RE: The information theoretic view Was: JOM

Richard Brodie (
Thu, 2 Sep 1999 10:57:20 -0700

From: "Richard Brodie" <>
To: <>
Subject: RE: The information theoretic view Was: JOM
Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 10:57:20 -0700

Robin wrote:

<<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 behavior, and quite likely one encoded in an
artifact 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?>>

You keep arguing with me, but I don't really have any disagreement with you
other than you don't think mind-based replicators are particularly
interesting. Enough people do that we have given them the name "meme." If
you want to talk about encoding and so on that's fine... but I would be
confused if you called, for instance, Amway a meme---talking about the whole
organization, not just the word.

<<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!>>

"Active?" I guess I mean that its presence makes a significant difference,
like the active ingredient in a medicine. You can change the inactive
ingredients and there will be no difference in the effect, but if you change
the active ones there will be. Memes present in minds influence behavior.
Dots on rocks at the bottom of the sea don't.

<<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.>>

I got the word from Einstein, another noted mystic.

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