Richard Brodie (
Wed, 1 Sep 1999 22:37:08 -0700

From: "Richard Brodie" <>
To: <>
Subject: RE: JOM
Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 22:37:08 -0700
In-Reply-To: <000f01bef4e9$9ac7df60$>

Buck wrote:

<<Can you provide a helpful example of a
component of cultural evolution which replicates, but in a sufficiently
complex or
obscure manner as to exclude it from categorization as a meme? Or am I
missing the
point of your concern?>>

Religions, chain letters, MLMs.

>A meme is a unit of information in a mind whose existence influences events
>such that more copies of itself get created in other minds. [Virus of the
>Mind, p. 27]

<< are rewording p. 27 quite a bit, and I puzzle over whether your
evolved, or are you perhaps hoping to ramp me up to a concept I missed? >>

My error... p. 27 has Dawkins's original definition. The quoted text is from
p. 32.

<< The book def
proposes the "basic unit of cultural transmission, or imitation", which
suggests an
atomic property holding my focus. I'm unclear on complex phenomena
into others through obscure or unknown processes that cannot usefully be
using the basic unit.>>

Weather, earthquakes, stock-market crashes...

>You missed the point. My objection is to the use of "meme," a specifically
>defined term meaning mental replicators, to refer to all information
>involved in replicating processes. The analogy to "water" would be

<<An example of this misused information would be really helpful...perhaps a

We've been discussing this extensively for some time. I don't really know
where to begin. Maybe you could read the last few weeks of archives? In
brief, Robin is excited about the information-theoretic model of cultural
evolution, which I think is great, but I'm still happy to keep the word meme
in its accepted (by Dennett/Dawkins et al) meaning as a replicator based in
the mind.

>No, the analogy is to the way behaviors, artifacts, and other kinds of
>vehicles are involved in the transmission of memes, although they are not
>memes themselves.

<<Aha! <The lightbulb appears over Buck's lead cranium> This is like claming
water IS
sublimation, freezing, or the condensation process, right?>>

Well, In the original analogy I made I was concerned that people saw no use
for the word "ice" because it was "just" water. But it has other interesting
properties, as does the meme (mental replicator).

Richard Brodie
Author, "Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme"
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