Re: Subject: Re: Meme Extinction

Ulfgrim Vilmeidthson (
Wed, 28 May 1997 23:44:31 -0400

From: Ulfgrim Vilmeidthson <>
To: memetics <>
Subject: Re: Subject: Re: Meme Extinction
Date: Wed, 28 May 1997 23:44:31 -0400
Message-Id: <>

Timothy Perper (or was it Martha Cornog?) said: (and oh yes I snipped this)

> Bloch's paradox says that when a meme is extinct, no one thinks it, and
> therefore, because all memes are thought processes, no meme CAN be
> So, in the paradox, the memes of Demeter worship turn out NOT to be
> extinct at all, because historians two millenia later reconstructed them.
> And the moment they did, those memes came back into existence. It's only
> the memes that we have NOT reconstructed (and hence not thought about)
> are truly extinct, and by definition we don't even know that such things
> exist. How *could* we know? We've never even thought of them. It
> that by definition we know all the memes that exist.

Once again someone else has managed to put my ideas in better words than I

I must say, though, that we can never know whether we have accurately
re-created such a meme as the worship of Demeter. In the absence of the
meme itself, how can we re-create it with 100% accuracy? I take the
analogy to modern Asatru (the re-creation of pre-Christian Norse pagan
religion). The main themes are there, but there are enormous gaps. Those
gaps are filled in by modern interpolations. Does that mean we have
successfully re-created the "Asatru meme"? No. Just something we identify
as analogous to it.

This harkens back to the thrust of my original point. If a meme is truly
extinct, it cannot be studied, by definition. If we try to re-create it
from surrounding and circumstantial evidence, we cannot (by definition)
know if we have done so with complete accuracy.

And I must say that I am completely honored that I have a Paradox named
after me in an emerging science. The meme of my idea-- Bloch's Paradox--
shall live beyond my own biological existence (even if it is discredited in
the minds of man, some computer somewhere is going to have this thread
stored; a stored meme can never be extinct, merely dormant).

Joseph Bloch
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