Re: information transmission

Mark M. Mills (
Fri, 26 Mar 1999 19:09:49 +0000

Date: Fri, 26 Mar 1999 19:09:49 +0000
From: "Mark M. Mills" <>
Subject: Re: information transmission
In-Reply-To: <00cb01be76b3$36a59f40$d2d56ccb@ddiamond>


>>Let me rephrase the question. What selective advantage allowed the
>>'personal holographic film' to evolve? Associated with this question is,
>>'what source did the personal holographic film evolve from'?
>seeing variations on a theme rather than the 'one' theme. Archetypal
>processing is very single context. IT is based on oppositions, light vs
>dark. these are enternal and so the 'same' theme, the same cast in every
>battle and the war is eternal.
>Now see the male and female as cooperative and so variations on a theme.
>more 'human'. advantageous wouldnt you say?

Well, I was looking for something less literary and more biological.

I don't have any problem with the use of theme, distinction and dichotomies
in regards to memetic operations, but I was hoping you would talk about the
physical reality that brings their possibility to life. The biological
model will make the link between them and memetics easier to understand.

I think everyone agrees that memetics is about the evolution of culture.
Some say that culture started with the arrival of language using humans.
Others say that culture started somewhere in the animal kingdom. A few say
culture is a unforeseen consequence of neural systems and starts with the
first neural system. Finally, some would say a bacteria culture really is a
'culture', despite the lack of multicellular organization. In each case,
there is a biological foundation for culture. No one argues that point.

If the construct meme assists us in understanding the evolution of culture,
then it needs to arise from biology via some genetic evolutionary path.
Memes may be as 'unlinked' from genetics as genetics is from quantum
mechanics, but genetics provides the foundation.

Alternatively, someone might argue that memes are independent attractors,
always present regardless of biological evolution. We just happen to
notice memetic events because biology made the experience possible.

This is not my view, but it might be yours.

I take the view that memes are the inner neural workings that produce
cultural behavior. Since our inner mental workings are extremely complex,
it is difficult to isolate individual memes via the study of behavior. The
work of Chomsky is a basic experimental strategy for memes: take all
cultures and look for patterns. Understanding memetics is thus a process
of understanding the discrete set of options our nearly infinite range of
expression is built upon (as biology is upon 4 DNA bases). Chomsky's
Universal Language proposals allude to a discrete set of options provided
by biology along the lines I would expect memes to operate.

Additionally, memetics should seek to understand how genetic processes
evolved to produce our memetic system. There is the issue of the 'starter'
set of behaviors (similar to starter sets for computer neural networks) we
use to produce desired experiences (children seek stimulation, stimulation
instinctively produces experience, experiences produce trained response)
that lead to cultural behaviors. Somehow, genetics provides us with this.

What I find interesting about dichotomy models for cultural minds, like the
model you propose, is the way it suggests Chomsky like experiments. I
suspect you understand this as well as I do. On the other hand, it is
quite a leap for most. If we could build a believable biological model the
leap would be easier to make.

That's why I keep probing for biological models.

Do you understand my original question better now?


This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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