Re: Encoding and Decoding

Bill Spight (
Fri, 03 Sep 1999 16:02:30 -0700

Date: Fri, 03 Sep 1999 16:02:30 -0700
From: Bill Spight <>
Subject: Re: Encoding and Decoding

Dear Tim,

But I wouldn't dismiss L -->L (or i -->i ) transmissions out of hand.
It's just that no one -- not even Richard -- has ever proposed a method
by with such transmissions might take place *without* involving at least
one or more intermediary steps. And I doubt they ever will.

Just a couple of thoughts about that:

To be sure L-L (i-i) transmissions are mediated. However, it does seem
that the mediator, M, in L-M-L transmission is *not* the corresponding
G-form to the L-form. Thus, the transmission, written in terms of memes,
is simply L-L (i-i).

A few cases of indirect transmission:

1) Damning with faint (and irrelevant) praise.

- Did you enjoy the movie?

- Yes, the seats were comfortable and the popcorn was good. The movie
wasn't too long and the soundtrack wasn't too loud. The leading lady had
a nice nose.

Obviously, the movie sucked. There used to be a Japanese slang
expression, bakushun, derived from the English, back, and the German,
schoen. It meant "beautiful from behind", i. e., "ugly from the front".

Plainly, the direct encoding of "the movie sucked", its G-form, is
absent from this transmission. The same is true of the ugly G-form
(minikui) of bakushun.

But of course, in each case the message is there, and is readily
decoded. This is simply a case of alternative G-forms. The first example
indicates the necessity of taking context into account. In a different
context, "The popcorn was good," doesn't damn the picture.


Wife wants to take the next vacation where the couple went for their
honeymoon. Instead of saying so directly, she talks about their
honeymoon and how much they enjoyed the place. Several days later the
husband comes up with the idea of going there for their next vacation.

This is a close call. The similarity is so great between the honeymoon
and the vacation that it seems to be a case of alternative G-forms.
However, the message is not decoded in any straightforward way. The
L-form is induced.

3) Reverse psychology.

A is a bright, argumentative person. B wants to convince A of a certain
view, but knows that any argument he may advance will get shot down by
A. B therefore advances the opposing view, A shoots B's arguments down,
and B allows himself to be convinced (not too quickly). Meanwhile, A has
convinced himself.

An argument can be made that B's arguments, in context, can be
considered as G-forms which are opposite to their plain meaning.
However, they are not, because A will not reproduce them. Any further
transmission by A will be via the plain G-forms. Transmission is not
L-G-L-G-..., but L-M-L-G-.... Or, in terms of memes, L-L-G-....

Richard's indirect replication:

If I understand Richard correctly, he envisions indirect replication in
which the mediating behavior is *not* the plain G-form, but induces the
meme in someone else's mind. I think that we can consider that to be a
case of an alternative G-form, because it envisions this kind of
transmission: L-M-L-M-.... That is, the mediating behavior is

Best regards,


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