Memetics not tautological or circular

Aaron Lynch (
Thu, 03 Jun 1999 22:39:29 -0500

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Date: Thu, 03 Jun 1999 22:39:29 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Memetics not tautological or circular
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In the April 28 issue of _Nature_, Jerry Coyne wrote a review of _The Meme
Machine_ that criticized not just the book, but memetics in general. One of
his criticisms asserted that memetic evolution theory was utterly unlike
biological evolution theory in that "The spread of genes through natural
selection is not tautological because one can predict their fate through
their known effects on replication and the reproduction of their
carriers." However, when expressed in terms of mathematics and measurable
propagation parameters, (Lynch, 1998) both memetic evolution theory and
genetic evolution theory are not circular. Neither are they tautological.

In the technical language of my 1998 JoM-EMIT papaer, one says that (for
instance) N1 goes from one value to another value over a given time
interval because propagation parameters R1, R2, K11, K12, K22, K21,
gamma12, beta12, etc. remained within such and such intervals (according to
empirical measurement) over the specified time interval.

Lynch, A. 1998. Units, Events, and Dynamics in Memetic Evolution. Journal of
Memetics-Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission.

PS., this post is not an invitation for Derek and Paul to reiterate their
objections to the above paper or an attempt to launch a new round of
arguments between them and me.

--Aaron Lynch

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