Re: On Gatherer's behaviourist stance

Aaron Lynch (
Mon, 14 Sep 1998 17:09:10 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Mon, 14 Sep 1998 17:09:10 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: On Gatherer's behaviourist stance
In-Reply-To: <000001bde013$08bac420$355195c1@pc>

At 08:05 PM 9/14/98 +0100, you wrote:
>Aaron said
>>It took several rounds of back and forth postings just to confront this
>>particular blunder to the point where Derek ultimately dodges the issue. By
>>comparison, the effort it takes to make a misleading quotation is minor.
>>Unfortunately, the situation reminds me of "debates" between creationists
>>and evolutionists, where the creationists can churn out sophistries faster
>>than the evolutionists can answer them.
>Hmm, I wonder who is the creationist and who is the evolutionist in this
>one? (Clue 'essentialism and creationism go hand in hand' ( Palmer DC
>Donahoe, JW Essentialism And Selectionism In Cognitive Science And
>Behavior Analysis American Psychologist, 1992, Vol.47, No.11, Pp.1344-1358)

First, you have not succeeded in pinning the epithet "essentialism" on me
any more than on Gatherer. Take Gatherer's definition from his 1998
JoM-EMIT paper:

Meme: an observable cultural phenomenon, such as a behaviour, artefact or
an objective piece of information, which is copied, imitated or learned,
and thus may replicate within a cultural system. Objective information
includes instructions, norms, rules, institutions and social practices
provided they are observable.

Notice that he says that these things can be "copied, imitated, or
learned." To call one thing a "copy" of another *always* involves
abstraction, or a sameness criterion, whether the observer explicitly
recognizes this or not. The same goes for "genes."

Now, did I call Gatherer a creationist? No. Are you calling me a
creationist? I hope not. However, we are all familiar with debates in which
easily generated fallacies, misattributions, etc. are produced faster than
they can be rebutted. And we have Gatherer apparently refusing to retract
the misattributed statement generated so easily by removing a few words
from my actual sentence.

--Aaron Lynch

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