Re: Do monkeys have memes

Valla Pishva (
Tue, 04 Nov 1997 16:19:05 -0500 (EST)

Date: Tue, 04 Nov 1997 16:19:05 -0500 (EST)
From: Valla Pishva <>
Subject: Re: Do monkeys have memes
To: memetics list <>

On Tue, 4 Nov 1997, Mark Mills wrote:

> Val wrote:
> >I believe, though,
> >that monkey memes are much more amicable to monkey genes as opposed
> >to the human gene-meme battles that have been spoken of in
> >previous postings.
> Can you elaborate on this?
> Thanks,
> Mark

This is one of the ideas I'm currently working to expand. It seems
logical that the first memes were "recruited" by genes as a superfast way
of genetic propagation. But they got out of hand fast, since they
effectively became part of the environment- that is, they didn't die out
with the individual like genes did. Evolution tended toward a better
substrate for replication, since, at first, the memes did well in genetic
propagation. But eventually, the underlying mechanism facilitated meme
spread across generations, and rebellion against genes was easy and
unstoppable, especially since (1) the underlying genetic mechanisms were
displaced from propagation by superimposed memetic mechanisms (ie
language, writing, ect...), so as long as the memetic mechanism had
widespread usage over time the genes could do nothing to change the
underlying substrate (from the nearsighted genetic viewpoint, everything
was ok) and (2) the direct reinforcement mechanisms which previously were
perfect for genetic evolution (ie dopamine stimulation / pain sensation)
were easily exploited by memes to use for memetic propagation because the
reinforcement was not causal enough. The whole chain of implied causation
began to break down: for example, male dopamine reinforcement could occur
without "external stimulation" (rat exhaustive lever pressing) which could
occur without sexual intercourse (masterbation meme) which could occur
without impregnation (birth control memes) which could occur without birth
(abortion meme), etc. While none of these steps were environmentally
viable all the time before, memetics allowed for a much more "volitile"
(if this is the right word) environment without genetic regulation. And
with a constantly changing environment, I dont know how well genes could
follow memes evolutionarily anyway (past giving us the capacity for
certain memes unintentionally.
Sorry for the excessive anthropomorphization or verbosity.


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