Re: implied or inferred memes

Bill Spight (
Sun, 12 Sep 1999 11:14:49 -0700

Date: Sun, 12 Sep 1999 11:14:49 -0700
From: Bill Spight <>
Subject: Re: implied or inferred memes

Dear Richard,


(However, I don't think that what Raymond is talking about amounts to transmitting meme C. Memes A and B are transmitted, and C is their effect.)


I agree with you if birds do not learn by imitation. If it were humans, though, C would be a meme, right?


As I understand what Raymond is saying, C is *not* a meme. If someone incorporates A and B, they manifest C (also incorporating it) with some probability, perhaps in every case. However, C is not transmitted directly, A and B are.

We may consider C the effect of A and B. That is parsimonious in regard to memes. We may also consider the possibility that C is simply indirectly transmitted by the transmission of A and B.

However, the only way for C to be part of the germ line is for C to occasion its transmission by effecting the transmission of A and B. That is a rather more complicated situation than Raymond suggested.

(Actually, I planned last week to post a long discussion on this and related points in relation to memetic systems and systemic memes. But I have a project I have to finish by tomorrow or Tuesday, and I put it on hold.)

For the nonce, here is an example that I think *would* qualify as indirect transmission, followed by one that I think would not.

Indirect transmission:

Suppose that in a given cultural context, smoking marijuana induces proselytizing. Proselytizing transmits smoking, which induces proselytizing, etc. Proselytizing is transmitted indirectly.


Buying pornography induces masturbation. But masturbation plays no role in transmitting the buying of pornography. (Although it has an effect on one's own buying of pornography, which has a small effect on keeping pornographers in business, which has some effect on the opportunity of others to buy pornography, which has some effect on their doing so. The relation is too attenuated and indirect to count as transmission, I think. It has more to do with selection pressure on memes for selling pornography.)



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