RE: information transmission

Mark M. Mills (
Tue, 23 Mar 1999 16:45:56 +0000

Date: Tue, 23 Mar 1999 16:45:56 +0000
From: "Mark M. Mills" <>
Subject: RE: information transmission
In-Reply-To: <>


At 09:29 AM 3/23/99 -0600, you wrote:
>>Your use of terms like 'passes' (the child passes the meme) to describe
>>meme population change strongly suggests the 'memes are things'
>>perspective, though.
>>In standard English usage, one 'passes' things. A quarterback passes
>>the ball. A lawyer insures the deed passes to the rightful heir.
>>Animals pass their food after digestion.
>In the same way that light can act like both a wave and a particle, why
>cannot a meme act like both a concept and a thing?

Actually, every 'thing' can also be represented as a wave. There is no
need to restrict the analogy light alone. The scalar wave equation offers
a way to define a frequency domain (waves) for every time domain (things)
and vise-versa.

Patterns can be imposed on both things and waves. Radio broadcasts work by
modulating a reference wave. AM does this with 'amplitude modulation' at a
specific frequency. FM does it with 'frequency modulation' of a standing

Patterns exist only in reference to a system. With out the system
reference, there is just meaningless variation. Computer code is only a
'code' or 'pattern' if a computer system exists to process it.

The concepts driving pattern use and pattern creation are system
attributes. If I conceptualize a plan to buy new clothes, the plan becomes
part of my information resources. It is neither thing nor wave. It is
just an attribute of me, the system I represent.

Thus, I 'm forced to assert a concept is neither wave nor thing. Both
waves and things stimulate us. The stimulation changes our 'information
content' and concepts. Waves are not concepts.

Reading and writing are system activities. We don't read 'concepts.' When
we read printed tokens, our neural systems use the experience to trigger a
variety of 'meaning' events. We don't write concepts, we write tokens that
we hope will trigger some sort useful mental activity on the part of readers.

Why can't a meme be both concept and thing?

Well, you can define a meme any way you chose. I'm just sharing my belief
that memetics will make more progress if we avoid confusing things and
concepts. IMHO, if we continue to confuse the two, our linguistic habits
will undermine our efforts to be scientific in this domain.

This is particularly important because memetics exists in the domain of
'things not genetic.' Just how the relationship between memes and genes is
defined remains to be seen, but some relationship exists. Further,
memetics will only be accepted at the academic level when a number leading
geneticists or evolutionary biologists recognize the utility of memetics.

To prove we are not discussing a 'genetic' system, we will have to be very
clear about what memetics is, what genetics is and how to distinguish
genetic phenomena from memetic phenomena. This will be very difficult if
we can't be rigorous about the nature of a meme.


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Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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