Re: Memes are Interactors

Aaron Lynch (
Fri, 10 Apr 1998 16:29:25 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 16:29:25 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: Memes are Interactors
In-Reply-To: <>

>On Fri, 10 Apr 1998 02:47:38 +0100 wrote:
>>>No I think this Wilkin's definition is closer to your position than
>>>think because a meme, in his view is NOT "passive", but "active"
>>because he
>>>claims it has the capacity for "endogenous" change.
>>If he does, he is as guilty of fallacious concretization as anyone who
>>attributes mental characteristics to indivisible particles (like
>>used to do). Memes can only get changed in the process of their
>>replication. They can't change "by themselves", since they don't even
>>*exist*. (They're just abstractions, invented for our convenience.)
>He does not. Endogenous change is a property of information storage
>systems. The physical systems in which information is stored degrades as
>a function of thermodynamic entropy. Each transmission of a degraded
>message is the replication of a changed meme.


Physical information storage systems do degrade, but entropy is not the
physics parameter to invoke. If I lowered your entropy by 10%, you would
forget everything and die. :-(

A lot of charlatans and pseudoscientists talk about "entropy," generally
without having ever calculated it for any system. Hence, it is very risky
to attempt to learn about this subject from anyone but a trained physicist
or a book found in the physics section of a university bookstore. Those few
of us who have actually completed thermodynamics courses in a university
physics department generally do not mention entropy in connection with meme
degradation--except, perhaps, for a few dishonest physicists looking to
make money by pandering to the masses. You cannot, for instance, predict
the direction of mutation of memes by using the second law of
thermodynamics. Best to just mention physical brain limitations and
deteriorations as an important contributor to degraded messages, and leave
it at that.


>I make a lot of the distinction between the genotype-analogue, the meme,
>and the phenotype-analogue of behaviour or interpretation, unlike some,
>like Dennett, who think of memes as "barely naked replicators". But I
>think the error I do not commit is the sin I first read in Marcuse -
>reificationism. Memes are, as genes were for Williams, cybernetic
>abstractions; the bookkeeping of cultural evolution.
>John Wilkins from home
>Not at all. I delight in all manifestations of the terpsichorean Muse.
--Aaron Lynch

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