testing memetics

Hans-Cees Speel (hanss@sepa.tudelft.nl)
Tue, 2 Dec 1997 12:07:07 MET

From: "Hans-Cees Speel" <hanss@sepa.tudelft.nl>
To: memetics@mmu.ac.uk
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 1997 12:07:07 MET
Subject: testing memetics

> Excuse my ignorance if I am wrong, but the paradigm
> shift in memetics is seeing language as not a tool
> of communication, but rather a vehicle for propogating
> memes.

I would say both.

> My next question is on how does creativity in non-survival
> persuits be explained in the Darwinian world. Art serves
> no obviouse purpose and yet gets reinforced over and over.
> I play violin and I enjoy playing violin, but I don't see
> what the genetic purpose of this endeavor is. Why do we
> have an imagination that can be used beyond creating useful
> models in our world?

The basic explanation is that a lot of social stimuli, or whatever
you call them were genetically installed in the past. It is not
genetically installed who or what you will like, but it is installled
that you will like something.

These things were installed either because they meant a advantage
(I should say they stuck around) for humans in the time they
appeared, or because they 'came along' like spandrels or exaptations
with other characteristics that were advantagious.

So now our characteristics to react to such stimuli are just there,
and serve no purpose whatsoever genetically, or sometimes they do. I
see no problem with that.

For a very nice book on this read daniel Dennett's kinds of minds
(1996 ten dollar in paperback)

> And the final question is if Memetics can be considered a
> science. How can you test something like this? What makes
> this any different than "scientific" investigation of the
> paranormal?

What is it with this testing meme? I thought that testing in the
early Popperian sense is rejected by most scholars. The question
above in my opinion is simply not correct. You cannot test a program
or a theory as a whole. There can be little parts you can test, that
may make up a nice 'partly' tested. Also in social sciences many
theories are not testable and yet accepted: meta-narrative if you



Theories come and go, the frog stays [F. Jacob]
Hans-Cees Speel
Managing Editor "Journal of Memetics Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission"

submit papers to JOM-EMIT@sepa.tudelft.nl

I work at:
|School of Systems Engineering, Policy Analysis and management
|Technical University Delft, Jaffalaan 5 2600 GA Delft PO Box 5015 The Netherlands
E-mail hanss@sepa.tudelft.nl

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