Re: On influencing factors

Mon, 9 Nov 1998 09:01:09 -0500 (EST)

Subject: Re: On influencing factors
Date: Mon, 9 Nov 1998 09:01:09 -0500 (EST)

Mark said on the subject of imitation:

> Your suggestion that imitation is limited to social learning suggests a
> homuncular bias embedded in the word. Are you saying 'imitation' is only
> valid when used in terms of a 'life force' activity? (humans, birds,
> dolphins, chimps)

I'm sticking to the standard definition of 'imitation'. See Sue's
recent JoM paper. I don't think that there is any need to confine
the definition to 'life forces', since a sufficiently sophisticated
computer could undoubtedly imitate. Converesly there are plenty of
other life forces that are incapable of imitation.

> There are a number of websites that blend the study of neural tissue and
> the term 'signal transduction.'

I've snipped the extracts you quote below. I know all about this work
and believe me, it tells us nothing of relevance to memetics. It's all
about nano-processes within cells.

> It seems to me that 'signal transduction' is rapidly spreading into the
> domain of neural function.

It's not spreading into this domain, cell biologists have been studying
signal transduction within neuronal cells for years. It's intersting
if you are interested in neurons at the cellular level, but not really
relevant to an evolutionary theory of culture.

> This is highly relevant to the ongoing debate regarding the 'location' of
> memetic processes. The 'Gatherer' position has been that the study of
> neural processes is so difficult that locating memetic processes in
> neural tissue is either impossible or a waste of time.

And indeed it is under current circumstances. Look at the last line of
the paragraph you quote below. See also my previous post 'Doing the
neural walk'. I don't want to wait until 2045 to do memetics, I want
to do it now. So consequently we have to forget neurons and look at
behaviour/artefacts etc.

> "Elucidation of Molecular Mechanisms Related to the Integrated Brain
> Functions
> Recent progress in the neuroscience field has produced fundamental
> understanding of cellular architecture of the neuronal network,
> especially projection of the neurons, and knowledge of basic functional
> molecules in the signal transduction system. Meanwhile, high density of
> memory circuits and higher-order signal processing mechanisms in the
> brain are attracting great interest. However, such a machinery of the
> brain functions has not yet been well elucidated."

> It seems that one of your own specialties, signal transduction, is moving
> right into the domain of research you dismiss.

No, I don't think it will ever, because signal transduction is by
definition about cells.

> I think those interested in advancing
> memetics as an empirical science, complete with academic standing and
> research funding, should pay close attention to the spread of 'signal
> transduction' concepts into neural tissue research. This is important
> empirical work. In this domain, someone might find a useful niche for
> the term 'meme' and move 'memetics' off the list of 'pseudo-sciences.'

Well, you know what I'm going to say now, which is that we've already
got a good behavioural definition of the meme and we should stick to


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