Re: Meme Extinction

Duane Ruth-Heffelbower (
Thu, 29 May 1997 18:22:46 -0700

Date: Thu, 29 May 1997 18:22:46 -0700
From: Duane Ruth-Heffelbower <>
Subject: Re: Meme Extinction

I'm wondering if memes don't have to have a biological host to survive.
In the prior discussion of ancient religions it seems clear that all the
nuance of a meme is lost when its only existence is in a book. The same
can be said of language. Quite a few languages go extinct each year as
the last speaker dies. The fact that an anthropologist or linguist has
copious notes describing the language, or even tapes of speakers of the
language, does not make the language alive. When a meme dies with the
last human conscious of it, all that remains is information about it or
the people who kept it alive. A new revival of the meme from these notes
constitutes a new meme, including the resurrection of an old meme in the
meaning of the new one.

Joseph Bloch wrote:
> JB: I would think that there are two mediums in which memes can exist;
> human minds and information storage systems (books, computers, etc.). It
> seems to me that only when they are found within the mind of at least one
> human are they active; memes in books and computers could be considered
> "dormant". So, yes, memes can exist outside of human consciousness, but
> they only have the ability to self-replicate when found in the mind.
> Joseph Bloch (aka Ulfgrim Vilmeidthson)

Duane Ruth-Heffelbower, Associate Director 
Center for Peacemaking and Conflict Studies of Fresno Pacific University
1717 S. Chestnut Ave. Fresno, CA 93702        209-455-5840  fax 252-4800
              Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes.
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)