Re: Machiavellian Memes

Mario Vaneechoutte (
Wed, 01 Oct 1997 08:36:27 -0700

Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 01 Oct 1997 08:36:27 -0700
From: Mario Vaneechoutte <>
Subject: Re: Machiavellian Memes

> On Tue, 30 Sep 1997, N Rose wrote:
> > Hmmm... Does the host select for memes perceived as useful?
> > What does that mean - what is useful? - what is it useful for?
> > and for what/whom?. Others might argue that 'usefulness' is
> > neither here nor there. Memes don't survive and replicate
> > because they are useful - but simply because they are good at
> > replicating. Perhaps by 'useful' you mean biologically adaptive?
> > In which case I might cautiously agree with you (somedays).
> >

Dear Nick,

I tried to explain to you where you go wrong here, months ago. But then
you disappeared all of a sudden from the list. So, I'll try again (only
briefly, the full argument is somewhere in the archives of this
discussion list).

'Memes survive and replicate because they are good at replicating'.

1. Here you take an observation (memes are good at replicating) as an
explanation. You don't answer the question: 'Why are they good at

2. Memes do not replicate, they are being processed and - to some degree
- replicated by human minds. Like you, many on this list put homunculi
inside memes, blaming others to put a homunculus inside the human mind.
The scientific approach is trying to explain things without homunculi of
any kind.

Mario Vaneechoutte

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