Re: Genetics/Memetics analogy

Bill Benzon (
Sat, 12 Jul 1997 08:07:14 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Sat, 12 Jul 1997 08:07:14 -0500
From: (Bill Benzon)
Subject: Re: Genetics/Memetics analogy

If Price to Bill Benzon:

IP: >Yeah but thats life. Multi-celled technology was all over the map at the
>time of the Burgess Shale and most schools of scholastic debate still are
>all over their respective maps.
BB: But what does any school of memetics really have to show for itself?

BB: >>The replicator of what? Neuronal patterns? & how does this replicator
>get from one brain to another, the Vulcan Mind Meld?>

IP: >Of itself.
And thereby a difficult problem has been solved by fiat, but ruling it out
of existence. I don't buy it.

BB: >How does any idea implant itself in your head?

That's what I want you memeticists to tell me. A virologist can tell you
how a virus works and programmers can do the same for computer viruses.
But memeticists have remarkably little cogent to say about just how the
pesky memes actually get in there and stark working the pulleys and levers
of the brain.

>>How do paradigms maintain groups? What is the administrative structure
>of a paradigm? How do they enforce discipline>
>I forget who it was said paradigms change when the old guard fiinally dies
>or retires. Try making a career in science in a school where the professor
>is still wedded to the old paradigm, or the editor of the journal or
>........... Scrarch a set of Unwritten Rules and an informal power
>structure and you will find various paradigms.

For one, Kuhn said new theories arise only when the proponents of old ones
die. There is a certain truth to that, but I'm not sure how much. I've
been reading a book on _Conceptual Revolutions_ by Paul Thagard & he points
out that oxygen theory won out over phlogiston theory by converting many
(most?) adherents of phlogiston theory. Oxygen theory just had greater
explanatory power and so the phlogistonists gave up.

& this nice thing about Thagard's work is that he doesn't treat the inner
mechanisms of paradigms as black boxes in the way memetics treats memes as
black boxes. He's interested in the structure of ideas and has quite a bit
to say about them. He also devotes a chapter to the emergence of plate
tectonics in geology. You ought to take a look at it.

As for unwritten, rules of course of course.

William L. Benzon 201.217.1010
708 Jersey Ave. Apt. 2A
Jersey City, NJ 07302 USA

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