Re: facets of meme-talk

Lawrence H. de Bivort (
Sun, 29 Aug 1999 09:13:23 -0400 (EDT)

Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 09:13:23 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Lawrence H. de Bivort" <>
Subject: Re: facets of meme-talk
In-Reply-To: <>

On Sun, 29 Aug 1999, Robin Faichney wrote:

>It's fine that biologists have DNA to focus upon. But there is no
>reason to believe that there's any equivalent for memetics. Why should
>the storage of memes in the brain differ in any way from the storage of
>any other information there?

We plumbed the utility of using genes as a stalking horse model for memes
some years ago. That is, we hypothesized that genes and their structure
and functions were a biological equivalent to culture/behavior's memes.
But we found too many areas in which genes were significantly different,
and several areas in which memes had quite different properties, and
abandoned the hypothesis. This allowed us to examine what memes seem to be
from first principles. The insistence that memes must be interpreted in
genetic terms seems quite limiting to me. If the hope is that by doing so
one can glean for memetics some of the scientific clarity and rigor that
now attaches to genetics, it is a Faustian bargain. Better IMO to accept
the non-equivalence of the two, be free to look at memes as memes alone,
and handle the matter of rigor directly and in the normal way of science.

I do believe that there is a significant element of neurobiology in
memetics, but think that it will be found in the processes of language,
cognition, memory and decision-making, rather than in biological functions
that are unique to memetics.

Lawrence de Bivort
The Memetics Group

>I guess this'll be gobbledegook to most, but some might get it: a
>terrific benefit of focussing on information processing and
>communications is the ability to apply a layered model like the OSI one
>in computer communications.

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