Genetics/Memetics analogy

Dr I Price (
Fri, 11 Jul 1997 06:47:52 -0400

Date: Fri, 11 Jul 1997 06:47:52 -0400
From: Dr I Price <>
Subject: Genetics/Memetics analogy
To: "" <>


Thank you for one of the clearest propositions yet seen on the list.

>Coded substrate:

Genetics: DNA double Helix
Memetics: Network of neurons =

Meaningful units within the coded substrate determined by linking code =

subsets to:

Genetics: protein creation
Memetics: organism behavior<

I think you know I prefer to see the network of neurons as the RNA analog=
[how the replicator transmits its instructions], but I think that, by
setting out alternatives, we get to a way forward. For me the question is=

still what is the replicator?

In genetics it is the double helix, chemically conditioned to replicate
taking a coded substrate [or algorithm?] with it. Does the network of
neurons have the same basic thermodynamic drive to replicate?. I have no=

idea. Maybe one day neuorscience will tell us whether a single 'meme'
matches a certain pattern of neuron connectivity. Does, for example, the
meme 'meme' produce [or get produced by] the same pattern of neuron
connections in your brain as in mine?. If we both shared an 'exactly
similar' interpretation of the meme 'meme' [or any other meme] would the
neuronal connections match - in the sense that if we shared say a gene fo=
a particular phenotypic effect we would share a string of DNA code
somewhere? I simply do not know.

I still tend to find it more elegant to think of the 'idea or experience'=

being the replicator but maybe we have to start viewing idea / experience=

and 'neuronal network' as different manifestations of the same thing
[reminiscent of waves versus particles in physics perhaps]. Is the 'quant=
meme' simultaneously both? Again I am not advocating merely enquiring.

Bill B responded to you with his usual insight. Yes Bill I am also
interested in cultural, or organisational evolution, but when you say

>CE: Paradigms, which are maintained by various social groups, including
tribes & corporations. But it is the paradigms which are the phenotypes,
not the groups which maintain them.>

something in me cries no. The paradigms maintain the groups ,not the othe=
way around.. I have to say Mark's version seems more plausible.

Heigh ho.


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