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

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Wed, 10 Feb 1999 16:53:55 +0100

From: <>
Date: Wed, 10 Feb 1999 16:53:55 +0100
Subject: Re: [Re: [Re: Darwinian/Neo-Darwinian, and codes (was Memes and Things)]]

Derek Gatherer wrote:

> Mario wrote:
> >Derek,I already was afraid that you were going to confuse things.
> Confusion is obviously something I have a talent for. But seriously, yes, I
> am confused. Let's look at what you wrote and find the source of my problem.
> In your last message you said:
> >Also,
> >considering texts as memes is what I propose to be the best approach >when
> trying
> >to compare biology and culture, but it is not directly relevant to what >most
> of
> >us
> >want to do with memetics (as I tried to explain).
> but previously you said (message before that one):
> > >My conclusion is that written, electronic, printed, ... TEXTS are best
> > >comparable to genes, and thus are the real memes (when thinking in
> > >informational terms).
> So texts are 'the real memes' but are also (see above) 'not directly relevant
> to what most of us want to do with memetics'.
> Frankly I'm baffled.

In my first mail I tried to explain that I think that studying the analogies
between memes and genes is very fundamental work (information theory) which my
have little to do with 'applied memetics' which is in the social-psychological
area of interest.

> > don't
> >iclude
> >haviours and pottery (artefacts with very limited informational >ontent).
> limited informational content? Why do you say that that? Pottery can have
> high informational content. The Inca civilisation of South America had no
> texts at all, but was obviously a highly informational society.

Maynard Smith and Eos Szathmary in their book 'The major transitions in evolution'
coin this term to refer to DNA which can carry an enormous number of possible
messages: unlimited informational content.

> >Also, I don't see how my ideas relate to those of Michael Best. Could >you
> point
> >me
> >to the texts of Best you are thinking of (electronic ones)?
> See Mike's JoM article. Text is a real meme there.

I'll check. Thanks

> >Moreover, since I presented these ideas already at the symposium, there >is
> no
> >need
> >to welcome me as if I were a convert.
> Again, I am confused. I imagined throughout the debate we had last year that
> you were a defender of the Lynch/Dawkins B line???

As I said I don't reckon myself to any camp. I only tried to discuss those things
I did not agree with in your publication. When studying the evolution of
information, I conclude that it are textual artefacts which are the cultural
candidate analogues for genes. But when trying to study human behaviour in terms
of memes, I am interested in the success and the viral/contagious spread of ideas
and ideologies and their influence on our behaviour, and not in pottery artefacts.

> Since Aaron sees artefacts
> as meme products (and presumably also sees texts as meme products), if you
> think that texts are 'the real memes' you are not holding to the thought
> contagionist line. Can you clarify this?

I am just thinking along different lines than most of you. It'll take me a few
pages to explain. Coming, ... but when?


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