Re: The race is on

Aaron Lynch (
Wed, 16 Sep 1998 23:50:16 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 23:50:16 -0500
To:, <>
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: The race is on
In-Reply-To: <02cd01bde1e9$75ec6c60$12a1bfce@lil--elvis>

At 08:14 PM 9/16/98 -0700, Tim Rhodes wrote:
>I was at the dentist office yesterday and while waiting for my appontment I
>began to leaf through an issue of Time from March 6, 1995. The cover story
>was on the conflicting theories of how old the universe is. The following
>paragraph from the article seemed so relevant that I copied it down:
>"Tenson between theory and observation is part of the normal course of
>science. It keeps both sides honest, and, at those rare times in history
>when the two lock horns irreconcilably, it can lead to nothing less than
>full fledged scientific revolution. Without such clashes, in fact, we'd
>still believe that the sun orbits Earth and that disease is caused by evil
>In the end, I think the winner of the current clash in memetics will be
>memetics itself, made stronger for the challenges to it from all sides.
>But for the short term, the camp that prevails will be the one which can say
>with authority, "For memes of the type X, in the setting Y, the adoption
>rate will be Z." and PROVE IT, conclusively and with emperical data from the
>real world.
>My money is on the behaviorists to win this race, given the timespan
>predicted before the neural camp has the data it needs. But even a tortoise
>can beat the hare if the hare is too busy telling everyone how he's going to
>win rather than just getting on with it and running the race.
>-Tim Rhodes


You are one of the partisans in this dispute, not a neutral arbitrator. You
came out strongly in support of Gatherer on the second day of the
"Gatherer's Behaviorist Stance" thread. Hence, it is not surprising to find
you attempting to frame the issue in a manner partial to the behaviorists.

This is not a clash between theorists and experimentalists. There are
theorists and experimentalists in behaviorism, and there are theorists and
experimentalists in cognitive and neurosciences and various schools of
psychology. Any allusion to the demand that those discussing neurally
stored information must first give data on the details of storage (i.e.,
how the brain works) is also a partisan framing of the issue. The use of
surveys and other behavior observations to indirectly detect neurally
stored information has never been in question by those who agree that memes
are instantiated in brains.

Gatherer did not propose any experiments in his paper. I did propose
experiments in my paper. In fairness, this does not mean that Gatherer
cannot propose experiments. It might just reflect the fact that his paper
devotes far more effort to attacking the work of others than to advancing
his own line of work.

If you want to run in a race for empirical corroboration of your views,
that is fine. Indeed, it might be a better use of your efforts than trying
to present yourself as some kind of race judge.

--Aaron Lynch

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