Re: Memes Meta-Memes and Politics 1 of 3 (1988, updates 2002)

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Tue Feb 12 2002 - 03:52:18 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Memes Meta-Memes and Politics 1 of 3 (1988, updates 2002)
    Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2002 19:52:18 -0800
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    >Subject: Re: Memes Meta-Memes and Politics 1 of 3 (1988, updates 2002)
    >Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2002 21:08:56 -0500
    >Hi Keith Henson -
    > >[*The essence of a gene is in its information. It is still a gene
    > > "for hemoglobin" or "for waltzing behavior in mice" whether the
    > > sequence is coded in DNA, printed on paper, or is written on
    > > magnetic tape.]
    >You continually mention that genes can be encoded onto magnetic tape, as
    >if we could play this tape and create the lifeform that needed it.
    >What, exactly, are you talking about?
    >Genes in DNA are unique, are they not? How could anyone, outside of a
    >science-fiction novel, replicate DNA from magnetic tape?
    >- Wade

    In an earlier post I referred to Eric Berne, Psychiatrist who specialized in
    helping alchololics and other people with similar problems. In his theory,
    he used to talk about the three ego states of Parent, Child and Adult. In
    the Parent state, he said we replay the tapes of things our parents told us
    and the games they taught us with their actions. He thought the losing
    behaviors we learned were picked up as information from our parents and
    siblings in childhood. He wrote his book back in 1964, so I don't think he
    had heard of memes at the time, but the way he viewed behavior seems to fit
    right in. A lot of his therapy was analyzing for cross transactions between
    parent and child ego states.

    He said: "Every individual has had parents (or substitute parents) and he
    carries within him a set of ego states that reduce the ego states of those
    parents (as he perceived them), and these parental ego states can be
    activated under certain circumstances (exteropsychic functioning).
    Colloquially: "Everyone carries his parents around inside him.""

    "It should be noted that the Parent is exhibited in two forms, direct and
    indirect: as an active ego state, and as an influence. When it is directly
    active, the person responds as his own father (or mother) actually responded
    ("Do as I do"). When it is an indirect influence, he responds the way the
    wanted him to respond. (Don't do as I do, do as I say.) In the first case
    he becomes one of them; in the second he adapts himself to their

    "The Parent has two main functions. First, it enables the individual to act
    effectively as the parent of actual chidren, thus promoting the survival of
    the human race. Its value in this respect is shown by the fact that in
    raising children, people orphaned in infancy seem to have a harder time than
    those from homes unbroken into adolescence. Secondly, it makes many
    responses automatic, which conserves a great deal of time and energy. Many
    things are done because "That's the way it's done." This frees the Adult
    from the necessity of making innumerable trivial decisions, so that it can
    devote itself to more important issues, leaving routine matters to the

    A lot of what Berne says strikes a chord with the memetic point of view and
    the transfer of information from parent to child. I think his theory of
    Transactional Analysis also has some value in analyzing how information is
    transmitted and used by people on a day-to-day basis. If I come up with
    anything I think might be useful, I'll publish it here first and give you
    guys a chance to tear it apart for me. ;-)>


    P.S. The replication of DNA by magnetic tape can be done. It is possible to
    write code in DNA. People at MIT are doing it already and a Dr. Hood in
    Seattle has invented a machine that does it. All one would have to do is
    encode the ATCG letters on a long magnetic tape and send it to someone who
    has a DNA writing machine and the information would be memtically
    transmitted -- that is, transferred from the medium of DNA to the medium of
    human invention and treated like human language and, finally, transferred
    back to the DNA medium. Isn't progress wonderful?

    Chat with friends online, try MSN Messenger:

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