Genetic fundamentalism. Was: Lynch on some taboo

Mario Vaneechoutte (
Fri, 20 Jun 1997 08:25:56 -0700

Message-Id: <>
Date: Fri, 20 Jun 1997 08:25:56 -0700
From: Mario Vaneechoutte <>
Subject: Genetic fundamentalism. Was: Lynch on some taboo

The constructs of Aaron Lynch on masturbation are what someone has
called 'genetic fundamentalism': the attempt to explain every
phenomenon, also cultural phenomena, by differences in reproductive
success of the carriers. As such, the spread of any idea or behaviour
has to be explained in terms of offering the reproductive advantage it
offers. This is based on a terrible lot of wrong assumptions.

E.g. I can have twenty children which all become very religious and thus
none of them gets my memes. In other words: memes spread very easily
horizontally, so you'd better be a Jesus Christ without children but
with a lot of charisma - spreading your memes all over, than that you
are a very fertile parent (according to Tim & Martha, people can know
from this fact that you probably self abuse quite frequently as well)
without time for spending time to the education of your children). This
is so obvious.

Why don't we just read what Dawkins has to say about it in The Selfish
Gene in the meme chapter. Dawkins asks: "most colleagues of mine always
want to find a biological advantage of cultural phenomena, but I'd say
that we are dealing with a completely new kind of 'replicators'" (This
is not at all a literal quote). This questioning of genetic
fundamentalism is just at heart of the concept of memes.

Explaining the success of religions, because they offer genetic
advantage to an individual or a population is really not what memetics
are about.
The same is true for explaining taboos or any other meme.

Mario Vaneechoutte

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