Re: The race is on

Paul Marsden (
Thu, 17 Sep 1998 08:50:47 +0100

From: "Paul Marsden" <>
To: <>
Subject: Re: The race is on
Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 08:50:47 +0100

Tim Rhodes said

>But for the short term, the camp that prevails will be the one which can
>with authority, "For memes of the type X, in the setting Y, the adoption
>rate will be Z." and PROVE IT, conclusively and with empirical data from
>real world.

I know I get accused of shamelessly referring to published research that
provide evidence to back up arguments, but my paramount objective in doing
this has been to demonstrate that what you are asking for *has already been
done* in social contagion and diffusion research (see forthcoming article
for a review (of yet more- boring -boring evidence) Memetics and Social
Contagion: Two Sides of the Same Coin?). So, I predict some will say, if
this has already been done in other domains, surely memetics needs to find
its own territory (mental memetics or whatever)! But the whole point is
that the body of research known as social contagion research is simply a
mass of theoretically sterile empirical correlations, with no explanatory
framework, and which has no (as Liane G. has pointed out) significant
evolutionary dimension/component. Social contagion research is a body of
evidence without theory, and memetics is a body of theory without evidence.
Maybe I'm just an optimist, but perhaps there is some room for synergy here?

>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
>can beat the hare if the hare is too busy telling everyone how he's going
>win rather than just getting on with it and running the race.

Good point! But be aware that what I, (and I believe Derek) am proposing is
methodological behaviourism, not ontological behaviourism.

Paul Marsden
Graduate Research Centre in the Social Sciences
University of Sussex
tel/fax (44) (0) 117 974 1279

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