Re: Do memes/genes evolve?

Mark Mills (
Wed, 17 Jun 98 19:17:19 -0000

Message-Id: <>
Subject: Re: Do memes/genes evolve?
Date: Wed, 17 Jun 98 19:17:19 -0000
From: Mark Mills <>
To: "Memetics List" <>

>Question: Does it make any sense to talk about memes/genes evolving?

Just to clarify my question, I'm asking if a 'line of genes/memes'

In Hans-Cees' Symposium paper (posted here), he argues "memes should
count as interactors.' He points out the fact that many have argued
genes are 'interactors.' He uses analogous logic to conclude the same can
be said about memes.

This raises questions in my mind since we generally think of 'interactor
populations' as evolving. In the Modern Synthesis of genetics and
evolution, populations of interactors (phenotypes) evolve. The following
is a standard rendition of the Modern Synthesis.

"The major tenets of the evolutionary synthesis, then, were that
populations contain genetic variation that arises by random (ie. not
adaptively directed) mutation and recombination; that populations evolve
by changes in gene frequency brought about by random genetic drift, gene
flow, and especially natural selection; that most adaptive genetic
variants have individually slight phenotypic effects so that phenotypic
changes are gradual (although some alleles with discrete effects may be
advantageous, as in certain color polymorphisms); that diversification
comes about by speciation, which normally entails the gradual evolution
of reproductive isolation among populations; and that these processes,
continued for sufficiently long, give rise to changes of such great
magnitude as to warrant the designation of higher taxonomic levels
(genera, families, and so forth)."
- Futuyma, D.J. in Evolutionary Biology, Sinauer Associates,
1986; p.12

If genes/memes take on 'interactor' roles, then populations of
genes/memes interactors evolve.

One could say 'I'm interested in ancient genes/memes' since genes/memes
would be undergoing constant evolutionary change. One might even say
that 'memes' are an emergent feature of 'genes.'

One ought to ask what is the 'replicator' if a gene/meme is the


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