Re: Derek's mission

Aaron Lynch (
Wed, 10 Mar 1999 00:07:48 -0600

Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 1999 00:07:48 -0600
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: Derek's mission
In-Reply-To: <>

At 05:09 PM 3/9/99 EST, wrote:
>In a message dated 3/9/99 1:48:54 PM Central Standard Time,
><< 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." >>
>Right. I didn't mean to imply anything about your position in that specific
>paper, I was more referring to Derek's apparent over eagerness to bury it for
>>>Again, I recommend that people read my 1998 paper to see what it actually
>I will. I think I have read it somewhere before. It is in JOM isn't it? I
>will give it a closer look. I respect your work, starting with your book,
>which was the first one that I read on the subject of memes. You might say
>that in some measure, I am HERE because of you. My opinions that I have
>expressed here, relate generally to the "thought contagion" and "mind virus"
>computer/biology metaphors. Since entering this subject, what initially
>attracted me to it - the metaphor in Dawkin's essay, and the title of your
>book, as well written and thought out as they both were - I now see as a
>source for some confusion and lack of progress.
>I didn't intend my comments to relate specifically to your 1998 paper. I
>would need to read that more closely before I could give offer any
opinions on
>that. Most of what I know about that at this moment is from your's and
>Derek's Email discussion here. I would need to brush up more on the original
>before firing off on that.
>>>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<<
>Agreed. Only occassionally do we find ideas that need to be completely
>abandoned after apparent initial promise. And when we do, even good mistakes
>done well, can keep others from having to repeat them. I don't suggest
any of
>this has been demonstrated as the case at this point. In science there are
>very few if any zero-sum games as long as all the participants are honorable.
>And I have seen no dishonor here.

Thanks for clarifying these points, Jake.

My 1998 paper, which has been a topic of some discussion, is indeed
published at JoM-EMIT:

Lynch, A. (1998). Units, Events and Dynamics in Memetic Evolution. Journal
of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission, 2.

--Aaron Lynch

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