Re: Derek's mission

Aaron Lynch (
Tue, 09 Mar 1999 13:38:46 -0600

Message-Id: <>
Date: Tue, 09 Mar 1999 13:38:46 -0600
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: Derek's mission
In-Reply-To: <>

At 02:05 PM 3/6/99 EST, Jake P. <> wrote:
>In a message dated 3/3/99 10:41:27 AM Central Standard Time,
> writes:
><< Derek:
> A sure sign you are losing the argument. Especially since you
> have raised so many points which lead me to believe you have effectively
> abandoned the position you take in your 1998 paper.>>
>I am a little new to this list, though not new to thinking about memetics. I
>particularly like William Benzon's treatment of memes which you cite in your
>paper. I hope to familiarize myself some more with things in the Journal.
>But about your interaction here with Aaron, I think the above quote belies a
>desire to turn this into a zero-sum game. Perhaps a little greedy on your
>part? I think you have held your own very nicely. Heat-of-the-battle public
>capitulations are unseemly. It can appear to say that you did not value your
>position in the first place, which might say more about the person than the
>position. Expecting them is likewise unseemly. While the death of a
>is less traumatic than the death of human, we all tend to wait for privacy to
>bury the dead. And of course to make sure that they are indeed dead -
while I
>may share your belief that "thought contagion" thinking is deeply flawed,
I am
>not yet convinced that there is no life left in that position.

Discussing the notion that I have abandoned the position of my 1998 paper
may give the false impression that I have actually abandoned the 1998
thesis. Yet the 1998 paper is very explicit that I consider the evolution
of brain-stored information to be only a subset of cultural evolution in
general. I nevertheless maintain that it is perfectly legitimate to write a
paper focusing mainly on that aspect of cultural evolution. It is even
legitimate to write a paper focusing on just a specific belief of a
specific movement.

Because my 1998 paper already posits that cultural evolution is a broader
phenomenon than just the evolution by natural selection of replicated
brain-stored information, ("thought contagions" in non-technical parlance),
doing subsequent work with non-mnemon event diagrams should be taken as
building upon earlier work, not "burying the dead." Again, I recommend that
people read my 1998 paper to see what it actually says.

I do not see this as a zero-sum game. Science offers more ways of progress
than calling for the death of a person or a position or both. Theories can
also be *modified*, a fact that applies to all of us.

--Aaron Lynch

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