Re: The information theoretic view Was: JOM

Robin Faichney (
Thu, 2 Sep 1999 17:48:08 +0100

Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 17:48:08 +0100
From: Robin Faichney <>
Subject: Re: The information theoretic view Was: JOM
In-Reply-To: <>

In message <>,
Richard Brodie <> writes
>James McComb:
><<Strictly speaking, a meme is not a brain pattern, artifact or behavior,
>the information it carries. On the information-theoretic view, memes are not
>physical objects. Instead, memes should be regarded as 'information' or
>'instructions' that is 'encoded' in physical objects.>>
>Correct. And the word "meme" means such information in a mind, whose
>existence influences events such that more copies of itself get created in
>other minds. Information outside of minds that causes replicas of itself to
>be created is galled, generically, a "replicator." replicators include
>genes, memes, and anything else.

Richard, you're not addressing the point that these replicators internal
and external to the brain are the *same*. For every meme in the brain
there is a meme encoded in behaviour, and quite likely one encoded in an
artefact too, but in fact these are all the same meme, and there is only
one, in these different forms, en/decoded as it is copied back and
forward. Why have more than one name when there's only one thing?

><<Memes are, in Robin's words, 'peripatetic'. Memetic information is encoded
>in brains (i-form), and it is also encoded in behaviors and artifacts
>(m-form). This view dissolves the genotype/phenotype distinction (and with
>it any Lamarckian worries). It also solves Derek Gatherer's problem about
>the location of mutations. Mutations can occur in both the i-form and the
>m-form of a meme.>>
>The problem is that it's not just ENCODED in the mind---it actually is
>active and influencing the future when it is in the mind.

Aaargh! There's that "active" word again! When I castigated Jake, way
back, for using it without being able to define it -- I went so far as
to accuse him of mysticism or the like -- you *agreed* with me! So what
are you doing with it here? Define it or drop it!

>That's what makes
>memes special.

I did wonder about your repetition of "special". Now I know what's
behind it. But I won't abuse "mystic" or "mysticism" again. There are
plenty of people very willing to do so who have the excuse of not
knowing what these words actually mean. Instead, I'll call you a
"mystifier". Unless/until you satisfactorily define "active", anyway.

Robin Faichney
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