Re: Darwin and Lamarck

Lloyd Robertson (
Sun, 25 Apr 1999 13:34:17 -0600

Message-Id: <>
Date: Sun, 25 Apr 1999 13:34:17 -0600
From: Lloyd Robertson <>
Subject: Re: Darwin and Lamarck
In-Reply-To: <>

At 02:55 PM 24/04/99 EDT, wrote:
>The last time that I heard of research being done on these things, chopping
>the tails off of rats generation after generation, causes no discernable
>change in the genotype for shorter tails. Giraffe's don't get genes for
>longer necks because of any special stretching exercises from one generation
>to the next. Consistent circumcision generation after generation that
>in some human societies, has not caused corresponding genetic alterations in
>those societies that code for smaller or non-existent foreskins.
Thank you for your post, Jake. This is my understanding of what is meant by
Lamarkism, as well. I might add that, for ideological reasons, Lamarkian
thought was made pervasive in Soviet agriculture with disasterous
consequences. The backwardness of their agricultural programs was no small
facter in the eventual collapse of the entire regime.

All of which has application to memetics. We talk about some memes being
more successful at self-replicating. In the short term the Lamarkian meme
had enough mutually attractive strength to attach itself to the memeplex we
know of as Soviet style Communism aka "Stalinism". This gave Lamarkism a
certain replicating power. But in the end the Lamark meme helped lead to
the collapse of that entire memeplex because it just couldn't deliver the
goods in a physical sense.

This does not mean, of course, the absolute end of the Lamarkian meme. It
continues to attach itself (or be attracted to) various religious and
ideological memeplexes because it reinforces the replicating power of those
memeplexes regardless of the dubious (physical) science involved.

All of the above does not demonstrate that some kind of Lamarkian process
cannot exist in the memetic world. I am currently of the opinion that while
memetics may have been initially formulated in biology its future is in the
fields of psychology and sociology. And there is no certainty that the same
rules exist for these mental or "soft" sciences. Instead of random mutation
which occurs in Darwinian evolution, we may have a kind of directed
mutative process based on the mechanism of the "self" which you recently,
and so vigorously, defended.

Anyway, these are my current musings, for what they are worth.


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