Re: FW: Memetics in Time magazine

Aaron Lynch (
Tue, 20 Apr 1999 11:25:01 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Tue, 20 Apr 1999 11:25:01 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: FW: Memetics in Time magazine
In-Reply-To: <2CDFE2C8F598D21197C800C04F911B200CAF57@DELTA.newhouse.akzo

At 12:29 PM 4/20/99 +0200, Gatherer, D. (Derek) wrote:
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Gatherer, D. (Derek)
>Sent: Tuesday, April 20, 1999 7:59 AM
>To: ''
>Subject: RE: Memetics in Time magazine
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Aaron Lynch []
>Sent: Monday, April 19, 1999 9:07 PM
>Subject: Re: Memetics in Time magazine
>At 04:12 PM 4/19/99 +0200, Gatherer, D. (Derek) wrote:
>The first of these articles mentions an assortment of Internet sites
>concerning memetics. These include alt.memetics, the "Church of Virus,"
>"The Meme Gardening Page," "Memes, and Grinning Idiot Press," etc. But it
>does not mention JoM-EMIT or any technical/quantitative treatment of
>memetics that might have preempted the charge of "cocktail party science"
>leveled by H. Allen Orr (quoted by Kher) in the second piece. Perhaps it
>was a simple oversight on Dawkins's part. Then again, perhaps he is in some
>state of conflict about whether or not he wants memetics to be widely
>viewed as serious science.
>You have a point here, but..... don't you think that your speculation
>concerning Dawkins' motives is... erm.... a bit strong?

Well, maybe it is a bit strong, or maybe it is a bit weak. Some of the
sites he mentions actually seem chosen so as to *invite* the charge of
"cocktail-party science," all the more so given the omission of JoM-EMIT
and online technical works.

The potential for intellectual conflict and conflict of interest is
sufficiently high that the possibility should be openly noted. Dawkins
certainly has had it within his power to keep his commitment to memetics
beyond question, and he simply has not done so in my opinion.

--Aaron Lynch

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