Re: i-memes and m-memes

Bill Spight (
Tue, 31 Aug 1999 09:51:22 -0700

Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 09:51:22 -0700
From: Bill Spight <>
Subject: Re: i-memes and m-memes

Dear Derek:

James McComb:

I am not a behaviorist. I am happy to create theoretical entities, provided they have explanatory power and are indirectly testable.

But do they:

a) have explanatory power? The biggest problem with the Dawkins B definition is that it doesn't because it equates hosting the meme with
manisfestation of the behaviour that the meme is supposed to neurally
encode. This is circular, and thus lacks explanatory power.


I think that it is the same kind of circularity as in the Newton's equation, f = ma. (The circularity may not be apparent until you try to operationalize the terms.) Circularity itself does not *completely* eradicate explanatory power.

Also, I get the impression from Dawkins in "The Extended Phenotype" that memetics is not a theory but a viewpoint. (That's my view, anyway. <s>) Its explanatory power is relative. Some things are easier to explain from the memetic standpoint. E. g., "dysfunctional" families.


b) permit even indirect testing? If you can suggest an indirect test, I'd be very interested.


What are we testing here? Are PET scans relevant? Is amnesia?



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