Re: Replicators, was Non Homuncular Memetics

Mark Mills (
Thu, 9 Oct 97 02:00:19 -0600

Message-Id: <>
Subject: Re: Replicators, was Non Homuncular Memetics
Date: Thu, 9 Oct 97 02:00:19 -0600
From: Mark Mills <>
To: memetics list <>

>I'm not sure from the above what the differences are between our
>assumptions about systems and testing. But when you consider how strong a
>term "isomorphism" is, I doubt that you will find isomorphism between
>diploid, triploid, etc chromosomal DNA, and memes. Us diploids, for
>instance beget monoploid organisms, which then fuse into diploid organisms.
>I'd say that this differs considerably from the "life cycle" of memes, and
>causes serious differences between population genetics and population
>memetics, particularly as regards recombination.


Very good points.

Isomorphism is another of these statistical terms. I'll try to give it
the same weight as you give it. If we can generalize the 'ploid system
to multiple substrates and stay within some meaningful use of the term
isomorphism, we might be able to share our views more easily.

I sense in your comments a willingness to consider haploid, diploid, etc.
systems as within some functional definition of isomorphism. I suspect
this is made easy by the use of similar code substrates in each system.
The substrate is clearly isomorphic.

Am I correct in this assumption?

Recombination mechanics seem to be the criteria for dismissing parallels
between organic-molecular substrate systems (genetics) and neural
substrate systems (memetics).

Am I correct in this focus?

I'll try to address these issues. The following is rather long and
convoluted. I apologize in advance.

I'm going to build a case for saying the brain is a functional isomorph
of a chromosome despite the substrate differences. To begin, I'll need
to describe a code system and draw parallels to each substrate system.
The key features are code, substrate and a controlled environment. The
controlled environment provides energy, rhythm and materials for creating
and encoding 'blank' substrates.

In genetics, we have a substrate of sugar and phosphate chains. In
memetics, the substrate is neural tissue. The key aspect of any
substrate is invariance with regard to code. The substrate needs to
avoid being 'processed.' This does not rule out 'shape' factors, though.
Shape factors influence code manipulation by timely juxtaposition of
code units. At the DNA level, this occurs via helix flexture. At the
memetic level, this occurs via selective neural growth and axion

Genetic coding occurs by sequential fixing of the four DNA bases in a
helical line upon the substrate. Neural coding is less well defined, but
it looks like protein weight factors in the synapses perform the same
role in the brain.

The genetic process exists within the confines of cellular fluids and
organelles. These provide the materials, timing and torque to initiate
and guide the replication of chromosomes. In the memetics case, the
replication of new 'blank' brains is provided by biology. The controlled
environmental stimulation needed to encode the brain and produce a
successful replicator is provided by cultural units like families, tribes
and nations.

Replication mechanics involve the process used for recreating the
substrate and recoding 'blanks' to create (relatively) isomorphic
individuals. In the memetics case, the substrate is recreated via
biological reproduction. The 'blank' (infant) is provided with small
amounts of inherited code (instinct) with which it can build essential
behaviors required to acquire the remaining code. This is done via an
initially self-guided exploration of experiential stimuli. This stimuli
is far from random, though. The environment for collecting experiences
is carefully controlled by 'related' encoded individuals (adults), quite
willing to help the 'blank' fill in its code.

I'd like to suggest the splitting of the DNA double helix into two
encoded strands which attract free DNA bases into fixed molecular bonds
with the half-helix blank is functionally isomorphic with the above
process. In both cases, the new 'blank' encodes itself based on code it
embodies in its 'blank' or 'unencoded' state. In the genetic case, the
code arrives in the form of free DNA bases provided by the cellular
environment. In the memetic case, the code arrives via controlled
stimulation provided by the cultural environment. The 'choice' of free
bases is determined by shape features in the 'blank' half chromosome.
The 'choice' of memorized stimuli retained by a 'blank' brain is
controlled by a small amount of 'inherited code' (instinct) available at
birth. In both cases, the blank is preset to acquire particular codes.

With this in mind, the brain tissue is functional isomorph of the
sugar-phosphate substrate. Synapse proteins are the functional isomorph
of DNA bases. Culturally controlled environment is the functional
isomorph of cellular fluids and organelles.

Memetic replication is not mitosis or meiosis, but it is useful to
carefully compare the mechanical steps required by each replicating
process. Though they have different 'means,' they have the same goal and
functional steps. Both process produce a functionally identical encoded
substrate. Since I have 4 kids, I am well aware of the individual
differences between parent and child. All the same, from an objective
and population view, there are many grounds for isomorphic comparisions
between parent and child at both biological and cultural levels.

As to genealogical issues, I'll just say one needs to consider both the
possibility of mutation caused by 'blank' creation (spliting the helix or
creating an infant) on one hand, and mutation caused by blank encoding
(population of second helix or education of the infant), on the other
hand. Both features of the replication process produce evolutionary
(genealogical) change, but the rates of mutation will differ in each.
Additionally, the functional importance of 'blank' mutation and
'encoding' mutation differ in genetic and memetic systems. Thus human
cultural evolution will mutate at a different rate than biological
evolution, though they will be linked at fundamental levels.

The point of all this rhetoric is an intention encourage more biological
research into memetics. The biological mechanics of memetic processes
are important. Memetics is not an ungrounded science, disconnected from
the biology of genetic replicators. The biology of memetics will provide
a reality that logic can never provide. Additionally, the biology of
memes is likely to have an impact on research into autism and help
thousands of people live better lives. Finally, it will illuminate
evolutionary theory by pulling in a new code substrate without destroying
the isomophism of Darwin's general theory.


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