Re: Can economics be studied by memetics. Was: Is Memetics Needed?

Timothy Perper/Martha Cornog (
Mon, 23 Jun 1997 11:09:39 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 1997 11:09:39 -0500
From: (Timothy Perper/Martha Cornog)
Subject: Re: Can economics be studied by memetics. Was: Is Memetics Needed?

>Timothy Perper/Martha Cornog wrote:
>Snip. I didn't read the first part yet (though it looks interesting),
>but I want to respond to the last sentence
>> In Answer #3, I left out the part where a number of people and corporations
>> got very, very, VERY rich from both projects -- that's economics, not
>> memetics.
Mario Vaneechoutte>
>Isn't it? Could a unifying theory not include economics? From my point
>of view (information and encoding), economics is about the encoding of
>value. And than you get money, which nicely follows the deeper and
>deeper encoding evolution of other information (trade as behaviour,
>shells, coins, paper money, digital money). Something which starts to
>lead its own life, influencing terribly strong people's behaviour (name
>it and it can be done, if someone can earn money with it: you want a
>video with kid pornography? If you pay enough someone will get you one).
>One might as well say that 'Money' is the most important 'meme' on
>Well, this is meant as a question, not a statement.

Well, certainly *I* don't disagree!

Frankly, I suspect that economics, broadly understood, is one of the
crucial shapers and determinants of a great deal of human behavior. But
there I go again, making things more complex!

At issue is the suggestion by If Price that memetics offers a "unifying
paradigm," and I am asking -- through the device of the "final exam in
memetics" -- what this unifying paradigm actually IS.

My own view is that human behavior, though complex, does form a coherent
unity, even -- especially? -- when various contradictions and conflicts
develop within it. Such a vision requires that we define both "coherent"
and "unity," but we all have a rough sense of what those terms mean. I am
asking if, at the moment, memetics promises to let us understand that
coherent unity.

Staunch memeticists will reply "Yes, and with time the promise will be
fulfilled." Rhetorically, that position is invulnerable to ALL criticisms,
because one can always eliminate problems by pushing their solution off
into the future.

I think that memetics -- understood as studying the flow of information and
related things -- can resolve PART of the puzzle. But tautologies about
memes get us nowhere -- as I certainly hope my "answers" to the memetics
final examination demonstrate!

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Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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