Re: H Bloom on memes 2

Aaron Lynch (
Thu, 11 Dec 1997 14:54:24 -0600

Message-Id: <>
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 14:54:24 -0600
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: H Bloom on memes 2
In-Reply-To: <>

[Bill Benzon retransmitted a post by Howard Bloom made to hbe-l. This is a
copy of my relpy to Bloom, also made to hbe-l.]

Aaron Lynch responding to Howard Bloom:


Many fine and interesting points on learning and meme transmission in

One is tempted to be persuaded of certain theoretical points by the sheer
fascination factor from such an impressive collection of well described
phenomena. However, I have a comment on a theoretical matter:

> ...As we've seen, grouping has been inherent
>in evolution since the first quarks joined to form neutrons and protons.

The seeming treatment of groupishness as a fundamental force in physics
might strike some as mystical, but this is probably just because it so
radically departs from the standard understanding of fundamental forces.

The spatial grouping of particles is not considered an inherent force in
physics. Rather, grouping, when it occurs, is to be explained as the
mathematical result of fundamental forces acting on fundamental particles.
A specific outcome, such as quark grouping, is not taken as an fundamental
groupishness force, but as a consequence of more general forces that in
some circumstances produce grouping and in others do not. Analysis in terms
of fundamental forces also tells what kind of groupings to expect, and
when. It is thus useful in predicting the properties of quark-gluon
plasmas, for instance. Fundamental forces also help explain the behavior of
such unagglomerated particles as photons and neutrinos. The question of
whether or not grouping is a fundamental force or a phenomenon explained by
entirely different fundamental forces has implications regarding whether or
not theory dictates the existence of a global brain.

On the matter of testing memetics, I have a new paper online that addresses
the subject mainly for the human case. Its title is UNITS, EVENTS, AND

An evolutionary recursive replicator theory of mental/brain information is
presented. Noting that all replicator theories rest at least tacitly upon
the fundamental notions of causation and of calling two or more entities
"the same" with respect to an abstraction, the concept is rendered explicit
in defining the terms "mnemon" and "meme." It is argued that there may be
no "absolute" system of abstractions for memetics much as there is no
absolute coordinate system (framework of space-time abstractions) in
physics. A symbolic calculus of mnemon conjugations and replication events
is introduced. The term "meme" is given a concise technical definition, and
reasons are offered for avoiding more expansive definitions. Arguments that
meme sets are generally only partially ordered then provide a formal reason
for rejecting the idea of mnemon "size" as a crucial element in defining
the word meme. Differential equations are developed for meme host
population versus time in a two-meme system, modeling the dynamics whereby
events at the individual level give rise to trends at the population level.
This lays a foundation for computerized simulations and the falsification
or validation of specific memetic hypotheses. As memetic hypotheses
generally involve observable communication events they are found to have
stronger empirical standing than hypotheses involving unidentified genes.
Mechanisms of creativity as a population phenomenon are examined, with the
memetic perspective yielding a novel explanation for the temporal
clustering of independent co-creations. Creation and propagation are
integrated into a theory of evolution by variation and natural selection of


--Aaron Lynch

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

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