Re: Meme Conference

Aaron Lynch (
Mon, 17 May 1999 22:42:04 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 22:42:04 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: Meme Conference
In-Reply-To: <000601bea099$61373100$f86845c2@paul>

At 09:13 PM 5/17/99 +0200, Paul Marsden wrote:
>Not guilty - merely passing on the conference organiser's pitch!

I'm not saying that you originated this one, Paul. I believe I saw it first
in a memetics paper, but I do not remember which one. I don't know whether
the conference organiser learned the mistake from someone else or
re-originated it. Nevertheless, he will kindly correct the error before
publishing in print.

>-----Original Message-----
>From: Aaron Lynch <>
>To: <>
>Date: 17 May 1999 20:35
>Subject: Re: Meme Conference
>>At 10:40 AM 5/17/99 +0200, Paul Marsden wrote:
>>>The study of kuru, a degenerative neurological disease first isolated
>>>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.
>>>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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