Re: Falsifiability of memetics

Aaron Lynch (
Sun, 28 Sep 1997 11:03:05 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Sun, 28 Sep 1997 11:03:05 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: Falsifiability of memetics
In-Reply-To: <Pine.SOL.3.96.970926122946.8048C-100000@pegasus.montclair. edu>

At 01:12 PM 9/27/97 -0400, Wesley Schwein <>
>I'm a relative newcomer to the idea of memes (I only read Dawkins'
>_Selfish Gene_ and _Blind Watchmaker_ this summer), so I don't know if
>this subject has come up before.
>Memetics is an extremely powerful hypothesis which can be used to explain
>a great deal about culture, technology, Zeitgeisten, and so forth. But is
>it scientific, in the sense that it is subject to empirical test and
>possibly falsification? What data could there be which could falsify the


Take a look at the quantitative section of my paper UNITS, EVENTS, AND
DYNAMICS OF MEME REPLICATION. It discusses measurable propagation
parameters, and equations of propagation. This can in turn be used to
produce such falsifiable statements as "If parameters such and such remain
in so and so intervals over time interval T, then host population will rise
(or fall) to level N(t) +/- an error margin determined by the parameter
interval sizes. Discovery that N(t) is outside the projected interval would
falsify your specific hypothesis, assuming you did the math and computation

The paper is at You may also be
interested in the host population versus time graphs in The Mormon graph in particular gives
informal quantitative evidence that host population growth is attributable
to elevated propagation parameters.


--Aaron Lynch

THOUGHT CONTAGION: How Belief Spreads Through Society The New Science of Memes Basic Books. Info and free sample:

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