Re: Measuring Memes

t (Mario.Vaneechoutte@rug.ac.be)
Thu, 17 Jun 1999 08:36:20 +0200

From: <Mario.Vaneechoutte@rug.ac.be>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 08:36:20 +0200
To: memetics@mmu.ac.uk
Subject: Re: Measuring Memes

Mark Mills wrote:

> Mario,
>
> >> >>We know a great deal about how DNA plays a role in Darwinian
> >> >>evolution of species. It is not so clear what plays a similar role, if
> >> >>anything, in Darwinian evolution of culture.
> >
> >As I argued before: printed text. Nothing compares as well to genes as
> >printed texts.
>
> I agree. Printed text plays a similar role to DNA, in an entirely
> different context, with different reproductive mechanisms.
>
> >Of course, their function and role is completely different to that of
> >genes. That could simply be because culture is still in an early
> >developmental stage...
>
> I don't think culture is particularly new. As I've pointed out in my
> references to chimp culture, it seems clear that we can investigate the
> bifurcation of primate culture into distinct human and chimp groups.
> This must have happened about 4 million years ago.
>
> And, I don't think culture was invented by primates.

We don't disagree here, Marc. I consider the start of culture at the moment when
interaction between interactants could be done in a nonchemical manner. While
two cells, two molecules need physical contact to influence each others'
"behaviour", two animals can do so by producing visually observable and/or sonic
signals: long distance, with a nonchemical component of the signal, need for
brain transformations to reproduce the signal somewhere further in the chain of
ongoing interactions. So culture is about 500 million years old.Still, it is
informationally seen in a developmental stage, comparable to the prebiotic
world, where nucleotides were not playing the central role they have since the
first cell;
(Of course, that is my opinion whereby I disagree with the RNA-world model, in
which nucleotides play the central role from the start. More and more prominent
scientists have questions about the RNA-world model: see e.g.
ORIGINS OF LIFE: Old Views of Ancient Events
A review by Steven A. Benner of
The Molecular Origins of Life Assembling Pieces of the Puzzle
Andr Brack, Ed.
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999. 427 pp. $85, 65. ISBN
0-521-56412-3. Paper, $34.95, 22.95. ISBN 0-521-56475-1.
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/283/5410/2026a?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&author1=benner&searchid=QID_NOT_SET&FIRSTINDEX=

A recent brief version of my ideas about a possible analogy between prebiotic
chemistry, biology and culture should be at:
http://allserv.rug.ac.be/~mvaneech/NYAS.html

All the above is about general ideas about the evolution of information. I don't
know whether one could name it memetics, still better insight in 'semiotics' is
essential for many biological and cultural sciences (like memetics).

>
>
> >Looking for memes as the analogs to genes in minds and behaviours is
> >looking in
> >the wrong place. IMO, words like memotype, phemotype, etc. are completely
> >erroneous since they try to find analogies with genes where they aren't.
>
> I'm currently working on describing the difference between a Mendelian
> gene and the modern microbiologist's gene. If I ever get that done, I'll
> have something an opinion on terms like memotype, phemotype, etc.
>
> Mark
>
> ===============================================================
> This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
> Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
> For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
> see: http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit

--
Mario Vaneechoutte
Department Clinical Chemistry, Microbiology & Immunology
University Hospital
De Pintelaan 185
9000 GENT
Belgium
Phone: +32 9 240 36 92
Fax: +32 9 240 36 59

Mario.Vaneechoutte@rug.ac.be

=============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see: http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit