Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id CAA27599 (8.6.9/5.3[ref firstname.lastname@example.org] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from email@example.com); Fri, 8 Feb 2002 02:30:24 GMT Message-Id: <firstname.lastname@example.org> X-Sender: email@example.com X-Mailer: QUALCOMM Windows Eudora Version 5.0.2 Date: Thu, 07 Feb 2002 21:22:52 -0500 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Ray Recchia <email@example.com> Subject: Re: Words and memes In-Reply-To: <20020208005241.9AF071FD47@camail.harvard.edu> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"; format=flowed Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Precedence: bulk Reply-To: email@example.com
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.
Certain fields of academia I would agree. A number of others have managed
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