RE: The information theoretic view Was: JOM

Aaron Agassi (
Sun, 5 Sep 1999 15:35:01 -0400

From: "Aaron Agassi" <>
To: <>
Subject: RE: The information theoretic view Was: JOM
Date: Sun, 5 Sep 1999 15:35:01 -0400
In-Reply-To: <>

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf
> Of Bill Spight
> Sent: Sunday, September 05, 1999 3:13 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: The information theoretic view Was: JOM
> All:
> Buck:
> It never occurred to me that the complex environmental conditions
> and behavioral processes relating to meme propagation would
> called memes themselves. This is certainly incorrect, but
> several errors defending this point have really allowed in a
> trickle (flood?) of vitriol.
> Jake:
> It seems that there has been a tendency lately to talk about
> aspects or manifestations of memes as "memes" themselves. I
> think that proves to be a mistake and is the cause of
> considerable confusion. The meme itself is a *complete
> replicator* capable of filling the role of replicator in the
> evolutionary algorithm.
> Buck:
> I agree attempts to expand the meme definition to phenomena like
> infectious behavior are misguided. . . .
> I think this idea's main problem is expanding the scope of meme
> to an unfalsifiable definition.
> Robin:
> The most fundamental question is: what is it that survives? The
> answer is "genes and memes".
> Richard:
> Rocks and stars survive much better than genes or memes. The
> question is, what influences the future? Replicators (including
> genes and memes) play a huge and growing role. I suspect, though
> that more complex cultural replicators composed of artifacts and
> groups of people with same or complementary beliefs --
> replicators that Dawkins and I call mind viruses -- are becoming
> more and more important as influencers of the future.
> Bill:
> "What is it that survives?"
> "What influences the future?"
> Important questions. Dawkins addresses both of these, and others,
> in "The Extended Phenotype", Chapter 5, "The Active Germ-line
> Replicator". He coined the term "optimon" to mean the unit of
> natural selection (also termed "selecton" by E. Mayr).
> Dawkins develops the idea of the selecton this way:
> "The optimon (or selecton) is the 'something' to which we refer
> when we speak of an adaptation as being 'for the good of' something. . . .
> "A replicator [is] anything in the universe of which copies are
> made. . . .
That definition is one of happenstance. Something eminently copiable may by
chance never get copied, while something hard to copy may still by
happenstance get copied. This is like saying that an animal who can't get a
date isn't an animal! Or that an inert random string of protein
coincidentally linked together by free radicals is an animal if it gets
copied deliberately, molecule by molecule, in an lab experiment.

> "An active replicator is any replicator whose nature has some
> influence over its probability of being copied. . . .
Then all replicators are active replicators. Because everything, by some
causal connection, contributes for better or worse to it's probability of
being copied.

But malicious gossip would be among the most active, being that the memplex
influences the selection of it's next host in order not only best to
propagate, but also to avoid hostile memplexes.

(But there are no memetic replicators, only memetic replicated.)

> "A germ-line replicator . . . is a replicator that is potentially
> the ancestor of an indefinitely long line of descendant replicators. . . .
> "The active germ-line replicator [is] the 'optimon'."
Then not only is dormancy the norm, but optimon is the exception.

> It is true that Dawkins sees the meme as an analog to the gene,
> inhabiting the brain and having phenotypic effects. However, it
> seems to me that the L-meme, the G-meme, and (if I may) the
> P-meme ('P' for 'polymorphous' or 'peripatetic') *all* qualify as
> active germ-line replicators. The G-meme is *not* the phenotype
> of the L-meme. Mutations in G-memes are replicated; changes in
> phenotypes are not.
Only in the brain might meme be said to be alive to replicate anything like
germs. Outside the host they are dormant, passively copied, or not.

> Best to all,
> Bill
> ===============================================================
> This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
> Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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> see:

This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)