Re: Meme Conference

Aaron Lynch (
Mon, 17 May 1999 13:28:41 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 13:28:41 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: Meme Conference
In-Reply-To: <000301bea045$4c70c8c0$605195c1@paul>

At 10:40 AM 5/17/99 +0200, Paul Marsden wrote:

>The study of kuru, a degenerative neurological disease first isolated among
>the Fore in the New Guinea Highlands, has produced two Nobel Prizes in
>Medicine: once in 1976 to D. Carleton Gajdusek and Baruch Blumberg, and
>again in 1997 to Stanley Prusiner. Both awards have been controversial.
>Gajdusek (1977) argued the disease is produced by a slow-acting virus. This
>constituted a new strategy (long-term dormancy) in an existing class of
>replicator. Prusiner (1995), on the other hand, believes kuru (and related
>diseases) are caused by an entirely new class of replicator which
>reproduces independently of DNA: prions (short for "proteinaceous
>infectious particles"). Only one of these arguments can be correct.
>Analogous options exist for explaining another phenomenon which also
>"infects" the brain: culture. Culture is either a new phenotypic strategy
>used by the most prominent class of replicators, genes (e.g., Flinn and
>Alexander 1982; Flinn 1997), or the product of a novel, quasi-independent
>class of replicators with their own interests (e.g., Brodie 1996; Lynch
>1997). These basic units of information, able to reproduce themselves
>during transmission between individuals, were called "memes" by Dawkins
>(1976). One of these theories is wrong: either memes exist or they don't.

I have seen the publication date of my book Thought Contagion listed
incorrectly a number of times now, including above. The publication date of
the book is 1996. The publisher's copyright date is 1996. The release date
is 1996, and it appeared in bookstores in October, 1996. I did, however,
register a copyright in 1993, when I started sending the manuscript to
publishers, but this should not cause a mutated date of 1997. I did publish
articles in 1997, however, and these must not be confused with my book.

First (humorous) "corollary" of thought contagion theory:

People don't learn from each other's mestakes; they learn each other's

--Aaron Lynch

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