Re: Memetic Engineering

Mark Mills (
Tue, 07 Apr 1998 13:26:17 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Tue, 07 Apr 1998 13:26:17 -0500
From: Mark Mills <>
Subject: Re: Memetic Engineering
In-Reply-To: <>

I have not noticed anyone draw tight analogies between genetic and memetic

We ought to be clear about which way we are using the term 'genetic
engineer.' There are two popular uses for the term: DNA engineer and breeder.

Upon hearing the term 'genetic engineer,' most people probably imagine
someone in a lab surgically inserting DNA into a chromosome. It might be
more accurate to use the term DNA engineer.

Others see genetic engineering in terms of traditional plant and animal
husbandry, particularly if you breed horses, dogs., or cats. The famous
botanist, Luther Burbank, could be described as a genetic engineer.
Breeders engineer genes by controlling the mating process and insuring
undesired individuals do not reproduce. They don't touch DNA itself.

Turning to the tight analogy between genetics and memetics, one would
expect both kinds of 'memetic engineering.' The memetic analogy to DNA
engineering would be brain surgery and actual insertion of new neural code
in an existing nervous system. This kind of memetic engineering only
exists in science fiction.

The second kind of memetic engineering, breeding schemes, is very
traditional. Schools, religious institutions, commercial medias and a host
of other organizations have well defined teaching (meme breeding) programs.
These organizations have a long history of controlling the intellectual
mating process and rooting out undesirable individuals.

Mark Mills

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