RE: JASSS Critical Review of Thought Contagion

Aaron Lynch (
Thu, 29 Apr 1999 10:25:37 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 10:25:37 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: RE: JASSS Critical Review of Thought Contagion
In-Reply-To: <2CDFE2C8F598D21197C800C04F911B20224BBF@DELTA.newhouse.akzo

At 09:53 AM 4/29/99 +0200, Gatherer, D. (Derek) wrote:

I am not going into a re-hash of all our old disagreements or go into
another mutually futile argument about new ones. I am sure you have already
had plenty of opportunity to contribute your thoughts to Marsden's review.
Nevertheless, I will make a few points on quantitative matters, which,
incidentally, I had told the JASSS review editor were the parts of my work
most relevant to social simulation. Also, if Marsden did not want to review
such material, then he should not have commented on it.

>Again, he wasn't reviewing the paper. But in any case what are your
>equations based on? Epidemiology? Isn't that rather depending on metaphor?

Anyone who knows enough about mathematics in the sciences knows that
equations do not need to be based on prior work in a different field. The
equations were freshly developed, and were not adaptations of
epidemiological equations.

>a book that takes horizontal
>transmission as faster than vertical transmission without any mathematical,
>computational, or empirical methods to back it up.
>It is faster. This is well documented in the memetics literature, eg.
>Laland, Feldman, Cavalli-Sforza etc

The fastest cases of horizontal transmission are faster than the fastest
cases of vertical transmission, but this does not warrant any blanket
statement that horizontal transmission is faster than vertical. A
horizontally transmitted meme for which adherents win converts at the rate
of 1 per 30 years can easily be out-propagated by a vertically transmitted

--Aaron Lynch

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