Re: Genetics/Memetics analogy

Dr I Price (
Sun, 13 Jul 1997 15:34:09 -0400

Date: Sun, 13 Jul 1997 15:34:09 -0400
From: Dr I Price <>
Subject: Re: Genetics/Memetics analogy
To: "" <>

The ongoing Bill Benzon If Price dialogue

>BB: >>The replicator of what? Neuronal patterns? & how does this
>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 ou=
of existence. I don't buy it.

I genuinely don't see your point Bill. I do not see how we can considere
evolution without considering replicators. Nor do I see why a replicator
has to be 'tangible'.

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 lever=
of the brain.
At the neurobiological level I do not know. Perhaps Bob Grimes is getting=


At the philosopher level I am impressed by Socrates' observation repeated=

many times since that we do not really believe anything until we have
discovered it for ourself. Another view of that discovery seems to me to =
a process of being 'infected'. How do 20% of the tennage females in the
part of England where I live get infected by anorexia?

BB >For one, Kuhn said new theories arise only when the proponents of old=

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 poin=
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 a=
black boxes. He's interested in the structure of ideas and has quite a b=
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.>>

I will. Geology is a good example of both the 'logic wins' and the
preservation of the power structure approach to paradigms. For sixty plus=

years the majority of the science denied the existence of the evidence fo=
continental drift until the mechanism was sorted out. Doing PhD fieldwork=

at the same time and in the same area as other students from another
institution I can testify to their being forced to interpret the evidence=

within a none plate tectonics perspective because that was how the
important figures- in that particular area of geology- of their home
institution had made their own original names. =

We should not stop searching for mechanisms in memetics, nor should we de=
other evidence because we don't have the mechanism.


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