RE: "Retarding the Progress" - A Call for Specifics

Gatherer, D. (
Tue, 02 Mar 1999 09:31:37 +0100

Date: Tue, 02 Mar 1999 09:31:37 +0100
From: "Gatherer, D. (Derek)" <>
Subject: RE: "Retarding the Progress" - A Call for Specifics
To: "''" <>

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Aaron Lynch []
> Sent: Monday, March 01, 1999 11:14 PM
> To:
> Subject: RE: "Retarding the Progress" - A Call for Specifics
> At 09:13 AM 3/1/99 +0100, Derek Gatherer wrote:
> >Aaron, the calculus of mnemon instantiations leads to paradoxes
> >involving the finite storage capacity of the mind (as I have already
> >shown - blah blah, must I repeat myself?????). Language statements
> >cannot be stored as memory instantiations. Chomsky demonstrated this
> >back in the mid-50s. You are either a) not aware of this (I'm sure
> you
> >were aware of this, and if you weren't you must be by now because
> I've
> >talked about it ad nauseam), or b) choose to ignore it. I conclude
> you
> >have chosen to ignore it. Therefore you have disregarded
> linguistics.
> >Simple as that.

> I will take this as a general objection rather than a demonstration of
> how
> using "the thought contagion metaphor" involved harmful disregard of
> linguistics or cognitive science in discussing the growth or decline
> of a
> specific movement in which "the thought contagion metaphor" has been
> applied.

Okay, then. You have generally disregarded linguistics, as
above. In your 1998 paper, you present calculus of mnemon instantiation
diagrams referring to the Hutterites. Therefore you confuse the
analysis of this specific case with your speculations concerning their
memory contents. Specific enough for you? I thought Paul had been as
specific as one could wish for already.

> Now, I am not attempting to re-do Chomsky
No, you are attempting to ignore him.

> or explain just how language or
> memory work.

So what's all this about memory instantiations then? If you
have no theory of memory, or choose not to comment on memory, then why
build a calculus of memory instantiations? You've built a house on
quicksand, now you've realised, and now you're seeking to explain to
prospective purchasers that the house actually isn't built in the place
we can all see it evidently is built.

> Rather, I am *using language* to express abstractions about
> internally stored information.

Yes, Aaron, you are using language. It's the way you use it
that bothers me.

> Like it or not, anyone who attempts to
> discuss internally stored information will use language to do so. So I
> use
> language when I refer to "knowledge of how to play baseball." Yet when
> I
> use this abstraction as an attribute of a specific person, it does not
> mean
> that I think the phrase "knowledge of how to play baseball" exists
> anywhere
> inside that person's head.
Oh please Aaron! If you do not think that the knowledge of how
to play baseball exists in the head, then why do you have a calculus of
memeory instantiations at all? Why indeed do you have a thought
contagion metaphor?

> If I use the symbol B as shorthand for
> "knowledge of how to play baseball," I am still not saying that the
> phrase
> exists anywhere inside the person's head. Perhaps this has been a
> source of
> confusion contributing to the perception that I am contradicting and
> hence
> dangerously ignoring linguistics.
You're trying to slide out from under the argument again Aaron.
You specifically use 'awareness of statement x' as an example of a
mnemon in your 1998 paper.

Derek from a previous post:

> > Yes, it is retarding progress. To say that the Hutterites
> >behave as they do because they are hosts to unobservable entities,
> and
> >then to concoct an elaborate pseudo-algebraic notation to represent
> >these speculations is about as obstructive as one can be. When that
> >pseudo-algebraic notation leads to paradoxes, well, you're really up
> the
> >creek without a paddle..........
> Well, I will just have to disagree with you about such things as
> "elaborate
> pseudo-algebraic notation," "paradoxes," etc. I have been sending
> copies of
> book chapters, etc. with the event diagrams to mathematicians,
> cognitive
> scientists and other scientists for 15 years now, with favorable
> reactions
> reactons. You are the first person to tell me you found it
> "pseudo-algebraic" or that it "leads to paradoxes."
Well, it does, as I have shown. I notice you fail to deal with
this issue in your reply, except for some weak point about me failing to
understand the concept of infinity, and a lot of insinuation about my
having religious motivations.

> I did, however, find your article misleading in many ways, and I
> reject the
> notion that I have done my book or paper as a critique of religion. If
> nothing else, I suspect that your interpretation of my book and paper
> as a
> critique of religion has contributed to the intensity of your
> reactions to
> it, as if you were playing the militant monotheist standing up to the
> militant atheists. Perhaps I will stand corrected when your reply goes
> online...
There you go again. It's always your standard fall-back
position. Anyone who criticises you must have ulterior motives. But
actually we criticise you because your ideas are ...erm ..not very good.
And also because you asked for criticism - Paul and I did not start this
thread. You just had 1500 words free to reply to many article, but
obviously that wasn't enough for you.

Aaron from a previous post:
> > >Themas." I don't believe in a "central dogma" of memetics, and
> >therefore
> > >have no problem with replicator analysis of "external" things
> >like
> > >sentences on paper or on the Internet.
Derek: from a previous post:
> > False. You dismiss such work as 'cultural repliconics'".
> No, that was not meant at all as a dismissal. You seriously misread me
> here. Just because I chose to keep the focus of my own paper narrower
> than
> the broader topic of evolutionary cultural replicator theory does not
> mean
> that I call for dismissing such work. Chain letters, for instance, can
> usefully be analyzed as replicators in their own right. I don't use
> the
> term "meme" to refer to such external replicators, but that is merely
> a
> terminological issue, not a matter of dismissing those replicators as
> valid
> subjects of study.

But nevertheless you maintain it isn't memetics (you proposed
the change in journal title).

This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)