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

Gatherer, D. (
Tue, 17 Aug 1999 10:13:56 +0200

Date: Tue, 17 Aug 1999 10:13:56 +0200
From: "Gatherer, D. (Derek)" <>
Subject: RE: Non-memetic behavior (was Parody of Science)
To: "''" <>

>My premises (ie beliefs at this moment) are that
>1) Memetics is a supplement to genetics as a way to accelerate change

>Great. This is clearly a premise of the L-meme. My kind of meme.

It is also a premise of the real meme (sorry, behavioural meme).

In my view, both
genetics and L-memetics contribute to a single phenotype.

ditto for behavioural meme. Are you aware that you are espousing a fairly
strong Cavallian view here???? eg "genes and cultural traits contribute to
a single phenogenotype" would sit easily in a Cavallian anlysis, and how
different is that statement to the one you give above????? Not much I

>2) Memetics only applies to organisms that replicate using genetics or
>something homomorphous with genetics

>Great. Another premise of the L-meme. Again, the G-meme perspective would
>not agree. The G-meme is potientally a virus in various life forms.

Well, I could ask, what organisms replicate without genetics.....???
Anyway, the G-meme (as you insist on calling it) is nothing to do with the
virus metaphor. That is straight Viruses of the Mind/Though Contagion
stuff. I think you have things completely back-to-front here.

The G-meme expresses itself as phenotype (or phenogenotype) in the
brain. It might be something like a picture projected upon the genetically
created 'mind screen.' An artifact can be a G-meme genotype (or
phenogenotype) creating the phenotypic idea in someone's mind.

No, nothing like that. There is no mind screen, that's Dennett's 'Cartesian
Theatre'. The 'G-meme' is not 'in the brain'. The Dawkins B meme is in the

I'm probably doing a poor job of presenting the G-meme view, here. It
doesn't make much sense to me.

Most of your description of the G-meme seems to be description of the
Dawkins B meme. I'm sorry I obviously haven't managed to explain myself.

>4) Memetics may be the method of procreating an organism that transcends
>the individual biological entity ie society rather than the human

>Well, the G-meme crowd will welcome you for this premise. :-) As far as
>G-memes go, it has already happened.

Nope, sorry, again I don't recognise my own ideas in this.

I don't have much of an opinion, yet. We know so little about L-meme
biology, it seems beyond speculation.

Aha! Yes, now that I do agree on.

The ability of the G-meme proposition to deal with the 'transcendent
organism' represents a powerful attraction for many. Few are interested in
the boring details of L-meme neurology.

What details? There is no L-meme neurology. That's part of the problem.
If there were any neurological details, any at all, I might take the L-meme
more seriously.

The G-meme is almost 'by definition'
a human sort of activity. There are a variety of justifications for
limiting memetic ability to humans only.

Oh, this one again!! I have never limited memetics to humans only (and
neither incidentally has Sue Blackmore, who has had to field this criticism
continually, despite her explicit openness on the question in Meme Machine).
It is quite possible that dolphins, apes and birds have behaviours which can
be seen as memes. It's all in Sue's book.

I find this odd, since the G-meme
is supposed to be independent of human biology.

It is!

L-memetics, that is. I think this very interesting. Any proposals
regarding how to distinguish genetic from L-meme behavior would be great.

What is an L-meme behaviour? If it's a learned behaviour it's a 'G-meme'.
An L-meme is a hypothetical entity that is supposed to be stored in your
head somewhere. Now how does that relate to behaviour?

As an L-meme advocate, I don't think culture evolves.

That's what Dan Sperber says.

The G-meme advocates are convinced the cultural change we witness is

Absolutely right. But that doesn't mean we see society as an 'organism'.

Their model views artifacts as the meme pool and thus
cultural evolution exists 'by definition.'

No, you have to demonstrate mutation, replication and selection.

The established scientific
community not accepted this argument.

Ahem! Boyd and Richerson's 'Culture and the Evolutionary Process' won the
JI Staley Prize for outstanding contribution to anthropology! And if
Cavalli-Sforza isn't the established scientific community, then who is?

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