A number of others have managed
    quite well.

    Ray Recchia

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