Re: Darwinian/Neo-Darwinian, and codes (was Memes and Things)

Bruce Howlett (
Tue, 09 Feb 1999 23:28:02 +0000

Date: Tue, 09 Feb 1999 23:28:02 +0000
From: Bruce Howlett <>
Subject: Re: Darwinian/Neo-Darwinian, and codes (was Memes and Things)

Paul et al,

Here I go being picky again, but last time I checked, "heuristic" was an
adjective. So I interpret Paul's comment to mean "heuristic process".
If this is the case, I have to disagree. Certainly everything we say
has heuristic properties to some degree, but humans generally ignore the
feedback and reinforce their belief structures (quite irrationally)
instead. (I realise that this is a generalised statement based on
personal observation and not supported with "scientific" evidence, but
there are plenty of examples around. E.g: the latest Aaron/Richard
scrap.) The degree to which an heuristic experience influences the
modification of a belief structure (evolution?) is the effective
difference between a replicator and an interactor. I.e: the higher
level of modification leads the effect of the experience to be more
interactive than replicative (and vice versa). The tendancy we have to
define these phenomena in absolute terms is not helpful.

I think the brain is physiologically predisposed (I hate the term "hard
wired") to identify everything as a pattern. A "known" pattern will
always take precedence over a new pattern. Hence, effective replicators
always "feel" more comfortable, being closely related to an easily
recognised pattern. Interactors on the other hand would have to have a
compelling rationale and a cognative process to establish a new
pattern. I'm not sure this is congruent with Darwinian evolution. I
prefer If's concept of punctuated equilibrium - we don't evolve until
the environment changes significantly and presents us with new problems
solve and new paradigms to create.

Derek, could you please expand on the debate with Mike and Richard


Bruce Howlett.

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