RE: FW: Memetics in Time magazine

Aaron Lynch (
Wed, 28 Apr 1999 10:07:10 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 10:07:10 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: RE: FW: Memetics in Time magazine
In-Reply-To: <2CDFE2C8F598D21197C800C04F911B20224BB7@DELTA.newhouse.akzo

At 09:58 AM 4/28/99 +0200, Gatherer, D. (Derek) wrote:
>Instead, he [ie. Dawkins] seems to speak of memetics with some sense of
>bemusement in
>parts of the article.
>I didn't get that impression. You're reading too much into this, Aaron.
>and this fact alone
>should stop us from assuming that "Dawkins knows best" about how to
>popularize memetics.
>You know I am the last man who would argue that Dawkins knows best. I am
>worried that you are getting personal, insinuating that Dawkins has ulterior
>maybe he [ie Dawkins] still is "pulling in his horns" more than he
>realizes, and perhaps a conscious or unconscious conflict of interest plays
>a part. The possibility is strong enough that it should be noted.
>No, I refuse to acknowledge such a possibility. This argument of yours is
>ad hominem. It's not the first time you've tried this. For instance, you
>have sought to insinuate that I am religiously motived. How would you like
>it if one of us were to indulge in the same kind of speculation regarding
>your motives......? I think you'd be very annoyed, so I suggest that in
>future you leave out such tactics and concentrate on arguments.


It was you who said "Richard Dawkins has developed his meme concept as the
philosophical basis for a militant atheism," in your 1998 Zygon paper.
Other aspects of that paper and your 1998 JoM-EMIT paper show a particular
concern with religion, which is rather inappropriate especially in the
context of the JoM-EMIT thesis that is not inherently about religion. If
you are not religiously motivated, that is great. But I do think, based on
those two papers, that the possibility of overt or subtle religious
influence should be pointed out to you. Certainly so if it is acceptable
for you to suggest atheistic motivation and zealotry when you say
"acceptance of the meme concept need not necessarily lead to atheism, as
Dawkins and his more zealous followers would maintain" in the Zygon paper.
(As you seem to treat me as one of Dawkins's "more zealous followers," I
would say that you have apparently already made insinuations about my

As for the possible conflict of interest with Dawkins, I do not consider it
an ad hominem to point out the possibility. It is considered standard to
point out possible conflicts of interest generated by corporate funding as

Memetics is not a religion and there is no "Saint Dawkins." Dawkins's works
are not above the processes of critical review by memeticists. He has
failed to mention either the existence of technical/quantitative memetics
work or JoM-EMIT in both his latest book and his latest article. For this,
his article and book sustain my criticism.

--Aaron Lynch

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