Re: Non-memetic behavior (was Parody of Science)

Wade T.Smith (
Mon, 16 Aug 1999 21:53:57 -0400

Subject: Re: Non-memetic behavior (was Parody of Science)
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 1999 21:53:57 -0400
From: "Wade T.Smith" <>
To: <>

I think I am quite happy, from my layman's perspective, to see the

>If one could prove social organizations evolve, it would be big news.
>Cultural evolution is an intuitive myth, discussed for generations, but
>never becoming a science. G-meme advocates are seeking to change this.
>As an L-meme advocate, I don't think culture evolves. The human phenotype
>evolves genetically and L-memetically, but gene/meme pools are enscribed on
>DNA and neural membranes. If evolution is change in the gene/L-meme pool
>over time, it is the human phenotype, not culture that is evolving.
>The G-meme advocates are convinced the cultural change we witness is
>evolutionary. Their model views artifacts as the meme pool and thus
>cultural evolution exists 'by definition.' The established scientific
>community not accepted this argument. The various review of memetics books
>dismiss memetics for providing no mechanism of change. The recent reviews
>of Meme Machine in Science and Nature call Blackmore's memetics an exercise
>in tautology.

- because, well, I like it- and it forces some of my own nascent
wanderings in these waters to find a proper current to ride for a while.
My arms were getting tired.

I suspect I am an L-memester.

>>More specifically, I am drawn to the fact that the mammalian brain goes
>>through distinct developmental steps where the same stimulus (memome?) can
>>have very different effects. A trauma to a puppy during the early
>>socialization period can leave the adult dog untrainable.
>Good example. I had not thought about this.

I wonder then about whether some of the studies of damaged human brains,
especially regarding language acquisition, and the studies of face
recognition, especially as regards differences found between age groups,
could be fertile ground?

>Strange attractors and probabilistic expression don't seem to bother
>genetic work, so it shouldn't faze the L-meme work, either.

Ah.... I recently read about a very interesting study, done in Australia,
I think, where the paintings of Jackson Pollock were found, from a
painstaking examination and analysis of their layers, to have strong
fractal structures. This compelled me to think these sort of analyses and
maths would serve memetics very well. Just the sort of memetic artifact I
like- Pollock's whole artistic _idea_ was process, not outcome, so his
product was as near a transparent rendering of process as I suppose could
ever be in art.

The only problem (what a problem...), is to find the reason we don't need
the G-meme, or something like it, to find out why Pollock could know what
he was doing, or why we find ourselves asking. There's a real difficulty
seeing birdsong, for instance, and symphonies, in any kind of path
alongside each other. Somewhere, we cry, there was a singular divergence,
and human culture turned nature inside out. But, hell, maybe not....

- Wade

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)