Re: On Gatherer's behaviourist stance

Mon, 14 Sep 1998 11:00:16 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: Re: On Gatherer's behaviourist stance
Date: Mon, 14 Sep 1998 11:00:16 -0400 (EDT)

On Fri, 11 Sep 1998 13:12:59 -0500 Aaron Lynch <> wrote:

> The question of which mnemons one identifies and
> chooses to study is up to the abstraction system of the observer, which
> allows a wide range of theories of cognitive, personality, and social
> psychology to be used. I do not posit any kind of concrete neuron structure
> of mnemons.

So if the mnemon does not constitute a 'concrete neural structure', or
is not in some way dependent on 'concrete neural structure' then how is
it 'instantiated' (as you say) in the brain? The 'abstraction
system of the observer' is not an answer, as _my_ abstraction
system has no influence whatsoever over what is in _your_ brain.

'If a mnemon resides very redundantly in someone's brain....'

So it does reside in the brain? Or are you saying that a mnemon might
not reside in the brain? Whether it resides in many copies or one copy
or in both hemispheres etc. is not your central point. Throughout your
article you state that mnemons 'reside' or are 'instantiated' in
brains, that individuals are 'hosts' to these mnemons. How?

You also say: 'the principle abstractions manipulated with
memetics theory are memory abstractions or mnemons'. Memory must
have a neural basis, but you now seem to seek to deny that you
require 'any concrete neural structures'. Without such a structure
how could your mnemon 'reside' or be 'instantiated' in the brain?

This, I submit, constitutes a contradiction of what you have written.

> Pasteur had no idea what a virus was, except that it was too small for him
> to see.

An irrelevant point, since Pasteur knew that there were physical
infectious agents. He had taken great experiemntal pains to
demonstrate them. His puzzle with the virus was that it was beyond his
range of visibility. He still examined it within the paradigm of
transmissible physical agents causing disease. We have no
equivalent paradigm.

> He nevertheless was able to conclude that contracting cow pox
> conferred protection against small pox.

That was Jenner actually, but never mind...

> I fully welcome the ongoing work in neuroscience, but
> continue to assert that useful study of propagating memory items can be
> done right now.

Again the assumption is made that there are 'propagating memory items'.

> Epidemiology at 150 years certainly has an extensive knowledge base upon
> which to rely. The infectious agent in my model is identified more
> abstractly than by turning on the electron microscope: it is infectious
> information, stored in brains.

Ah! so again it _is_ 'stored in brains'. Using a 'concrete neural
structure' perhaps? Remember a 'concrete neural structure' is the
thing that you 'do not posit'. So how then is it stored? What
other mechanism do we have for storing things in brains?

I said before: "If you are going to have infectious brain
structures you need to explain them."

to which you replied:

> Here you go inventing another concept and attributing me. I do not talk
> about "infectious brain structures." Period.

Oh yes you do. Period.
You talk above about 'propagating memory items', elsewhere
about 'thought contagions'. Now to me a thought must be a manifestation
of a brain structure. A contagion is an infection. So you do not talk
about 'thought contagions'? You can't say that you don't talk about
'infectious brain structures' and then turn round and talk about
'thought contagion' and 'propagating memory items'. Make your mind up

The only escape from this is for you to deny that thoughts are anything
to do with brain structures (now that I look forward too....), or to
start splitting logic about the difference between an infection and a
contagion, or perhaps there is a third option available to you which is
to retreat to some abtruse analogy from quantum physics (I predict
you'll go for the latter. The mystical attributes of the
'abstraction sysyem of the observer' and their influence over
what is stored (but wait, non-neurally) in brains...).

> The brain-based existence of "thoughts," or "subjectively perceived
> information"

Ah! Thoughts _are_ brain based! But not with 'concrete neural
structures'? Now that is a real puzzle!! But otherwise 'Thought
Contagion' = Brain-based infection?

but wait....

> I do not
> talk
> about "infectious brain structures." Period.

What are you talking about then?

> Ok, forget the logic book, and kindly explain to me anew how you infer a
> definite statement about brain architecture from the conditional statement
> "If a mnemon resides very redundantly in someone's brain, that person still
> counts as only one host and one mnemon instantiation."

This mnemon is 'residing' in the brain.... you say it here and at
numerous other points in your article..... you want it to 'reside in
the brain' but not to have a 'concrete neural structure'

Behind your smokescreen of quibbles, the deeply contradictory nature of
your model still requires explanation (and again yes, you are obliged
to defend it).


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