Old memetics/new memtics

Fri, 19 Jun 1998 09:23:47 -0400 (EDT)

From: BMSDGATH <BMSDGATH@livjm.ac.uk>
To: memetics@mmu.ac.uk
Subject: Old memetics/new memtics
Date: Fri, 19 Jun 1998 09:23:47 -0400 (EDT)

Some new stuff:

Kumm J and Feldman MW (1997) Gene-culture coevolution and sex ratios:
II. Sex chromosomal distorters and cultural preferences for
offspring sex. Theoretical Population Biology 52, 1-15 (another one
which is potentially downloadable on the www.idealibrary.com site.

Not sure what happened to part I, but this part II is still readable in
its own right. This is in the Cavalli-Sforza school, and therefore the
preference for offspring sex is treated as a cultural trait - not
necessarily a mnemon, but certainly something which is related to
individuals in something approximating a one-to-one meme-host
relationship (something I disagree with, but we've been over all that
already). The authors talk about 'cultural preferences' which suggests
that they are perhaps looking at a sort of ideational model of culture,
following Durham (1991). However, these issues are quiickly glossed
over and mathematics ensues.

The model is of the population memetics rather than epidemiological
type, with the cultural trait proceding vertically through the
generations rather then being potentially transmitted horizontally
wherever contact occurs. A new cultural trait concerning preference
for sex of offspring, is introduced into a genetically homogeneous
population and the simulation is run iteratively over 1400 generations.
The conclusion is that the final gene-culture equilibrium, in terms of
actual sex ratios and preferences within the population, depends very
sensitively on the sex-ratio starting conditions.

Incidentally, Cavalli-Sforza has a new 'pop' book out, much of which
covers his genetics, but which also devotes one chapter to his memetics
theorizing, in a style completely accessible to non-scientists. When I
say new it's actually 3 years old, but has attracted surprisingly
little attention, especially in view of his standing in both the
genetics and memetics worlds. The best thing about the book is that it
gives an excellent impression of what a charming and urbane chap
Cavalli-Sforza is in person.

Cavalli-Sforza LL and Cavalli-Sforza F (1995) The Great Human
Diasporas. The History of Diversity and Evolution. Helix/Addison
Wesley, Reading MA.

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